Archive for October, 2011

5 Perfect Hotels for Winter Days in Lisbon

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Visiting a city during the colder and rainy season means spending less time outside. Tourists tend to go to more museums than they would on warm and sunny days, and also end up retreating back to their hotels earlier. For that reason, making the most appropriate hotel choice at this time of the year is even more important. The perfect “winter hotel” is one that is itself a destination, that is also a cultural or sightseeing attraction. It should be in a central location, within a short walking distance to major sights and transportation so you don’t spend too much time running in the rain. In Lisbon, these are the choices to consider:

Lisbon hotel
With rooms overlooking the river between two of the city’s icons (the Discoveries Monument and Belém Tower), you’re experiencing Lisbon right from your bed. You won’t be soaking wet if it rains, as those monuments are just steps away, together with a number of museums across the street. The hotel also has some of the city’s best dining options, meaning you don’t even have to go far for memorable meals.

Facing the city’s must-see monument (Jeronimos Monastery), this hotel places you right by many of Lisbon’s main attractions. The free Berardo Museum or the popular Coaches Museum are just around the corner, and you may also spend a rainy afternoon enjoying the famous custard tarts at the café Antiga Confeitaria de Belém nearby.

The former home of 19th-century novelist Eça de Queiroz is now this charming boutique hotel which includes a library, perfect for rainy days. One of the city’s most important cultural attractions is just down the street, the Ancient Art Museum.

It’s one of the city’s most central hotels, within walking distance to the best shops, cafés and restaurants. A metro station is also just around the corner. Even better is that the rooftop bar and many of the rooms offer city views which means you may still admire Lisbon even if bad weather keeps you inside.

You can walk to just about anywhere in the historic neighborhoods of the city from this hotel in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade. If you prefer to stay indoors and relax, there’s a great bar specializing in gin, and a good restaurant and terrace with chill out atmosphere. There are many other places to eat just steps away, as well as some of Lisbon’s best shops. The metro station nearby will take you anywhere without getting wet if it rains.

The 10 Grandest Baroque Attractions in Lisbon

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The word “Baroque” derives from the Portuguese word “barroco.” Portugal is renowned for this architectural style and although Lisbon is characterized by its architectural diversity, it’s essentially a baroque city. That’s because most of it was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1755 and now many of its grandest monuments are filled with baroque splendor. The magnificence of many of the city’s interiors is also the result of the discovery of gold in Brazil, giving Lisbon a profusion of golden decorations. Here we present the 10 baroque attractions you should not miss.

Sao Roque Church, Lisbon

Home to what is said to be “the world’s most expensive chapel,” this deceptively simple church outside has one of the city’s (and Europe’s) richest baroque interiors.

Estrela Basilica, Lisbon

This domed basilica is one of the city’s most monumental churches, covered with marble inside. It includes an impressive baroque nativity scene.

Menino de Deus Church, Lisbon

It’s usually closed, so this church hides one of the city’s most remarkable baroque interiors that mostly survived the 1755 earthquake.

Madre de Deus Church, Lisbon

The church of the convent that’s now home to the Tile Museum is truly magnificent. Covered in gold from floor to ceiling, it also has some outstanding tile panels and paintings.

Paulistas Church, Lisbon

Also known as Paulistas Church, this is one of Lisbon’s most impressive yet least-known churches, covered with baroque and rococo decorations.

Pena Church, Lisbon

Yet another church with an ordinary façade but with an extraordinary interior, covered in gilt.

Sao Miguel Church, Lisbon

One of the city’s many secrets is this church in the middle of Alfama’s maze of streets. It only opens for mass, revealing a rich baroque interior.

National Pantheon, Lisbon

The resting place of many of Portugal’s leading figures is a domed monument that took centuries to complete.

Martyrs Basilica, Lisbon

In addition to a beautiful ceiling painting, the interior of this basilica surprises for the well-preserved baroque details that fill the entire space.

Encarnacao Church, Lisbon

Found in the center of Chiado, this church has one of the city’s most elegant interiors, mixing the baroque and the neoclassical styles.

