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Discovering Portugal: My favourite Lisbon quiosques

Quiosques are small huts that can be found on many squares around Lisbon. They serve all kinds of drinks, from draught beer and spirits to soft drinks and coffee, as well as simple meals. Lisbon isn’t short of squares, and so dotted around the city are many great quiosques that offer the perfect break from work, sightseeing or simply navigating the narrow hilly streets in the heart of the city. Whenever you’ve walked up what feels like an interminably steep Lisbon hill, at the summit there is always a quiosque ready to greet you with a freshly squeezed orange juice.

Quiosque at Largo do Carmo

Largo do Carmo is a charming square in the Chiado area of the city. It is overlooked by the imposing Igreja do Carmo, a roofless church that was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that rocked Lisbon and much of Portugal. With the church left as it was after the earthquake, it stands as a memorial to the disaster. Nowadays, you can visit the church with cultural events taking place in its ruins, such as concerts and light displays. The square was also an important landmark in the events of the Portuguese Revolution in 1974. 

Despite its turbulent history, the mosaiced square is nowadays a truly beautiful and tranquil place with trees offering shade, restaurants, a fountain in the middle as well as talented buskers – a perfect environment for a fruit juice in the day or an imperial in the evening (a Portuguese measure of beer that is around half a pint).

The quiosque is not far from some of the most upmarket areas of Chiado, a great setting for a pre- or post-dinner drink. What’s more, if you sit in a seat facing the Igreja do Carmo, there is a passageway through which you can see the colourful roofs of the Mouraria area on the other side of Lisbon. I love sitting and reading at this quiosque, a coffee or an orange juice in one hand, a book in the other, watching the world go by.  

Quiosque at Praça Luís de Camões

Close to Largo do Carmo, the Praça Luís de Camões is in the heart of the Chiado area. It is a bustling area of the city, with many shops, cafés, restaurants and bars around the square and on adjacent streets. The square also borders the Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré areas of Lisbon, two very lively areas that are popular for their bars and nightlife. This makes it a good meeting point with friends for an evening drink. Whenever I have visited this quiosque, it has mainly been to drink coffee in the daytime. 

The coffee here, and essentially everywhere in Portugal, is really good quality. Coffee is very important in Portugal, and this is perhaps why there are so many quiosques. In a lot of places a coffee only costs around €0.70/ €0.80. Taking time, even if you only have a couple of minutes, to sit and enjoy a coffee is very common in Portugal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in Portugal holding a take-away coffee. This is something that I really enjoyed in Portugal and that I did several times at this quiosque. A little oasis of peace among the crowds, the quiosque’s location between Rossio and the Santos/ Principe Real areas of the city makes it a great place to briefly pause the day’s sightseeing or tasks before moving onto the next part of the day.

Just down the hill from the quiosque is the famous Rua Garrett, a shopping street on which the Bertrand bookshop (the oldest operating bookshop in the world) and the Armazens do Chiado shopping centre can be found. The Livraria Bertrand is a striking building, covered in blue azulejos on the outside, the shop extends really far back through a series of brick tunnels with high wooden shelves covering all wall space and boasting books on every topic. At the end of the brick tunnel there is a nice café, where people often go to work with a laptop or read a recently-acquired book.

Not far from the quiosque, there is a bakery called Manteigaria, a pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart) factory and shop which, in my opinion, serves some of the best in Lisbon. Although there are several Manteigaria branches around the city, I particularly like the one near the Praça Luís de Camões because there is space inside to stand with – you guessed it – a coffee. 

Quiosque at Portas do Sol/ Miradouro Santa Luzia

The quiosque at Portas do Sol offers one of the most emblematic views of Lisbon’s Alfama area. One of the oldest parts of Lisbon, Alfama is full of winding cobbled streets, ancient houses, bougainvillea and, in the evening, enchanting Fado music that echoes around the neighbourhood. There’s a reason why it’s called Portas do sol, doors onto the sun: the view is spectacular. From the viewing platform you can see palm trees, the white buildings and orange roofs of Alfama and the deep azure of the Tagus river stretching out before you. Under the bright Portuguese sunshine, everything is illuminated, an abundance of light fills the space, and the sunrise there is stunning, definitely worth waking up for. The famous Tram 28 that passes through Chiado, Santos and Alfama stops just in front of the quiosque, making it a perfect pit stop on a busy day of sightseeing. I’d recommend avoiding the area at midday: not only is it incredibly hot in the summer months and in September, but there are often a lot of people there. It’s better to go there in the morning or late afternoon. 

Quiosque at Praça de São Paulo

A favourite of mine for a drink in the evening, the quiosque at the Largo de São Paulo is a beautiful tree-lined square composed of Portuguese tiles with a fountain in the middle. The quiosque is conveniently located near to Pink Street, a pedestrian street which, as the name indicates, is indeed pink. This street is one of the hubs of Lisbon’s nightlife, you will find many bars and nightclubs. What’s more, the street is close to Cais do Sodré, an area overlooking the Tagus river and the 25th April bridge with lots of cool bars with great events, such as jazz nights, as well as good restaurants. 

To one side of the Praça de São Paulo, you find Pink Street and on the other side the Igreja de São Paulo. Its proximity to Pink Street makes it a great place for a couple of beers in the evening, a good meeting point for friends on a night out or for a nice post-beach drink after getting off the train at the nearby Cais do Sodré station. The coastal train route from Cais do Sodré station takes you past many picturesque beaches that are great for a winter stroll or for sunbathing in the warmer months. After just 45 minutes, the train terminates in Cascais, a beach town that despite being close to Lisbon, has a much more relaxed atmosphere and feels far away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.  

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of this quiosque, but it is definitely one worth visiting, a real gem hidden in plain sight. 

Enjoyed this? Read George’s other pieces:

Unmissable Towns in the Algarve
Évora, A Hidden Gem