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Café A Brasileira do Chiado – Is This the Best Café in Lisbon?

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No visit to Lisbon would be complete without visiting the historic Café A Brasileira do Chiado.

It’s more of an institution in the city and any visit will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time!

The famous coffee house was established in 1905 by Adriano Telles and it became a hive for Lisbon’s literary elite with famous poets like Fernando Pessoa becoming regulars.

It still retains its gorgeous green and gold Art Deco decor so it’s usually packed with patrons throughout the day. 

You must try their famous and strong “Bica” espresso paired with a freshly baked Pastel de Nata.

I visited twice whilst I was in the city and this café blew me away with its charm even if it was a little hectic.

Here is a complete guide for Café A Brasileira with what to order and what to expect on your visit.

Café A Brasileira do Chiado Lisbon

Top Lisbon Travel Resources

  • Buy a Lisbon Card for entry to major attractions and free public transport
  • Don’t forget travel insurance, I always use World Nomads

The history of Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Café A Brasileira was established by Adriano Telles do Valle who was born in Portugal in 1859.

He travelled to Brazil in 1872 and married Guilhermina Fernandes Guimarães, the daughter of a large coffee producer in Minas Gerais.

Telles thrived in Brazil as a successful businessman but he ended up moving back to Portugal in 1898 on account of his wife’s health and he brought the coffee business back with him. 

After his wife’s death, Telles remarried in Portugal and then opened a network of coffee houses called ‘Brasileira’s’.

His goal was to create a culture in Portugal where people enjoyed drinking coffee and it was more of a romantic experience.

Café A Brasileira do Chiado Lisbon

Café A Brasileira do Chiado opened in 1905 and Telles hired Manuel Norte Júnior to design the facade and interiors.

It quickly grew popular in Lisbon and became a meeting place for artists, intellectuals and writers. Fernando Pessoa became a regular customer along with other literary giants.

Telles produced a fortnightly newspaper called ‘A Brasileira’ where he championed Brazilian coffee and the arts. 

It’s had a few renovations since it was first built but it still retains its Art Deco interiors and charm to this day. So, this historic coffee house is well favoured by Lisboans and tourists alike. 

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Why you must visit A Brasileira in Lisbon

Café A Brasileira is one of the most famous and emblematic cafés in Lisbon today. It’s a coffee house you must visit at least once as the decor and ambience is unrivalled.

Yes, it is very touristy and it will be crowded throughout the day and night but there are ways to avoid queuing such as arriving early.

It will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time and it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee rain or shine!

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

What should you order at Café A Brasileira?

Although A Brasileira is predominantly a coffee house, they serve way more than coffee here!

As they are open from 8 am until midnight, the café serves a wide range of food and beverages.

You can order coffee, cakes, a Brasileira breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner too!

Here is what I recommend ordering on your visit to A Brasileira;

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

The famous “Bica” espresso 

Back in the cafés heyday, patrons could walk out of this coffee house with a kilo of Brazilian coffee beans. 

But, nowadays, you can sample their wares with a cup of their strongest espresso called “Bica”.

Café A Brasileira is the birthplace of this espresso and the term comes from the phrase ‘drink this with sugar’ or ‘beba isto com açúcar’. 

This was so that coffee drinking became more enjoyable for Lisboans at the turn of the 20th century. 

Others claim that this is due to the way the espresso is extracted differently from Italian espresso. Either way, it’s meant to be stronger and smoother. 

As a bit of a coffee addict, I didn’t find the Bica that strong really. But, it was definitely a tasty espresso that went perfectly with my Pastel de Nata.

If you don’t like strong coffee, don’t worry. They serve up your regular latte and cappuccino known as galão (coffee with milk) too. 

Cafe A Brasileira
The famous “Bica” espresso

Pastel de Nata & sweet treats

Café A Brasileira has many different sweet treats on offer but you really cannot go wrong without ordering a freshly made Pastel de Nata.

These are something you must try whilst you’re in Lisbon and one of these custard tarts will go perfectly with an espresso or long coffee.

Every day, the café freshly bakes them in their kitchens and if you go early in the morning you’ll find these are still warm. 

