Posts About 'Alfama'

Lisbon (and in “New York” Magazine

Monday, November 16th, 2009

“New York” magazine highlighted Lisbon in its travel section this weekend, and among some of the city’s most interesting shops, hotels, and landmarks, it also recommended for being “an amazingly comprehensive English-language site covering most everything in Lisbon, with a focus on what’s new.” This comes after recommendations in the Lonely Planet guidebooks, in Paris’ Metro newspaper, and London’s “The Times,” confirming that is indeed the must-visit site for everything Lisbon. It’s reassuring to see our efforts in presenting Lisbon recognized, and it’s also interesting to see what major international publications choose to highlight in our beloved city.
In this “New York” article, the author recommends stays at the York House and Fontana Park hotels for being close to two of the city’s top museums, while also highlighting the classic boutique hotel Heritage Avenida Liberdade.
When it came to restaurants, it offered some interesting options, the recent 100 Maneiras for refined but reasonably-priced Portuguese dishes, as well as the very traditional and laid-back “A Camponesa” by the Santa Catarina viewpoint. A third option was “Aya,” known as Lisbon’s best Japanese restaurant.
The article goes on to suggest stops at some of the city’s most interesting shops, including PorConceito and A Vida Portuguesa for authentic Portuguese products.
As for sightseeing tips, it sticks to Alfama, suggesting a climb to the Castle of St. George and a look at Casa dos Bicos before ending the day at Pois Café.
You can read the entire article at the New York Magazine site: Spend Less in Lisbon

Lisbon’s Newest, Coolest Viewpoint Café: “Portas do Sol”

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Café Portas do Sol

Dark skies and colder temperatures don’t have to prevent you from enjoying the views from Lisbon’s beautiful miradouros (viewpoints). After all, thermometers never reach the freezing point in this city, so you can sit at a café table or cushy seat enjoying a drink and the views at any time of the year. A new place for that is called “Portas do Sol,” and as the name indicates, it’s found on a terrace by the Miradouro das Portas do Sol. The backdrop are the twin towers of the São Vicente Monastery, the dome of the National Pantheon, and the roofs of Alfama‘s colorful houses down to the river.
It’s open day and night (until midnight except on Fridays and Saturdays when closing time is only at 2AM), and also includes an indoor area with glass walls so that you can still admire the view if rain starts to pour during the winter months. But because Lisbon is the least rainy capital in Europe, you’ll probably find yourself sitting on the black terrace couches or at one of the outdoor tables enjoying the special menu. It’s special because unlike the usual toasted sandwiches offered at most viewpoint cafés, at “Portas do Sol” you can choose soup, some quite original sandwiches, and salads. Everything is average-priced (ranging between 5 and 10 euros) and served to the sound of chill-out music.

Palacete Chafariz D’El Rei — Lisbon’s Newest Palace Hotel

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Hotel Palacete Charaiz D'El Rei, Lisboa

After Porto’s new palace hotel, we must also tell you that Lisbon recently saw the opening of its latest palatial accommodation. Hotel Palacete Chafariz D’El Rei opened on a secluded street right below the hilly maze of the Alfama district, and is now one of the most romantic places to stay in the city.
It was built in the late 19th century as an aristocratic vision of the neo-Moorish style, facing the river which can be seen from the building’s terrace. The renovation for it to be turned into a hotel took some time, as everything was carefully restored to its original look. The authenticity of the interior is then mixed with the more contemporary design of some of the furnishings, all together creating an intimate atmosphere throughout the entire space.
There are six spacious suites and public areas for meetings or relaxing after a day of sightseeing. A particularly beautiful room is the Hall of Mirrors which features Art Nouveau details, and there is also a meticulously restored Arabesque Room and a sumptuous library.
This is the perfect hotel for honeymooning couples, including gay and lesbian couples, as it’s a gay-friendly hotel.
There is no restaurant but a continental breakfast is served in the beautiful dining room.
For a cocktail you practically don’t even need to leave the hotel, as right next door is Kuta, currently the hottest bar in Lisbon and a place you should not miss whether or not you’re staying at the hotel.
Get all the hotel details and booking information here: Palacete Chafariz D’el Rei Hotel

