As much as I love a beach holiday, I’m a big fan of a city break too. So obviously I had to tag a couple of days in Lisbon on to my surf holiday in Portugal (which you can read about here). Having blown the budget on the first part of my holiday, I was keen not to spend too much money on this part of my trip. Luckily, for a capital city, Lisbon is amazingly cheap. These are my favourite budget-friendly finds…
The Independente Hostel & Suites, Rua da Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81
Three travel-loving brothers have turned the former Swiss ambassador’s elegant gaff into a ‘poshtel’ and very nice it is too. High ceilings, white walls, shabby chic decorative details (think old telephones, typewriters, huge clocks) and, erm, MDF bunk beds, combine to create a hostel that’s cheap but pretty chic too. Right in the heart of Lisbon’s hippest neighbourhoods, The Independente makes a great base for a couple of nights in the city. Less than £10 a night got me a bed in a six-person dorm, access to a kitchen and lounge (great for meeting people) and a buffet breakfast. The staff are as friendly and helpful as any you’d find in much more upmarket places. It was a bit noisy (the sound carries in high-ceilinged old buildings it turns out). Next time I’ll pack earplugs.
The Decadente, The Independente, Rua da Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81
It’s not every hostel that can boast a restaurant that’s a destination in its own right, but that’s exactly what The Decadente is and why I was told I’d have to wait two-and-a-half hours for a table the night I arrived (I immediately booked a table for the next evening). The menu says: guilt-free indulgence the hedonist way. I’m not quite sure what this means, but I liked the sound of it. I started with salmon ceviche with cucumber, Granny Smith apples and watercress (€6), followed by rice with fish, shrimp and coriander (€11) and I couldn’t resist the Granny Smith apple pie (€4). All delicious. The wine list is 100% Portuguese. Get there early and take advantage of the ridiculously cheap happy hour deal in the bar. Lunch is an equally yummy and even better value set menu.
Príncipe Do Calhariz, Calçada Combro 28/30
This was a recommendation from the hostel when The Decadente was full on my first night. The tables are mostly sharing, the lighting is not kind and the service is efficient, as opposed to friendly but, on the Monday night I visited, it was packed. I tucked into, and very much enjoyed, seafood rice and prawns, a seemingly endless pan of, you guessed it, seafood, rice and prawns in a tomato sauce, washed down with a glass of white for less than €8.
Padaria São Roque, Rua Dom Pedro V 57
My only Lisbon must-do was to eat at least one pastel de nata. The Wallpaper* guide named this their favourite pasteleria and, conveniently, it was just up the road from my hostel. It has a (very) faded grandeur thing going on. The service is verging on brusque. There’s an odd payment system (you get your cakes and a receipt at the counter and pay on your way out). But, oh my, the pasteis de nata are good. And less than a Euro. Bargain.
A Vida Portuguesa, Rua Anchietta II and Chocolateria Equador, Rua Da Misericódia 72
Foodie gifts were the theme of this trip. Specifically stylishly-designed tins of fish by Jose and Ilha Dos Puxadoiros Flor De Sal from A Vida Portuguesa and prettily-packaged bars of artisan chocolate from Chocolateria Equador. A couple of extra tins, packets and bars might have made their way to my kitchen cupboards too…
That’s it, I’ve got no more travel on the horizon but, if this weather continues, I’m going to have to escape for a least a long weekend. Any recommendations for somewhere that’s not too far away and won’t cost a fortune when I get there? Do share in the comments section below.