24 hours in Lisbon

November 12, 2016


Sometimes, I love my job. Today is one of those days.

I just met Julia Hartz, one of the most successful (and g o r g e o u s) female entrepreneurs, in the airport security queue on the way back from the Web Summit - where I'd just watched her speak in front of 15,000 people. When you write articles about an industry dominated almost entirely by white men for a living, meeting someone like her is a pretty cool thing to happen before 7am on a Saturday morning.

(Top tip – no matter how early the flight, NEVER go to the airport without make-up on. Because that will be the time you meet someone as fabulous as Julia and feel like a troll.)

Anyway, I’ve been in Lisbon for the past few days covering the Web Summit for the magazine I work for. Web Summit is a massive three day conference for all things tech, start-up and modern business - basically everyone from Facebook to Tinie Tempah is there so it's a big deal, if you're into that kinda thing. (Which I am, apparently.)

It doesn’t sound all that fun, I know, but it really, really was. (Admittedly, I write for a finance magazine so my view of ‘fun’ is probably a little skewed). Plus, if you're media you get treated like royalty - which means free Portuguese custard tarts!!!

But the best thing about the conference was, obviously, the fact it was in Lisbon. I've been obsessively Pinterest-ing it for ages and have been dying to go - luckily it totally lived up to my (super high) expectations!

Where to stay 

We stayed in the Graca district, which is right on the top of the hill and has an amazing view of Sao Vicenta of Fora. However, its about a 20 minute walk to the centre and may be a little far out. 
Bairro Alto is a really cool area with loads of bars (more on that later!) but I think the coolest district we saw was Alfama. It has great terraces with views of the sea, and the castle - which is the highest point in Lisbon. Its only a ten minute walk from the centre and has tons of cute, tiled houses and gorgeous hidden wine bars. 

Where to eat 

Everywhere you go, eat pasteis de natas! They are the aforementioned Portuguese custard tarts and may - may - be one of the nicest things I've ever eaten. Having said that, the quality varies widely (I became a real connoisseur in the four days I was there...) - the best ones have a crispy pastry and loooooads of cinnamon. 

We went to a great tapas place in Bairro Alto but even after a Google Map search I have no idea what it was called, which is really unhelpful. However, pretty much everything we ate whilst there was delicious - order fish and chorizo! 

What to see 

Convento de Carmo - we wandered here because we wanted to see the funicular (which turned out to be the most pointless thing ever built, because Google maps took us to the top already so there wasn't much point in riding it down 20 metres to street level!) but it turned out to be a great choice on its own. It has a really nice bar and restaurant overlooking to rooftops of Lisbon and the main shopping streets. 
Rua das Farinhas - again, stumbled upon this one by accident but it's a very cool little area. Lots of graffiti and bunting and cute cafes. 

If you follow this street up, you get to Castelo de San Jorge - the highest point in Lisbon centre. This is the Alfama area and if you stick to the side nearest the sea when walking up, there's plenty of nice restaurants and bars overlooking the whole of the city. 

Elevator de Gloria - if you want an authentic Lisbon-tram-on-a-hill picture, this is the place!

Where to go out 

We actually found Lisbon really quiet - even with the 55,000 extra people there for the conference. However, Bairro Alto was buzzing every night - Web Summit is oddly famous for its parties and Lisbon was the perfect place for it! 

Beer is 1 or 2 euro and there are tons of bars in the streets around Bairro Alto open until late every night. 
The drinks are cheap, the tiled houses are beautiful and every single Portuguese person I met was super, super nice. I can't recommend Lisbon enough - I'll definitely be back!

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