What’s Happening in Lisbon in 2014

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

NEW GREEN SPACES
Two projects that were supposed to have been completed in 2013 will only be ready in 2014. The creation of a big hilltop garden overlooking the city by the Graça viewpoint was stalled when skeletons of around 50 people were found. Believed to date back to the 1755 earthquake, they caused the archaeologists to head to the site, and the garden should now only be ready by the summer. That’s also when the final phase of the Ribeira das Naus waterfront promenade shall finally come to an end. While the steps leading down to the water is already a “beach” for many locals and tourists, the green space behind it is taking much longer than anticipated due to various issues, from unfavorable weather to archaeological finds.

MUSIC
Names like Michael Bublé (in February) and Beyoncé (in March) will make Lisbon part of their tour this year, and 2014 is also a year of Rock in Rio-Lisboa which happens every two years. Already announced for the festival (taking place from May 23rd to June 1st) are Justin Timberlake, Arcade Fire and Robbie Williams.
Another regular festival is Optimus Alive which so far has announced Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys and Imagine Dragons (on June 10, 11 and 12).

SHOPPING
Avenida da Liberdade will see the opening of even more luxury stores, with the next one said to be Chanel. For something more local, look for the shoes of Portuguese designer Luis Onofre later this year on the same avenue.
For local flavor, you will find a rejuvenated Ribeira Market on the waterfront this summer. In addition to the fresh produce and fish already available, it will add new shops, a restaurant and bar, as well as around 20 kiosks for meals and drinks.

REGULAR EVENTS
The half marathon which crosses 25 de Abril Bridge is taking place on March 16th, the popular independent film festival IndieLisboa from April 24th to May 4th, the fish-themed gastronomic festival Peixe em Lisboa also in April, the Out Jazz festival which takes over several of the city’s gardens on weekends over the summer will be back, the international documentary film festival returns in October, as does the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival in November. The biggest parties of the year happen, as always, in June, culminating on the night of the 12th with the street feasts.

NEW HOTELS
For the last couple of decades, most hotels in Lisbon opened in the more modern and soulless parts of the city, but the trend is now to renovate old buildings in the old town and downtown. Opening in 2014 are three around Avenida da Liberdade, and two in the Baixa district. We’ll have more details when they open, but in the meantime you may look for a room in Lisbon here: Hotels, apartments or hostels.

10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the Summer of 2013

Joana Vasconcelos at Ajuda Palace, Lisbon

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.

Lisbon waterfront

SUNBATHE ON THE NEW WATERFRONT
After several delays, Lisbon’s renovated waterfront next to Comercio Square is promised to be ready by the summer. Known as “Ribeira das Naus” (“Ships Riverfront”), this was where Lisbon’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 “Festas de Lisboa” (“Lisbon Feasts”) really happen throughout the summer. You’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
Lisbon’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 Lisbon’s best-but-overlooked museums is the Chiado Museum, the national museum of contemporary art. It’s a great place to discover the art of Portugal’s best contemporary artists and it just unveiled its new permanent collection. You’ll see works from between 1850 to 1975 and the names to look for are Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Almada Negreiros and Paula Rego.

Myriad Hotel, Lisbon

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 it’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 you’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 city’s “Culinary Golden Age,” 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 à Mesa by Faz Gostos.

SEE A RENEWED ROYAL SQUARE
Comercio Square is one of Europe’s largest public squares, and the second biggest royal square after St. Petersburg’s Palace Square. The statue of king José 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.

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon

SPLURGE ON NEW LUXURY SHOPS
Lisbon’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.

Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra

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.

New Study Reconfirms Lisbon is One of Europe’s Most Affordable Destinations

Belem Tower, LisbonLisbon has been found yet again to be one of the most affordable destinations in Europe, according to the European Backpacker Index for 2013. This report focuses essentially on how much a low-cost traveler or backpacker spends in a total of 47 European cities, and the top 10 reveals that Eastern Europe is the place to go (number one is Bucharest, followed by nine other Eastern cities). Lisbon is in 19th place in this report and the Western European capital that follows it is Berlin at number 20.

The most expensive destination for backpackers was found to be Zurich followed by Oslo, Venice, Stockholm and Helsinki. That’s based on the price of a central hostel plus two tickets in public transportation, three budget meals, three beers or local wines a day, and admission to one cultural attraction. For all of that, it was concluded that you’d need 47.30 euros per day in Lisbon.

Lisbon is also known for having Europe’s best hostels but another alternative to a hotel is staying at a central apartment.

Best of 2012 in Lisbon: Year in Review

Who’d have thought that a year of bailouts, rising unemployment and budget cuts would turn out to be so good for Lisbon? Taking a look back at the 10 main news and trends of 2012, we can only hope and expect a 2013 that will be just as good or better, at least for Lisbon in general.

Myriad Hotel, Lisbon

MYRIAD HOTEL

MAJOR NEW HOTELS
There were several hotels opening in the city, and not ordinary hotels. A couple of them are even true landmarks such as the Myriad in Vasco da Gama Tower, or the Cascais pousada outside the city in an old fortress by the sea. Another is the stylishly luxurious Fontecruz in the city’s main boulevard, while the always-buzzing Chiado district had not one, not two, but three new hotels — Mercy, Teatro and Lisboa Carmo — all featuring elegant interiors.

