Posts About 'Sights'

10 New Reasons to Visit Lisbon in 2017

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

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 New Reasons to Go to Lisbon in 2016

Monday, January 11th, 2016

MAAT, Lisbon

THE NEW MAAT – MUSEUM OF ART, ARCHITECTURE AND TECHNOLOGY
The major new attraction of the year is the MAAT, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which will be found on the water’s edge in the Belém district. Directed by the former curator of contemporary architecture of New York’s MoMA, the first exhibition is scheduled for September, but you’ll be able to admire the exterior of the rather futuristic building before then.

THE NEW DISCOVERIES MUSEUM
It’s not being labeled a “museum” but rather a “museological space,” and it’s quite a space. It’s a replica of a ship from the 1500s, the type that left Lisbon for Asia, Brazil and around the world, and will explain the planning and process behind those voyages, together with all the different aspects (both positive and negative) of the Age of Discovery. It will be placed on the waterfront some time in the summer, by Ribeira das Naus, and will have a terrace at the top offering views of the Tagus flowing into the Atlantic, allowing you to imagine the ancient sailors heading into the unknown.

THE NEW MONEY MUSEUM
It’s been postponed year after year, but 2016 is said to be the year for the opening of the new Money Museum. It will be found in the mostly unlikely of places, a former church from the 1700s, but also extending to the building behind it, which belongs to the Bank of Portugal. Although the museum is said to open in the first half of the year, the former church is already open to visitors, showing traces of Lisbon’s medieval wall together with archaeological finds from the Roman and Moorish periods of the city.

Amoreiras Towers, Lisbon

“AMOREIRAS 360”
It may be hard to believe for many locals, but the Amoreiras Towers have just turned 30 years old. Quite controversial due to their postmodern architecture in a historic city, they’re now very much part of Lisbon’s skyline and house one of its favorite malls. In 2016 it will open its rooftop to visitors for the first time, a new attraction it’s calling “Amoreiras 360.” That’s because it will offer 360º-views over Lisbon, reportedly at a cost of 5 euros per person.

TALL SHIPS RACE
One of the biggest events of the year will happen in July. From the 22nd to the 25th, “Europe’s Atlantic Capital” will have several activities (from concerts to exhibitions) related to the famous sailing race. Many of the ships will be open to visitors, and there will be lots of photo opportunities as they go down the Tagus towards the Atlantic.

“HOSPITAL DO DESTERRO”
The same company that turned a group of abandoned warehouses, now collectively known as “Lx Factory,” into one of Lisbon’s trendiest spots, will now try to do the same for a former hospital. The 500-year-old building actually started out as a monastery, then became an orphanage, then it was turned into military barracks, and finally became a hospital until 2006. In the spring of 2016 it will have its 11,000 square meters divided into shops, cultural spaces, restaurants and a hotel.

NEW HOTELS
A larger number of tourists every year means that there’s still a need for new hotels. And the new ones try to stand out from the competition in any way they can. Studies show that Lisbon is one of the cities with the best-reviewed hotels in Europe, and the upcoming ones will make sure they keep it that way. There will be a new design hotel in the Príncipe Real district overlooking the city, a new hotel downtown from a new chain created by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and a new four stars in the central Figueira Square.

A NEW WATERFRONT
The final touches are scheduled for January of 2017, but by the end of 2016 you’ll already be able to enjoy a large part of the renewed waterfront between Cais do Sodré and Campo das Cebolas, by the cruise terminal.
Extending the promenade Ribeira das Naus, also used as an “urban beach” during the warmer months, the square across from Cais do Sodré station will be landscaped, and the square across from the famous Casa dos Bicos will be mostly car-free, so you’ll be able to enjoy a picnic or relax in the Atlantic breeze.