Take a gander in their dessert window where you can find croissants, cream puffs, cheesecakes and fruit tarts too.

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Brasileira specialities 

If you’re looking to visit for a more hearty lunch or dinner then you should definitely order the famous Brasileira steak.

This is a timeless classic that was favoured by Fernando Pessoa who frequented the restaurant. 

The Portuguese steak is served with chips and an egg on top known as ‘riding on horseback’.

Alternatively, you can order the Brasileira breakfast or afternoon tea which is more of a fine-dining affair served on a cake tier stand and is very popular. But, expect to pay steep prices for these set menus. 

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Links to Fernando Pessoa

Just outside the café, you’ll find a life-size statue of the famous Portuguese poet and writer Fernando Pessoa.

You can pose for a photo with him whilst you’re waiting for a seat at the café as he has a spare chair waiting for you.

Pessoa used to frequent Café A Brasileira in Chiado and it is thought he wrote some of his famous works on his visits to the coffee house.

He loved the café so much he referenced it a few times in his diaries, notes and letters. According to the café, Pessoa would always order their Brasileira steak.

You can find his famous glasses on display in their café which were purchased at auction shortly after his death at just 47 years old. He has a tomb in Jeronimos Monastery.

The café has even published a book of Pessoa’s works called Message with 44 of his poems inside. This is sold in many different languages but can only be purchased exclusively at this store.

Fernando Pessoa statue Lisbon
Fernando Pessoa statue

How to visit Café A Brasileira in Lisbon

There are many of Adriano Telles’ ‘Brasileira’s’ found around Portugal as they are now a chain of coffee shops.

But, the most famous is Café A Brasileira do Chiado on the popular shopping street of Rua Garrett in Lisbon.

The coffee house is very close to Livraria Bertrand, Santa Justa Lift, Carmo Convent, Lisbon Cathedral and Elevador de Bica and is easy to access on foot. 

If you’re using Google Maps to get around click here for a Google Pin!

That being said, Lisbon is notorious for its steep streets and hills so it may be easier to catch one of the historic trams and funiculars to reach the café.

Café A Brasileira is open from 8 am until midnight every day of the week. I would go in the early morning or later in the evening evening for fewer crowds. 

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

My top tips for visiting

  • You may have to queue for a while – this is one of the most popular cafés in all of Lisbon and sees huge queues, especially in summer. I went in March and it was packed by 9 am. It’s also crowded from morning ’til night. Be one of the first customers of the day as it opens for a quieter time.
  • Don’t expect a relaxing experience – this café is always busy and a bit of a hot mess. Servers can seem offish but thats because they are swamped with orders. Just embrace the chaos and see it as a traditional Lisbon experience.
Café A Brasileira do Chiado
  • Expect sky-high prices – although not as pricey as Porto’s Majestic Café, prices here are pretty steep by Portugal standards. But, you’re paying for the decor, history and ambience. 
  • Leave around an hour or so – you should leave lots of time if you’re planning a visit here. It can be crowded and so naturally service can be slower than you’re used to.
Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Is A Brasileira worth the hype?

I think that A Brasileira is well worth visiting whilst you’re in Lisbon, if only for a cup of coffee!

As one of the most popular cafés in the city, you can expect crowds throughout the day and it’s not uncommon for there to be a large queue for seats.

You can also expect to pay much more for coffee and pastries here compared to other coffee houses in Portugal.

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Despite all that, this café is an institution in Lisbon so you’re really paying for beautiful historic decor and its legendary status.

I love nothing more than to hide away in a classic café when I travel and so I thought it was worth the time and money spent.

Whether you think it’s worth visiting will entirely depend on the time you have in the city, your interests and your budget!

Café A Brasileira do Chiado

Don’t miss Livraria Bertrand nearby 

Did you know that Café A Brasileira is just a few yards away from the oldest operating bookshop in the world?

Thats right, Livraria Bertrand has had their claim as the oldest bookstore in the world verified by Guinness World Records as it was established in 1732.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, this bookshop became a ‘tertulia’ and saw big names discuss ideas here like Fernando Pessoa, Alexandre Herculano and Ramalho Ortigão

It has moved a few times and has changed its name more times than you can count but today it’s a literary empire of over 56 stores throughout Portugal.

