The best-selling book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” by author Patricia Schultz inspired countless other copycat “…before you…” publications but it is still the original ultimate “traveler’s life list.” It was first published in 2003 and has recently been updated. A major update is for Portugal and especially Lisbon (“one of Europe’s most alluring capitals”), which now has three “must see” museums. The first book only listed the Gulbenkian but it now highlights “great museums of three collectors.” Those are the Gulbenkian, the Berardo Museum (opened in 2007) and MuDe (design and fashion museum opened in 2009). All three showcase “awe-inspiring gifts” from different collectors (Calouste Gulbenkian, Joe Berardo and Francisco Capelo) who “enriched the city with magnificent museums.”
Another Lisbon addition is Alfama, the “ancient neighborhood where history and Fado live,” and back on the list are Sintra (“the summer resort of palaces and castles”) and Obidos, “the town that belonged to the queens of Portugal.” Other places to see in Portugal “before you die” are the “hilltop castles” in the “ancient border towns” of Estremoz and MarvÃ£o, the “open-air museum of Portuguese architecture” that is the city of Evora, the “pleasure palace” of the BuÃ§aco forest, and Madeira, “the pearl of the Atlantic.” New on the list is Porto and the Douro Valley, where “there’s magic in the air.”
After Portugal, you have other 991 places left to see around the world, and many of them are Portuguese-built, from “one of the world’s greatest enclaves of Baroque architecture” that is Brazil’s Ouro Preto to long-forgotten constructions like Ghana’s Elmina Castle.
Perhaps in a future edition the author will also discover Portugal’s Azores, the Coa Valley or the promontory of Sagres, all with a must-feel/must-see mystical atmosphere.
If you’re in Lisbon from October 20th to November 2nd, you’ll want to hop on the train to Porto. That’s when the Restaurant Week of Portugal’s second city takes place, offering the opportunity to try some of the finest restaurants in town at special prices. One euro per person will be donated to charity so you’ll also be contributing to a good cause. In this edition there are over two dozen participating restaurants, and we’re recommending six of them where you’ll be able to try different flavors, from Portugal to Japan:
ARTEMÃSIA – International cuisine.
FOZ VELHA – International cuisine
GÃ“SHÃ’ – Japanese cuisine
GREAT – Mediterranean cuisine
PORTUCALE – Portuguese cuisine
SESSENTA SETENTA – International cuisine
When in Lisbon, many travelers choose to then move on to the beaches of Algarve while others head north to the country’s second city, Porto. This summer you should go for the second option, as it also offers beaches nearby together with a major cultural renaissance. Here are the five main reasons to go now.
WINING AND DINING
There’s a new “wine hotel” that’s not only one of Porto’s top accommodation choices but also one of Portugal’s best. Facing the city’s majestic skyline on the other side of the river, The Yeatman‘s inspiration is the famous wine that Porto is famous for. In addition to the luxury of the rooms, it also offers a wonderful spa and restaurant. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you may experience its refined gastronomic choices at the Yeatman Restaurant. Outside, you’ll find countless centuries-old wineries offering free guided tours and wine tastings.
A NEW HEART
Downtown Porto (including the monumental Avenida dos Aliados) has undergone a major renovation over the past few years and is now a vibrant area at any time of the day. A new InterContinental hotel just opened a few days ago in a palace facing the city’s main avenue, and several cafÃ© terraces and bars have given downtown a lively ambience. The new hotel also brought back to life an old cafÃ© in the same building (CafÃ© AstÃ³ria), and other hotspots to check out on the renovated avenue include Casal Lounge and the always-popular Guarany cafÃ©.
The fact that a new Marc Jacobs shop just opened in the center of the city is the latest indication that the major labels have also begun to discover Porto. But the reason to shop here is for the local products and to admire some beautiful storefronts. Many of them maintain charming turn-of-the-century faÃ§ades and inside you’ll find attractive classic products or surprisingly modern and alternative pieces. One example of the classic-meets-contemporary is the Taken Urban Culture Store which recently took over one of the city’s most iconic shops. More surprises are found at Lobo Taste, home to contemporary crafts. Also worth a look is the Porto home of one of Lisbon’s most famous shops, A Vida Portuguesa, right in the center of the city. More shopping options here: Porto Shops
Head to the upscale district of Foz where the Douro meets the Atlantic and enjoy the fresh air of the sea. The brand-new Deck Foz is just one option but there are also the already-classic Praia da Luz and Homem do Leme.
End your day (or night) at the latest hotspot in the city, the rooftop terrace Zenith Lounge. It offers moonlit views of Porto and its river together with cocktails and DJ sounds. Closer to downtown, the latest buzz points to Vila Porto, a club hosting the hottest weekend parties in town.
COMPLETE PORTO GUIDE: GO OPORTO
The Financial Times’ monthly magazine “How to Spend It” always features a city in its “The Long Luxurious Weekend” column. Lisbon was highlighted in the February 2009 issue (as reported here: “Lisbon for a Long Luxurious Weekend“), and the December 2010 issue has chosen Porto.
The reason for the trip was the new luxury “wine hotel” The Yeatman, but the author found that the city is “increasingly home to design-savvy hotels” like the recent Hotel Teatro and the PalÃ¡cio do Freixo Pousada.
In addition to the new sophisticated accommodation, the city also offers “original restaurants, world-class concert halls and chic boutiques.”
Porto is “now echoing with vibrant culture,” and among the featured attractions in the article are the Rem Koolhass-designed Casa da Musica and the Serralves Museum.
The city is also described as a “first-class walking city,” and a visit to the riverside Foz is recommended for its “signature boutiques” and “buzzing” restaurants.
After Portugal’s Alentejo in its lifestyle magazine earlier this week, the New York Times now highlights the north of the country in this weekend’s travel section. Titled “Portugal Old, New and Undiscovered,” the article goes through the Douro region (the World Heritage wine country) after arriving in Porto, “a city of bold, sudden architectural contrasts.” The chosen hotel was the new Pousada which for the author was a surprise to find such affordable luxury. Dining was at two of the city’s newest “glossy design showcases,” although the favorite gastronomic experiences were at the more traditional restaurants. From the city the next destination was “Portugal’s Tuscany or Piedmont,” staying in the region’s newest accommodation and trying the “superb” food at two of its restaurants that pleased “immensely.” The rest of the trip was driving around this “majestic land.” Here are all the details in the full article: Portugal Old, New and Undiscovered