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by Rahel Hogg

Your fellow travelers at the Trip Boutique have prepared a special list of things to do in lisbon... virtually -- right from your laptop (with some short excursions to your kitchen and patio to further enhance the mood) to simulate the ambiance of exploring this beautifully warm and approachable city.

 “Life is not what we live; it is what we imagine we are living...”  an apropo quote from Pascal Mercier’s iconic book “Night Train to Lisbon” (also a perfect film for you to check out!). When you can’t yet bring yourself to Lisbon then bring Lisbon to you (virtually speaking!). So, cuddle up and check out our suggestions for your journey of the mind and senses to the City of the 7 Hills.

The Sights of Lisbon

Filmmakers, directors and video/camera enthusiasts have been infatuated with Lisbon for decades and you can find numerous recordings of the city's breathtaking inner life. Here are some of our favorite ways to watch life in Lisbon unfold:

❉ The cinematographer Alex Soloviev does a great job in capturing the city’s very essence in the way it moves and breathes throughout one day in Lisbon. The stimulating and immersive scenes provide a great overall feel and get you as close to wandering through Lisbon’s exciting turmoil as you can get without actually being there.





If you prefer something more cinematic, several films use Lisbon as a backdrop or even as the main theme. In addition to the aforementioned Night Train to Lisbon (2013), you can watch 007 reunite with his beloved Bond Girl Tracy and stroll through the city streets In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Continuing the spy theme, classics from 1944 like The Conspirators and Storm Over Lisbon are action thrillers taking place during WWII. Perhaps Romcoms are more your cup of tea – then check out The Other Half (2006). The plot is not particularly strong (this is being kind) but you will be treated to a whirlwind tour of Portugal that includes idyllic churches, ancient castles, secluded beaches, rugged mountains, as well as famous Lisbon landmarks.






❉ To round off your visual journey to Lisbon, we suggest watching the biography of Amália Rodrigues, also known as the queen of the musical practice that Portuguese proudly call Fado to encounter an essential part of Portuguese culture. This beloved singer was born in the Pena parish of Lisbon and masterfully captures the melancholy, sadness and longing of her life and how it is reflected in the music that she shaped and influenced. 





The Sounds of Lisbon

You may not always consciously perceive it but hearing a city's sounds, music and language greatly contribute to a traveler's overall experience. Here are three ways you can listen to the heartbeat of Lisbon from home:

Studio Guillaume Delaperriere has recorded a selection of distinct Lisbonian sounds and composed them into a city symphony. Immerse yourself by listening to Lisbon’s daily music playing in the background with closed eyes. It will almost feel as if you were already there.





❉ Whether in bars, restaurants or in the streets: Live music accompanies visitors everywhere they venture throughout Lisbon. In addition to traditional Fado, a thriving scene of modern singers are making names for themselves. Sara Tavares is a great example of a Lisbonian who knows exactly how to let her language come alive through music. Her soulful sound is best described as a mixture of Pop, Jazz and World Music, and her Portuguese-African roots bestow her music with a multicultural twist that is emblematic for Lisbon’s modern society. Antonio Zambujo is another example of an artist bringing different nuances to Portuguese contemporary music. Originally from the Alentejo region, Zambujo adds notes of bossa nova, jazz and folk music to the traditional Fado, making him the most relevant male voice in the new generation the modern fado singers.





❉ If you have a bit more spare time on your hands at the moment – Why not use it to learn to speak Portuguese? This will allow you to be super prepared for your eventual real-life trip to Lisbon (as well as the 10 other countries that officially speak the language) and the process of becoming a Lusophone (someone who speaks the Portuguese language) will help enhance your immersion into the culture. Just getting the basic phrases down will make a big difference and you may be surprised by how much the locals will appreciate your effort when you manage a simple "Obrigado". Try mastering the passionate “R” and savor the feeling of it rolling off your tongue.


There are a number of Portuguese classes that you can take online and most of the sites have terrific blogs with inspirational stories and photos of the region. Here are some of our favs: Talk the Streets - Learn Portuguese at HomePortuguesetcerera Online Courses and BBC Languages.


The Tastes and Aromas of Lisbon

In creating a virtual trip to Lisbon, one of the toughest challenges will be trying to replicate the amazing and abundant food - since feasting like a king/queen is high on the list of Lisbon things to do.  Restaurants, cafes, and tabernas (Portuguese taverns/bars) are some of our favorite places to visit in Lisbon. A few of our preferred spots for local Portuguese cuisine are: Solar dos Presuntos, Tágide, and Topo Chiado.


You can host a Lisbon-themed dinner party for yourself and those at home with you and literally whet your appetite for Lisbon by flooding your house with the delicious aromas of Portuguese inspired dishes.


Start your Lisbonite evening sipping a trendy "PortoTonico" cocktail – traditionally made with white port but red could work in a pinch – sitting outdoors to help replicate the feeling of relaxing on an esplanade.


Glass of Portuguese Porto Tonica Cocktail - one of the best things to do in Lisbon
Refreshing Glass of Porto Tonico / Photo by Karolina Grabowska


We then recommend doing a search for Portuguese restaurants in your area that can deliver – this ensures authenticity and helps support local businesses during this tough time.


Or, try your own hand at preparing some Portuguese delicacies like:


❉ Bacalhau (dried and salted codfish) is probably the most popular dish in Portuguese cuisine. Similarly, rice is featured in many Portuguese dishes and grown in many regions of Portugal. The two are combined to create a dish called Arroz de Bacalhau, which can be easily prepared at home with ingredients you likely already have or otherwise, can get in your local supermarket. You can find the recipe here.



 Portuguese Arroz de Bacalhau (Cod with Rice) dish
 Portuguese Arroz de Bacalhau (Cod with Rice)




Famous Portuguese Pastel de Nata (Custard Tart) pastries
Pastel de Nata (Custard Tart) / Photo by Regina Ferraz




❉ No Portuguese meal would be complete without a glass of heart-warming, Portuguese wine. While Port wine is probably Portugal’s most famous wine, there are many other regions that produce high-quality wines, like Alentejo or Douro regions. To round off your Arroz de Bacalhau, we suggest pairing it with a glass of red wine, as many Portuguese would, instead of the more common white wine + fish pairing. Either way, here you’ll find a list of 15 Portuguese wines for you to try now and hopefully, love.

❉ For dessert, try baking Portugal’s most famous sweet pastry, the pastel de nata. Granted, making these creamy custard tartlets can be a bit tricky but fun experiment. When in Lisbon, you will be able to compare your own skills to those of the pros. 

Mix and Match the Things to Do in Lisbon

We hope you enjoyed our little virtual journey through the senses and that we could bring Lisbon a little closer to you. Consider maximizing your pre-travel experience by combining different senses with each other. Try sipping a Portuguese wine while you munch popcorn and watch our recommended film clips or let Amália Rodrigues serenade you while you are preparing your authentic Portuguese dinner.  



Feeling the anticipation of preparing for your next big trip? If you really get inspired, then take our quiz and get a complimentary custom-made city trip itinerary designed especially for you to #travellater!