10 New Reasons to Visit Lisbon in 2017

Botanical Garden, Lisbon

A NEW BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Botanical Garden in the Príncipe Real district, much neglected over the last several years, closed in 2016 but should reopen in the spring of 2017. In addition to cleaned-up green spaces, it will have a new café with outdoor seating and a small amphitheater.

Estação Sul e Sueste

A CONVERTED STATION
A ferry station from 1931, largely abandoned in the last few years, will finally be renovated and open as a leisure and tourist attraction. It will have restaurants with outdoor seating and be the starting point of sightseeing cruises. The 7-million-euro renovation should be completed by the end of 2017.

MuDe, Lisbon

A NEW AND BIGGER DESIGN AND FASHION MUSEUM
Also scheduled for late 2017 (sometime in the fall) is the reopening of the Design and Fashion Museum (MuDe). It will actually be a brand new museum, as it will expand beyond its two floors to an entire building covering an entire block. It will have more space for the entire international design and fashion collection, plus a new design store and a rooftop bar and restaurant.

Convento da Graça

THE OPENING OF A BAROQUE CONVENT FOR THE FIRST TIME
It’s said to be one of the biggest renovations of a historical building in the last few years. It’s the Graça Convent, next to a landmark church opening to one of the city’s favorite viewpoints, that was never open to the public throughout the centuries. It will be free and open for visits in the spring. In addition to the baroque architecture in several tiled rooms, you’ll be able to enjoy an interior garden.

Campo das Cebolas

A NEW LANDSCAPED SQUARE
The new cruise terminal will finally be completed, and so will a new landscaped square across the road. The new “Campo das Cebolas” has had a few delays due to archaeological finds, but should be completed by the summer. You’ll then be able to picnic under pine trees, looking out to the cathedral and the historic Casa dos Bicos.

Jewish Museum, Lisbon

THE NEW JEWISH MUSEUM
Not far from the cathedral will also be the new Jewish Museum. It will be at the center of one of the city’s Jewish quarters (it used to have two), and will tell the story of the Jewish community in Lisbon throughout the centuries. The controversial new building (due to its modern façade in a historic little square), should be completed by the end of the year.

Pavilhão Carlos Lopes

THE NEW “PAVILHÃO CARLOS LOPES”
A beautifully tiled building in Edward VII Park, “Pavilhão Carlos Lopes,” originally used for sports events, is currently being cleaned up and will reopen in the spring for all sorts of activities. One of them is the city’s biggest gastronomic event, the “Peixe em Lisboa” festival, already scheduled for March 30th to April 9th.

Berardo Art Deco and Art Nouveau Museum

A NEW ART DECO AND ART NOUVEAU MUSEUM
There is the Berardo Museum of modern and contemporary art since 2007, and in 2017 there will also be the Berardo Museum of art deco and art nouveau. Collector Joe Berardo found a tile-covered building below 25 de Abril Bridge to house his collection of international art deco and art nouveau pieces, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics and crystals dating back to the early 1900s from different international artists, and shall open it in the first half of the year.

25 de Abril Bridge observation deck

THE 25 DE ABRIL BRIDGE OBSERVATION DECK
Not far from the new Berardo museum will be a new exhibition space telling the story of the city’s landmark bridge. You’ll be able to take an elevator to the top of Lisbon’s “Golden Gate,” enjoy the views from the observation deck, and then learn everything about this fascinating construction that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

MAAT

THE MAAT
It was officially unveiled last October, but the new building of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), will only be fully operational in March of 2017. All of its exhibition rooms will finally be open and have temporary exhibitions to show, but it will no longer be free. However, you don’t need to pay anything to access its rooftop, which offers a view over the river and the bridge.

10 Cool New Hotels in Lisbon

Memmo Principe Real Hotel, Lisbon

MEMMO PRÍNCIPE REAL

This is a 5-star design hotel in the city’s trendiest neighborhood. It has a wonderful view from the rooms (some of them with small balconies) and from the restaurant and small pool.

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Alma Lusa Hotel, Lisbon

ALMALUSA BAIXA/CHIADO

It faces one of the main central squares, home to the city hall palace. It has a nice restaurant with outdoor seating, and places you within walking distance of most downtown attractions.

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Palácio do Governador Hotel, Lisbon

PALÁCIO DO GOVERNADOR

Facing the city’s most iconic landmark (the Belém Tower), this 5-star hotel is the former 16th-century home of the tower’s governor. It has a wonderful spa, an even more wonderful outdoor swimming pool and another indoor pool, a refined restaurant and a décor inspired by the city’s famous blue-and-white tiles.

