Ask a concierge: Lisbon

At the Hotel Intercontinental Lisbon, concierge Maria Cunha has spent 32 years advising visitors on the best things to do and see, as well as the best places to dine in Portugal’s capital. Here she offers advice for business travelers.

What should business travelers pack?

Comfortable walking shoes are essential. The best way to explore downtown Lisbon is on foot. Locals dress well for all occasions; it’s a mark of respectability and a matter of pride. Men should pack nice trousers and a jacket for dinner. Women should pack dressy slacks or skirts.

What are your top restaurant recommendations for a business lunch or dinner?

Estórias na Casa da Comida (Travessa das Amoreiras, No. 1; 21 386 08 89) offers delicious food and attentive service in an upscale setting. It’s perfect for a business meal. Menu options range from venison and suckling pig to octopus and codfish. Olivier Avenida (R. Júlio César Machado 7; Ph: 93 160 10 00) offers an inventive menu in an elegantly decorated setting. Dishes add European flair to traditional Portuguese ingredients. Remember, locals eat dinner late, so if you want to dine with the crowd, make reservations after 9 p.m.

What’s one thing that always surprises guests about your city?

Visitors are always surprised by our word for a Lisbon native, alfacinha, which loosely translates to “little lettuce.”

If business travelers only have a few hours for leisure, what must they see in your city?

If you have one hour, go straight down to the Avenida da Liberdade and ride up the hill on the funicular, Elevador da Glória. At the top, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the deep blue water of the Tagus River. It’s an experience unique to Lisbon. If you have two hours, hop on Lisbon’s most famous sightseeing tram, No. 28. You’ll journey through time, experiencing how tradition lives alongside innovation in our city.

What’s the best option for outdoor exercise in your city?

Take a stroll along the riverside. The Ribeira da Naus, a renovated boatyard that’s now a riverside beach, public space and walkway, is a great place to start.

Business know-how

Concierge Maria Cunha’s top tips for getting business right in Lisbon:

  1. Expect initial greetings to be formal. Shake hands and call clients and colleagues senhor or senhora until you’re invited to use their first names.
  2. Arriving late to appointments or meetings is considered rude. Be punctual.
  3. Locals will appreciate your learning how to say “good day” (bom dia), “thank you” (obrigado) and a few other polite phrases.

Concierge Maria Cunha