JUST BACK FROM: Lisbon. Built on seven hills overlooking the Atlantic, Lisbon’s steep cobbled streets are a collage of pastel-colored town houses, Art Deco storefronts and crumbling old buildings-turned-giant street art canvasses. Framed by the big sky and waving blue sea, the city shines even brighter in the summer. Jetsetter Editorial Producer Rachel Beard explored the 12th-century cathedral (a fusion of Medieval, Romanesque and Gothic architecture), walked the Praça do Comércio and hopped between bar and beach and back again.
Eat. The Portuguese know a thing or two about pastries. In Lisbon, there are countless bakeries and patisseries that churn out fresh buttery delights daily — no wonder snacking is a national pastime here. Tuck into savory pastries and pies (empanadas, salt cod croquettes, cheesy chorizo croissants), and finish with a Pasteis de Nata, a short, sharp hit of crispy, flakey, burnt custardy deliciousness. Antiga Confeitaria de Belém bake the best custard tarts in town, and the throngs of people lining up around the corner confirm its popularity.
Beach. Hop on the train from Cais do Sodré Station and snake round the coast to Cascais. The scenic 40-minute coastal journey from Lisbon passes through beach hubs Estoril and Carcavelos and costs only $5 round-trip. Cascais is a charming harbor town, with café-packed streets and a bay prime for day bathing. Cool down with gelato from Santinis, a retro ice cream parlor that has been serving cool sweets for more than 60 years.
See. Get a culture fix in Santa Cruz do Castelo, an ancient hilltop neighborhood that surrounds the Castle of São Jorge. Wander residential streets, past crumbling apartments and alfresco cafés, Wind your way up to the castle gardens, where the views stun. Fado (melancholic Portuguese folk music) haunts in this Medieval maze, where you can prop up a bar and tune into songs of passion and doom.
Drink. The streets of the bohemian Bairro Alto spiral like a labyrinth along the neighborhood bars and eateries. From traditional drinking dens to funky cocktail lounges, the intimate watering holes have wooden benches, draft beer pumps and local art on the walls. Most of the action takes place outside, as the see-and-be-seen crowd hit the streets to jostle for prime people watching positions. Take note that the area only livens up past 11:30 p.m., and don’t even think about going to a club before 2 a.m. John Malkovich co-owns Lux, one of the hippest spots in the neighborhood that attracts dance music devotees and posed hipsters in equal measure.
Stay. In the heart of Lisbon’s buzzy neighborhood of the same name, Bairro Alto Hotel is a converted 18th-century mansion with parquet floors, antique furnishings, avant-garde art and an on-site café-bar with a rotating roster of DJs and fusion tapas. For something more contemporary, head a little out of town closer to the spiritual home of custard tarts in Belém, and stay at Altis Belém Hotel & Spa, a stylish 50-room design hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Tagus River estuary.