Archive for January, 2015

The Most Romantic 24 Hours in Lisbon

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Lisbon sunrise

PORTAS DO SOL

SUNRISE
Wake up before sunrise, and head to Portas do Sol (literally “The Sun Gate”). This terrace in the Alfama district is where you may sit and watch the sun rising, and admire the early morning glow over the city’s most postcard-perfect view. It’s a good idea to stay at one of the hotels nearby, and if you choose Palácio Belmonte, you may even have the Portas do Sol view from your room. Other choices are Memmo Alfama, Solar dos Mouros and Solar do Castelo. After the sun has risen, go for a stroll around the neighboring maze of picturesque streets until 9AM, the castle’s opening time.
Castle view, Lisbon

VIEW FROM THE CASTLE

MORNING
Get a bird’s-eye view over the city from its oldest monument. Feel like the king and queen of the castle as you walk around the ramparts in the company of peacocks. You’ll want to spend some time here, but there’s still plenty to see, so hop on an official tram tour, which goes around the old city.
You may then look for a place for lunch that best appeals to you, although you probably should head back up by the castle for a meal with a view over the city, at Chapitô à Mesa.

Chapitô à Mesa

CHAPITÔ À MESA

Coaches Museum, Lisbon

COACHES MUSEUM

AFTERNOON
You may want to wait a few minutes for dessert. Try the city’s famous custard tarts on the opposite side of town, the Belém district. Lisbon’s most famous and iconic landmarks are all found there on the waterfront, where the Tagus river becomes the Atlantic. This was from where explorers like Vasco da Gama departed for their voyages around the world during the Age of Discovery, and now you may see the magnificent architecture from that time. Start with the cloisters of the Jeronimos Monastery, take a photo by the Discoveries Monument, and relax by the beautiful Belém Tower. Be sure to also see the Cinderella-like carriages of the Coaches Museum, and if you’ve still got the energy, head up the hill to the royal palace of Ajuda, known for its romantic collection of decorative art.

Belem Tower, Lisbon
BELEM TOWER

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

RIBEIRA DAS NAUS

SUNSET
Head back to the center of town, but stay by the waterfront. Head to the top of the triumphal arch for the beautiful view, and late in the afternoon there’s no better spot to be than Ribeira das Naus, the promenade next to Comercio Square. This is where many choose to stay for the sunset, either at the Cais das Colunas wharf, or sitting on the steps of the promenade.
Lisbon sunset

RIBEIRA DAS NAUS

Moon over Lisbon
MIRADOURO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA

NIGHT
After the sun disappears in the horizon, but before nightfall, head up to Bairro Alto for the city’s most romantic viewpoint, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It’s the perfect backdrop for a selfie of the two of you, and you may sit for a while, as the moon shines above the castle.

Comercio Square, Lisbon

VIEW FROM THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH

Embaixada

EMBAIXADA

Continue heading up the hill and you’re now in the romantic district of Principe Real. Get yourselves a gift at the monumental Embaixada shopping gallery, and sit relaxing under the gigantic umbrella-like cedar tree at the garden across from it. It’s now dinner time, so choose one of the many restaurants in the popular nightlife district Bairro Alto nearby. Consider As Salgadeiras, a former bakery (the stone vaulted ceiling and old brick oven have been maintained) that serves excellent Portuguese cuisine, or try Lisboa à Noite. It’s a former stable for horses that has kept the ring chains and beautiful tile panels from the 1700s, serving some classic Portuguese dishes. A third option is Pap’Açorda, a chandeliered restaurant known for both its contemporary and traditional Portuguese cuisine, and yet another choice is The Insólito, found on a rooftop looking out to the castle.
The Insolito

THE INSOLITO

It’s now time to head back to your hotel, but you may also choose an apartment instead.
But why should you only have 24 romantic hours in Lisbon? Make this a 48-hour experience, and head to Sintra on the following day. This fairy tale town less than 40 minutes from the capital city was Europe’s first center of Romantic architecture, and is now a World Heritage Site. Of the many palaces and castles in town, the one you can’t miss is Pena Palace, but we also recommend the Regaleira Palace and the Moorish Castle, and Monserrate Palace. You can easily spend an entire day hopping around palaces and castles, and you may then relax in the oldest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula, Lawrence’s Hotel, or have the royal experience at Seteais Palace Hotel.

