X MARKS THE SPOT: LISBON

The creaking sounds of a yellow tram pass by as you curl around the winding streets of Alfama. At the top of this one of Lisbon’s seven hills, sits Sao Jorge Castle where a fortification was first built in 48 BC. The walled fortification looks out over the city, always visible, and from atop a high-up vista, you take your first look across the city. The red roofs of the white buildings stare back at you, and you know you’re some place special.

Alfama, Lisbon Yellow Tram

Lisbon sits on the River Tagus, where the waterway spills out into the Atlantic Ocean. Once a Roman outpost at the edge of the known world, and later the capital of the budding colonial area, Lisbon is awash in history. This is nowhere more visible than Alfama, where the Moorish buildings still stand after nearly 1000 years. After wandering the Alfama and checking out the ever-changing shops and markets hidden down staircases and through alleyways, you realize it’s been far too long since you’ve eaten.

Lisbon Sunset

The lamplights begin to flicker on, and you find your way back down to Baixa, the historic city center. Full of tourists, it can often seem like this area is a trap, but there is no need worry. The buildings sit stoically in this part of town, with rich yellows filling your visual palette. There are plenty of places to eat around here, but for those looking for something unique, look no further than Belcanto.

With two Michelin stars, there are few places in the world as delicious and forward-thinking as Jose Avillez’s Belcanto, who re-opened the restaurant in 2012. It’s best to plan ahead and get a reservation, but if you don’t there are plenty of other options around, and we recommend grabbing a steak sandwich from one of the vendors. Unlike most street food, the steak sandwiches are delicious in Lisbon, and all the locals know it. Enjoy your food and then head to A Ginjinha, the famed drinking spot with the cherry liqueur.

Lisbon skyline sunset

After one or two glasses, it’s time to begin the night, and there is nowhere as colorful as Bairro Alto. Here, on the hill opposite Alfama, steep streets lead to hidden Fado bars on cramped avenues with colorful hanging flags and vibrant people. Find your way to A Tasca do Chico, where the bar is dark, smoky, and filled with locals. Old men sing songs of mourning in the traditional way, with two guitarists backing them. And, it’s not uncommon for guests to put their cigarettes down and join in. A feeling known as “saudade” will fill your heart with a longing for the sea that you may have never known existed.

Cinco Lounge Cocktails

From here, continue to trek uphill, there will be plenty of time for the bottom later, as you will certainly want to taste the creations from Cinco Lounge. This cocktail bar mixes up some of the most fun and interesting concoctions in town. Each drink is unique and as beautiful as the city it’s born from. Just make sure to take it easy, as you still have more ground to cover.

Bairro Alto stairs, Lisbon

Lisbon stays up late, and no street parties deeper into the night than Rua Nova do Carvalho. Affectionately known as “The Pink Street,” this is where late night bars and clubs are filled with youth and energy. The Music Box andTokyo offer live music for those looking to dance, while bars like O’Gilins serve food till late and provide a more traditional pub feel for those looking to sip Guinness. After all these festivities it’s clearly time to head home as you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow.

 

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