Hotel Palacete Charaiz D'El Rei, Lisboa

Lisbon’s 5 Best Brunches

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Lisbon brunchOne of the things first-time visitors to Lisbon notice immediately at the end of the day is that the Portuguese dine much later than elsewhere in Europe. The Iberian custom of dining at 8 or 9PM is pushed even further on weekend nights when it’s not unusual to book a restaurant for 9:30 or 10PM. After a long meal followed by the obligatory cup of coffee, and lots of talking in between, it’s possible to find yourself leaving a restaurant at well past midnight. That’s very early in Lisbon time, meaning that a bar (usually in Bairro Alto) is the next destination for a caipirinha or a special cocktail. When all is said and done, it’s around 3 or 4AM, and for many young people with plenty of energy left, it’s time to hit the clubs by the riverfront. That means that they’ll also wake up very late in the following morning (or afternoon), and that’s what may explain the rising trend of the weekend brunch in Lisbon.
Until not too long ago there weren’t many options in the city for the meal combining breakfast and lunchtime food, but that has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, and there are now many attractive places to choose from if you find yourself being dragged through the night during your stay in Lisbon and wake up well past your hotel’s breakfast time. Here are 5 of the best brunch spots in Lisbon:

This gourmet shop/cafeteria across the street from Santa Apolónia Station was one of the first to introduce the brunch concept in Lisbon and remains one of the most popular. Every Saturday and Sunday between 10AM and 4PM there are two menus to choose from, served indoors or at the very pleasant terrace facing the river. Expect freshly squeezed juice, bread and croissants, yogurt with muesli, and/or scrambled eggs. Also expect to wait in line for a table if you show up closer to the usual lunch time.
(Avenida Infante D. Henrique, Armazem B Loja 8 – Alfama)

This current favorite café in the Chiado district offers Viennese ambience and flavors. For 8.90 euros, you may get Austrian bread with cold cuts, cheese, eggs, and yogurt. A few tables are placed by the door outside on good-weather days, and there are international publications and the newspapers of the day available inside.
(Rua Anchieta, 3 – Chiado)

The most expensive and sophisticated brunch in Lisbon is at this café in the Altis Belem Hotel. It faces a marina halfway between the Discoveries Monument and the landmark Belem Tower, and offers a special meal for 30 euros (drinks not included). Sit at one of the outdoor tables and enjoy the pleasant surroundings as you sample a rich buffet of meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, and pastries.
(Doca do Bom Sucesso, Belém)

Just like Kaffeehaus mentioned above, “Pois” is an Austrian-owned café. It is found around the corner from Lisbon’s medieval cathedral in the Alfama district and offers one of the most laid-back ambiences of any café in the city. Decorated with old, mismatched furniture, its brunch includes tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, fresh fruit juices, and a variety of cheeses, hams, and breads. All for 10 euros.
(Rua Ṣo Jọo da Pra̤a, 93-95 РAlfama)

The recently-renovated museum of sacred art also houses a café in a wonderful Asian-inspired courtyard. Between 10AM and 6PM on weekends you may have a fruit juice, coffee, or tea, with eggs, bacon, toasted bread, scones, cheese, and hams. The total cost is 10 euros.
(Largo Trindade Coelho, 21 – Chiado)

For more ideas and choices for a light meal in Lisbon, see GoLisbon’s cafés recommendations.

