Lisbon has always been a cosmopolitan city, but never more so than now. In the past decade, it has emerged as a haven for remote workers who have been lured by the Portuguese capital’s reputation. There exists a real sense of excitement and collaboration, as many of its venues are community-driven and open to experimentation. Not only has tech giant Google arrived, but startups, agencies, and creatives have also appeared in the city; cultural events such as the Sónar Music Festival and Web Summit have also pitched their tents—and it's not hard to see why.
With a rich past, influenced by centuries of Moorish rule, the city has a unique character that is reflected in its azulejos-clad townhouses and landmarks such as the 11th-century São Jorge Castle. From the high peaks of the city's hills, you can soak up ocean vistas, explore the crooked streets of the old quarter and tuck into petiscos. Or towards the south, walk along a wind-swept coastal beach.
One of Lisbon's most famous neighborhoods is Alfama. With its old-world charm, the district has tucked-away rustic restaurants serving Sardinhas Assadas, and bars filled with the sound of haunting and the poetic music of Fado. Another famous area, Barrio Alto has a full range of eclectic to elegant bars, and borders on the wild crowds and nightclubs of Pink Street in Cais do Sodré. But while these spots are no doubt neighborhoods you’ll spend time in, there are others better suited to long-term living, each with their own rhythm, perfectly placed to explore this sunny city.
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Costa da Caparica
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, Costa da Caparica is a low-key neighborhood that lies on the other side of the 25 de Abril Bridge, 30 minutes south of Lisbon. With a cluster of concrete flat blocks and low-slung Cali-style houses, the town is positioned along a golden shoreline that stretches for miles with thick Atlantic waves beating down on its beaches.
The neighborhood has recently leveled-up its offerings for remote workers. 10cowork, is a comfortable shared office just ten minutes away from the beach, towards Almada. While Dr. Bernard has a colorful coworking space in the Centro Comercial Oceano, with surf and lunch packages. The same group operates a large beachfront venue, and the stylish module has ample seating looking over the waves. Just watch the loud music during the late afternoon. Koa, a delicious brunch spot, is also worker-friendly.
Directly underneath Dr. Bernard lies a golden stretch of beach, peopled by sunbathers in every season. Skateboarders and rollerbladers are welcome on the large stretch of promenade, alongside runners who stop off at the free calisthenics park by Praia do Tarquinio. Surfing classes are easy to come by: Caparica Surf School, Evolution Surf, and SurfLab have set up shop along the shoreline.
Don’t expect tiny plates in Caparica, because the food is geared towards the famished surf crowd. Local Mexican joint Huracán is the area’s best-kept secret where tasty tacos and well-stuffed burritos are on offer. The rustic O Mercado is small but mighty, in terms of diverse and well-cooked dishes, while the healthy Surfin Bowls and Coffee delivers aesthetically-pleasing and delicious vegetarian bowls.
Depending on the season, you can walk from the Nova Praia beach along Caparica’s coastline, or take a small train run by Transpraia in summer, toward Fonte da Telha beach. The pristine stretch of coastal dunes is just a short rideshare away from the main town. Don’t be put off by the odd nudist seeking a solitary spot, as on your way back to Caparica you can stop off at Praia do Castelo, and book a table at Irmão. Called the 'place of happiness', it is an exquisite bohemian beach venue serving large pizzas and sea views. Alternatively, Praia Princesa is a glamorous white-washed restaurant channeling Ibiza-vibes with its excellent seafood. You can go to watch the sunset on a daybed and stay for late-night music and dancing.
Up in the hills of Lisbon, the old suburb Graça has one of the best views of the city, as its famous Miradouro de Santa Graça demonstrates. It is a brisk walk away from Alfama, the oldest and most picturesque area of Lisbon, so the neighborhood keeps the historic charm going. Instead of tourists, you’ll find locals and nomads frequenting the trendy bars, dinky cafes, and under-the-radar restaurants. In terms of coworking, Graça has some of the best offerings. Just east of São Vicente, Collective Ha-us is an incredibly slick, stylish space with the feel of a private members club. Whereas, design-led Heden Coworking is welcoming, light-filled, and spacious. If you are after a quiet laptop-friendly cafe, with delicious work-fuel snacks, try Café da Garagem, Maria Limão, or the art-gallery cafe Curva.
