Lisbon’s Most Famous Cafe is 103 Years Old Today

Cafe A Brasileira in Lisbon's Chiado neighborhood 

Lisbon’s most famous café is 103 years old today. When it opened on November 19, 1905 “A Brasileira” was such a friendly place that it even offered a free bica (the Lisbon version of an espresso) when you bought a bag of coffee beans just arrived from Brazil. Today, the coffee is no longer exclusively from that former Portuguese colony, and its waitors are notoriously the least friendly in the city.

Still, every single tourist seems to stop at A Brasileira. It’s located at the top of one of the city’s busiest pedestrian streets in the center of Chiado, and is found in every guidebook for having a statue of Fernando Pessoa at a table outside. For those who don’t know who he was, Pessoa was one of the greatest Portuguese poets of all time, a literary genious who used to sit and write at this café in the early 20th century. Today his bronze statue at the Brasileira is one of those mandatory photo stops in Lisbon.

If you won’t mind the less-than-courteous waitors, choose to sit inside, as opposed to everyone else who prefers the outdoor tables. That way you get to admire the magnificent carved dark-wood interior, and the prices there are cheaper too. Enjoy the delicious coffee, or come for a toasted sandwich or a traditional Portuguese pastry. But if you do insist on sitting outside so you can breathe in the fresh air and people-watch along with everyone else, choose Café Benard next door instead. It’s another legendary café, and although the staff will not be a great improvement from their neighbors, its famous chocolate croissants make up for it and the coffee is just as good.

See GoLisbon’s selection of Lisbon cafes here.