11 hidden gems in Lisbon: Spots you shouldn’t miss
Lisbon is a city full of surprises. We lived and worked in Lisbon for a full month and saw many unexpected places there that you won’t find in most travel guides. So of course we want to use this post to tell you all about them and show you our own personal hidden gems in Lisbon.
We’ll let you in on some exciting sightseeing tips and share some of best places to eat. After all, we had a full month to try out restaurants and find our favorite spots in Lisbon.
As a result, this post features some real hidden gems and well-kept secrets.
Interesting places that you won’t find in most travel guides
Let’s start with 5 insider tips on exciting places and activities in Lisbon.
LXFactory is a small hipster and artist biotope, a bit outside the center of Lisbon. Textiles and yarns were produced in the vast factory grounds in Lisbon’s Alcântara district from 1846 until industrial decline eventually forced it out of business in 2004.
Nowadays, the former industrial site is home to more than 150 restaurants, designer shops, and creative types. Walking around the grounds feels a bit like walking through Berlin.
You can eat delicious food, buy clothes and all kinds of designer stuff, or just take some great photos. And every Sunday between 9:30 am and 4 pm, there’s a big organic food market on the grounds.
How to get to LXFactory
LXFactory is located next to the landmark Ponte de 25 Abril bridge, which you can see on the first two photos. The Factory is located about halfway to Belém, so you can easily combine your visit there with sightseeing in Belém.
Trams 15E and 18E, which also run to Belém, stop at Calvário. From there, it’s only a 200 meter-walk to LXFactory.
Cemitério dos Prazeres
It may sound a bit odd to feature a cemetery as a hidden gem for Lisbon, but the Cemitério dos Prazeres is very much worth a visit.
You’ll find magnificent gravestones lining vast promenades, and if you bring your camera, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible variety of exciting photos. The cemetery walls overlook the Tagus River and you can even see the statue of Christ the King on the other side.
How to get to the Cemitério dos Prazeres
The best way to get to the Cemitério dos Prazeres is by taking tram lines 25E and 28E. You can easily combine a visit to the cemetery with a ride on the historic tram 28E, which we highly recommend doing anyway. Just take the tram to the last stop on the line, Campo Ourique (Prazeres), and you’ll be right in front of the cemetery.
Aqueduto das Águas Livres
The Aqueduto das Águas Livres is a huge aqueduct in the east of Lisbon. It spans an incredible length of 19 km and is up to 65 m high. It’s strange that so few tourists go to see it, because it’s really impressive.
If climb the aqueduct to the top, you’ll have a great view of the north of Lisbon. The Aqueduto das Águas Livres is open from March to November, every Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 5 pm.
How to get to the Aqueduto das Águas Livres
The entrance is somewhat hidden in Calçada da Quintinha 6. The nearest metro station Marquês de Pombal is about 1 kilometer from the aqueduct. You can get there with the yellow and blue lines.
If you don’t want to walk from the metro station, you can take the bus number 702 to Cç. dos Mestres. It’ll take you straight to the aqueduct.
Street art in Lisbon
Lisbon is one of the world capitals for street art. We had no idea, so we were surprised at how many great pieces adorn the streets of Lisbon.
You can find street art all over the city from Alfama to Bélem. If you’re a street art fan, make sure to book a street art tour where you’ll see both famous pieces and hidden gems.
Our tour tips:
Sporting or Benfica?
One question of faith divides Lisbon: Sporting or Benfica? Benfica is by far the more successful club, but Sporting is also extremely popular. The games of both clubs are always well attended and definitely an experience for any football fan.
We only made it to a Sporting match this time around, but next time we definitely want to see Benfica play. If you’re a hardcore football enthusiast, there’s also a third club in the first Portuguese division: Belenenses Lisbon. But the small stadium in Bélem usually only attracts a few hundred spectators.
How to get tickets for Sporting and Benfica
You can buy tickets for both clubs online and print them out yourself. The tickets are usually only available about 1-2 weeks before the match, and the exact match date and time is only set at short notice.
League games are usually played from Friday to Monday, and international matches are held during the week.
The web shop doesn’t offer tickets for the most popular matches. In that case, you have to go to the stadium and buy tickets there. You can find information on the advance sale and the web shop on the two teams’ websites.
