Posts About 'Activities'

Spring Break in Lisbon: 5 Things To Do

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Parque das Nações, Lisbon

Mild temperatures may tempt you to head to the beaches of Cascais, but the ocean may still be cold. So do the next best thing, and stay on the waterfront in the center of Lisbon. At Ribeira das Naus you can simply sit in the sun or enjoy a drink served by the kiosk café, in the Parque das Nações district you can walk along a boardwalk as you admire the city’s best contemporary architecture and Europe’s longest bridge, and by the landmark Belém Tower you may sit and imagine Vasco da Gama departing towards the Atlantic over five centuries ago.

Pena Palace, Sintra

One of Europe’s great fairy tale towns is just minutes from Lisbon, a World Heritage Site of palaces and castles amid lush vegetation. Spring is the best time to see Sintra at its greenest, especially at Pena Park, home to the extraordinary Pena Palace. Also not to be missed at this time of year, the Monserrate Palace and gardens.

Miradouro da Graça, Lisbon

The terraces overlooking Lisbon from the hilltops make it a great outdoors city throughout the year, but it’s during spring that you may see it at its most colorful. In the sun or shade, take some time to enjoy the setting and the views from Lisbon’s many viewpoints (called “miradouros”). Don’t leave town without spending a great spring morning, afternoon or evening at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, or at several others in Lisbon’s seven hills.

Comercio Square, Lisbon

The rest of Europe may still need heaters on its restaurant terraces at this time of the year, but in Lisbon you may have the summer outdoor dining experience in the spring. Do it at one of the restaurants of the Docks looking out to the marina and 25 de Abril Bridge, by the arcades of Comercio Square, or on the many streets of Bairro Alto.

Several major festivals take place in the city from April to June. The “Dias da Música” is a classic music festival that usually marks the beginning of the season, with a marathon of concerts over a weekend at Belém Cultural Center. After that comes the biggest festival of all, the IndieLisboa independent film festival, and then there’s the city’s biggest gastronomic festival, “Peixe em Lisboa”, with several chefs presenting their talents in preparing fish and seafood.

What’s Happening in Lisbon in 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

5 Things to Do in Lisbon this Christmas

Monday, December 9th, 2013

If you’re in Lisbon this Christmas, you should know that most of the city will be closed on the 25th. That’s most of the city, but not all. You’ll find several things to do on that day that have a special appeal for families. On the 24th many attractions close earlier, but are open during the day. Here is what you can do in Lisbon on the 24th and 25th of December.

Christmas Village, Lisbon

A “Christmas Village” has been set up on Edward VII Park, and is already open every day until 8PM. The only exception is on the 24th when it closes at 6. You’ll find real reindeer, camels, Santa Claus to take photos with, and rides to keep children and adults happy. It charges admission: Children up to 11 years old pay 8 euros on weekdays and 10 euros on weekends; adults pay 10 euros on weekdays and 12 on weekends.

Christmas tree, Lisbon

From the 13th to the 24th, Comercio Square will be the stage of a Christmas-related 3D multimedia projection on the walls of the arcaded buildings and triumphal arch. It happens every 6, 7, 8, and 9PM, so on the 24th you can experience some Christmas magic before your Christmas eve dinner.

Zoo, Lisbon

The zoo is open every day throughout the year, so it’s a good family attraction on Christmas day. It has everything you expect from a zoo, but the star attraction is the dolphin show.

Oceanarium, Lisbon

If you prefer sea creatures and the indoors, head to the Oceanarium. It’s one of the world’s largest aquariums and is open on the 25th, although with a special opening time of 1PM to 6PM.

Casino, Lisbon

For a more mature attraction where children are now allowed, there’s the casino. It’s a short walk from the Oceanarium and is open on Christmas day from 3PM to 3AM (it closes on the 24th instead). In addition to the slot machines and gaming tables, there are also a couple of restaurants.

10 Things to Do in Lisbon Before the End of 2013

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Christmas in Lisbon

Spain’s biggest national museum, the Prado, is lending a few of its masterpieces to Portugal’s biggest national museum, the Ancient Art Museum. It’s part of a program of exchange of works between the two museums, and from Madrid to Lisbon will be brought around 60 paintings from masters like Rubens and Brueghel. The exhibition opens on December 3rd.