Pena Palace

PENA PALACE

10 Reasons to Visit Lisbon in 2015

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Belem Tower, Lisbon

500 YEARS OF THE BELEM TOWER
Lisbon’s most iconic monument is celebrating its 500th anniversary throughout the year, with a special event at the end of June. On the same month, the annual parade down Avenida da Liberdade on the night of the 12th will have the World Heritage tower as its theme and inspiration.

Ribeira Market

THE NEW RIBEIRA MARKET
Lisbon’s central market added a food court on the ground level last May, which quickly made it one of the city’s most popular spots. In 2015, it will add new attractions upstairs, including a restaurant, auditorium and gallery, making it more than a dining destination.

MORE GASTRONOMIC STARS
2014 ended with Lisbon having a 2-Michelin-star restaurant for the first time. It was awarded to Belcanto, which had previously already been distinguished with one, and in 2015 there will be more acclaimed chefs opening new restaurants in the city. Henrique Sá Pessoa, known locally for his TV cooking show, closed his restaurant “Alma” in 2014, but will reopen it in a more central location, in Chiado, in the new year. And local celebrity chef Olivier will open a high-end restaurant and members’ club by Avenida da Liberdade, while in the same neighborhood there will be a new hotel with a restaurant managed by a Michelin star chef from Madeira. There will be more information about all of these places and more, throughout the year.

Roman Theater, Lisbon

THE NEW ROMAN THEATER MUSEUM
It’s one of Lisbon’s oldest constructions, but was only unearthed in the 1960s. It’s the city’s Roman theater, which is now only seen in part, as an archaeological site. But a small museum with a few pieces found on the site was created in 2001 next to the excavations, only to close in 2013 for renovations. Now in May of 2015 it will reopen and will better explain life in Lisbon during Roman times, while also trying to bring the ancient monument to life.

VOLVO OCEAN RACE
The 12th edition of the round-the-world ocean race chose Lisbon as a transatlantic stopover, bringing the sailing competition to the city from May 23rd to the 27th. During these dates, you can expect to see the Lisbon waterfront with even more activity.

Super Bock Super Rock

SUPER BOCK SUPER ROCK
It’s one of Lisbon’s biggest annual music festivals, but it had left the city for the beach in the last several years. In 2015 it’s back in Lisbon, in Parque das Nações, on July 16th, 17th and 18th. Right now only Florence and the Machine have been confirmed, but other bands will be announced soon.

EXPERIMENTADESIGN – DESIGN BIENNIAL
2015 is a year of Lisbon’s design biennial which is essentially also a contemporary culture festival taking place in several venues around the city. It’s only happening late in the year, in November and December, so there is no information about it at the moment, but you may now mark your calendar.

Ribeira das Naus

A NEW URBAN BEACH
With the Atlantic just a few minutes from the city center, Lisbon doesn’t really need an “urban beach.” But after the Ribeira das Naus waterfront promenade by Comercio Square became a “beach” last year, there was an idea to turn another waterfront area into a central “beach.” That project seems to be coming true, and the location is in the Belém district, not far from the Discoveries Monument. There will be beach chairs and an actual beach environment but no sand, only a lawn — and no swimming. But plenty of sunbathing.

THE NEW COACHES MUSEUM
Will 2015 be finally the year when the new Coaches Museum opens its doors? The building has been ready for a couple of years, but the inauguration has been delayed several times. It’s now said that it’s scheduled for the summer, but locals have to see it to believe it. And tourists will also see more of Lisbon’s magnificent old carriages that also have to be seen to be believed. These fairy tale vehicles that once transported royalty and nobility can currently still be admired in the old museum, but when the new one opens, there will be more to see and more to learn about them, and about the times when they used to roam the streets of Lisbon and elsewhere in Europe.

NEW SPECIAL PLACES TO STAY
Portugal’s network of historic hotels will finally open one in the capital, in one of the arcaded buildings of Comercio Square. Scheduled for some time in the summer, the Pousada de Lisboa will blend the historic and the contemporary, plus an unbeatable waterfront location. Another excellent location is that of the upcoming Hotel Santiago de Alfama, just steps from the castle and around the corner from a couple of the city’s most beautiful viewpoints. And yet another special place where you may be the very first guest is Porto Bay Liberdade, opening soon by the city’s luxury shopping boulevard, featuring a refined restaurant and rooftop lounge.