We recent went on a wonderful trip to Lisbon. This was our first time visiting Portugal and much of what we experienced was from suggestions – thanks to everyone who recommended places! As we visited in mid-February we only saw a fraction of the visitors that likely visit in high season and were lucky enough to still get sunny weather nearly every day. We spent most of our time wandering the neighbourhoods and cobblestone streets. Although we had sore legs from the many hours of walking each day, we really enjoyed our time there. Here’s a few of our favourite places to see, shop, and eat at if you’re visiting beautiful Lisbon:
What to Do
LXFactory was recommended by many people, and with good reason! It’s a district with old brick buildings and warehouses filled with shops, cafés, restaurants, and artist’s studios. There are even a few sustainable/ethical stores (details below), and a restaurant with mostly vegan food (not our favourite, but nice for a lunch while exploring LXFactory). I recommend planning an afternoon here and meandering slowly from place to place, have some drinks and food, and check out the street art.
Alfama is full of traditional-style buildings with cobbled, narrow streets winding up, down, and through the hills. Speaking of hills, this neighbourhood has plenty of them – definitely come prepared with decent walking shoes when you visit. There was something interesting to experience at any time of day – the sleepy quiet of mornings, laundry draped outside of the windows’ clotheslines, the impressive wall art around nearly every corner, and Fado songs (typical Portuguese music from Alfama) drifting out of nearly every restaurant later in the evenings. Definitely give this neighbourhood a wander if you’re in Lisbon!
As Lisbon is a hilly city, there’s no shortage of viewpoints or Miradouros throughout the hills. Try to visit a few in different neighbourhoods if the weather is clear, as they’ll give you a picturesque view of the city and ocean. We visited any that happened to be nearby or on the way we were heading, and they were all impressive in their own way.
Where to Shop
Organii is one of the eco/ethical shops we visited at LXFactory and we were really impressed! It’s full of natural, organic, sustainable, and ethical products ranging from housewares to fashion to children’s toys and clothing. I even found the coat I’ve been looking for! It’s made by a conscious Portuguese company called Näz, their materials are all production surplus and deadstock, and they only use recycled buttons on their garments made from things like paper, cotton, and even coffee grounds. The coat is exactly what I had been searching for and I’m so glad I waited for the right piece. This shop is a must when visiting LXFactory. Organii also has a cosmetics-only shop just down the road from their larger location. They carry different natural brands as well as their own line of soaps and oils, I also picked up their winter body oil which has a lovely spicy/forest-y scent.
There are a few other Organii locations in Lisbon (some cosmetics only or baby products) but if you’re already visiting LXFactory, you’ll get everything they offer in one location. We also saw SkunkFunk (sustainable fashion), and Nae (Portuguese-based vegan shoes) while wandering through LXFactory so definitely check those out while you’re there as well!
Fair Bazaar is a small shop is situated in a gorgeous old building along with other interesting stores, collectively called Embaixada. They also sell Näz (and carry more of the line than Organii), as well as other clothing brands, shoes, accessories, jewellery, and some care products. Everything here is sustainable or ethical and they also sell some cork products, which is a very common material in Portugal. Although it’s important to note that while there’s a lot of cork it seems like most of the cork companies also include leather in their products, which was pretty disappointing to see – although Nae (at LXFactory) has some cork shoes that are completely vegan!
Sapato Verde is a vegan shopper’s dream! They carry a variety of shoes as well as bags, clothing, accessories, home goods, toiletries, and even have a small vegan grocery store and café at the back. They have an interesting selection of eco-friendly products including a candle brand that uses old cooking oil for their candles and flip flops made of cork.
I was most impressed with their selection of footwear including Nae, Natural World, and Original Cork in styles from dress shoes to runners to casual shoes.
This one was an interesting surprise and classically eco-friendly. Garbags takes everyday waste such as coffee bags, tire inner tubes, shampoo containers, and other kinds of packaging waste to create unique pieces including wallets, carrier bags, pouches and notebook covers. They even have a deal where if you bring in some of your waste (something they can use) they’ll give you a discount on their products! They also offer interchangeable covers for their messenger bags, so you can change up your style without buying a totally new bag. Definitely a unique business model and it’s cool to see how they turn waste into functional products.
Where to Eat
The Food Temple
One of our favourite meals of the trip was at The Food Temple. You’ll find it down some narrow twisting sidewalks, just look for the blue light out front. We recommend making reservations here, as when we arrived (without reservations) there luckily happened to be space for 2 at a shared table, but many who came after us weren’t so fortunate. Their menu changes daily and they have shared tapas and dishes. On the day we went we had a spinach soup, veg chorizo and avocado salad, some kind of interesting potato dish, and a burger with the thinnest curly fries to share which was a pretty good amount for us. They had a variety of local craft beers and interesting desserts such as the lavender-infused raspberry cake they offered on our visit. The staff were super friendly and it was a lovely dinner, but unfortunately I don’t have photos. 🙁
Princesa do Castelo
Princesa do Castelo is a small vegan restaurant/cafe in Alfama that also has a changing daily menu (this seems to be common in Lisbon), we ate here a couple times and weren’t disappointed. They have a few long shared tables plus a couple tables for 2, but again space is limited so reserve a table or arrive before the lunch/dinner rush. The first time we went we each tried one of the 2 mains – a vegetable thupka with ginger lemon tofu, and a chickpea/pumpkin/spinach curry (pictured). We finished with Portuguese custard tarts; although these are common in Lisbon they offer a vegan version.
We were walking around on the one rainy day we had and stopped here for a quick lunch. Sama Sama is a tiny crepe and juice bar with just a bar, so don’t expect a place to sit (though there were a couple of small stools near the door). They serve vegetarian and vegan crepes both savoury and sweet, and the two we had were fantastic! Since it was lunch we had savoury crepes but I wish we had time to also go back and try the sweet ones. This place is especially great if you want to grab a crepe and walk around the neighbourhood or by the ocean.
Overall Lisbon was a lovely city and perfect for travellers like us who like to wander through the streets and neighbourhoods. While it doesn’t have a ton of sustainable shopping, the stores it does have are definitely worth checking out, as well as the delicious restaurants.
Also check out everything I packed for our trip.