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Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 | 0 comments

I Heart My City: Sandra’s Lisbon

Sandra Henriques Gajjar, founder of the Tripper cultural travel blog and author of the Lisbon Travel Guide for Urban Explorers, may have been born and raised in the Azores (one of Portugal‘s two autonomous regions), but she has spent most of her life in Lisbon.

“Lisbon’s mix of vibrant youth, cosmopolitan flair, and historical richness [are what sets it apart]” Sandra says. Here are a few of her favorite things about the city she’s proud to call home.

Lisbon Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the Bairro Alto neighborhood.

Spring is the best time to visit my city because there aren’t many tourists around yet, the weather is starting to get warm, and the days are growing longer.

You can see my city best from the top of the Albergaria Senhora Do Monte hotel, which offers a unique view of São Jorge Castle and downtown Lisbon. You can walk downhill straight into the heart of Mourari, the city’s old moorish quarter.

Locals know to skip taking a photo with the statue of Portuguese literary giant Fernando Pessoa outside Café A Brasileira and to check out the statue in front of the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos opera house instead. (Hint: Look for the man with a book for a head.)

A Vida Portuguesa is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. 

In the past, notable people like novelist Henry Fielding, actress Amália Rodrigues, and artist Paula Rego have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the National Museum of Ancient Art (NMAA) because it holds an important collection of Portuguese art from the Age of Discovery.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that Lisbon has an intuitive public transportation system, and you can move around easily by combining bus, tram, metro, ferry, or urban train, using the same Lisboa VIVA card.

Best breakfast: Padaria Portuguesa (Photograph by jpestana, Flickr) Best breakfast: Padaria Portuguesa (Photograph by jpestana, Flickr)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Parque Florestal de Monsanto, the largest green space in Lisbon.

My city really knows how to celebrate Lisbon’s patron saint, Anthony, on June 13. The festivities being the night before his feast day.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they are a hardcore fan of Benfica, one of the football teams in Lisbon.

For a fancy night out, I choose one of the gourmet restaurants around Principe Real.

Just outside my city, you can visit Cascais and the UNESCO-recognized village of Sintra.

My city is known for being affordable, but it’s really its melange of cultures and heritage that attracts visitors.

The best outdoor market in my city is Lisbon’s flea market, Feira da Ladra (“thieves market”), which takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Padaria Portuguesa is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and any restaurant in Bairro Alto is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Agenda Cultural de Lisboa.

To escape the crowds, I take a book or my journal to the modernist gardens at the Gulbenkian Foundation. This urban park has an aura of zen that is perfect for letting your mind wander.

One of the most popular summer treats in Lisbon: caracóis (snails) (Photograph by jrwi, Flickr) One of the most popular summer treats in Lisbon: caracóis (snails) (Photograph by jrwi, Flickr)

The dish that represents my city best is caracóis (snails), and the cherry liqueur ginjinha is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at any cafe with a sign that reads “Ha Caracois” in the summer and at Ginjinha Espinheira on Rossio Squarerespectively. 

Galeria Zé dos Bois (ZDB) in Bairro Alto is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Lux-Frágil.

A spontaneous performance of fado vadio (what locals call amateur fado) could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should explore one of the city’s free parks like Tapada das Necessidades or Monsanto.

In the summer you should have a frozen treat at Gelados Santini in the Chiado neighborhood.

In the fall you should enjoy the autumn sun by the Tejo River.

In the winter you should buy a package of roasted chestnuts on the street.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve in Parque das Nacoes. You can play with the exhibitions!

The best book about my city is the Lisbon Travel Guide for Urban Explorers because it mixes a local’s perspective with the curiosity of a visitor.

Follow Sandra on Twitter and Instagram @TripprBlog.

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