From now until January 26th you can see “The Splendor of Cities: The Route of the Tile” at the Gulbenkian Museum. The collector that gave Lisbon’s most acclaimed museum its name was an admirer of tiled art, and this exhibition is a wonderful complement to a visit to the city’s Tile Museum. It remembers how tile is a feature of cities throughout the Mediterranean and beyond to central Asia, and on display are works from Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Persia and India.

He grew up in Lisbon and studied in London, but it was in Paris that Felipe Oliveira Baptista became a successful fashion designer. Lisbon’s Design and Fashion Museum now presents a retrospective exhibition of ten years of his creations, until February 16th. As always at this museum, admission is free.

Lisbon’s design biennial is here, and until December 22nd you may see design-related exhibitions at several venues in the city. Complete info:

It only happens every three years, but 2013 is a year of the architecture triennial. There are architecture-related exhibitions, debates, and special events until December 15th. More info:

The Medeiros e Almeida Museum is Lisbon’s most surprising museum and still one of its most overlooked. Now and until December 31st, you may celebrate 500 years of the arrival of the Portuguese in China with the exhibition “Chins and Guo Yan Ta Xi.” It’s a collection of Chinese works of art, including textiles, porcelain, and furniture, spread around the works permanently displayed in the museum.

The Good Planet Foundation has set up a temporary exhibition (until January 6th) at Lisbon’s famous Oceanarium, presenting unique perspectives of the world’s oceans through aerial and underwater images. They’re accompanied by descriptions alerting to the threats that the oceans face today.

Until December 15th, one of the turrets of Comercio Square hosts an exhibition that takes you back to Lisbon during WWII. The images and objects on display show how the Portuguese capital was the European safe haven at the time, and how everyone from the lower to the upper classes of Europe used it to escape the war. The final destination was to be the Unites States, but as they waited for their documents, Lisbon became a strangely peaceful and free city.

From November 29th to January 6th, Edward VII Park will be a “Christmas Village” where families can meet Santa Claus and real reindeer. Always with a view of Lisbon as a backdrop.

As the Christmas season approaches there is a series of concerts in Lisbon’s churches. Every weekend evening until December 1st there are concerts in São Roque Church, and after that, throughout December, there are more in other churches downtown. For free.

10 Spots to Get a Tan in Lisbon

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

If you know anything about Lisbon you already know that it’s the European capital with the most sunshine hours per year and the closest to sandy beaches. But you don’t have to head to the coast nearby to get a tan — you may return home with a bronzed glow by simply staying in the center of the city, and often with wonderful views. Here’s where:

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

This waterfront promenade was renovated and reopened in 2013 and was already the “beach” of the center of the city on sunny April days. It’s found between Comercio Square and Cais do Sodré station which takes you to the beaches of Cascais.

Cais das Colunas, Lisbon

Across the road from Comercio Square is the “quay of columns” where ships docked throughout the centuries. Now it’s a tourist magnet for the views and for sitting in the sun in the company of seagulls and with the breeze of the Atlantic.

Parque Tejo, Lisbon

Between Vasco da Gama Tower and Vasco da Gama Bridge is this green park which is used by joggers and soccer players throughout the year. During the summer, you’ll find people in beachwear working on their tans on the lawns facing the bridge.

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

The people of Lisbon head straight to the beaches and overlook their parks. That’s why who you find here are usually foreign tourists, not just because the park is surrounded by many hotels but also because it’s a wonderful attraction with city views. Many remove their shirts as early as April and make this their own private outdoor tanning salon.

Tapada das Necessidades, Lisbon

Spread your towel on one of the city’s most tranquil spots, the little-known Necessidades Park next to a former palace that’s now home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although mostly a picnic spot and site of outdoor jazz concerts, it’s also a wonderful place to relax in the sun.

Docas de Santo Amaro, Lisbon

It’s one of the city’s cruise terminals and home to several restaurants facing a marina so it’s only natural that you’ll find many tourists enjoying the Lisbon sun on this spot throughout the year. Locals prefer to jog along the riverfront towards Belém and you’ll find many sitting on the water’s edge relaxing in the sun or even fishing.

Portas do Sol, Lisbon

It’s called “The Gateway of the Sun” for a reason. This is where you get the best sunrise views and where the sun shines all day long. There’s a cafe serving meals and drinks throughout the day and on the terrace above it you’ll find tourists aiming their cameras at the postcard views. You may simply sit there in the sun and do nothing.

Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon

Arguably the most beautiful of Lisbon’s several viewpoints, this romantic garden attracts tourists to the upper level and young couple to the lower terrace, the sunniest spot where you enjoy the sun and Lisbon before you.

Jardins de Belém, Lisbon

Between Jeronimos Monastery and the famous Coaches Museum is a park that’s a family destination on weekends. In the summer, tourists use it to get some sun between sightseeing.

Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

The city’s largest square is one sunny terrace. You may sit at one of the several cafés and restaurants, or sunbathe by the monumental statue in the center.

April in Portugal

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

One of Portugal’s top international musical hits is a song called “April in Portugal,” originally sung by the great Fado diva Amalia Rodrigues but also performed by other big names like Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby. The first version is from 1947 and was called “Coimbra” as an homage to Portugal’s old university city, but came to have yet another name, “The Whisp’ring Serenade.”
In the mid-20th-century the month of April came to be associated with tourism in Portugal, which promoted it as a great time to be in the country, with the temperatures rising and the flowers in bloom. This time of the year remains a great time to fly to Lisbon, especially in 2013. Here is what you’ll be able to experience this month:

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

On April 5th, the new Julio Pomar Museum opens its doors. Julio Pomar is one of Portugal’s top contemporary artists, currently living between Lisbon and Paris but this will be the permanent home of dozens of his works. It’s an old building by Bairro Alto (Rua do Vale, 7) which has been refurbished by local Pritzker Prize architect Siza Vieira, and the first exhibition will be on display until September with free admission.

Lisbon’s biggest gastronomic festival is “Peixe em Lisboa,” the “Fish and Flavours” festival which this year happens from the 4th to the 14th in a courtyard of Comercio Square. Portuguese and international chefs will show off their art in preparing fish and you can try them and learn how to prepare them yourself.

The “IndieLisboa” festival is back, from April 18 to the 28th. In its 10th edition it will once again screen independent films from all over the world, and will close with the local premiere of “Before Midnight” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply (it had its world premiere at Sundance and will be in theaters worldwide in late May).

On the 5th and 6th, four museums in the Belem district will host special events, from concerts to film screenings. The Coaches Museum, the Archaeology Museum, the Berardo Museum and the Museum of the Presidency will also provide access to their permanent collections through one single ticket valid for all spaces.

The São Luiz Theater will host a special jazz fest on the 6th and 7th featuring national musicians in concerts and workshops. The events start at 4PM on both days, lasting until well past 1AM.

The Belem district will host yet another festival later in the month, the “Dias da Música” in Belem Cultural Center. The annual event takes place on the 19th, 20th and 21st, with over 60 concerts, debates and a special market. This year it will focus on the music of the late 1700s and early 1800s, with classics by Beethoven and Chopin.

The river sightseeing cruises are back for another season. Available from April to October, it takes you on a two-hour tour of the city’s ancient and modern landmarks, from the old center to the Parque das Nações district and the Age of Discovery monuments of Belém.

When in Lisbon, go to Sintra. Now that the colder and rainier season is coming to an end and that the bigger summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, it’s the best time to see Portugal’s romantic fairytale town. It’s also at its most verdant and colorful, and a palace you should make an effort to visit at this time of the year is the Monserrate Palace, recently renovated but still overlooked by those who only give themselves enough time to see the famous Pena Palace. After you visit the interior, be sure to relax at the beautiful gardens.

10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the Summer of 2013

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Joana Vasconcelos at Ajuda Palace, Lisbon

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

The Best Sunrises and Sunsets in Lisbon

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Lisbon is known as a sunny city and one of the things that most make it unique is not just being the European capital with the most sunshine hours per year but also the fact that’s it’s the only one where the sun sets in the ocean.
So more than a place where you can get a tan in an urban or cultural capital environment, Lisbon is also a place for romantic moments watching the sun rise and set.

Sunrise, Lisbon

The best spot to see the first glimpse of the Earth’s closest star in Lisbon is the Portas do Sol (“Gateway of the Sun”) terrace. Depending on the time of the year, you’ll either see it rise from behind the dome of the National Pantheon or further to the right reflecting on the water. You’ll obviously have to wake up early for that and although this part of the city only has a couple of hotels, there are plenty of apartments. This terrace is right outside the castle, so you may also consider staying at Solar do Castelo which is within its walls.

