A Day Trip to Marvila, the Beer District of Lisbon

Written By Becky Gillespie

When tourists first come to Lisbon, they head straight for the Praça do Comércio and its surrounding streets. They head up the hills and look out over the Tejo River. They walk along the boardwalk or take bikes from Cais do Sodré to the district of Belém, stopping by Pastéis de Belém for Portugal’s iconic egg custard tart pastry before marveling at the sprawling Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower.

When my friends come to visit me in Lisbon, this is the path we usually take. If we have three days together, I also try to bring them to Sintra early in the morning to beat the crowds to the Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Then, I take them to the much quieter Biester Palace next door before a final stop at the Monserrate Palace.

But what if your friends stay for a week and they are not museum people but still have a desire to explore the unique Lisbon landscape? In that case, I always save a day for Marvila and Braça de Prata.

The Not-So-Beaten Lisbon Path

Marvila remains off of the beaten path in Lisbon, primarily due to its inaccessibility to public transport. While it’s easy to reach the area by taxi, rideshare, or bus, it is not on the metro line. The regional Azambuja train line running from Santa Apolónia or Alcântara-Terra to Azambuja also stops here, dividing the district between the wealthier part of town close to the river and the poorer, more neglected area close to the train station.

When I went to Marvila for the first time, I felt like I had landed on a Caribbean island as I walked over rock-paved paths with weeds growing in between. I passed crumbling stone walls and felt like I would turn and see an old cannon sticking out of an embattlement ready to fight off invaders. The path from the Marvila train station takes you from the top of the hill down precarious stairs looking over a gully. A boat was lying sideways in the gully the first time that I came to visit. Marvila felt like it was in an entirely different city, but this is also what makes Marvila appealing. It is different. It seems forgotten and abandoned in so many ways, but there is treasure to be found.

Your Marvila Itinerary

1) Marvila Library

The Marvila Library opened on November 27, 2016, and slowly started to transform the impoverished district. Located in the middle of social housing, the Marvila Library is a 3,000 m2  haven for local residents, particularly students who have been encouraged to play and design their own video games through the library’s innovative gaming events.

With striking architecture by architect Hestnes Ferreira, the library provides an interesting perspective on the way this neighborhood is changing, and how different it will seem once you cross the train tracks. Check out this article for more on the history of Marvila Library’s gaming initiatives.  

2) Café com Calma – The Perfect Lunch Stop

After stopping by the library, which is recommended only if you’re coming by train, grab lunch at Café com Calma at Rua do Açúcar 10. In fact, Café com Calma only serves lunch and is open from 11:00 AM-3:30 PM Monday to Friday.

We recommend that you get here right when they open or no later than 11:30 AM, as this place is very popular, and rightly so. It serves different lunch specials for under 15 which includes soup, a main course, dessert, a drink, and coffee. Guests can choose between vegan or meat options. Expect lots of flavorful and tasty greens along with friendly service and, as the name suggests, a calm and inviting atmosphere.

3) A Beer Crawl Through Marvila

Dois Corvos

When it comes to putting Marvila on the map as Lisbon’s beer district, Dois Corvos, which means “two crows” in Portuguese is where it all began on Rua Capitão Leitão 94. Scott Steffens and his wife Susana Cascais opened Marvila’s first production brewery in 2015. Today, the taproom remains in the same location, but the brewery itself has moved about 1 km away.

Dois Corvos has 17 taps serving their freshest beer and a full kitchen. Known for their creativity and innovation from the very beginning, Dois Corvos produces 3-4 new releases per month in a wide variety of styles including IPAs, NEIPAs, double NEIPAs, mixed fermentation and sours, lagers, and pilseners, to name a few. With its large booths, ever-changing list of beers, and large menu, Dois Corvos is an essential stop on a tour through Marvila. Check their Instagram for their latest events.

Interior of Dois Corvos, Photo by Becky Gillespie
Trying the beer at Dois Corvos, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Musa da Marvila

Fábrica Musa opened its first taproom and brewery in Marvila on Rua do Açúcar, which operated from 2016-2022. Two months after their original location closed, they reopened a ten-minute walk down the street on May 14, 2022, ultimately changing their name to Musa da Marvila.

Musa names all of its beers after the names of songs or bands such as Twist & Stout, Born in the IPA, and Red Zeppelin Ale. Musa frequently plays host to pub quizzes and music events, and you can stay up to date with these on their Instagram. They have a lovely outdoor space so if you can visit Marvila on a sunny day, this would be ideal for a visit to Musa.

Musa Beer from its original location, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Fermentage Brewpub

Fermentage Brewpub rounds out our trio of beer stops along the Marvila journey and is located just half a block down the same street as Dois Corvos at Rua Capitão Leitão 1B. Formerly known as Cerveja Lince, the owners of Fermentage are passionate brewers that also serve great pizza. They frequently hold events including pub quizzes, standup comedy nights, and DJ sets.

You can also play board games and try one of their creative beers on tap. We recommend this as the final stop on your beer tour of Marvila as it is the most geared toward settling in for a while and hanging out with friends or playing board games.  

4) Aquele Lugar que Não Existe – That Place That Doesn’t Exist

Across from the former location of Fábrica Musa lies that place that doesn’t exist. Yes, that is its name translated into English and its interior design can only be described as quirky – the perfect place off the beaten path. By the time you reach Aquele Lugar que Não Existe, you may prefer to order wine, which they’ve got plenty of along with cocktails, pizza, and a variety of starters. Be warned: this place is pretty expensive for what you get and the service can be quite slow on occasion. Go for the nice view on the top floor and the aforementioned funky design. Something different in a different kind of neighborhood.

Sitting on the terrace, Aquele Lugar que Não Existe, Photo by Becky Gillespie

5) Fábrica Braço de Prata

Your last stop on a trip to Marvila should be Fábrica Braço de Prata, once a military factory that was later deactivated in the 1990s, which is now a cultural center pulsating with life. It hosts a myriad of events from live music and art exhibitions to literary talks. Its industrial architecture, combined with artistic installations, creates a unique backdrop. Stay up to date with their weekly events by checking out their website.  

Fábrica do Braço de Prata is one of my favorite places to visit in Lisbon, but it also is currently one of the most endangered cultural spaces in the city, which is obvious the moment you see the brand-new apartment buildings next door.

Fábrica do Braço de Prata is also home to an RV park, which is one of the best deals in the city if you can bring your own RV. Guests can enjoy nightly events right along with visitors coming in from other parts of Lisbon. With gentrification nipping at its heels, Fábrica Braço de Prata is living on borrowed time. Visit as soon as you can.

Storytelling night at Fàbrica Braço de Prata, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Final Thoughts

Marvila may not look like much from the outside. It may not be easy to get to or close to some of Lisbon’s more famous attractions, but this is an interesting study in contrasts between the Lisbon that was and the city that Lisbon is becoming.

I have no doubt that the forces of gentrification pushing Marvila towards dramatic change will continue, but hopefully, this neighborhood can also build more social housing and the richer riverside area can more equitably share some of its profits with the older residents near the train tracks.

How do we keep a neighborhood’s authenticity while also allowing for improvements? Walking through Marvila and seeing the changes that are already occurring may help you form your own answers as you spend a day in this more off the radar corner of Lisbon.  

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