Information for Benfica: The Estádio da Luz has a capacity of 66,000 spectators. You can get there via the blue metro line. The stop is called Colégio Militar/Luz. Ticket information is available on the Benfica website.
Information for Sporting: The Estádio José XXI has a capacity of 50,000 spectators. You can get there via the green metro line. The stop is called Campo Grande. Ticket information is available on the Sporting website.
Guided tour of Benfica’s stadium
A guided stadium tour of the Estádio da Luz is also a special experience. You can see the player’s locker rooms, walk across the pitch, and admire Benfica Lisbon’s many trophies. A must for every football fan!
Great restaurants: Because eating makes you happy
The second part of our post is all about food. We’ll show you our 6 best tips for eating and drinking in Lisbon.
If you love food as much as we do, then a culinary tour of Lisbon is a truly exhilarating experience. We highly recommend this private food and wine tour through Lisbon or this gastronomic tour & wine tasting, where you travel around in a small group.
Adega da Barroca
This restaurant is pure authenticity and an absolute must. The restaurant is run by an elderly couple who are probably in their mid- to late 60s. The man stands in the kitchen grilling fresh fish while the woman serves the guests in a traditional light blue apron.
I’d already been to this restaurant on my first trip to Lisbon three years ago and it felt as if nothing had changed in the past three years. Next to us was an elderly couple from France who had actually eaten at Adega da Barroca 18 years ago and according to their them, nothing had changed since then either!
We were so fascinated by the place that we forgot to take photos. But hey, all the more reason to check it out yourself and see it with your own eyes.
The menu is clear and simple. There are four fish dishes and a few meat dishes. Everything is served with fries and salad and is really delicious. We both had a huge cod fillet (bacalhau) for just over 10 euros. A liter of red wine actually only costs 5 euros.
The menu is in Portuguese only and the two owners don’t speak a word of English. But that doesn’t stop the lady of the house from welcoming you enthusiastically in Portuguese and explaining the menu to you.
It’s absolutely astonishing that the restaurant is able to survive in the middle of one of the most popular parts of Lisbon. Rua da Barroca has become one most lively nightlife districts in Bairro Alto and is sadly devolving into a party strip where generic bars and shops are lined up door to door.
Let’s hope that the couple won’t retire so soon, continue to enjoy their work and their restaurant, and that the blue apron remains in use for many years to come.
How to get to the Adega da Barroca
The restaurant is located on a street corner in Rua da Barroca 109 and is easy to overlook. There’s no sign pointing to the restaurant.
Inside the restaurant, there’s a long bar, and behind it an old man standing by the grill. And if you see an older woman with a blue apron, then you’re right on the money.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out about the opening times. We were there on a Friday night at around 9 pm and wanted to go back on a Tuesday evening. But the restaurant was closed then.
Casa da India
Not far from the Adega da Barroca is the Casa da India. The name’s actually a bit of a misnomer because the restaurant has nothing to do with Indian cuisine. The Casa da India is a typical Portuguese restaurant. It couldn’t be more typical if it tried.
And it’s almost always packed. It’s crowded, it’s loud and it looks pretty unaccommodating at first. But we love places like that, so we felt right at home the moment we stepped through the door.
We had to wait a few minutes to be seated, but it was really worth it. The food is outstanding and they have everything the Portuguese cuisine has to offer, especially fish and meat in all variations. The food is relatively cheap and absolutely delicious.
In this case, it’s really a good idea not to show up too late – we recommend getting there at around 8 pm. We were there just after 8 and were very lucky to be first in line when a table freed up. Everyone who came after us had to wait at least 15 minutes for a table.
How to get to the Casa da India
The Casa da India is located in Rua do Loreto 49, just 100 meters from Praça Luís de Camões. You can get there by taking tram number 28E.
Parreirinha de St. Vincente
Tucked away in the middle of otherwise very touristy Alfama is the very original Parreirinha de St. Vincente. We were there for lunch at a tiny restaurant, which also has a few seats outside.
Once again, the menu was only available in Portuguese. But with a bit of luck, the waiters may speak a little English. The fish dishes are highly recommended, and there’s a huge selection here.
