Lisbon has been on my list for a while, steeped in history, resplendent with gorgeous architecture and now a buzzing vegan scene so I hear. I decided 3 days would be enough to sample all the delights it had to offer…
Luckily the weather was glorious and sunny. Perfect for walking around and soaking up the sites!
No visit is complete without seeing Belem Tower, ideally early in the morning so to avoid the crowds. A nice walk to Jerónimos Monastery – a prominent example of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manuleine style of architecture that Lisbon has become known for. Walking through the cobbled streets of Alfama full of beautiful ancient blue and white azulejo tiles and quaint little streets. It felt like I had been transported back in time. I was keen to see the LX Factory – an area which once housed Lisbon’s booming factories. In its place a hipster haven of funky coffee shops, cafes, yoga studios & concert venues. Bright street art adorns the walls and quirky murals make this once desolate place come alive. Thankfully this former decaying neighbourhood is now thriving since being gentrified in 2008 and was my favourite part of the city. A visit to Castelo de São Jorge ideally at sunset is paramount. you'll get a stunning, panoramic 360 degree view over the city, the perfect spot to have a glass of wine and watch the sun go down.
Where we ate:
On the first day we went for lunch at A O 26 – Vegan Food Project. According to Happy Cow this restaurant is top rated in Lisbon. The restaurant itself is fairly cosy, got seated quickly and there were not many people. I ordered a homemade lemonade, what I got was tap water and a squeeze of lemon – I kid you not! For food we ordered a seitan burger with sweet potato chips and some bread with olives and beans to start. The bread came out and it was just sliced bread from the packet that had been left out, I’d say for approximately 2 hours. It was going stale around the edges and the olives had no seasoning which added to my disappointment. The burger came out and it looked as if someone has sat on it. The bread looked like very thin crackers that had kebab meat sandwiched in between, which was wet, sloppy and unappetising. The best thing about this meal was the garlic yoghurt which masqueraded as mayo that came with the sweet potato chunks – they most certainly were not chips! Everything came out rushed like there was no care, love and attention put into the food. I had high hopes for my first stop in Lisbon and loathe writing anything less than a positive experience, but I’m nothing if not honest – the food totally sucked!
The next place we visited was called Green Beans. This tiny little cafe also doubled up as a small vegan supermarket and a small shop up front that sold vegan apparel and toiletries. Upon walking into the cafe there were two cakes on the side that had just come out of the oven – an Apple and Walnut cake and a large and decadent chocolate cake. I got the Apple cake, a juice and a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. They also had some tofu pies which also looked delicious. The cake was out of this world – warm apple and cinnamon in abundance, just what I needed! The sandwich was made to order, well seasoned with herbs and ample tomatoes – delicious. The small supermarket has a number of vegan goods from pasta sauces to crisps and confectionary - I also purchased some vegan caramels and sweets to take with me. This place was so good I went back the next day for another sandwich. It’s well worth the visit if you want a lovely munch on the go.
I love pizza, especially Napoli style so went to Forno d’Oro a pizza restaurant famed for it's Napoli pizza. Although it’s not a vegan restaurant, they accommodated my request gracefully and made me a delicious marinara pizza which went down beautifully with some Red wine.
We also visited Bettina & Niccolo Corallo coffee and chocolate for you guessed – Coffee & Chocolate which was absolutely divine!
Although slightly disappointed with the vegan food, the warm people with friendly energy, cool street art and gorgeous architecture more than made up for what it was lacking in food options. The character and charm of Lisbon should not be missed on any travellers European itinerary. It has has an inimitable vibe with a fusion of cultures making it a vibrant, eclectic and beautiful city.