Italy is known as the gelato hub but did you know that Lisbon, Portugal has kept traditions alive with many saying the local shops rival those gelato shops in Italy? Writer Kate Armstrong takes us on a sweet escape!
For travellers in need of a sugar fix after a big night out or a brain freeze to cool off in Lisbon’s summer heat, a gelato hits the sweet spot (as does the price – from around €1.50 for generous servings). I know what you’re thinking, “But the best Gelato is in Italy! Right?”. Well lucky for Lisbon, the Italian influence is high and some say they do a better job than the Italians.
Although a number of gelato outlets dot the streets of Lisbon’s downtown, many offer inferior, factory-made ice-cream. Worth seeking out for the genuine thing are the following tried-and-tested ice-cream places:
Two words: must go. Run by an Italian duo, this small hole in the wall is worth the 15 minute walk from Bairro Alto. The gelati are made on the premises, using natural flavours and in the old-fashioned, labour-intensive Italian way. The owners import Italian treats including Sicilian pistachios, to add the authentic, and very good, choices. A long line of people will indicate you’re in the right spot, but the queue progresses quickly.
This Italian ice-cream palace is located a 15-minute walk from the downtown area, but it’s oh so worth pounding the pavements to get here. Once in its modern confines, you can get your tongue around some quirky flavours – around 30 with several that change regularly. All are made on the premises of the Santos location (there’s another location in Belém).
This is one to consider if you are obsessed with ice-cream. Another Italian duo, Marco and Elena Bauli, moved to Lisbon especially to make gelati in the traditional way. One Mú location is on Campos dos Mártires da Pátria, an uphill hike from the main avenue, Avenida Liberdade, or a more accessible hole-in-the-wall option is handily located in Principe Real. As well as the usual favourites – nocciola (hazelnut) and cioccolato (choccie) – creative flavours include Oreo, plus cheesecake with fruit and cassata. And, heaps of gluten- and lactose- free options fit the bill for many.
his is an old-fashioned ice-cream parlour, albeit a famous one, that is loved by Portuguese because of nostalgic reasons; it’s been around for several generations since it came to Portugal in 1949. There are several outlets, including that in the “Time Out” Market (aka Mercado Ribeira) as it makes a great dessert after you’ve indulged at the many food stalls that are run by Lisbon’s high profile chefs. Popular longstanding flavours are strawberry and cream, and chocolate (of course). Other locations include Chiado and Belém.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Once you’ve flown into Lisbon, getting around on foot is the easiest way to go (wear sturdy shoes or runners because of cobblestones) but the city is well serviced by local buses and metro. The Visit Lisboa tourist office provides good maps and information.
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Melting with joy right now? What are some of your favourite Lisbon gelato bars?
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