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PortoBay Marquês Hotel, Lisbon

PORTOBAY MARQUÊS HOTEL

With a small rooftop swimming pool and terrace, this hotel is in a good central location, just around the corner from Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s main shopping street. It also has a gym and a good restaurant.

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Pestana CR7 Lisboa Hotel, Lisbon

PESTANA CR7 LISBOA HOTEL

The CR7 in the name refers to world-famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, who teamed up with the Pestana chain to offer this sports and fashion-inspired hotel right in the heart of Lisbon. The bar and bistro on the ground level is open to everyone, and serves good cocktails as big screen TV show different sports events.

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Lisboa Pessoa Hotel, Lisbon

LISBOA PESSOA HOTEL

This hotel is just a few feet from a charming square in the city’s most elegant central district, Chiado. It has a nice rooftop terrace serving drinks and views throughout the day.

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Hotel Riverside Alfama, Lisbon

HOTEL RIVERSIDE ALFAMA

It’s right next door to one of the city’s most historic landmarks, the curious “house of spikes” Casa dos Bicos, today celebrating the life and work of Nobel Prize author José Saramago. It’s a nicely renovated traditional building, facing the riverfront, with simple contemporary-style rooms.

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Martinhal Family Suites, Lisbon

MARTINHAL FAMILY SUITES

This hotel is made up of 37 apartments, catering to families that want to spend several days in Lisbon. It’s in a very central location, and it offers a “kids club” for parents who wish to leave the kids behind as they explore the city’s cultural attractions.

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Hotel White Lisboa, Lisbon

HOTEL WHITE LISBOA

This hotel is down the street from one of the city’s businest squares in a central business district. A Metro station is right outside, taking you downtown in just a few minutes. A rooftop terrace with pool lets you relax as you overlook the city.

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Turim Terreiro do Paço Hotel, Lisbon

TURIM TERREIRO DO PAÇO HOTEL

Just a short walk from the city’s grandest square and the waterfront, this 4-star hotel has rooms of different sizes. Although it has an 18th-century façade, it’s entirely new inside, featuring a contemporary décor.

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10 New Attractions in Lisbon

2016 promises to bring several new attractions to Lisbon, from a major world-class art museum to renovated public spaces on the waterfront. But over the last year, from late 2014 to late 2015, there have also been several new openings that you won’t yet find in your guidebooks. Below are ten of them, which are either brand new or renewed or expanded sites in the city:

THE ROMAN “CASA DOS BICOS”

Casa dos Bicos

The curious Casa do Bicos, from the 1600s, had been hiding Roman remains for two millennia, but they’ve finally been uncovered and put on display. They’re now part of an exhibition on the ground level of the building, which serves as the headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation, or something of a museum dedicated to the Portuguese author who won the Nobel Prize. The archaeological space is part of the Lisbon Museum, and may be visited from Monday to Saturday. It’s free, but if you also want to visit the José Saramago exhibition upstairs, there’s an admission charge.

THE ROMAN THEATER MUSEUM

Roman Theater

Speaking of Roman sites, the most significant one is the former Roman Theater. It was only unearthed in the 1960s and there was a museum explaining it a few years ago, but it closed for a major renovation. It finally reopened this summer, much bigger and better, and you may now walk over the archaeological site of the former theater, then enter a building where it comes to life through pieces found on the site.

CONVENTO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA

Convento de São Pedro de Alcântara

This convent founded in 1670 had never been open to the public, despite its location facing one of the city’s most popular lookout terraces. Now that there are no more nuns living in it, it’s now a free attraction you may want to include in your itinerary when you visit the terrace. You’ll find an interior dating mostly from the late 1700s, which includes rich gilding, paintings by Portuguese and French artists, beautiful blue-and-white tile panels depicting the life of St. Peter of Alcantara, and lots of marble in the former funerary chapel.

TERRAÇOS DO CARMO

Terraços do Carmo

These terraces behind the ruins of Carmo Church were always closed, as they were part of the local police barracks. But they’re finally been turned into a public leisure space, offering a great view of the castle and Santa Justa Elevator. It has a cafe on the upper level, where you may sit and enjoy a drink or meal.

JARDIM DA CERCA DA GRAÇA

Jardim da Cerca da Graça

Also open for the first time ever is the park beneath Graça Church. Although it’s existed for centuries, it was used exclusively by the residents of the convent next to the church, and only now has it been turned into a public park. There’s a small children’s playground, a kiosk with terrace serving light meals, and lots of space for a picnic or to simply enjoy a view of the castle and of the old Mouraria neighborhood.

