In recent years, Lisbon has become a bit of a hot-spot for working creatives — and with so many galleries, coworking spaces, artisan cafés, shops, and creative events, it’s easy to see why.
This small, friendly city of striking contrasts is the ideal place for creative regeneration. So if you’re headed to the Portuguese capital with the hope of finding a bit of creative inspiration, this might just be the guide for you.
If you’re a freelancer with a calendar that doesn’t allow for much free time, take advantage of the many coworking spaces Lisbon has to offer.
Cowork Central: Situated in the heart of Cais do Sodré, Cowork Central a is cozy coworking hub for creative and independent minds. They provide a variety of desks and office spaces for all types of creatives, as well as a range of services for freelancers, startups, and small companies. Ideal for those visiting the city, Cowork Central offers passes for “roaming” nomads at €10 for up to three hours, daily visits at €15, five-day passes at €65, or 10-day passes at €120.
Coworklisboa: Located in a former industrial warehouse, LX Factory, Coworklisboa is the first large coworking space in Portugal. Home to a diverse community of developers, scientists, architects, photographers, and artists, the space comes highly recommended by locals. Desks start at €12 per day and €40 per week, though there are non-desk, meeting, and studio options as well.
Village Underground Lisboa: Composed of 14 shipping containers and two double-decker buses, Village Underground Lisbon is both a coworking space and a venue for cultural events. There are 60 available spots for those who want to utilize the space, and each container or bus can be shared by up to five people. Daily passes start at €15, while monthly passes for a shared container are €125.
Todos: This Poco do Bispo-based coworking space focuses primarily on multimedia, film, music, design, and photography. Although its staff interviews all local applicants for suitability, travelers can simply send them an email to see if space is available on the days they’d like to visit. Todos offers 40-square-meter studio spaces as well as a photography studio, an editing and post-production suite, fitting rooms, and meeting spaces.
WorkHub: Tucked away in eastern Lisbon, WorkHub is a space where freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups, makers, and nomads can work under the same roof. Visitors can rent attic-based desks for €100 per month or just €10 per day. The coworking hub is housed in a historic building and also offers garden views, a balcony café, meeting spaces, and a host of workshops.
From festivals, fairs, workshops, and lectures, Lisbon is home to plenty of creative events that will spark a bit of inspiration. Here are a few favorites.
CreativeMornings Lisbon: CreativeMornings is a (free) breakfast lecture series that was founded by Tina Roth-Eisenberg for creatives in cities across the globe. The Lisbon branch holds events at various spaces around the city one Friday a month. The focus of each lecture is always different, but no matter which one you attend, you’ll be sure to find coffee, snacks, and good conversation. For up-to-date information on CreativeMornings LX, follow them on Instagram.
The New Art Fest: Each year, the city of Lisbon hosts the New Art Fest, an international art, new media, and “Internet of things” festival that explores cognitive innovation in contemporary art. The festival celebrates works of art at various locations in the cultural axis of the capital and highlights pieces by both national and international artists. For more information, visit their website.
Arte Lisboa (Contemporary Art Fair): Dozens of prestigious art galleries come together each spring to promote contemporary national and international art in Lisbon through Arte Lisboa. This event includes a series of debates and entry to the “Project Room,” a space devoted entirely to collaborative and experimental art projects. The goal of the art fair is to stimulate the development of artistic production and its patronage in Lisbon.
MURO Street Art Festival: MURO is a festival created to break down the social divide in Lisbon through street art. Regional and international street artists gather for the festival each spring to bring art to public spaces and gather artists, visitors, and residents together to foster a greater sense of community in the city.
The Lisbon Book Fair: One of the oldest cultural festivals held in the Portuguese capital, the Lisbon Book Fair was founded in the 1930s. It is typically located at Eduardo VII Park (Parque Eduardo VII), the largest park in Lisbon, in the vicinity of the monumental Praca do Marques de Pombal. Most of the books are in Portuguese, but there are plenty of stalls showcasing publications in English as well. So if you want to take a few rarities back home with you and sample the charm that the event is known for, head to Lisbon in mid-May.
Whether you’re looking to peruse murals, photographs, illustrations, sculptures, or installations, Lisbon’s art galleries have a little something for everyone.
Galeria Belo-Galsterer: Housed in an art-deco building dating back to the 1940s, Belo-Galsterer first opened its doors in 2012 but has already established itself as a prominent gallery for up-and-coming local and international artists. The space displays drawings, sculptures, art installations, and videos that explore the values of contemporary society. Additionally, the gallery offers workshops, seminars, and art tours.
Galeria 111: Founded in the 60s by Manuel de Brito, one of the biggest art collectors and most famous Portuguese gallery owners, Galeria 111 is known as the meeting place for the best contemporary artists in Lisbon. Paula Rego, António da Costa, Vieira da Silva, Júlio Pomar, and Eduardo Batarda are just a few of the artists who used to meet there. Today, the gallery continues to promote renowned artists and new voices in the industry.
