When you think of cities around the world for good coffee shops, places like Paris, London, and Melbourne probably spring to mind…but there’s a city you’re missing. Lisbon is famous for its smooth and delicious custard tarts, but this is a city that also takes pride in its coffee shops.
You’ll find a café on every corner. Usually people will take their coffee standing up or sitting down just for the duration of the coffee itself. Having lived in Lisbon for the last five years and as someone who works from home, I’ve become very familiar with this city’s best coffee shops having been on a quest for new places to work and pick up a rich, strong cup of Joe. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to work or you just want to relax after a long day of sightseeing in Portugal’s capital, here are my top three favorite cafes in Lisbon.
The Sandwich Bar: CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém)
In my travels around the world, I have always found that the cafés at museums and cultural centers are among the most beautiful. The Sandwich Bar in Belem is no exception, but not necessarily for its décor.
Housed in the Centro Cultural de Belém and surrounded by some of the most impressive monuments such as Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and Praça do Império, this café is hidden next to the convention center. Being tucked away means it keeps the tourists at bay and you will always have a calm, quiet café where you can work or just watch the world go by. The WiFi is free—it’s not great but manageable as long as you don’t have your video conferences there. The tables and chairs are comfortable and the food healthy and tasty. You can stay as long as you want on one expresso, although during lunch hours, it is asked to give preference to whoever is actually eating a meal.
You can have the daily menu for about $11.70 (€10) where you’ll get the soup of the day and a dish of delicious fish, meat, or pasta with a side of green salad or steamed vegetables. You can also get delicious sandwiches, wraps, and salads for a little less than that. For dessert you can choose the health option of a fruit bowl with yogurt and granola or indulge in a custard tart with a very decent expresso. But the best thing of all about this place is the room at the end of the café, where you can take in the wonderful view of the Tagus River and the ever-splendid Lisbon light.
Fabrica dos Sabores: Av. Defensores Chaves
Right in the middle of Lisbon’s financial area and surrounded by office buildings, you’ll find one of the most delicious corners of the city. Fábrica dos Sabores is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. so you could even get all three daily meals there. And it would be worth it. Their brunch is delicious with a choice of waffles or pancakes, and dozens of different types of bread that they bake themselves. The complete brunch is almost $20 (€17) and can easily feed two people. You can even watch the bakery in action through the glass that protects the pastry chefs from your drooling.
Lunch options vary from a salad bar to pasta and pizza, but I must admit that if you have a sweet tooth like me, you may want to skip lunch and go straight to desert. They make their own ice cream and the vanilla and peanut butter milkshake will take any stress you have away, for sure. If coffee is your thing, there are so many gourmet coffees it will take you at least a month to try them all. Fresh pastries and cakes complete the sweet tooth menu and will be your faithful work companion there.
Chaleira is a true tea room. You will find coffee here too, but tea is really their thing. They have so many different types and tastes, you could easily spend months tasting your way through their selection. A pot of tea is around $4.70 (€4). With free WiFi, this calm and relaxed tea room is the perfect place for a business meeting or for just chilling out with nothing to bother you.
The food is not very creative and if you stay for lunch, you are bound for soup and a sandwich or salad. The best bet it to stick to tea and pastry. If it’s a warm day I love to order the iced green tea mixed with apples and cinnamon, and a generous slice of the chocolate and coconut cake.
Near Carcavelos, Chaleira is just a five-minute walk from the Carcavelos beach (about 13 miles from Lisbon city center) so you can take a break and stroll by the sea to air your ideas. To get to Chaleira you can drive or take the train. Both will take you through the Marginal, one of the most beautiful coastal roads in Europe, so get your camera prepared to take some snapshots.