Good eateries are plentiful in this area. Tazza in Giro is a brilliant Brazilian joint doing fantastic things with tapioca and Damas is a hipsterish kitchen in an industrial-feel building with a huge range of smaller plates. A Taberna do Mar is also a must-try for serious foodies, offering delectable Japanese-Portuguese fusion dishes. Walking towards Alfama, O Velho Eurico does meaty Portuguese cooking like nobody else.
For drinking spots with a historical edge, the eclectic Botequim da Graça was once the hangout of Portuguese intelligentsia. Natural wine bar Vino Vero, and atmospheric Graça do Vinho, pair worldly wines and local tapas. The low-lit Tejo Bar, around the corner in neighboring Alfama, is led by Cape Verdean musicians. And further toward Santa Apolónia station, Lux Frágil, the super club, is not far away for the late-night party people. If you love knick-knacks, you can visit the treasure-hunters paradise Feira da Ladra flea market each weekend or for a more curated selection, try the concept store Somewhere A Process.
Graça is also a sure-bet for the art-loving types with experimental programming, talks, and exhibitions from artist-led spaces like Hangar Gallery and Mono. If you’d rather get your hands dirty, Caulino Ceramics is a brilliant option to try your hand at pottery and Graça also has a lot of street art, from the likes of Vhils, Add/Fuel, and Shepard Fairey. The latter’s Revolutionary Woman can be seen on Rua Natália Correia, while more artists are jammed into the steps of Caracol da Graça. To learn more about the art scene, call on Lisbon Street Art Tours to show you the rest of Lisbon’s talent.
One of the most coveted neighborhoods in Lisbon, Estrela is close to the Tagus river which means long lazy walks, or spirited scooter rides, overlooking the lull of the water. Its crown jewel, Santos, has a hipster-village feel with boutique shops and pared-back cafes serving sophisticated coffee. Belém, the home of Lisbon’s iconic landmarks like the Jerónimos Monastery, and Alcântara, with its distinct dockside, sit to Estrela's west. While the center of town, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré, are just east of the neighborhood. Estrela is well-located too, as surfers will find it's an easier drive or train ride to Caparica.
Coworking sites are plentiful as the neighborhood is very international. In Santos you can get your own desk at the Outsite coworking cafe. Unobvious Lab is another crowd-pleaser, as is the plant-filled Second Home in nearby Cais do Sodré. Hello Kristof is a cafe lined with magazines and the laptop-friendly Dear Breakfast is a cavernous nook with excellent bites. Walk towards Alcantara, to pop into SCAPE, a slick, zen office on the harbor. And although not in Estrela, WOOD (Work is Good), and Resves Cowork lie on its borders and you can’t beat the free Casa Fernando Pessoa Library just a half-hour walk away.
Relaxed Estrela is also on the doorstep of the big art galleries and museums. MAAT and Tejo Power Station tend to be future-focused, while Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga has an excellent 16th-century collection. Don’t forget to pay your respect to Galeria Madragoa and Beirut Contemporary Gallery which are smaller, edgier galleries. BOA Lab is a hybridized cultural venue, offering experimental evenings and to source trinkets and presents, Santos Collective, a local Farmers Market runs each Saturday.
You are spoiled for good eating in Santos. For breakfast pastries, try Café São, or if you want a scenic place for breakfast, La Boulangerie looks out over Chafariz das Janelas Verdes square. Heim Cafe Lisboa and Flora and Fauna do brunches worthy of a standing ovation. Tamabrina is a simple, but solid, choice for authentic Cape Verdean dishes. And the Time Out Market, although touristy, gives you a sample of Lisbon’s chefs. Manteigaria is based there and it is categorically the best Pastel de Nata in the city. Nearby, is the famous Taberna do Flores. If you can put up with a queue, the quaint Portuguese eatery is out of this world.
For a seriously lengthy cocktail menu, some of which arrive in a fiery blaze, try the low-lit Foxtrot bar. The restaurant Comida Independente also runs a Saturday farmers market in Praça São Paulo and has a specialty niche wine bar in Santos. Or for a really special treat, why not sail down the Tagus at sunset on a Halcyon Boat Tour? You’ll be supplied with a glass of the typical vinho verde to watch the sunset. At some point in Lisbon you’ll probably visit LX Factory, a vast, lively compound stuffed with shops, such as Le Devagar for books, and excellent restaurants like Latin American fare, such as Ni Michi. There's no better way to end an evening than a nightcap at one Estrela's many bars.
Up-and-coming neighborhood Beato is shedding its vacant image and is proving to be a diamond-in-the-rough. For those who want trendy breweries, low-rent, and a location close to the banks of the Tagus, the area is a good bet. Although far from the maddening tourist crowd, public transportation connections aren’t there yet, so it's not suited to everyone. But as more buildings and warehouses are being renovated every day, the neighborhood is changing fast.
In terms of coworking, NOW Beato is a unique, three-story warehouse with wooden beams and exposed walls. Startups established companies, and freelancers alike have set up in its cozy atmosphere. Taking a minimalist aesthetic Lisbon WorkHub's vast space even offers company file storage. Fabrica Moderna is coworking for creative industries, with ceramic studios and sewing workshops on offer.
Good eating in Beato is scarce, but that just makes the gems really shine. O Grilo Beato has been working on its extensive gardens while selling fresh produce and planning live music events. Inexpensive Adega da Tia Rosa has old-world charm, good food, and sometimes fado if you’re lucky enough to show up on the right day. While A Casa do Bacalhau is a top-notch choice for those seeking out the Portuguese salted cod specialty. Café com Calma, in neighboring Marvila, does exceptional baking in a classic tiled Portuguese building and if you like beer, Beato is a beer lover's haven, with family-run brewery Dois Corvos offering everything from IPAs to big barrel-aged stouts, and experimental ales from their taproom, and Musa Brew is another craft-beer specialist just around the corner.
If you want to find a unique souvenir, Cantinho do Vintage is a warehouse full of stylish, and rare pieces of furniture and home decor, and Galeria Filomena Soares is frequently given the title of the best gallery in Lisbon. As a trendier, up-and-coming neighborhood you’ll find a younger set head to Arroz Estúdios for jam sessions and to join artist residencies events. While big club nights are held at Nada Temple, a grimy space that goes on very late—or early in some cases.
Arroios is not only the largest parish in central Lisbon, but also the most diverse. In this neighborhood, you’ll find different areas from the nightlife-spot Intendente, the family-friendly Estefânia, and the laid-back Anjos. It’s the cosmopolitan heart of the capital, home to hundreds of nationalities who each bring their stamp to this neighborhood. For many nomads, it's where they’ll find a slice of home. Here, the community is core, and many of its venues, cafes and bars have a homespun, lively feel. If you're less impressed with fancy rooftop bars and want Cape Verdean morna, bollywood-y dish spinning, or Korean Bibimbap, Arroios is for you and it’s well-geared for the remote work lifestyle.
Outsite, a coliving house for remote workers, has its base in Intendente and in Saldanha, the tried-and-tested Avila Coworking is a cut above the other coworking spaces in fancier locations. For an exquisite setting and deathly quiet, the hallowed hall of the Biblioteca de São Lázaro is a great option. Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, the capital’s photographic archive and exhibition space, is another panel-lined library space with a glasshouse-style cafe. For something casual, Brick Cafe is a firm favorite to set up a personal office.
Arroios is home to the restaurant Ramiro, a Portuguese institution that serves excellent seafood as illustrated by its long queue. For tasty plates and a cool crowd, try Cafe Tati or the Mexican-inspired Trinca. Meanwhile, vegetarians should hit up O Gambuzino, which is renowned for its meat-free options. If you’re looking for hard-to-source groceries and dishes from East Asia, the Mercado Oriental Martim Moniz has a no-frills food court that always comes through when hunger strikes.
When the sun starts to set, the best hang-out spots are Largo Café which is usually thrumming with a local crowd and Casa Independente, a 19th-century palace with a beautiful courtyard that stages live music, ranging from Lisbon zouk bass to psychedelic/surf rock. And in the same vibe, Crew Hassan is not only an art gallery and a second-hand vinyl shop with rare Portuguese records, but also a lively dancing spot. For more culture (and shopping), Anjos70 is a vast venue that houses weekend markets, and pop-up events and A Vida Portuguesa has a flagship store in Martim Moniz and is filled with hand-selected Portuguese handicrafts. While Joia, a tattoo and print shop, sells stationary. Artist-led Galeria Monumental and photography lab and exhibition space, XYZ Books, keep the aesthetically-curious happy and for anyone with an interest in tech and 3D-printing, FabLab Lisboa is a low-cost community space where you can bring your projects.
It’s worth noting that Arroios borders Príncipe Real and Avenida da Liberdade, two very well-heeled areas with excellent restaurants and shops. A half-hour walk away, you could find yourself wandering among giant palms in the Jardim Botânico de Lisboa, dining in the romantic, old-school Tascardoso restaurant, or looking at emerging painter’s work at ArtRoom.
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