Vibrant, historic and charming
Lisbon, is the enchanting capital of Portugal and has become a weekend break hot spot, but what about, just for a moment, toying with the idea of not hitting Barrio Alto or Belem or the classic city centre posts and heading a little outside the Centro to a more residential, leafy suburb that has so many hidden foodie gems.
Estrela, located halfway up the hill between São Bento and Campo de Ourique, is home to a beautiful landmark, the domed Basílica da Estrela, which faces one of the city’s most delightful parks, the Jardim da Estrela. Estrela means star in English and supposedly it is named due to the fact there are 5 streets that fan out from the main square in front of the Basilica de Estrela. It is one the calmest, least touristy areas of the city. Campo de Ourique is laid out in a grid style of streets so it is very easy to follow on google maps. The somewhat suburban are is a middle class district with a notable number of foreign residents, particularly French it seemed.
Viva Viagem Ticket
Viva Viagem cards cost 0.50 EUR and can be purchased from ticket vending machines at metro stations, the major train stations and newsagents too. You can use it for 60 minutes unlimited for €1.65 or top it up for a longer stay. If you are staying in this area I highly recommend getting the Viva Viagem card. You pay €0.50 for the initial cardboard card and then you can top it up by €3/€10/€20/€40 etc. Rato metro station is incredibly close to the Jardim de Estrela and the surrounding area.
The easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get from Lisbon Airport to the city centre is by taking the metro (Aeroporto – Saldanha line and getting off at Rato or Pombal), This will have you in downtown Lisbon in 20 minutes. A single ticket costs 1.65 EUR with the ‘Viva Viagem’ electronic travel card (0.50 EUR). If you are staying in this area I highly recommend getting the Viva Viagem card. You pay €0.50 for the initial cardboard card and then you can top it up by €3/€10/€20/€40 etc. Rato metro station is incredibly close to the Jardim de Estrela and the surrounding area. When you are getting around this area, there is unfortunately no metro in Estrela so the closest stop we used is Rato.
The Carristur-operated AeroBus departs from outside the arrivals hall roughly every 20 minutes from 7:00–23:00. It stops at major points in the city center via Marquês de Pombal, which again probably your closest, most central spot int his area. From where we stayed we could take the 701, 709, 713, 720, 727, 738, 773, 774, and 65b to get around the city and at a cost of €1.65 each it was again a bargain. I believe the 705, 722, 744 and 783 all stop at Lisbon Airport arrivals terminal. Just watch your baggage, the regular buses have a maximum baggage size allowed in these buses is 50x40x20cm. If your baggage exceeds this size, you must take the Aerobus. Tickets cost 2 EUR. The other way to travel to and from this area is by the infamous yellow tram line. Number 25 or 28 begins and terminates in this Estrela / Campo de Ourique area at the stop called Prazares, the doorstop to the famous cemetery here.
Another great option to travel around Lisbon is by Tuk Tuk, however it is not really a viable options for travelling from the city centre up to this area. It would cost a fortune and most of they don’t want to travel this direction. Keep this fun mode of transport for around the Centro area.
THE FOODIE SPOTS
Ok so why we are really here, and my favourite – the best foodie spots!
Coffee and Pastries
- Copenhagen Coffee Lab And Bakery: A Haven for Coffee Enthusiasts
For exceptional coffee and delightful desserts, head to Copenhagen Coffee Lab And Bakery. Located on Av. Álvares Cabral, this cozy cafe offers a range of specialty coffee blends and a selection of mouthwatering treats. Don’t miss out on their cardamom bun and cinnamon bun, which perfectly complement their expertly brewed coffee. You can also purchase fresh coffee beans to take a piece of Lisbon’s coffee culture home with you.
- Pastelaria Aloma: A Pastry Lover’s Haven
Indulge in Lisbon’s famous pastel de nata at Pastelaria Aloma, a renowned pastry shop in Campo de Ourique. Known for their impeccable Portuguese custard tarts, Aloma has earned a reputation for excellence and has won several awards for their delectable pastries. Pastel de Nata ( to rival those of Belem )
The story goes that someone from the cafe (long, long ago) stole the recipe of the pastéis de nata from one of the monks at Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém. They improved the recipe to their own taste and since 1943 have been selling the pastéis in the pastelaria.
Whether you enjoy the pastel de nata cold or fresh out of the oven, you’re in for a treat. Experience the perfect balance of crunchy crust and creamy filling, making it one of the best pasteis in Lisbon.
- Dede: An Australian-Asian Fusion Brunch Experience
For me, Dede is a really interesting and innovative next-level brunch spot. Dede is owned and run by Dede who is the creative director, chef and I am sure everything else in between on occasion. It has an Australian and Asian-inspired menu.
