Lisbon's Café Society: Celebrated Coffeehouses in the City

Lisbon cafés number some of the most enchanting places to eat and drink in the Portuguese capital. Celebrated for their amazing architecture, culinary diversity and endearing appeal, some are historic landmarks in their own right; others date from a more recent epoch. All however are endowed with a singular character that helps define the city’s thriving café society. One of the most original establishments is Café 28. Located near the castle, this place is designed to resemble the interior of a streetcar, the well-known number 28 tram. The Royale Café in Chiado wins with its smart décor and front and rear terraces, both ideal for al fresco get-togethers. If you like a good book with your coffee, open a page at Ha Café no Alfarrabista, a café that doubles up as a secondhand bookstore. Very novel! For a glimpse of the Art Nouveau, pop into Pastelaria–Padaria São Roque where the original early 20th-century décor whets anybody’s appetite. The laidback vibe at Pois Café attracts a youthful travelling crowd to this popular hangout up near the cathedral. On the other hand, if you’re in Belém and seeking refreshment on the waterfront, drop by Café À Margem where drinks are often served with a stunning sunset. The venerable Café Versailles in the city’s Saldanha district remains one of Portugal’s most esteemed cafes with its glorious 1920s interior and classic atmosphere. Similarly, the 200-year-old Café Nicola in the Baixa (downtown) district maintains a suitably historic and cultured air about it. Nearby in Chiado, the aptly named Café no Chiado is still one of the best places to soak in Lisbon street life while just around the corner is the charming Café Pastelaria Benard, serving customers since the late 19th century.  



Many tourists overlook this charming teahouse for the guidebook favourite, the neighbouring Café A Brasileira. But this is a mistake because Benard is a far more authentic experience, and its beautiful interior really does evoke a genuine late...  Read More



Owned by the National Centre of Culture, this historic dining venue is one of Lisbon's most picturesque cafes. It's located opposite the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos and stands on a street served by the No 28 tram. It's a favourite meeting...  Read More



This is one of the most celebrated cafes in Lisbon, and its prime position overlooking Rossio Square also makes it one of the most popular. Once the haunt of the city's late 19th-century literary set, the cafe's interior of polished marble and...  Read More

Campo Grande/Campo Pequeno


An absolute gem of a café, Versailles dates from the early 1920s and stands replete with original marble-clad walls, decorative stained glass panels and dripping chandeliers. The bygone ambiance is immediately disarming and customers can spend...  Read More



Ideal for winding down in after a walk along Lisbon's Belem waterfront, the riverside Café À Margem offers down time in sophisticated and minimalist surroundings. While known as a restaurant venue, this strikingly designed shimmering white...  Read More



A favourite with travellers who appreciate a slice of bohemia with their cup of coffee, Pois Café has garnered a reputation for its casual drop-by attitude, a fact illustrated by its oddball collection of crushed velvet sofas, rickety old...  Read More

Bairro Alto/Principe Real


Founded in the early 20th century and a splendid example of Art Nouveau architecture, this little gem of a café is noted for its ornate domed ceiling and honey-coloured columns topped with capitals adorned with angels and fruits in golden...  Read More



Alfarrabista means second-hand bookseller, and bookworms seeking a good read with their boca (espresso) should head for this delightfully offbeat café. Hundreds of hardbacks and paperbacks (some rare) plus magazines line floor to ceiling...  Read More



Chef Dolores Lopes is justifiably proud of the menu she's created for this elegant bistro. The cuisine speaks of healthy and balanced eating, of textures and flavours typical of Portugal and southern Europe. Appetizers draw on Mediterranean...  Read More



Often cited as one of most originally designed cafés in Lisbon, Café 28 is named for the city's iconic number 28 tram. But it goes one stop further: the entire café actually resembles the interior of the famous streetcar. Housed within the...  Read More


Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul