Ask a local: Lisbon


Icon showcases the best in Portuguese design – art, ceramics, lighting and jewellery – curated by its two owners, Maria Manuela Lacerda and Inês Mendes. This is one of the most creative stores in Lisbon and the place I always go to when looking for a gift. In a city famous for ceramics, head first to A Vida Portuguesa for the best genuine Portuguese products. There are various outlets, but the store in an old tile factory in Lisbon’s redeveloped Bairro do Intendente quarter is particularly striking. Alternatively, close to the castle, A Loja da Cerâmica (Rua de São Cristóvão 7) offers a great selection of ceramic pieces, as do both French-born potter Cécile Mestelan, and Swedish-Portuguese ceramicist Anna Westerlund, at Largo da Trindade 17, who turns her hand to jewellery as well as homeware. Two of my favourite shops are Depósito da Marinha Grande, which sells exquisite glassware, and Caza das Vellas Loreto, a beautiful candle-making shop dating from 1789. For textiles, Burel sells a variety of colourful blankets, throws, cushions and bags fashioned from traditional Portuguese wool at its shop in the Chiado district. The department store Paris em Lisboa is great for towels, bed linen, tablecloths and napkins, as well as bathroom products and ready-to-wear men’s and women’s clothing. And because the sun always shines in Lisbon, everyone needs nice sunglasses. Fora has the best range of high-quality, affordable sunglasses, all handmade in Portugal.

Eating & drinking

For seafood, Gambrinus – very old and typically Portuguese – is a favourite of mine. Grab a seat at the counter if you can. Or head to Nunes Real Marisqueira, in the Belém district – order the delicious fried squid à algarvia. For lunch, try either Prado Mercearia, a café and restaurant inside a grocery store, or A Taberna da Rua das Flores (Rua das Flores 103), a tiny, family-run restaurant. Os Gazeteiros on Rua das Escolas Gerais, among Alfama’s maze of tiny, cobbled streets, is a popular bistro with an excellent French chef, shelves laden with wine bottles and a chalkboard menu – a great spot for lunch or dinner. Nearby is Taberna do Calhau (Largo das Olarias 23) – new last year and run by Leopoldo Garcia Calhau, an architect-turned-chef from Portugal’s Alentejo region. The vibe is old tavern; the food, largely sharing plates. For cocktails, head straight to Toca da Raposa – a cool space where drinks are based on fresh produce and foraging. And for chocolate and coffee, do not miss Bettina & Niccolò Corallo (Rua da Escola Politécnica 4), the best in town for both. On Saturday mornings, an organic food market takes place in the neighbouring botanical garden.

Don’t miss…

The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum for the breadth of its classical and modern art collections, housed within an iconic Sixties building, and also for the lovely garden that surrounds it. This is a great spot for a picnic – or visit the garden café.


I am a huge fan of Daniela Franceschini whose interior-design practice, Quiet Studios, has recently overseen the refurbishment of 56-room The Vintage hotel, right in the centre of Lisbon. True to its name, interiors are fashioned from a collection of vintage Fifties and Sixties furniture set against a rich colour palette and a curated selection of local Portuguese art and artefacts. Head up to the V rooftop bar for a summer cocktail and back down to light and airy Blue restaurant, at street level, for dinner. Rooms from £150.


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