How to get to Parreirinha de St. Vincente
The restaurant is located in Calçada de São Vicente 54 in the middle of Alfama. The tram stop Cç. de S. Vicente is just around the corner, where you can catch tram number 28E.
Escondidinho de Cacilhas
Right by the ferry dock on the other side of the Tagus River, there are a number of fish restaurants in all price categories. You can combine a visit here with trip to the Jesus Christa Rei in Almada.
Of course we chose the one that looked the least inviting from the outside because often enough, that’s where you get the most authentic food at reasonable prices. That doesn’t always hold true, but this time we struck gold.
The Escondidinho de Cacilhas honestly looks more like a harbor tavern than an inviting restaurant. The somewhat rotund chef stands outside grilling fresh fish.
We highly recommend the seafood platter for 40 euros. For that price, you get a really huge plate with clams, crabs, shrimp, and of course a little hammer as a tool. Along with the bread they served, it was more than enough for four people.
How to get to the Escondidinho de Cacilhas
The Escondidinho de Cacilhas is located directly by the ferry dock. The restaurant’s location on Google Maps is a bit off base, but if you’re down by the ferry dock, you can’t really miss it.
There are ferries running from the Cais do Sodre ferry station to Cacilhas about every 20 minutes. The trip only takes about 10 minutes and costs €1.18 with the credit on your Viva Viagem card.
In Bocca al Lupo
We’re huge pizza fans and no matter where we are in the world, at some point we’ll always develop the urge to go and get a good pizza. However, since we’ve been very spoiled by our favorite pizzeria in Berlin, we’ve gotten really picky.
But the pizza at In Bocca al Lupo actually managed to impress us. The place is pretty hipster, all the ingredients are organic, and the waiters speak fluent English.
The crispy-thin pizzas are really delicious and quite reasonable at around 12 euros each. And they even had lactose-free chocolate mousse for dessert, so Jenny was in seventh heaven.
How to get to In Bocca al Lupo
The In Bocca al Lupo is located in Rua Manuel Bernardes 5, very close to our apartment on Praça das Flores.
The nearest metro station is Rato, which is served by the yellow line. It’s another 10 minutes’ walk from there, mostly downhill. It’s also only about 10 minutes’ walk from Bairro Alto and Principe Real.
The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 7 to 11 pm. We went there without a reservation and were lucky that there was a no-show for one of the booked tables. We’d recommend booking ahead to be on the safe side. You can find all the contact information on the pizzaria’s website.
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
Across from the Cais do Sodre railway station is the Marcado da Ribeira market hall. The complex has been completely renovated and now houses a little paradise for foodies.
More than 30 food stalls offer everything your heart desires: Portuguese cuisine, burgers, sushi, sweets, and more. The prices range from relatively cheap to pretty damn expensive. So it’s worth taking a look around first before you decide on one or more dishes.
How to get to the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
The covered market is located opposite the Cais do Sodre train station, right on the banks of the Tagus River. It’s also the last stop on the green metro line.
The market is open daily from 10 am to midnight, and from Thursday to Saturday it even opens until 2 am.
Even more tips for Lisbon
Lisbon is very easy to explore on your own. Nevertheless, we always like to take a guided tour with a real insider on our city breaks, because that way, you get to know a city in a completely different way and can get insider tips first-hand.
The following tours through Lisbon are great to discover hidden corners of the city:
Personalized private tour
We really love going on a tour with a private guide who puts together a personalized itinerary according to our own preferences. That way, we can tell the guide e.g. that we’re looking for the most beautiful photo spots, the best markets, or simply the best cafés, so they can plan the tour accordingly.
Fado tour with a singer
Fado is the musical soul of Portugal, and for many visitors, visiting a fado joint is a highlight of a trip to Lisbon. But if you’d like something a bit more out of the ordinary, then how about going on a fado tour?
A real singer will take you to the most interesting musical hot spots while singing the odd song or two for you.
Sidecar tour through Lisbon
A tour through Lisbon in the sidecar of a motorbike is an absolutely unforgettable experience. When’s the last time you’ve ever ridden in a sidecar, not to mention in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe?
Do you know some hidden gems in Lisbon?
Have you ever been to Lisbon and have other great insider tips for us? Have you tried one of the tips and would like to tell us if you liked it? Please let us know in the comments below!