A Pequena Galeria: Inspired by a New York-based photography gallery, A Pequena Galeria (which literally means “small gallery”) launched its space just a few years ago. The gallery lives up to its name and occupies a small building, which displays photographs of both well-known and unknown photographers. Its founders use exhibitions to showcase unique aspects of the arts, including creative photography, criticism and research, antique book-selling, and art auctions.
Wozen: Known as one of the go-to places where creatives can hold meetings and workshops in the city, Wozen holds weekly events for both children and adults, as well as collective exhibitions for various artistic movements. The goal of the gallery is to create an open space for creative expression and sustainable processes, so if you’re looking to enjoy a glass of wine and draw with strangers (and maybe even get a tattoo while you’re at it), check out their upcoming events.
Galeria Underdogs: Founded in 2010, Galeria Underdogs is warehouse space that promotes contemporary culture’s latest forms of communication and art. The gallery works closely with some of the leading urban artists from around the world and also hosts solo and group shows, meetings, conversations, and guided tours of Lisbon’s street art.
No trip is complete without a little shopping. From books to local products, handmade goods, and all sorts of other bric-a-brac, here are a few artsy shops to add to your list of locales.
This & That: Although the offerings of this shop are difficult to define, This & That is definitely worth visiting. The storefront stocks pieces by Portuguese artists as well as imported homeware and a whole slew of artisan goods. The selection is extremely eclectic, ranging from ceramic pieces by the likes of Graça Pereira Coutinho to illustrated books and handmade lightboxes. It’s a great place to pick up mementos, but don’t get too carried away or you might end up having to check an extra bag on your flight home.
Puracal: Drawing inspiration from all over the world, this Portuguese brand is known for its colorful items and decor. Inside, shoppers can browse everything from refurbished old furniture to locally designed home goods, cushion collections, and brightly hued notebooks. The shop also features products from other brands, including rugs, linens, and earthenware.
39a Concept Store: Overseen by model Raquel Prates, this shop features the work of Portuguese clothing designers that personify international market trends. 39a offers accessories, shoes, bags, coats, swimwear, and much more — but if it’s a bit pricey for your taste, just pop in and have a look around. The shop itself is sure to leave an impact.
Verso Branco: Located in Santos, this recently inaugurated space is both a store and a fine art gallery. Though its front window is large enough for visitors to glimpse the creative chaos from outside, you’ll want to wander inside the space as well. The shop is filled with Portuguese designs, including the work of Fernando Brízio and Rute Gomes, while the gallery serves as a showroom for local artists.
Ler Devagar (“Read Slowly”): Though this shop first opened in 1999 in Bairro Alto, it was eventually moved to its current location at the contemporary LX factory in Alcântara. Built inside an old printing factory alongside its original iron framework and machinery, Ler Devagar is often deemed one of the most visually appealing bookstores in the world. The shop’s location also makes it a site for many local art events.
Along with the Lisbon’s many coworking spaces, artisan cafés seem to be popping up all over the Portuguese capital. Whether you’re craving a cup of joe or a place to do a bit of work, here are a few creatively designed coffee shops to explore.
Montana Lisboa Café: A small collection of tables comprises this humble terrace café, but what it lacks in stature it more than makes up for in atmosphere. Situated on the River Tejo, Montana Lisboa offers an environment filled with specialty coffee, art, and rainbow-hued bagels. The café is also part of the Underdogs Art Store, a small gallery and shop showcasing some of Lisbon’s best urban art.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab: As the name suggests, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is Lisbon’s Scandinavian-style coffee shop. The minimal decor gives the space a relaxed and inviting atmosphere where you can sit for hours sipping on quality coffee or enjoying a bite to eat. Note that although the café does have WiFi, it is a laptop-free zone where computers are not allowed — so grab your notebook or sketch pad and let your creativity flow.
Café Tati: Just a stone’s throw from Cais do Sodré, Café Tati is a lively spot to visit by day or night. In this converted warehouse setting, you’ll find a young, bohemian crowd, a friendly staff, and a whole lot of mismatched vintage furniture. Because of its central location, Café Tati is a popular spot to relax after a day of exploring (or working). And, if you’re looking for live music, visit in the evening and soak up the sounds of the shop’s fixture jazz band.
Brick Café: This cozy café is situated in Lisbon’s Intendente neighborhood, a place known for its quirky, artisan atmosphere. Aside from its specialty coffee, Brick Café is known for its eclectic decor and evolving menu, which changes almost every day and is full of traditional Portuguese delicacies. If you’re looking to catch up on some reading, writing, or drawing, this is a great environment to do all of the above.
Arts Café: Located near Santa Apolónia Station, Arts Café is a bright and spacious neighborhood coffee (and lunch) spot in São Vicente, just a short walk from Alfama. As its name suggests, the café highlights various paintings and artwork from local artists. As a bonus, there are plenty of power outlets, so you shouldn’t have a problem charging your computer or other devices while you work — just don’t forget your converter!
Header image by Sara Bussolari