A NEW MAIN SQUARE
Rossio Square used to be the heart of the city, but that’s now moved closed to the river, to Comercio Square. The city’s grandest praça saw several new cafés and restaurants open under the arcades of its east wing, and this new leisure area with views of the river also has a club open on weekends (“Lust”) and a new cultural space, the Lisboa Story Centre.

NEW CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS
In addition to the Lisboa Story Centre which tells the history of the city through multimedia displays and recreates Lisbon’s different historical periods and atmospheres, there was the new Casa dos Bicos, the landmark house from the 1500s that is now home to the José Saramago Foundation remembering the Portuguese author who won the Nobel Prize.
Not very far is Martim Moniz, Lisbon’s most multiethnic neighborhood which was revitalized with a new weekend market and new kiosk cafés open every day, offering foods from all over the world.

NEW RESTAURANT TRENDS
Speaking of food, Lisbon’s restaurant scene is changing. In order to survive the economic crisis it had to be more creative so it went back to what never fails — the old traditions everyone loves. That meant “petiscos”, or what is often called “tapas” for international visitors, with restaurants now specializing exclusively in those small plates of food grandma used to make. Of course many of those are recreated and readapted to modern times, like the other new trend in the city — the new “tabernas.” What used to be simple family-owned places are now stylishly-decorated spaces but with the expected laid-back atmosphere.

BACK TO TRADITION
Restaurants weren’t the only ones looking at tradition as a means to escape the crisis. The best new shops also offered the best of “Made in Portugal,” including the first of the future chain of “Nata Lisboa”. Believing that “the world needs Nata,” this new café (there are currently two of them) specializes almost exclusively in Portugal’s famous custard tarts that almost no one can resist. Then there was the new P Chiado café offering the pastry specialties of Sintra in the center of Lisbon, the new Mercado 1143 which is a grocery store/market presenting only Portuguese products, and Loja da Burel with creative and top-quality handmade products from central Portugal. Finally, Portugal’s canned foods have become gourmet delicacies at yet another spot, the Can the Can restaurant in Comercio Square.

Lisbon airport metro

LISBON AIRPORT METRO STATION

AIRPORT METRO
The best Lisbon news for travelers was the extension of the metro which finally reached the airport. And the station is quite an attraction in itself, decorated with curious cartoon images of some of Portugal’s biggest personalities and cultural icons, making it an interesting new welcome to the city.

LUXURY AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE SHOPPING
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was the continuous opening of international luxury shops down Avenida da Liberdade. The luxury market is the only one booming during the current crisis, so there’s a new Gucci, a new Miu Miu, Officine Panerai, Emporio Armani, Hugo Boss… and a new Cartier and others will be joining them in 2013.

Tous, Lisbon

TOUS

RENOVATED CLASSICS
Another brand to open in central Lisbon was Tous jewelers which took over the city’s most beautiful shop, the former Ourivesaria Aliança in Chiado. Other classic spaces that had a makeover but kept much of the old look were Mimosa da Lapa, the 50s-style Sapataria do Carmo shoe store, Silva & Feijó, and the Old Pharmacy which is now a wine bar.

THE BAKERY INVASION
Petiscos and tabernas were not the only trends in Lisbon in 2012. Perhaps the biggest of all was the several high-profile bakeries opening in the center of the city. First was A Padaria Portuguesa downtown and in Chiado, then came Ratton next to Rossio Station, La Boulangerie with its French-style bread, and Tartine which makes a pastry that’s already a classic, the eggy “Chiado” cake.

SPECIAL ANNIVERSARIES
Speaking of pastries, 2012 was the 175th anniversary of Pastéis de Belém, and the 90th of the city’s most beautiful café, Pastelaria Versailles. Also celebrating was one of Lisbon’s most photographed icons, the Bica funicular which turned 120!

3 New Hotels in Lisbon

If you’re coming to Lisbon any time soon, be among the first to experience the brand-new facilities of these special new hotels. They’re all in privileged locations, either by the river or in the very heart of the city in the most elegant district of Chiado. Also take advantage of the special online prices:

Myriad Hotel, Lisbon

MYRIAD HOTEL
Lisbon’s tallest building is now a hotel. Built as a viewing tower for the World Fair in 1998, the monument was extended in 2012 and now allows visitors to Lisbon the opportunity to sleep literally on the river. The 176 rooms offer wonderful views of the Tagus and Europe’s longest bridge, and feature modern design and 5-star service. Facilities include indoor pool and spa, and conference center.

Mercy Hotel, Lisbon

MERCY HOTEL
With 47 rooms, this is a luxury boutique hotel in one of the city’s best locations. It’s in the heart of the city in Chiado, and faces the Bairro Alto district with its many bars and restaurants. Guests are at the doorstep of Lisbon’s best shopping and nightlife, and within walking distance of many city attractions.
Elegant design welcomes you into the rooms, while a 6th-floor terrace will offer you magnificent views over Lisbon’s rooftops.

Teatro B&B Hotel, Lisbon

TEATRO B&B
This small but beautiful hotel stands next to one of several theaters of the classy Chiado district and that was its inspiration. Elements of classic theater mix with contemporary style to create a unique atmosphere in all of the rooms. For its ambiance and location, it sets the stage for a memorable stay in Lisbon.