The interior is chic and modern but with vibrant and cosy vibes too. It is a perfect spot for vegetarians or us flexitarians who are trying to get in lots more fruit and vegetables in a really interesting way. The all-day brunch menu has some intriguing and inviting dishes like the Piri-Piri scrambles, the classic modern brunch, mashed avo toast, and then dishes okonomiyaki; fluffy Japanese style pancakes with shredded vegetables, pickled slaw and sriracha mayo and Korean BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich.
For the meat lovers, there is also a classic crispy bacon egg roll and a burrata dish with roasted grape and cherry tomatoes and basil oil with toast. Honestly, I am excited for you to get here and eat.
My personal favourite brunch spot of them all. If you meet me over the coming weeks, I am very likely to tell you about the banana bread with cinnamon butter and flor de sel. It was sooo good. The kids adored it. It was so good we took some slices home for the next day. Trust me when I tell you, they did not see the light of the next day. I can’t explain it, just delicious.
This unassuming little spot on the edge of a little back street is quiet and secluded and I would say unless you know about it, it is highly unlikely you would just happen upon it. It is modern and chic and effortless.
The interior is small and the kitchen even smaller but my god do they make it work. The staff are so friendly and patient and helpful. We ordered lots… juices, smoothies, pastries, coffees, egg dishes, toasts, extra halloumi ….. every single thing was just gorgeous. Done right, well and delightful. My only regret… not ordering the breakfast bap. Both tables behind us ordered it, and they looked GOOD.
I highly recommend you make a purposeful trip here while in Lisbon. Make it part of your “tram ride itinerary day”. You will not regret it.
We had to visit Amelia. Even though my Emilia is spelled differently, she got such a kick out of this. Donning her pink dress we headed off down the street for about a 5-minute stroll, then turning the corner, hit the uber instagrammable Amelia.
Amelia is part of a mini-chain called I Love Nicolau, created back in 2016. There is a story behind each restaurant in the mini-chain Amélia is the girlfriend of Nicolau. Supposedly, as the story goes “We are told that when he arrived, nor the Lisbon girl and child has resisted him: Nicolau, the proud aristocrat with German blood (but Latin good talking) grew and became a reference of the capital.” In the chain, the other chic, trendy and fun brunch spots, that are not only style but substance too have include Basilio, Nicolau and Olivia.
The menu is trendy with a nod to healthy; granola bowls, açai bowls, smoothies, lemonades, mashed avo on toast, tacos, ovos or eggs and toast in many variations and pancakes to make your eyes water. The red velvet was really good, as was the iced salted caramel latte. I really do recommend this spot. With slight boho vibes, colouring books when needed and a happy menu it is a lovely spot for brunch any day of the week.
This is a relatively new offer to the neighbourhood foodie scene but again one that is full of effortlessly chic, refined, cool people all enjoying the bijou setting and modern vibes. It is a wine bar, restaurant and shop stocking a curated selection of natural wines and tapas and cheeses. There are also Kombuchas and beer too. It is open every day from 4 until midnight and even your 4-legged friends are welcome. Some of the delicious bites I spotted on the menu included; hummus with pickles and fluffy flatbreads, muhammara nuts and bread, chicken liver pate, brioche with cream cheese, anchovies and pickles, varieties of French cheese, gluten free brownie with orange curd.
Now this was such an exciting find. Moments away from our apartment, very chic and cool and full of interested people, this mini food market/ up market food hall has lots to offer. Lots of people would have heard of the Time Out Market in Cais of Sodré and this is a little similar I guess. Mercado de Campo de Ourique is a food market in the morning and a gourmet food hall in the evening. You can shop here for excellent salt, breads, chocolate, gourmet tinned fish and superior local olive oils or later in the day grab some food’ everything from contemporary little bites to classic Portuguese dishes, some modern plant based options and array of drinks choices.
Fiammetta has travelled to Lisbon following its success in Rome. Taking a corner spot on the street in our gorgeous understated neighbourhood this bistro-style restaurant gives off an air of sophistication but in a very toned-down, subtle way. There is an assured confidence in their restaurant menu and the stock in their artisan meat and cheese shop also located in a corner of the restaurant. This can only come from their 74 years in the business, learning their craft and gaining a deep understanding of their customer. The staff were friendly and helpful, the interior a mix of modern & classic. To quote them, “Our menu is seasonal, which is renewed throughout the year based on the availability of fresh products, designed for food lovers and also for the most demanding palates. Each recipe is studied and prepared with a single objective: to serve our clients on a journey that covers Italy from the north to the south, from Piedmont to Sicily, to discover the true flavours of the Bel Paese.”
As we walked by on the first day, our eye was caught by a chef’s hand rolling and cutting fresh egg pasta and piling it into big containers for later. The interior is a combination of striking marble table tops, deep dark blues, dark green and natural wood and fabulous wine glasses. I love a good wine glass. The menu is classic Italian one very sense with pasta, foccace, antipasti, insalate, second plata, tagleiri and dolce on offer, there is something to bring a sense of solve vita to your day here.