Xico’s Restaurant Review

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Restaurante Xico's, Lisboa


Any restaurant in Lisbon located on the waterfront is worth a try even if just for the location. So it had been months since I’ve been meaning to go to Xico’s (pronounced “sheecos”), located halfway between Comercio Square and Santa Apolonia Station right below Alfama by the river. The exact spot is Doca Jardim do Tabaco, a row of old warehouses now converted into restaurants. Xico’s is found on the upper floor of one of those warehouses, and below it and next to it are a number of other restaurants, although none as inviting. From what I had been told and seen on its website, the restaurant would have an attractive contemporary interior mostly in white, as well as a terrace facing the river, and that’s exactly what I found. I chose a table on the terrace and despite already being October, the night was quite pleasant and warm. Everyone else who showed up later also chose the terrace, with all the outdoor tables being taken by 9PM. There was still plenty of space available in the dining room, but if you enjoy al fresco dining, I suggest you either book a table in advance or show up early.
The menu has a slightly different concept, offering different dishes every day of the week. Only the two specialties “Bacalhau à Lagareiro” (poached cod with baked potatoes) and “Entrecôte Café de Paris” are served any time you wish. I went for the safe bet, the cod, although with this essentially being an Iberian restaurant there was a variety of Spanish-style tapas to choose from. Instead of the usual big cod loin, the fish arrived sliced and shredded, while the sangria chosen by everyone at my table came with the right balance of fruit and alcohol. So the main course did not disappoint, but the desserts were the highlight of the evening. I chose the lemon and mint mousse topped with wild berries and it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while, although non-mint fans may not enjoy the stronger mint flavor over the lemon. I also tried some of the passion fruit pie ordered by a friend of mine, and it was equally good. My part of the bill was 25 euros, which was quite reasonable. I must also highlight the service which was very professional and the staff friendly and welcoming.
Xico’s (the official name seems to be “Xico’s Rio”) is therefore a relatively inexpensive choice on the waterfront, a restaurant to be discovered among the trendier options nearby (“Bica do Sapato” or “Casanova“). It also includes a bar where you can sample a variety of Portuguese and foreign wines, making this a place to consider for a business lunch or a more relaxed dinner.
It closes on Mondays and Sunday nights.

Lisbon’s Castle of St. George Has a New Lounge

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Lounge Castelo de São Jorge

Lisbon’s Castle of St. George has just introduced a new lounge on top of one of its towers. As the name indicates, the “Super Bock Lounge” is sponsored by the national Super Bock beer, although it serves more than just the nectar of the gods. There are also fresh fruit juices, sangria, and caipirinhas to wash down a selection of snacks. Those include sandwiches, salads, and bruschettas, which can be enjoyed at a table shaded by red umbrellas or sitting on one of the long comfy seats. Look down from the terrace and you’ll have all of Lisbon directly in front of you, and if you stay until dinner time, there is the excellent Casa do Leão Restaurant just below you for a more complete and refined eating and drinking experience.
Staying at the castle until the sun sets is in fact a great idea, especially now when days remain long and warm in Lisbon, even with October just around the corner.  The new lounge opens at 12PM and remains in service until 8PM.

“Sumaria” – Something New and Juicy in Alfama

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Sumaria, Alfama, Lisboa


Climbing Lisbon’s steep hills is always rewarded with a viewpoint, the ancient castle, or a café, but along the way you’ll likely want to take it slow and rest from time to time. If you find yourself climbing the hill from the cathedral towards the castle, now you have a fresh and juicy new way to recover some of your energy just before you reach the Santa Luzia viewpoint. It’s called “Sumaria” and it opened this month in a tiny space offering freshly squeezed fruit juices which you can grab and take to enjoy sitting at the viewpoints or the castle just a few steps away. Each juice costs €2.50 and there is always a special “juice of the day” for €2.20. You can choose from orange, grape, melon, watermelon, pear, papaya, apple, pineapple, among other fruits which can be squeezed alone or in a combination of a few. Other choices include €3 smoothies or a €1 lemonade, or a special apple and ginger mix which is my personal favorite.
The exact address is Largo do Limoeiro, 13, but all you need to know is that it is the street through which tram 28 rattles through, up from the cathedral towards the Alfama viewpoints and the castle.