25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon

THE NEW 25 DE ABRIL BRIDGE ELEVATOR
In the year that the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge celebrates 50 years, there are plans for the addition of an elevator to take tourists to the top. It’s still in the planning stages, so there’s no guarantee that it will open in its 50th year, but sooner or later you’ll be able to go up 70 meters (230ft) in the air. It will not only offer bird’s-eye views of Lisbon, it will also tell the story of the bridge, including why it looks so much like San Francisco’s Golden Gate.

A RENEWED ANCIENT ART MUSEUM
An entire floor of the Ancient Art Museum is currently closed and will only reopen in May. At that time it will have a (re)new(ed) space for the display of Portuguese paintings and sculpture that were rarely seen before. It will have around 200 new pieces, from the Middle Ages to the 1800s.
Until April you may also see the temporary exhibition “Great Spanish Masters”, with works by names like El Greco, Goya and Sorolla.

10 New Attractions in Lisbon

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

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.

The Most Romantic 24 Hours in Lisbon

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

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

7 Terraces on Lisbon’s 7 Hills

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

At the top of monuments or at the top of hills, Lisbon is known as a photogenic city forcing you to stop to take photos or to simply admire the views. The city’s legendary seven hills are all topped by gardens or terraces meant for exactly that, and although there are many viewpoints that you’ll want to check out, these are the seven where you’ll get seven different perspectives of the city, perfect during spring and summer.

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

PARQUE EDUARDO VII
Edward VII Park ascends a hill from downtown to uptown, and at the top you’ll find a terrace where tourists stop to take photos of the historic center framed by two hills. To the left is the hill topped by the castle, and to the right is Bairro Alto.

Miradouro do Torel, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DO TOREL
Most guidebooks forget this terrace which is a small garden on a hill above Avenida da Liberdade, reached with the help of the Lavra funicular or after a steep climb. So most people you’ll find here are locals, usually reading a book or enjoying a light meal at the café on the lower level. From here you get to see 20th-century Lisbon, as well as most of downtown all the way to the triumphal arch.

Miradouro da Graça, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DA GRAÇA
The local favorite for its kiosk café open until late, this shaded terrace across from a church rebuilt in the late 1700s offers a view often painted by artists. You’ll photograph the castle right in front of you, with the bridge seen behind the hill.

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DA SENHORA DO MONTE
Not far from Graça is this terrace at the city’s highest point. It offers a huge panoramic view that goes from Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood to the east, to the modern neighborhoods to the west and north. It’s usually the calmest terrace of all, with very few tourists and only a few young couples.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DAS PORTAS DO SOL
This is a postcard terrace, with views of white buildings, church towers and domes descending the hill towards the water. It’s a mix of old Mediterranean village, Portuguese fishing town and Santorini-like descent in the middle of the city, and there are cafés inviting you to sit for a while.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA
Many choose this as their favorite, and it’s easily the most romantic. Found at the doorstep of Bairro Alto’s grid of streets, it has an upper and lower level, with fountains and a landscaped garden. From here you can see the castle up on the hill across from you, and the towers of the cathedral. There are two kiosk cafés where you can have a drink as you admire it all.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DE SANTA CATARINA
It doesn’t have the prettiest view (it looks out to the port of Lisbon), but this is a favorite at sunset. It attracts all kinds of people, young and older, local and tourist, bohemians and yuppies, to simply sit and chat among friends, or have a drink at the cafés.

What’s New to Experience in Lisbon this Fall

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

If you prefer to avoid summer’s crowds and high temperatures when you travel but still wish sunny and pleasant weather, you may want to visit Lisbon this fall. There are brand new spots and events to experience at that time, in addition to all of the city’s regular attractions. Here are the highlights of what’s happening in Lisbon after the summer.

Triumphal Arch, Lisbon

THE NEW TRIUMPHAL ARCH ROOFTOP TERRACE
The triumphal arch that links the pedestrian shopping street Rua Augusta to the large Comercio Square will open its rooftop terrace for tourist visits by late August. An elevator is currently being installed inside the monument, and once operational, it will offer visitors the opportunity to see all of downtown Lisbon from above, including the square and an up-close view of the sculptures that top the arch.

