Archive for September, 2011

The 3 Reasons to Visit Lisbon in the Fall

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Lisbon

THERE’S A LOT GOING ON
After months at the beach Lisbon gets ready to enjoy city life again in the fall. There are the regular events that happen every year at this time (most of them film festivals), but 2011 is also a year of ExperimentaDesign, the city’s design biennale. It’s already happening throughout the city and will continue until November 27.
Also related to contemporary creativity is the upcoming Lisbon Fashion Week, taking place from the 6th to the 9th of October. Then come the film festivals, with the first one being DocLisboa dedicated to documentaries, from October 20th to 30th. Then in November is the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival, taking place in the capital and in the seaside suburb of Estoril from November 4th to the 13th. At the end of that month is the annual contemporary art fair Arte Lisboa, from the 23rd to the 27th.

THE PRICES ARE INVITING
As soon as August is over, the prices for accommodation in Lisbon go down. September is still considered medium-high season, but after October you can even find a few 5-star hotels for around 100 euros. You may also find some special deals when booking online, and even more incredibly affordable are the many apartments in the center of the city which through GoLisbon are available for as little as €21.25 per person.

IT’S STILL WARM
It can be rainy in late October and November but may still be warm enough for a t-shirt. The forecast for the first two weeks of October show sun and temperatures in the mid-80s to high-70sF (25 to 30C). They won’t drop so drastically in the days after that, so expect mild weather until December when the rest of Europe will already be freezing.

The New Bar On Top of Lisbon

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Rooftop Bar
There’s a new rooftop bar in town. This time it’s found on the top floor (the 9th) of the Mundial Hotel, offering panoramic views of the city. You can see the river and the castle which is beautifully floodlit at night, and you may also enjoy the late-afternoon sun. It opens everyday at 6:30PM (weather permitting) and welcomes hotel guests and non-guests until midnight. It serves cocktails and occasionally also presents live jazz performances.

Rooftop Bar

5 Things You Should Know Before You Book a Restaurant in Lisbon

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Lisbon restaurants

5 tips that may come in use especially if you wish to enjoy Lisbon’s Restaurant Week!

YOU CAN BOOK ONLINE – Many local restaurants are finally offering online bookings, allowing tourists to reserve their tables in advance without having to go through the trouble of calling. It’s fast and easy, and the ones offering such a service are already doing it through GoLisbon. Some popular choices include Gemelli, Clara Chiado, Maritaca, XL, Don Pomodoro, and Casa de Linhares fado restaurant.

NOTHING IS FREE – When you arrive at your table, don’t assume the bread, butter, meats, cheeses and whatever else is free like in many other countries. This is a common warning in many guidebooks, but apparently many tourists still end up feeling cheated when the bill comes at the end of the meal. So don’t forget that in Portugal you pay for what you eat. If you don’t want that bread and cheese, just send it back.

THE PORTUGUESE EAT LATE – Most Portuguese dine at around 9PM, and often later on weekends. So the best time to show up at a restaurant is at 8PM to increase your chances of getting a table. It’s not unusual for Bairro Alto restaurants to get reservations for 10 or 10:30PM on weekends, so if you decide to book in advance, do it for between 8 and 9PM.

PAY IN CASH – Most restaurants in Lisbon accept cards, and in fact most locals pay with their debit card. VISA is widely accepted but to avoid eventual international transaction fees from your bank or credit card company, try to have enough cash with you. The few restaurants that don’t take cards should have that warning on the menu or by the entrance. If you still plan to pay with a card, be sure to confirm that information on arrival.

THERE’S NO TIPPING – The “mandatory” 10, 15 or even 20% tip has not reached Portugal. Here, most locals only leave a tip (usually by just rounding up the total or leaving a few cents to as much as a couple of euros) if they in fact enjoyed the service. Tipping is still seen as an appreciation of good service, and not as a complementary salary.

Lisboa Restaurant Week

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Lisboa Restaurant Week

We always strived to maintain you informed about the Lisboa Restaurant Week here on our blog, and this time is no exception.

But given that the Restaurant Week seems to have taken up a regular twice per year frequency, we thought it would merit a more permanent home on GoLisbon.com, and we’ve therefore created this page, which will be updated for each occurrence of this fine-dining, money-raising event.

Bon appetit!

