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            Back to Open Skies

Travel to Lisbon


Chiado, Lisbon

22 November 2015

Words: Ivan Carvalho / Images: Pedro Guimarães

Many cities claim the origin myth of being constructed on seven hills but few can rival Lisbon for its inclined neighbourhoods. There are cathedrals, a castle and stunning river views seen from the seat of charming old trams. Central to this appeal is the city’s Chiado district, a retailer’s paradise that’s home to the sloping Rua Garrett street and Praça Luís de Camões square, which is adorned with the decorative cobblestone paving popular in Portugal.

A link between the downtown Baixa and hilltop Bairro Alto neighbourhoods, tourists flock here to shop and people-watch at traditional hangouts like the A Brasileira café and Bertrand bookshop, whose customers first appeared in 1732. Ever surprising, the area has seen a new breed of Portuguese retailers and restaurateurs emerge from the recent years of economic uncertainty to offer visitors new offerings to whet their appetite and lighten their wallets.


Occupying a well-preserved 19th century building on Praça Luís de Camões square, the understatedly chic Bairro Alto Hotel offers the perfect base camp for a sojourn in the Portuguese capital. Decorated by Porto-based design studio Bastir, the property’s traditional architecture and ochre colour facade give way to a tasteful décor inside of muted blues, greys and browns, Brazilian hardwood floors and rooms boasting antique-style clawfoot baths.

Bathed in natural light, the ground-floor Flores restaurant hosts a scrumptious breakfast buffet and serves a mix of local and Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner on traditional Portuguese tableware. The hotel’s not-to-be-missed rooftop terrace bar boasts one of the best spots in the city for a bird’s-eye view of Lisbon and the river, while sipping on a expertly crafted cocktail from the hotel’s barmen.

Praça Luís de Camões 2


Tel: +351 213 408 288



Worn by shepherds in Portugal’s Serra da Estrela mountains since the 11th-century, Burel is a felted wool made from the local Bordaleira sheep. Today, Lisbon couple João Tomás and Isabel Costa have revolutionised the sturdy artisanal fabric and in their Chiado shop, opened in 2012, they use it in everything from travel bags and backpacks to blankets and bedspreads.

The duo has created dozens of colours and hand embroidered patterns for carpets and cushions, and Burel’s soundproofing attributes make it ideal for decorative acoustic panels on walls in homes and in offices (clients include Microsoft and Google). To see the full range of use of the material, adventurous travellers can book at the company’s mountain resort hotel, Casa das Penhas Douradas, located at the Serra da Estrela Natural Park – Portugal’s biggest national park – near Burel’s factory.

Rua Serpa Pinto 15B


Tel: +351 212 456 910



Arguably Portugal’s leading chef (his portfolio of restaurants includes the two-Michelin star eatery Belcanto), José Avillez oversees five dining establishments in the Chiado neighbourhood. His first restaurant, Cantinho, opened in 2011, is a favourite among foodies given its laidback atmosphere, informal décor with a collection of different chairs and a menu that looks to carefully reinterpret Portuguese classics.

One can opt for a traditional prego (steak sandwich) or succulent tuna tartare to start, or try a gourmet hamburger with caramelised onions and foie gras. Popular dishes include flaked cod with breadcrumbs, egg and “exploding” olives, a risotto with Portobello mushrooms or giant red shrimps from the Algarve with Thai-inspired spices – all paired with wines promoting indigenous Portuguese varietals. A must for dessert is his triple hazelnut concoction of ice cream, mousse and foam.

Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7


Tel: +351 211 992 369



This bolthole eatery just off Praça Luís de Camões inaugurated in 2012 by André Magalhães, who previously ran the Lisbon Press Club’s restaurant, is a slightly more hip take on the traditional tasca restaurant found in the city. There’s the classic rustic décor and stool seating, and the daily menu is handwritten on a blackboard and brought to patrons’ tables.

The food draws its inspiration from Portuguese classics so expect to find dishes commonly seen from the north to the south of the country but done with a contemporary twist. Recommended bites include carrot and coriander soup, roasted codfish, minced mackerel, Azorean tuna tataki, duck rice and the tabernão burger (mushrooms, egg, peppers, onion, celery, potato chips). Wash it down with a local drink or try something from Porto brewery Sovina.

Rua das Flores 103


+351 213 479 418



It often feels like Lisbon has more cafes and pastry shops per square mile than any other city on the planet, but new entry Tartine looked to shake things up on the local breakfast scene when it opened three years ago in Chiado. Staff at the French-inspired establishment bake on the premises and you can choose from pain au chocolat, croissants and lemon meringue tarts to more traditional Portuguese pastries like custard tarts (pastel de nata) and their signature eggy Chiado cake.

Tartine offers all-day dining serving salads and sandwiches and even does brunch to cater to those keen for pancakes and maple syrup. The décor is less Lisbon and more Nordic in feel and there’s a peaceful inner courtyard where on weekends you can unwind with the newspapers while sipping on a latte.

Rua Serpa Pinto 15A


+351 213 429 108



In 2009, graphic designer Celestino Fonseca and sculptor Teresa Almeida from Porto channelled their creative energy to open a confectionary making artisanal chocolate truffles, bonbons and candy bars. Sold in seductive 1940s-style wrappers, there’s an ample array of treats to sample: single origin cacao sourced from countries such as Madagascar, São Tomé and Ecuador, delicious pralines or ganache sweets made with milk or dark chocolate mixed with exotic fillings such as mango.

Recommended flavours include their dark chocolate Torrié made with a blend of Arabica coffee beans and liqueur-inspired sweets that use Madeira wine or port as ingredients. In 2013, the couple opened their only Lisbon store in an 18th century building on the edge of the Chiado district inside a space with stone arches that was once the stables for a well-to-do local family.

Rua da Misericórdia 72


Tel:+351 213 471 229



Set a few steps from Praça Camões square, Lisbon’s first movie house opened here in 1904 and today it remains the sole spot in downtown to view films on the big screen. Over the decades, the line-up of titles has changed but in 2014 the movie theatre reopened to promote independent films from Portugal and abroad together with a few classic titles from the golden years of Hollywood.

The lone screening room seats fewer than 200 people but moviegoers are treated to super comfy chairs (the same used at Helsinki’s opera house). Before showtime there’s a bar downstairs to grab treats (in place of popcorn try a tasty Portuguese pastry) and upstairs there’s a bookshop and café where patrons can unwind with a drink.

Rua do Loreto 15


Tel: +351 210 998 295



Since 2006, journalist turned shopkeeper Catarina Portas has led a local retail revolution by turning her attention to classic Made in Portugal brands that were neglected when the country first fell in love with big shopping centres and multinational chains in the 1980s and ’90s. Her A Vida Portuguesa shop in Chiado is a must-stop to stock up on traditional products, from ceramics by centenary-brand Bordallo Pinheiro to handwoven wool blankets.

Among her most popular items are collections of exquisitely scented, hand-wrapped artisanal soaps from family-run business Ach Brito (try the company’s Claus Porto range of toiletries, lavender soaps or its old-school Musgo Real cologne and aftershave balms). Then there’s her array of popular foodstuffs from tinned tuna and sardines packaged in vintage wrapping paper to tea sourced from plantations in the Azores.

Rua Anchieta 11


Tel:+351 213 465 073




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