Graça Park, Lisbon

A NEW PARK WITH A VIEW
It will be the biggest park in the old town but it’s not size that makes this a major new attraction — it’s the view. A large green area next to the popular Graça viewpoint which had always been closed to visitors is currently being cleaned up and will open as a public park in September. It will have 178 different species of plants, a large central lawn and children’s playgrounds. Plus the view of almost the entire city.

A NEW MOORISH SHOPPING COMPLEX
A Moorish-style mansion from the 1800s in the Principe Real neighborhood has been converted into a new shopping complex. Said to be a “modern souk,” it was inspired by the architecture of the building, but instead of a traditional bazaar it focuses on contemporary lifestyle products. It will offer fashion, design and art, as well as a restaurant starting in September.

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

THE NEW WATERFRONT PARK AND PROMENADE
A new waterfront promenade opened last March and has become the “beach” of central Lisbon this summer. The large area behind it, which used to be closed as private property of the buildings around it, will become a new park by October. This is the site of the shipbuilding and docking during the Age of Discovery which is why it’s called “Ribeira das Naus” (Ships’ Riverfront). Although it will be crossed by a two-way road, it will be mostly a tree-filled pedestrianized area, and will incorporate the historic dock that had been buried over the last couple of centuries.

THE DESIGN BIENNIAL
2013 is a year of the city’s design biennial and it will occupy different spaces of the neighborhoods of Chiado and Belém. It will have four major design-related exhibitions, starting on November 7th and lasting until late December. You may consult all the activities here: www.experimentadesign.pt

THE ARCHITECTURE TRIENNALE
The architecture triennale coincides with the design biennial this year, so the end of 2013 will be big on the arts. Taking place from September 12th to December 15th, it will present architecture exhibitions, debates and special events throughout the city. More info here: www.trienaldelisboa.com

THE BEST OF MODERNIST ART
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso was one of Portugal’s top artists of all time, and the Modern Art Center is presenting a special exhibition with all of his works in the museum’s collection together with others of his contemporaries (from around 1910 to 1920) until January.

10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the Summer of 2013

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Joana Vasconcelos at Ajuda Palace, Lisbon

SEE CONTEMPORARY ART IN A ROYAL PALACE
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

SUNBATHE ON THE NEW 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.

JOIN A STREET PARTY
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.

ROCK AND ROLL ON THE BEACH
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.

DISCOVER NEW ART
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

BE ONE OF THE FIRST GUESTS
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.

SAMPLE THE LATEST RESTAURANTS
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.

SEE A RENEWED ROYAL SQUARE
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

SPLURGE ON NEW LUXURY SHOPS
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

GO BACK 1300 YEARS
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

10 Monuments and Attractions in Lisbon That Tourists Never See

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Fonte Luminosa, Lisbon

THE LUMINOUS FOUNTAIN
Everyone passes underneath it on the metro (it’s where two lines meet, one of them connecting the city center to the airport), but no one imagines what’s above ground. This is Alameda, one of the main open spaces of the Avenidas Novas district and its main attraction is this monumental fountain. Built in 1940 during WWII when Lisbon was a neutral safe haven, it was named “fonte luminosa” (luminous fountain) because of its light displays at night. Recently the water disappeared for some time as the monument was cleaned up, but the beloved waterfall was back and running by late 2012. The water shows take place in early-afternoon at lunchtime and again after the sun goes down. In daylight or lit up in the darkness of the night, the effect is quite impressive.

Parque de Santana, Lisbon

SANTANA WINDMILLS
Ask most people in Lisbon where you can see these charming windmills, and they won’t be able to tell you. If locals don’t know about them, it’s only natural that tourists never see them either. They’re found in a neighborhood park in the Ajuda district above Belém, and date from the 18th century. At that time this was farmland and while others were destroyed in order to build the apartment buildings that now surround them, these two survived at the top of the park. The entrance is through Rua Tristão Vaz and you can enter until 6PM in winter and 8PM in spring and summer.

