SEE CONTEMPORARY ART IN A ROYAL PALACE
The most visited exhibition of the Palace of Versailles comes to Lisbon. The Ajuda Palace will show the works by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos that were seen in France (including the famous shoes made of pans) and will add a few new pieces. You can see them from March 23rd to August 25th.
SUNBATHE ON THE NEW WATERFRONT
After several delays, Lisbonâ€™s renovated waterfront next to Comercio Square is promised to be ready by the summer. Known as â€œRibeira das Nausâ€ (â€œShips Riverfrontâ€), this was where Lisbonâ€™s explorers had their ships made. It will now be a public space to relax, to sit in the sun and enjoy the scenery.
JOIN A STREET PARTY
The main event is on the night of June 12 and on June 13th, but the â€œFestas de Lisboaâ€ (â€œLisbon Feastsâ€) really happen throughout the summer. Youâ€™ll find several outdoor events throughout the city from June to September, from free jazz concerts to street performances, especially downtown and in the squares of Chiado.
ROCK AND ROLL ON THE BEACH
Lisbonâ€™s summers are always big on music festivals and 2013 will be no exception. While this year there is no Rock in Rio-Lisboa, there will be the Optimus Alive festival with names like Green Day, Depeche Mode, Kings of Leon, and Editors, and the Super Bock Super Rock festival with Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age, among others. Best of all is that these festivals take place by the coast, allowing you to get some beach days in between. Among other concerts happening in the city this summer are those of Bon Jovi and Alicia Keys.
DISCOVER NEW ART
One of Lisbonâ€™s best-but-overlooked museums is the Chiado Museum, the national museum of contemporary art. Itâ€™s a great place to discover the art of Portugalâ€™s best contemporary artists and it just unveiled its new permanent collection. Youâ€™ll see works from between 1850 to 1975 and the names to look for are Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Almada Negreiros and Paula Rego.
BE ONE OF THE FIRST GUESTS
2013 has so far been huge on new hotel openings. This is the result of Lisbon being one of the rising stars of European travel and because itâ€™s no longer just a seasonal low-cost destination, there are increasingly more upscale (yet still affordable) hotels. Recently-opened or about to be (and all centrally-located), there are new boutique and design hotels youâ€™ll want to be among the first to experience. Check out the new Lisboa Carmo Hotel, Mercy Hotel, Myriad Hotel, Teatro Hotel, Beautique Hotel Figueira, Epic Sana Hotel and Memmo Alfama. Alternatively, you may choose one of the many new or renovated centrally-located apartments.
SAMPLE THE LATEST RESTAURANTS
Lisbon is currently going through a gastronomic revolution that will keep on growing. The New York Times called it the cityâ€™s â€œCulinary Golden Age,â€ with creative young chefs investing in new restaurant projects since 2010. This year is no different, with new star-chef restaurants opening in the center of the city. The new Honra by Olivier serves traditional Portuguese cuisine with a personal twist on Figueira Square, Michelin-star chef Jose Avillez is adding a pizzeria to Chiado which gives him a trio of restaurants in the neighborhood, and other spots are reinventing themselves with new menus like the beautiful Tacho Ã Mesa by Faz Gostos.
SEE A RENEWED ROYAL SQUARE
Comercio Square is one of Europeâ€™s largest public squares, and the second biggest royal square after St. Petersburgâ€™s Palace Square. The statue of king JosÃ© I placed at the center in 1779 is currently being restored and will be unveiled like new in August. Also being cleaned up is the same square is the triumphal arch which should be completed by then as well.
In the meantime you may always enjoy the terraces of the new cafes and restaurants placed under the arches of the eastern and western wings.
SPLURGE ON NEW LUXURY SHOPS
Lisbonâ€™s Avenida da Liberdade has become a true luxury shopping destination, reinforced by new shops of international brands like Miu Miu and Officine Panerai, and a renewed Emporio Armani. Joining them this summer is a major new Cartier store and the less-luxurious-but-very-popular Guess.
GO BACK 1300 YEARS
Also given a new life is the 1300-year-old Moorish Castle in Sintra. Thanks to ticket sales from a growing number of tourists to the region, this ancient landmark has now added new facilities to accommodate visitors and restored parts of the monument in the process. While the fairytale Pena Palace nearby gets all the attention, the Moorish Castle should also be part of your itinerary in 2013 and beyond.