Although itâ€™s home to a large number of hotels, Lisbonâ€™s Avenidas Novas district is the least touristy in the city. Mostly dating from the the early-to-mid-20th-century, itâ€™s mostly a business and residential area, but there are a couple of museums that top the list of must-see attractions for many tourists. If youâ€™re staying in this part of town, or are simply passing by, consider these often-overlooked recommendations:
CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MUSEUM
Itâ€™s the must-see museum in town, so many do end up here. But even those who donâ€™t particularly enjoy museums will want to check it out, even if just to enjoy its wonderful gardens. Take advantage of Lisbonâ€™s mostly-sunny weather throughout the spring, summer, and autumn months, and catch some sun or have a picnic on the lawns by the duck ponds. Once inside the museum, youâ€™ll find a treasure trove of masterpieces from the East and West.
MODERN ART CENTER
Those who enjoy modern art will want to discover Portugalâ€™s modern artists. Their work is on display in temporary and permanent collections at this museum on the grounds of the Gulbenkian museum and park. Managed by the same foundation, it also has a good collection of British works.
This is the classic European cafÃ©, with a mirrored interior that could very well be part of a royal palace. Admire the architecture as you enjoy a huge selection of sugary pastries that the cafÃ© and Lisbon are famous for.
MEDEIROS E ALMEIDA MUSEUM
It doesnâ€™t even come listed in many guidebooks so it just may be one of Lisbonâ€™s most wonderfully surprising attractions. Itâ€™s the former private residence of a wealthy businessman from the late 1800s, who lived among the works of art he collected. Highlights of a visit include not just those precious pieces, but also the rooms themselves. Thereâ€™s a Rembrandt portrait, paintings by Rubens and Tiepolo, and the beautiful â€œLake Roomâ€ covered in tile panels from the 1700s and with a fountain that used to be at the gardens of Versailles.
MUSEU DA CIDADE
Get to know Lisbon a little more by touring this museum that tells the story of its different periods in history. Housed in a palace built by the king for his mistress, it includes a pleasant garden with real peacocks roaming around other ceramic creatures.
This Michelin-starred restaurant not only offers fine dining, but also views towards Edward VII Park and beyond. The food is mostly Mediterranean, and is a good choice for a dinner for two or for a larger group.
DECASTRO ELIAS RESTAURANT
One of the top local chefs that concentrates on traditional Portuguese cuisine for modern tastes is Miguel Castro Silva. Heâ€™s behind a trio of restaurants in town, and at this one not far from the Gulbenkian, he specializes in â€œpetiscosâ€, the tapas-like Portuguese dishes based on classic recipes.
EL CORTE INGLÃ‰S
Lisbonâ€™s two big department stores in Chiado burned down in a major fire in 1988, so this Spanish giant is currently the only one in the city. Skip the malls and head here instead on a rainy day, and youâ€™ll find everything you expect from a department store, but will also find a good food court on the lower level.
Itâ€™s worth a splurge at one of the cityâ€™s most refined restaurants. Itâ€™s on the top floor of the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, and offers buffet lunches and a la carte dinners with city views. The food mixes Portuguese and international flavors.
End your day above Lisbon, at the top of the Sheraton Hotel. Have a drink in an elegant, relaxed space overlooking the city below.