Exploring Lisbon with essential men’s accessories from English leather goods brand Awling.
Quiz question. Can you name 10 capital cities that lie on the coast? Hmm, tricky, right? We’ll provide a list at the bottom of this article but in the meantime, let us start you off with one of our favourites: Lisbon. It may not have the superstar profile of Madrid or Barcelona across the border in neighbouring Spain, but for atmosphere, architecture and cuisine, Lisbon is a city break destination that punches above its weight.
Bathed in sunshine, the Portuguese capital is a visual delight that presents a new palate of colour at every turn. Winding streets are crammed with buildings that have fronts painted in yellow, pink, sky blue and other vibrant colours. Keep your eyes peeled for Portugal’s famous tiles – typically painted in blue and white – that are dotted throughout the city. Not far away from the atmospheric city and its urban energy are sleepy beaches that benefit from the stiff breeze and rugged waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Architecturally, Lisbon is one of the most interesting cities in Europe. Start your tour at the largest square in Lisbon, the Praça do Comércio from the 18th century that has at its centre the impressive Rua Augusta Arch. The Church of Santa Engrácia, also known as the National Pantheon, is a 17th-century structure that is proudly listed as a National Monument of the country. A popular landmark of Lisbon that you’ll see on numerous postcards is the São Jorge Castle that dates from the 11th century and gazes down on the city below from its castle-top position.
Lovers of modern architecture will be entranced by the rolling white wave that is the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology built in 2016, which is a tribute to Portugal’s extraordinary maritime history. Check out also the city’s main Oriente Station designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava that launched the city’s memorable Expo festival in 1998. A highly photogenic city, Lisbon’s various architectural styles create a textured environment that stimulates the eye.
Sneakers are an essential item for any trip to Lisbon, which is an ideal walking city, especially the old town district. Just beware of the city’s hills, however. A handy tip is to take one of Lisbon’s rattling old trams up to a high point of the city and walk back down. Burning all those calories on foot means travellers can devour Lisbon’s famous pasteis de nata (custard tarts) without guilt in any of the city’s many pretty cafes.
After refuelling, head to the famous Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s hugely popular flea market on Tuesday and Saturday in the Alfama district. Running since the 17th century, amble the market and its huge stalls packed with antiques, furniture, books vinyl records, knick knacks, art, crockery, and vintage cameras.
An evening in Lisbon isn’t complete without hearing the famous fado. A musical genre comprising voice and guitar, fado means ‘fate’ and is an emotional, often melancholic style of music that can be heard most nights in Lisbon’s bars, cafes and restaurants. Fado is so integral to the cultural identity of Portugal that UNESCO lists it as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
When exploring a city in just 48 hours, it’s important to be properly equipped so you can squeeze every last drop out of your limited time. Often only bringing a carry-on case means bringing items that are versatile should be your packing 101.
The stylish full grain leather Foster from Awling is a fine example of a versatile accessory. Its relaxed leather and nubuck appearance makes it ideal for daytime exploring but the polished brass buckle means it also doubles up for a dinner date.
With its wonderful architecture, bright sunshine and views of the Atlantic, Lisbon is a coastal capital where seeing everything in sharp focus is a must – so pack your sunglasses. Awling crafts a sturdy glasses case that bears the brand’s subtle yet distinctive three-dot mark and is handy for life on the road. The same three-dot mark can also be found on Awling’s billfold wallet, which will keep all your credit cards, currency and Lisbon Metro card safely stored. While sipping an espresso in a cosy cafe and watching the world go by, scribble down your observations and tips for future visits to Lisbon in a Moleskine notebook wrapped in a luxurious leather journal.
With these trusty pieces from Awling, all of which are proudly handmade in England, you’ll discover city breaks can be a stylish and adventurous exercise. The only question that remains is this: where will you go next with Awling?