Green Travel Guide to Lisbon!

lisbon tram street tourism.jpg

Given that one half of WOMB’s woman-power lives in Lisbon, it is a surprise for us that this travel guide comes out only now - also because Lisbon is a true Mecca for vegans, green travellers and atmosphere-lovers. Let us take you on a guided tour through Lisbon’s best sustainable corners!

Getting around Lisbon (Womb’s green score: 5/5)

Now, we rarely give the maximum score to any place that we go to, but Lisbon is definitely a place that deserves it. First of all, Lisbon is truly a pearl for those who simply like walking. The distances between most of touristic attractions, but also other important or curious sites, are perfectly manageable and the walks are always interesting and surprising. The only thing all ‘city-hikers’ of Lisbon must always remember about is comfortable shoes (preferably also ones that prevent from sliding), because of the characteristic hilliness and cobblestone that paves most of the sidewalks. In case the distance proves too big after all, Lisbon is equipped in very decent public transport - metro, buses and trams are all easy to use and perfectly available, connecting most of the places you would theoretically want to go. On top of that, the city offers rentable bikes, electric scooters and even electric cars that can be picked up and used for a paid amount of time. Uber and Bolt also exist very well in Lisbon, but truth be told sometimes there is no need for them. However, since a Lisbon local writes this article, we only have one thing to ask of you: whenever you rent a scooter, please please be careful and mindful of the road signs. The accidents multiple recently because of clueless, distracted tourists going up one-way streets, trespassing red lights and generally not respecting the basic road rules. Use all of the sustainable means of transport that Lisbon offers - but be mindful while at it!

Avocado, mango, tempeh, red cabbage, corn chips and hummus… If this is not perfection, we don’t know what is. At  Comoba , Lisbon. Image: Womb

Avocado, mango, tempeh, red cabbage, corn chips and hummus… If this is not perfection, we don’t know what is. At Comoba, Lisbon. Image: Womb

Green eating in Lisbon (Womb’s green score: 5/5)

Yeah, yeah, we know - another maximum? Does not seem like an objective guide… We know, but still, it’s a max. The number of vegan food places in Lisbon is countless, just as well as sustainable shops selling in bulk and offering amazing nutritious alternatives for those who eat more mindfully.

In terms of vegan or vegetarian restaurants, one of our all-time favourites is Comoba, whose Micro Flower Power bowl is to die for (check out the pic on the right!). Their menu is nearly fully vegan - if we are not mistaken, they have one fish-based option, which is a nice twist for us to see, given that the vegans are usually the ones who have one or two options on a regular menu elsewhere - in Comoba, the roles invert. Other than the food, they make sure there is no disposables in the restaurant, so you will never see a straw and all the napkins are fabric instead of paper.

Not far from Comoba, there is our next favourite, O Botanista, which we already mentioned briefly in our vegan Instagram inspirations. Apart from the splendid all-vegan dishes, this place is famous for their cakes that look incredibly, taste even better and are completely vegan. Both of those are in the area called Cais do Sodré, minutes off the TimeOut Market, where you can also get some nice food options, as well as some local veggie and fruits shopping, which we obviously encourage to do without plastic bags.

Another place deserving a honourable mention is Juicy Lisboa, a space created by a former co-founder of Mana! Slow Fast Food in Hong Kong, which a lot of you might know. The concept is very alike, with selection of wraps, burgers and sides that taste amazing and are all vegetarian or vegan. This guide wouldn’t be reliable if we didn’t mention the classics like Ao26 Vegan Food Concept and The Food Temple. If you are looking for an all-you-can eat buffet, head straight to Jardim dos Sentidos and go crazy on their awesome vegan selection of foods that you can eat and eat and eat. Very wallet-friendly and atmospheric place on Rua da Mãe de Água.

If you are not really a going-out kind of person and prefer to cook at your rental instead of eating in restaurants, there are plenty of shopping options around Lisbon. Simply find the closest Celeiro, Go Natural or any of the local small shops or markets with fresh veggies and fruits to whip something nice out! Lisbon is really full of places for vegans and vegetarians, even though it may seem aimed more at seafood lovers. It is really a maximum score in terms of availability and quality of the options.