Lisbon’s New Botto Machado Garden

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Jardim Botto Machado, Lisboa

Yesterday we told you about Lisbon’s renovated and rebaptized Graça viewpoint, and today we can tell you that another green space has also been cleaned up and reopened not too far from that viewpoint. That’s the Botto Machado Garden, found next to the National Pantheon where the city’s flea market takes place twice a week. Now you have a new space where you can sit, relax, and admire the river after browsing the market or visiting the monuments nearby (São Vicente de Fora Monastery and the National Pantheon), and if you have children with you, they now have a small playground available surrounded by the fresh air of newly-planted flowers and trees. There is also a new kiosk serving refreshments and offering chairs for visitors to relax for a while.

One of Lisbon’s Most Popular Viewpoints Has a New Name and Resident

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Miradouro da Graça, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Lisboa

One of Lisbon’s most popular viewpoints has been given a makeover and a new official name. Miradouro da Graça is a terrace in front of a church that has been a favorite hangout in the last few years thanks to its kiosk cafe that stays open until very late, and above all, its fantastic city views. One of its most famous fans was Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, a local poet who died in 2004 but who spent many of her days admiring the city from this viewpoint. To honor the writer, Lisbon has now placed her bust on the terrace looking out to the city, and renamed the site “Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.” Of course everyone will continue to call it “Miradouro da Graça” (or “Graça Viewpoint”), but this will now also be Sophia’s eternal home, with one of her poems dedicated to Lisbon having been placed on a wall next to her bust.

“Cocktail 88” Review: A Cocktail Bar… With No Cocktails

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Cocktail 88, Lisboa

It looks like a cool, attractive place judging from the website, and it has been featured in a couple of local publications, including “Time Out Lisboa.” So I decided to check out “Cocktail 88” last night and judge it for myself so that I could then add it to our recommendations at GoLisbon. “Cocktail 88” is a relatively new cocktail bar just around the corner from the city’s cathedral, and with a 7PM opening time, sounded like a great pre-dinner cocktail destination. I was going to a restaurant in the neighborhood, so I finally visited this bar with some pretty high expectations. Perhaps because I had been sold on it being such a cool new place, my high expectations only led to my biggest disappointment at a Lisbon bar so far.
We were given the same long list of cocktails that is seen on the website, and made our selections. Apparently they were the wrong ones because they could not be served due to a lack of one of their ingredients. We made other choices, and again — not available. So my friend simply asked for the Cosmopolitan but was told she couldn’t have that either because it had cranberry juice and they had run out of it. Just the lack of cranberry juice knocked down a huge number of other possible choices.  And we couldn’t have anything with grapefruit juice either. And no martinis. So although the list is pretty long and tempting, we gave up and thought it was just easier to ask what they did have. Our waitress then suggested a mojito and a caipirinha — basically something we could have at any of the small Bairro Alto bars. Apparently that’s the only thing they could serve because those were exactly the options written on the wall behind the counter as some sort of “daily specials.” So that’s what we had. The other house specialty is sushi, but we were obviously afraid to ask.  The waitress justified the lack of cocktail options with the fact that they were going through “inventory” and that in August they’ll have everything again.  That poor excuse sounded like a restaurant saying “I’m sorry we don’t have any of the dishes on the menu, but we can still offer you a couple of appetizers!…”
As my friend and I agreed, when a business can not offer its main service, it’s perhaps a good idea to shut down for a few days, pretend to go on vacation, and only reopen when it’s back on track.  By providing only a very limited part of its service it risks having negative word-of-mouth ruin the business.
Cocktail 88 could be a very welcomed addition to the city’s bar scene, and especially in its neighborhood. But perhaps it should learn something from Kuta not too far away, which is the cocktail bar I’ll return to whenever I’m in that part of town. Cocktail 88 will only be given another try when I hear anyone say it actually serves cocktails.
It’s sad to see a business with such great potential be ruined by obviously very bad management.  And it wouldn’t hurt having a couple of bills in their cash register either. I was given 10 euros of change, all in 1-euro coins. I didn’t mind because it’s actually convenient to carry smaller change in your wallet, but I found it sad that to the very last minute, my entire time at Cocktail 88 was with the waitress apologizing for something. In the end, I am the one sorry to say I can not recommend “Cocktail 88” and what could have become a place to return to several times with different people, is not one I’ll be heading to anytime soon, simply because I literally have no reason to!