Their Chiado store is the original and sells a great range of Portuguese and English books. You can even get them stamped.

It’s a reading lovers paradise and it’s well worth having a browse after your café visit. 

Click here to read my complete guide for Livraria Bertrand 

Livraria Bertrand Lisbon
Livraria Bertrand Oldest Bookshop in the World

Looking for more magical things to do in Lisbon?

Lisbon is a beautiful city in Portugal. As it’s the capital, you can expect it to be busy throughout the year. 

Nearby, you can find the historic Santa Justa Lift. You must take it to see beautiful views over the city skyline. Or, climb the steps to see the view for free.

You can then pop into Carmo Covent, a goth ruin which gives you a look into the great earthquake of 1755. Don’t forget to try the cherry liquor, Ginjinha in Rossio Square. 

Carmo Convent
Carmo Convent

There are plenty of Miradouros to enjoy amazing views over the city and one of the best is Miradouro de Santa Luzia near Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa).

Praça do Comércio is the heart of the city by the river with its Arco da Rua Augusta and from here you can visit the famous Pink Street and Time Out Market. 

Away from the historic centre, you can visit the incredible bohemian LX Factory art village with the famous Livraria Ler Devagar

Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Livraria Ler Devagar LX Factory Bookstore
Livraria Ler Devagar

Then, move on to Belém where there are plenty of incredible things to do along the mighty River Tagus.

I would recommend heading to the Belém Tower, Belém Lighthouse and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. 

You can also visit the MAAT museum and get a picture-perfect view over the 25 de Abril Bridge.

Further inland, you can visit the magical Jeronimos Monastery with its stunning cloister courtyard. These cloisters had some of the most beautiful carving work I had ever seen and felt like a fairytale.

Belem Tower
Belém Tower
Jeronimos Monastery
Jeronimos Monastery

Just nearby, you must visit Pasteis de Belém which is the birthplace of Pastel de Nata or the famous custard egg tarts. 

And no visit to Lisbon would be complete without a ride on a historic tram. You can catch the famous Tram 28 or take the Elevador de Bica.

Elevador de Bica
Elevador de Bica

Where to stay in Lisbon

During my visit to Lisbon, I stayed in the fabulous Pousada de Lisboa which is part of the Small Luxury Hotels Of The World.

It’s based in Praça de Commercio and used to be part of the Royal Ribeira Palace before the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.

The entire square was rebuilt by Marquês de Pombal and this hotel was built on the previous Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Today, it has many luxurious rooms and suites to stay in the heart of Lisbon. Their breakfast buffet is exquisite in the mornings.

Also, whilst you’re here you must visit their RIB Beef & Wine restaurant which is a fine dining experience and top-rated in the city.

Click here to book your stay in Pousada de Lisboa

A Praça do Comércio Lisbon
Praça do Comércio

Read more of my Portugal guides

Palacio da Bolsa – How to visit Bolsa Palace in Porto

Livraria Lello – magical bookshop in Porto

Was Harry Potter written in Porto’s Café Majestic?

Visiting the fairytale Palacio da Bolsa aka Bolsa Palace

Why you shouldn’t skip Monserrate Palace in Sintra

The mysterious Initiation Well in Quinta de Regaleira

Save how to visit Café A Brasileira do Chiado for later!

How to visit Café A Brasileira do Chiado in Lisbon

Here are some Portugal travel resources

  • Flights: I use Skyscanner to look for flight deals. Try to be flexible with travel dates for the best prices.
  • Accommodation: is my go-to hotel platform and I’ve used them for years. 
  • Attractions & getting around: Make sure to buy a Lisbon Card for transport and attractions which will save you money.
  • Car rental: Rental Cars is a great choice that compares all sorts of rental companies and gets you the best price.
  • Activities: I love GetYourGuide and use the platform all the time for booking group tours and attraction tickets.
  • e-Reader: I love to read Romantasy books and I always take my beloved Kindle Oasis with me. It has an orange light and is waterproof which is perfect for lounging by the pool.
  • Travel insurance: I always use World Nomads to book travel insurance. You never know when you’ll need cover!