ST. ANTHONY MUSEUM

Museu de Santo António

The site where St. Anthony was born is now a church built in the 1700s. A small museum was created next to it a few years ago, but over the last year it has expanded and reopened completely new. There are new pieces and documents relating to the life and legacy of the saint, who ended up in Italy and died there. Despite usually thought of as an Italian saint, here you’ll understand why he’s such an iconic Lisbon figure. Admission is just €1.50.

MIRADOURO DO RECOLHIMENTO

Miradouro do Recolhimento

Yet another previously-inaccessible spot has been opened for locals and visitors to enjoy the view. This small terrace hidden on a street not far from the castle opens from morning to early in the evening as a tranquil spot to sit and relax, as you watch the trams go by below you. To find it you’ll have to turn on Rua do Recolhimento before you reach the castle’s ticket office, then turn on Beco do Recolhimento.

MUSEU DO ALJUBE

Museu do Aljube

A former ecclesiastical prison that was turned into an archbishops palace in the 1500s, became a prison once again in the early 20th century, to hold (and torture) political prisoners. Many of Portugal’s influential politicians and intellectuals were sent there at some point, until the revolution in 1974 that overthrew the right-wing regime. This year it was turned into a museum dedicated to the struggle for freedom and democracy. The permanent exhibition is spread over three floors, and includes documents about censorship, the fight for independence of the colonies, as well as archaeological remains explaining the origins of the building. You’ll find it on Rua de Augusto Rosa, 42, in Alfama.

THE NATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM

Chiado Museum

Previously simply known as “Museu do Chiado”, this national museum dedicated to Portuguese contemporary art is now the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado. In 2015 it expanded to a second building around the corner from the first one, and in addition to the previous permanent collection, it now also displays works from major Portuguese artists from 1960 to 1990.

THE NEW COACHES MUSEUM

Carriages Museum

After much controversy, the new Coaches Museum finally opened this summer, on the 110th anniversary of its original inauguration. The massive building is just across the street from the old one, and may now display many more carriages and related pieces. The most magnificent examples are still the ones used in an embassy to France’s Louis XIV and to Pope Clement XI.

10 New Places to Stay in Lisbon

Pousada de Lisboa, Lisbon
POUSADA DE LISBOA
Part of Portugal’s historic hotels chain, this magnificent hotel is right in Lisbon’s grandest square. It has a beautiful restaurant, elegant rooms, an indoor pool and a fitness center.
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Terrace Suites, Lisbon
LISBON TERRACE SUITES
Just up the street from the city’s main boulevard, this guesthouse comes with a wonderful sun terrace on the roof. If offers free wifi and there’s a shared kitchen where guests can prepare meals.
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Behotelisboa, Lisbon
BEHOTELISBOA
This independently-owned hotel is the result of a complete renovation of a building from the 1700s, just around the corner from the city’s main pedestrian street. All rooms have a simple, modern style and offer free wifi.
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Hotel Santiago de Alfama, Lisbon
HOTEL SANTIAGO DE ALFAMA
This 5-star boutique hotel is just down the street from the castle and is in a 15th-century building. It only has 19 rooms, each with its own special decor. There’s also a restaurant, a cafe, and a “beauty bar.”
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Hotel Convento do Salvador, Lisbon
HOTEL CONVENTO DO SALVADOR
This former convent is now a modern hotel, but in the city’s oldest and most charming neighborhood. The famous tram 28 stops right at its doorstep, and many of the city’s historic attractions are within walking distance.
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The 7 Hotel, Lisbon
THE 7 HOTEL
Located in the heart of downtown, this hotel places guests between the city’s main squares and with easy access to all public transportation. Some rooms have a kitchenette and all have wifi service.
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The 8 Downtown Suites, Lisbon
THE 8 DOWNTOWN SUITES
These suites in an 18th-century building are found downtown, and right across the street from an elevator that takes you up the hill to the castle. All of them have a minimalist modern design, and there’s a good restaurant downstairs.
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Jupiter Lisboa Hotel, Lisbon
JUPITER LISBOA HOTEL
This hotel is on one of the city’s main avenues, not very far from the airport, but in the city center. The subway takes you to the old town, but on sunny days guests may be tempted to stay by the pool on the terrace instead.
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Lux Lisboa Park Hotel, Lisbon
LUX LISBOA PARK
Found by the city’s main central park, this hotel has spacious rooms with plenty of natural light. There’s free wifi throughout the building.
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Flores Guest House, Lisbon
FLORES GUEST HOUSE
This guesthouse with comfortable, attractive rooms, is in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. It’s on a quiet street but by many of the most popular restaurants, shops and cafes.
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The Most Romantic 24 Hours in Lisbon

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