The Top 10 Shops in Lisbon’s Chiado

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Ourivesaria Aliança, Lisbon

OURIVESARIA ALIANÇA

Chiado is Lisbon’s most popular shopping area. While the luxury labels are located on Avenida da Liberdade and the more alternative choices are found in Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real, it is in Chiado that everyone finds their favorite international brands. Next to H&M, Nike, Zara, Levi’s, Foot Locker and other famous names are local business you should check out. Below are the ten best.

A VIDA PORTUGUESA
It’s the shop everyone says you should not miss in Lisbon. Filled with nostalgia, it offers irresistible retro products that make classic Portuguese gifts.

ANA SALAZAR
One of Portugal’s first major fashion designers has her main boutique here, filled with her latest creations in clothing and accessories.

OURIVESARIA ALIANÇA
UPDATE: THIS SHOP HAS CLOSED
Even if you have no intentions of buying the silver and gold available here, be sure to visit this shop for the jewel that is the interior. In true Louis XV style, it is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful shops.

BERTRAND
It’s officially the world’s oldest bookstore, as confirmed by a Guinness World Records certificate on a wall. In business since 1732, there are periodicals and English-language books in addition to the latest Portuguese best-sellers.

LUVARIA ULISSES
A probable record holder for “world’s smallest shop”, enter one at a time for a trip to the 1920s and exclusive perfectly-fitted hand-made gloves.

PAPO D’ANJO
UPDATE: THIS SHOP HAS CLOSED
It was here that this now-international brand was born. Created by an American, this children’s fashion label is for those looking for quality classic European styles, all beautifully handmade in Lisbon. You can now find it in the world’s biggest department stores, but this is the original shop.

PARIS EM LISBOA
During Portugal’s monarchy days, this shop had the privilege of providing the linen for the royal palace.

VOA
UPDATE: THIS SHOP HAS CLOSED
This attractive shop tempts you into buying quality products for the home, almost all “Made in Portugal.” Those include fragrances, textiles and ceramics.

STORYTAILORS
This fairytale of a shop presents the collections of a duo of fashion designers who are arguably the country’s most creative, and the creativity is reflected in the décor of the boutique.

VISTA ALEGRE
There are several Vista Alegre shops around Lisbon, but the Chiado branch is the most beautiful, looking almost like a museum of the famous Portuguese porcelain that has decorated royal palaces in Europe and the White House in the United States.

Lisbon’s 10 Most-Visited Attractions

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Based on official reports and semi-official numbers, these are Lisbon’s 10-most visited attractions. Some are understandably so, others less worthy of a visit than a few sites missing from the list.

Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon

1. JERONIMOS MONASTERY
This World Heritage Site is Lisbon’s most important monument and naturally receives the most visitors. The church is free and is extraordinarily ornate, but the real attraction are the cloisters.

2. OCEANARIUM
Attracting over one million visitors every year, this is one of the world’s largest aquariums and it just got bigger with a new extension this year, guaranteeing even more people through its doors for temporary exhibitions.

3. CASTLE OF ST. GEORGE
Locals and tourists (close to a million of them) flock to this ancient hilltop monument every year. It’s seen from almost anywhere in the city, so it constantly invites you to its ramparts.

4. BERARDO MUSEUM
Apparently everyone thinks “It’s free, so why not go inside?” The reward is one of Europe’s most important modern art collections and it’s now visited more than other famous European museums such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim.

5. TOWER OF BELEM
Leaving Lisbon without seeing Belém Tower is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel’s. The city icon is on the riverfront almost by the Atlantic, but it’s a pilgrimage everyone must make.

6. DISCOVERIES MONUMENT
This one is almost inevitable: It’s found halfway between the Tower of Belém and the monastery and is featured on almost every postcard and guidebook of the city. The colossal images of Portugal’s famous explorers also make it a must-stop for photos.

7. SANTA JUSTA ELEVATOR
The ride only lasts a few seconds, but the real attraction are the views at the top of this towering elevator with an Eiffel Tower-like structure.

8. CARRIAGES MUSEUM
This is Portugal’s most-visited national museum and the reason is that everyone is told that it has the world’s largest and best collection of royal carriages. It’s like entering a Cinderella world that attracts visitors of all ages, making it a perfect family attraction.

9. ANCIENT ART MUSEUM
The number of visitors has risen every year and that is due to a few important temporary exhibitions that have led many to discover its noteworthy permanent collection, in large part related to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

10. CATHEDRAL
Everyone who visits Lisbon will at least pass by on their way to the castle on tram 28. Many end up going inside, and although it’s far from being one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, it is its oldest and it is the cathedral.

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon