Destination, Lisbon: Ideas for a Portugal-Themed Event

Transport attendees to a culture-rich region that’s warm in the wintertime

As far as top travel destinations in Europe go, you don’t hear the word “Lisbon” thrown into the mix as much as, say, Paris, Milan or London. But as the second-oldest capital city in Europe, culture- and history-rich Lisbon is undoubtedly one of the region’s most underrated gems. Short of whisking your attendees to the city’s cobblestone streets in person, you can still bring the magic of Portugal to your own event for the evening. 

From coastal cuisine to tranquil music by candlelight, we list four inspiring ways. 

Eat Like a Local

Nestled on the banks of the Tagus River in the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon is renowned for its stellar seafood. Although the region boasts a wide variety of fish and crustaceans to dine on, the local favorite is undoubtedly cod. While it may be cooked in a variety of ways, the classic variety is bacalhau, which is dried and salted. Prior to the main dish, another local seafood—Amêijoas à Bulhao Pato (clams cooked in olive oil, garlic, salt and cilantro)—makes a great appetizer or snack. 

Similarly, Portugal is also world-renowned for its signature dessert: flaky, savory custard tarts, as seen here in a photo from the Lisbon Marriott Hotel

Feel the Fado

As far as cultural highlights go, it doesn’t get more quintessentially Portuguese than fado, the country’s traditional folk music. It’s similar to folk in other parts of the world, but with extra mandolin accompanied by smooth, poetic lyrics that are particularly morose, though sometimes humorous. The style dates back to the early 1800s in Lisbon, though its roots may be much older. 

For your event, you might source live musicians who specialize in fado or a DJ who can curate the genre’s top artists and songs. The style of music would pair well with a robust red glass of vinho—more on that to come. 

Take a Ride on a Tuk-Tuk

A familiar sight in Lisbon in recent years is the tuk-tuk, that distinctive, three-wheeled vehicle that’s been enlisted to help growing numbers of tourists navigate the city. While their primary purpose in Portugal is to help people get around more efficiently, tuk-tuks are undoubtedly cute—and completely worth incorporating into your Lisbon-themed event. 

Simpler than enlisting a tuk-tuk as transportation for your attendees is using the vehicle as a decorative piece, similar to this coffee display. Alternatively, you could provide vihno and Portuguese brews on the tuk-tuk, too. 

Pick Portuguese Vinho

Known for the distinctiveness and value of its wine varieties, Portugal’s wine culture is relatively indigenous, with over 250 varieties that define the landscape. Similar to Italy, Portugal’s wine is produced by region.

For a true Lisbon look and feel, you’ll want to try the Lisboa varieties that run northward from Lisbon along the coast. Some of the most prominent: Alenquer (which is a concentrated, high-tannin red wine), Bucelas (a light, citrusy variety typically aged four or more years) and Colares (one of the rarer finds, golden in color and made with grapes grown on beach cliffs overlooking the Tagus). Further inland, you’ll find varieties such as Port, a fortified sweet wine grown in the Douro Valley hills, and also the country’s most famous flavor.