Conscious shopping in Lisbon (Sorry, but again - 5/5)

Portugal is a very unique place, from our personal observation, because unlike most European countries, it has a really strong context of local production and sustainable fabrics. With abundance of materials such as cork, organic cotton, linen and others, local brands can with minimal effort afford to produce locally, without outsourcing to other, less-ethical countries. Thanks to governmentally-funded institutions and companies that study and expand development of sustainable fabrics and materials (such as Citeve or Tintex) the industry is going forward continuously. Thriving local brands such as Organii (cosmetics), NAE and Zouri (shoes), Näz or ISTO (clothing), Wonda or Conscious Swimwear (swimwear) push the sustainable debate further, and they broadly sell in offline stores. In Lisbon, you can look for them in Embaixada on Praça do Príncipe Real or LX Factory. Generally, it is good to swing by some innocent-looking boutiques because you never know what treasures they may hide inside. It goes without saying that tourist souvenir shops won’t get you far when it comes to sustainability in shopping, but there are undeniably plenty of options for locally-made ceramics, homeware, clothing and souvenirs. General rule of thumb is, if it looks made-in-China and a little bit too cheap, it probably is and we believe we all can nowadays recognise the rubbish products.

Lisbon also has a very strong zero-waste movement - for food and low-waste accessories, go to the amazing Maria Granel! If you are looking for vintage or second hand shops, you mustn’t miss A Outra Face da Lua and Humana (with branches all around Lisbon). Really, if only you want to step off the beaten path with your holidays shopping, Lisbon is the perfect place to provide options.

Waste in Lisbon (Womb’s green score: 3/5)

Of course, no place is ever perfect and so happens to be the case of Lisbon. While being an ideal destination when all of the advantages above are taken into account, Lisbon still cripples when it comes to waste management. It’s not necessarily a dirty city, but it’s not clean either. Constantly raided by tourists who are allowed to drink outside and some bars still providing disposable plastic cups, after weekends the city tends to be covered in unnecessary trash. Happily, loads of outdoor events are offering reusable cups which you just “rent” for the time of the event and then give back to receive your deposit back. At this point, it is probably true for all of the main festivals in Portugal. However, the day-to-day waste management and disposal leaves a lot to wish for. There are water fountains around town, mostly in parks, but if you are not a local knowing exactly where to look for them, you might have to rely on plastic bottled water. The good thing is that plastic straws are a rarity, but we suppose it’s a positive trend in general, not only in Lisbon. It’s still a popular touristic destination, and not all tourists travel responsibly yet. Therefore, being a rather small city, Lisbon still seems to have problems processing the amounts of trash left by tourists - it’s simply not easy to engage enough man-power to deal with it. However, the solutions are gradually put in place to certain extents and with Lisbon being the Green Capital next year (Lisbon 2020), we are probably looking at some serious focus on making it even more sustainable.

On a more positive note when it comes to waste management, all the housing buildings are equipped with recycling bins - separate for paper, plastic and mixed/bio trash. Containers for glass disposal are also very common, so if you live in Lisbon or rent a space here, you can easily recycle your trash. However, the recycling habits are in no way checked and executed from the inhabitants, so theoretically all the trash could go to one bin instead of separate ones. We observe that the locals are quite obedient when it comes to placing their waste in proper bins, and we only hope that tourists would do it too in their respective AirBnbs or other accommodations.

Here is another shoutout: tourists love to visit beaches around Lisbon and they indeed are a great way to spend your time. Let’s not forget to clean after ourselves whenever we go to the beach. We get pissed every time we see cigarette butts left uncollected on beaches that (free-of-charge!) offer rental of ashtrays. It’s really thoughtless to leave trash on the beach after you’ve had fun, especially since literally every beach in Portugal has a trash can directly on it or very near.

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

Lisbon travel conclusion

As we hope we have proven above, Lisbon is really one-of-a-kind sort of place for those looking for more informed and conscious stay. For vegans or more sustainably-inclined tourists, it is really a great opportunity to fully enjoy. Portugal is nowadays truly pushing for its greener side, with Lisbon 2020 program providing loads of support and funding for green initiatives and urban development. High and continuously growing interest among tourists has its clear benefits but also drawbacks. Millions of tourists visiting Lisbon annually really push the local economy forward, but also contribute to excessive energy waste and trash accumulation. It is important that we, as tourists, take responsibility for how we spend our holiday time and try to be a little bit more mindful while visiting a foreign place.

To end on a more positive note, let us assure you that you will love Lisbon no matter what kind of leisure you prefer. It’s a charming city full of green areas, comfortable amenities and incredible food. People are warm and pleasant, they smile and look for contact. It’s truly a no-brainer when it comes to holiday choice and if we all make minimal effort to keep it like this - friendly and accommodating, it will undeniably pay back!