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.
A Lisbon-based writer and researcher with her work featured in BBC Travel and SUITCASE Magazine. She never leaves a city without visiting a flea market first.
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