THE INSIDERS LISBON
EXPLORE: The best introduction to Portugal’s capital is to get lost in the colourful labyrinthine streets of Alfama, its old quarter. This village winds down from the 14thcentury Sao Jorge Castelo (with breathtaking views) to the River Tejo. Enjoy daily life, medieval buildings, cafes and eateries selling ginja (traditional sweet wine) and sangria, from just 1 ($1.50). Traditional music floats through the air and festivals are held throughout the year; visitportugal.com. ENJOY: A trip to Lisbon isn’t complete without a live fado (folk) show. Performed with one singer and two acoustic guitar players, it’s a spellbinding and romantically rich sound sourced from the despair wives felt when their husbands were at sea. Catch a show at Chapito, a cultural arts centre for classic and contemporary fado with the bonus of excellent city views; chapito.org. CELEBRATE: The Portuguese observe the annual feast of patron saint Anthony with the Sardine Festival. Every June 9 to 12, neighbourhoods gather for nights of street music, wine and sardinhas grilled at every bend. The sardine season runs from May to October, when many restaurants serve up this simple, salty dish; festasdelisboa.com. SHOP: Off the beaten track, find Principe Real, a chic shopping strip highlighting Embaixada, a fashion bazaar in a Moorish 18th-century building. LX Factory is a hip design district under the Abril de 15 bridge. Get away from the crowds and hang out like a local with Lisbon’s best designers, entrepreneurs and artists; lxfactory.com. LEARN: One of a kind, the National Tile Museum is an often-overlooked yet delightful venue sheltered in the convent of Madre de Deus. Explore centuries of the decorative ceramic tiles (azulejos) that Portugal is so famous for. Don’t miss the splendour and opulence of St Anthony Chapel and Lisbon’s cityscape mosaic created in 1738; museudoazulejo.pt. TREASURE: A lovely way to spend a morning is strolling Lisbon Flea Market, also known as Thieves Market, which began in the 13th century. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning just beyond Alfama, find items that reflect Portugal’s heritage; carvings, lace, masks, pottery, even antiques await the bargain treasure hunter. STAY: I can’t go past recommending my own Petite B&Bs company; in Lisbon we have 25 specially selected accommodations where travellers stay with local expert hosts in a classic B&B setting; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regina Ferreira, born in Madeira and raised in Sydney, is a B&B specialist and guidebook author and the founder of Australian-based Petite B&Bs. The service’s early focus was Paris but now also operates in Lisbon, with a dedicated website coming soon; petiteparis.com.au.
Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher@news.com.au