6 Recommended Restaurants for Porto Restaurant Week

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Porto Restaurant WeekIf you’re in Lisbon from October 20th to November 2nd, you’ll want to hop on the train to Porto. That’s when the Restaurant Week of Portugal’s second city takes place, offering the opportunity to try some of the finest restaurants in town at special prices. One euro per person will be donated to charity so you’ll also be contributing to a good cause. In this edition there are over two dozen participating restaurants, and we’re recommending six of them where you’ll be able to try different flavors, from Portugal to Japan:

ARTEMÍSIA – International cuisine.
FOZ VELHA – International cuisine
GÓSHÃ’ – Japanese cuisine
GREAT – Mediterranean cuisine
PORTUCALE – Portuguese cuisine
SESSENTA SETENTA – International cuisine

The 5 Best Free Attractions in Lisbon

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Lisbon is already Western Europe’s least expensive city, but in addition to the lower prices in accommodation and restaurants, you can also save on many of the city’s main attractions. Most of them are always free with the Lisboa Card, and others are free all the time, for everyone. Here are the five where money should be no excuse to miss:

Museu Berardo

This museum has one of Europe’s best modern and contemporary art collections and also presents temporary exhibitions. It’s right next to the city’s must-see monument, the Jeronimos Monastery.

Mude - Museu do Design

With a permanent collection of fashion and design by many of the world’s leading designers, this will become one of Lisbon‘s main attractions in the next couple of years. At the moment only a couple of the floors of the building are open to the public, and only part of the collection is on display, but it’s enough to make a visit worthwhile, especially when it’s free.

Museu do Teatro Romano, Lisboa

This tiny museum is for history buffs or for those wanting to know more about Lisbon’s Roman past. It’s next to the archaeological ruins of a Roman theater and shows pieces found on the site along with multimedia displays explaining the Roman times in the city.

Sé de Lisboa

Most cathedrals around Europe now charge admission, but not in Lisbon. You can visit the rather gloomy interior of this 12th-century monument for free, there is only admission charge for the cloisters and the treasury.

Basilica da Estrela

It’s one of the city’s biggest monuments and most tourists pass by during their journey on the famous tram 28. Everyone’s free to see the grand marble interior, including a royal tomb and a monumental nativity scene by one of Portugal’s all-time best sculptors.

10 Ethnic Restaurants to Try in Lisbon

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Gemelli Restaurant, LisbonEvery time you travel you naturally want to experience the local cuisine and you often mix that with the familiar food you have at home. But when you’re in a big city you also have the option of trying the other flavors of the world. When looking for something different to eat in Lisbon, check out these ten ethnic restaurants:

A TAPADINHA (Russian) – Eastern Europeans are Lisbon’s third-largest community after Brazilians and Africans from Portugal’s former colonies. Yet this is the only restaurant in the city offering the flavors of the other side of Europe. It serves mostly Russian cuisine and allows you to book online.

ALI-A-PAPA (Moroccan) – This small restaurant in Bairro Alto is a trip to Morocco not just through the food but also in the decor.

BRASSERIE FLO (French) – This sophisticated restaurant in Avenida da Liberdade is known for its oysters and refined French-inspired cuisine. You may book it online.

DERVIXE (Turkish) – Owned by a Turkish family, here you’ll find authentic Turkish food in a very informal ambience and at very inviting prices.

FENICIO’S (Lebanese) – The Lebanese owner presents the food from his homeland (including some intriguing desserts) at this restaurant not far from Avenida da Liberdade.

GEMELLI (Italian) – More than just pastas and pizzas, this is Italian cuisine at its finest. Online booking available.

IBO (Mozambican) – Facing the riverfront, this attractive restaurant offers food from Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony in southern Africa.

LA PAPARRUCHA (Argentinean) – Juicy Argentian steaks are served at this restaurant with one of the best panoramic views in the city. Online booking available.

SUKHOTHAI (Thai) – There’s a little of Portugal in Thai cuisine (the Portuguese introduced the use of eggs and that’s how Thailand first created its first sweets). You can sample it here at this small restaurant in Bairro Alto.

ZAAFRAN (Indian) – There are many Indian restaurants in Lisbon, but this is the most refined. It’s perfect for a dinner for two.