Senhor Uva, is again another chic, laid back and modern spot in this calm neighbourhood of Lisboa. It is almost hidden beside the Jardim Da Estrela, but you will find it now that you know. It is opened by Stéphanine and Marc, Quebec-natives who love sustainable, fresh and local produce. It is a plant based restaurant serving a carefully curated selection of natural wines. The menu is stunningly creative and innovative and some of the dishes that captured my attention were the Sourdough bread, sheep cheese, olives & lupins, Green Jack fruit ceviche, aji amarillo, nectarine, avocado, Beetroot, stracciatella, acorn crumble, beluga lentil, thyme, Mushrooms, xerem, miso, hazelnut, swiss chard, pecorino cheese. All of these plates ranged from €12-€15 which is tremendous value, while these desserts at €8 sound sublime Blueberry, labneh & tahini, lemon, hibiscus, sesame or a Chocolate, sweet potato, orange, brazilian nut, pink pepper dish to tantalise all the taste buds.
Cícero Bistrot is owned by a Brazilian foodie and art collector with a wish to embrace the relationship between his home country and Portugal. It was a busy little spot at all times of day with that looked like a lovely blend of corporate types having delicious business lunches and others enjoying a delicious date night.
Two other really interesting spots I would love to try when I return is Tasca da Esquina. This trendy restaurant appears to have a menu full of traditional Portuguese tasca but with a reintertpted modern and contemporary twist.
And finally LouQura. This was right around the corner from us and I regret deeply not making it here. It is on my list for the next time for sure. I figure it is always good to have a few spots to come back to. LouQura is described as a “contemporary Portuguese tavern… offering elevated Portuguese classics with a little twist of refinement or unexpected elements.”
When you are not eating what should you do ?
Dating to the 19th century, this carefully laid out and maintained park feels like a mash-up of an English garden and a Portuguese park, complete with a wrought iron bandstand, two different kiosks selling coffee and snacks, duck ponds, statues, and exotic trees and plants. It reminds me so much of the Royal Park in Melbourne
We spent Friday night in Jardim Da Estrela, we left like the locals. So many young families on the after work Friday evening buzz, with groups of families meeting up with picnics a couple of beers and wine. The mom’s and dad’s chatting, some bringing the grandparents and the kids all happily playing together in the playground. On the far side there were group of friends, mid 20’s all with cooler boxes, floral headbands and playing games similar to petange. There is a coffee shop in the centre and a peacock who holds centre stage as she wanders around. in the center of the garden, there’s a lovely gazebo that acts like an old-fashioned bandstand and holds summer concerts.Climb a tree, picnic, nap, rest, play… the vibe is so safe and chilled out here it is hard not to relax.
Lisbon’s historic cemetery was built in 1833, at the height of the Romantic period, which explains the tree-lined lanes with monumental tombs and mausoleums. Those belong to many of Portugal’s most illustrious families, and over the years they also became the resting places of famous personalities, such as poets and politicians.
The cemetery also has the oldest and largest concentration of cypress trees in the Iberian Peninsula, and the largest private mausoleum in Europe.
Take the time to visit and admire one of the most attractive landmarks in Lisbon and discover its surrounding area. Famous for its two bell towers, you can see the Basilica’s monumental white dome from afar.
The Basilica da Estrela, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was built at the end of the 18th century. Its interior is a combination of sculptures, paintings, and geometric patterns. The Basilica houses the tomb of Queen Mary I of Portugal, who vowed to build the best church in Lisbon if she had a male heir. Unfortunately, he died of smallpox at 17, two years before the building was completed.
Enjoy the Basilica’s ornamental white façade and lavish interior, and don’t miss out on one of Portugal’s most magnificent nativity scenes, with over 500 clay and cork figures. If you love Miraduros as much as we do, you must take the spiral staircase to reach the rooftop. Once you arrive at the top, you will enjoy splendid views of Lisbon, especially the São Jorge Castle and the 25 de Abril Bridge.
Close to Campo de Ourique, in the Campolide district (just a short walk from behind the towers of Amoreiras), stands Lisbon’s monumental 18th-century aqueduct. It’s recognized as one of the most remarkable hydraulic and engineering constructions in the world, so much so that its 109 arches escaped the destruction of the devastating 1755 earthquake. Running for 58km (36 miles), it provided clean drinking water to the people of Lisbon, and is now part of the Water Museum, which allows visitors to walk over its 14 largest arches, rising 64 meters (210 feet) from the ground. Those were the world’s tallest stone arches when they were built, and offer a view of a part of the city that’s rarely seen by tourists.
A trio of glass towers opened in 1985, housing a shopping mall, offices and apartments, after much controversy due to their postmodern architecture. In 2016, one of those towers finally opened an observation deck at the top. It’s accessed through the mall, and offers a 360º-view of Lisbon.
We had such a magical time travelling around Portugal, if you or someone you know is travelling to Lisbon, please share this and my special places with them (and tell them I sent you).