The best-known coffee shops in Lisbon
Cafe culture in Lisbon is no frivolity. With an estimated 250 inhabitants per cafe, and the Portuguese said to spend more time and money on drinking coffee than any other nation in Europe, the cafes in Lisbon are not just froth but seething machines, vital to the city’s flow of ideas and economy. From charmingly old-world Art Deco establishments to cosy modern spaces, if you’re in Lisbon you’re sure to stop off in one of the city’s cafes at least once. To help you tap into the Portuguese capital’s cocoa-scented stream of culture, here’s some of the best (and most historic) cafes in Lisbon.
A BRASILIERA (Rua Garrett 120) – If you mention that you’re looking for a cafe in Lisbon, more often than not you’ll be directed to this one. A Brasileira (“The Brazilian Lady”) is a jaw-droppingly beautiful cafe from the turn of the 19th century, which since its initiation has strived to sell “real Brazilian coffee”. Its location close to the University’s Fine Arts faculty means it’s been popular with literary types since the days when famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa came here to sip absinthe and sugared coffee and smoke like a chimney. Just don’t expect all those decades of history to come cheap.
THE ANTIGUA CONFEITARIA DE BELÉM (Rua Belém 84) – There is one single, excellent reason for visiting the Antigua Confeitaria de Belém (“Belém’s Old Confectionary”). It is said to be the only place in the world to hold the secret recipe for on of Lisbon’s most famous products, Pastéis de Belém (custard tarts). Furthermore, this huge cake shop (which was founded in 1837) is tiled in beautiful traditional blue azulejos, making it an experience to appeal to all the senses.
CAFÉ NICOLA (Praça Dom Pedro IV, 24-25) – A cafe for over 200 years, and a bookshop for a fair few, Café Nicola in proud Rossio Square is another of Lisbon’s historic and cultural treasures. Indeed, you’ll see Nicola brand coffee in supermarkets all over Lisbon. One legend goes that, when asked by a policeman where he was from, loyal client poet Bocage replied: “I am Bocage. I come from Nicola. I’m going to another world, if the pistol fires”. Today, Café Nicola is an attractive venue with a popular terrace. Prices are steep, but you’ll find it’s cheaper at the bar indoors, and immediate transportation to a past world comes free.
CULTURA DO CHÁ (Rua das Salgadeiras 38) – If you’re looking for something a bit more down to earth, Cultura do Chá will quickly become your new home-from-home. Colourful grandma-chic contrasts with a youthful atmosphere, and the bottomless sofas are a great place to escape from the Lisbon rain. Try some Gorreana green tea – the only green tea grown in Europe – and attempt to resist the delicious (and cheap) scones, sandwiches and chocolate cake.
Enjoy your “bica” (Beba Isso Com Açúcar or “Drink That With Sugar”; a Portuguese nickname for coffee) and recharge your batteries before getting ready to see the sights of Lisbon or party hard in the Portuguese capital’s clubs and bars. This list is not a definitive guide but a starting point – don’t hesitate to write in and tell us about the cafes in Lisbon you’ve found.
Penelope – Marketing Team