Lisbon Sunset

For the sunset you have more options. You may either choose the ramparts of the castle for the sight of the last rays flooding the city, or you may sit at the wharf Cais das Colunas which is the river side of Comercio Square. There you’ll see the sun set behind the 25 de Abril Bridge, but to see it plunge onto the horizon you have to head to the district of Belem. The perfect sunset spot is the river’s edge behind the Tower of Belem, which is seen in silhouette (pictured below) on the eastern side, and with a golden hue on the other side during the last minutes of sunlight. Although you won’t get city views on this spot, this is as close as you get to seeing the sun hide on the Atlantic.
Those who want to see it from their bedroom should consider a stay at the Altis Belem Hotel just a few feet from the tower.
A spot for a drink as the sun goes down in this part of town is the “À Margem” café, found between the tower and the Discoveries Monument.

Sunset, Lisbon

Three museums in Lisbon will be hosting the festival Belem Art Fest in September

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

 Belém Art FestThe National Museum of Archaeology, the National Coach Museum and the Museum of Folk Art will be the stage of the first edition of the Belém Art Fest festival, with concerts, exhibitions, workshops and theater, scheduled for September 22.

The concept is simple: with a single ticket, each participant can visit three museums and see part of their collections, participate in workshops, attend concerts or see a play.

Each museum will stage a different musical genre: In the National Coach Museum there will be a presentation of “three different approaches to the urban song – FADO,” with Pedro Moutinho, Maria Ana Bobone and Teresa Lopes Alves.

In the National Museum of Archaeology, the voices, melodies and rhythms of Elisa Rodriguez and Julio Resende, The Soaked Lamb and Selma Uamusse take guests on a retro journey within the Jazz and Blues genres.

At the Museum of Folk Art, the party starts with energy and good vibes with the Portuguese bands Nice Weather for Ducks, The Doups and Youthless and ending with a DJ set at 04.00.

Belem Art Fest aims to publicise different values of the Portuguese culture, combining tradition and modernity, history and innovation. Participants can visit part of the Museum’s collections, learn how to create urban handicraft with Bolo de Pano Lisboa, hear tips from L’Oréal makeup experts, enjoy an art exhibition from Pedro Madeira Pinto or watch the play “Made in China” from Grupo de Teatro da Nova. Visitors will also be surprised by an exhibition and fashion show from Lisbon Fashion School – EML.

The Belem Art Fest also has a message of sustainability. It encourages participants to travel on foot between the museums and to use the train as transport to the festival. To this end, a 1€ round-trip ticket will be available for holders of the festival pass.

More information:

5 Alternatives to the Beach in Lisbon

Friday, July 27th, 2012

If you’re looking to catch some sun in Lisbon but prefer to stay in the center of the city instead of heading to the coast, here are a few spots to get your Lisbon tan:

Cais das Colunas

The wharf that the monumental Comercio Square opens into once welcomed travelers to the city when they arrived by boat. Now it’s a magnet for everyone to rest as they go around the city admiring its scenic beauty. Some tourists even get their feet wet, others take photos with 25 de Abril Bridge as the backdrop, and others end up spending a couple of hours just sitting enjoying the serenity of Lisbon’s refreshing Atlantic location.

Docas de Santo Amaro

These tourist-friendly docks offer more than postcard views and several places to eat. They’re also the place to relax on the waterfront, watching the cruise ships go by, admiring the boats and doing some sun worshipping.

Jardins de Belem, Lisbon

Lisbon’s most visited neighborhood is known for its monuments, but Belém is also a place to relax between sightseeing on the lawns between all the landmarks. Whether closer to Belem Tower or already by the shadow of 25 de Abril Bridge, you’ll see tourists and locals laying in the sun and being cooled off by the ocean breeze.

Portas do Sol

Not only is it one of Lisbon’s most beautiful viewpoints with one of its most inviting terrace cafes, it’s also a great spot to stand in the sun. Instead of the Atlantic you have the river Tagus in front of you, but with the loungy music of the café playing in the background you can imagine yourself relaxing at a summer resort.

Tapada das Necessidades

Once the private picnic park of Portugal’s kings, this green oasis is now hidden in the center of the city and largely deserted despite being open to all. It’s found behind a gate next to a palace that is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and when the sun is shining you’ll often see couples or small groups of people in their beachwear working on their tans. There are many other parks in the city where you can do that but this is where you’ll feel like you’re in your own private garden.