Mãe D'Água, Lisbon

MÃE D’ÁGUA RESERVOIR
Lisbon’s huge 18th-century aqueduct had several reservoirs around the city and this is one of them. Found by the Rato metro station, it’s part of the Water Museum and includes a beautiful underground waterfall, but the best part is perhaps going up on the terrace for city views that very few get to see.

Capela de São Jeronimo, Lisbon

ST. JEROME CHAPEL
It was completed in 1514 by the same architect as the Jeronimos Monastery found down the hill, but this is one of the most overlooked monuments in the city. The reason is that the interior can only be visited by appointment, but the main attraction is not really what’s inside. The real reason to head up here from Belém (directly up the avenue across from Belém Tower) is the view of the river and of the city’s most monumental district.

Monsanto, Lisbon

MONSANTO FOREST PARK
It’s the largest urban forest in Europe but you won’t find any tourists there. It’s mostly frequented by picnicking families on weekends but you’ll also see groups playing soccer, basketball, skating or jogging in the several special sports areas. Best of all is the natural amphitheater overlooking the 25 de Abril Bridge. There is no metro station nearby but you may reach it on bus 711 from downtown.

Igreja da Pena, Lisbon

PENA CHURCH
Lisbon’s least-known funicular (the “Elevador do Lavra”) leads to the small garden viewpoint of Torel up the hill which locals head to for a relaxing break at the kiosk café. What few know about it that a small church nearby hides one of the first golden baroque interiors in Portugal. Dating from 1705, this was the first monument in Lisbon covered in gilt which came to be one of the city’s main architectural features.

Capela Bemposta, Lisbon

BEMPOSTA PALACE CHAPEL
When the former queen of England (Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza) returned to Portugal in 1693, she needed a new home fit for the queen that she was. She had a palace built at the top of one of Lisbon’s hills (on a street now called “Paço da Rainha” or “Queen’s Palace”) which is now occupied by the Military Academy and therefore not open to visitors, but the chapel at the center of the building is open to all for church services. You may see it on Sunday mornings, past marble statues at the entrance, with a baroque interior that includes a beautifully-painted ceiling and portraits of members of the royal family by Irish artist Thomas Hickey.

Monte Agudo, Lisbon

MONTE AGUDO VIEWPOINT
Lisbon is known for its beautifully scenic hilltop terrace viewpoints and there are so many of them that the less central ones are completely forgotten. This one is found close to but outside the tourist center (Rua Heliodoro Salgado) and was renovated in 2009, now attracting many locals, especially for its more recent café terrace. Here you can overlook the rooftops of Lisbon’s older and more modern districts all the way to the river, always with the scent of the pine trees behind you.

Igreja de São Sebastião, Lisbon

ST. SEBASTIAN CHURCH
A short walk from the Spanish El Corte Ingles department store uptown (on Largo de São Sebastião da Pedreira) is this small church that’s completely unremarkable outside, but quite impressive inside. Mixing gold leaf and blue ceramic tiles, it creates an unexpected show of Baroque architecture from floor to ceiling. It’s one of the rare survivors of the 1755 earthquake and is dedicated to St. Sebastian whose life is illustrated on the ceiling.

Mouraria, Lisbon

MOURARIA’S MEDIEVAL HOUSE
Known as Lisbon’s most rundown neighborhood, Mouraria has been renovated over the last couple of years and locals are discovering the charm of one of the city’s oldest districts that’s now its most multiethnic. It’s a curious mix of Chinese and Indian businesses with authentic Lisbon soul, as this is the recognized birthplace of the city’s Fado music. There are many picturesque alleys, little squares, and architectural details, with the most noteworthy being a gothic home behind the church of São Cristovão, one of the oldest buildings still standing in Lisbon and such a rare survivor in a European capital.

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

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

DOCAS
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

BELÉM GARDENS
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

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

NECESSIDADES PARK
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.