Posts About 'Sights'

10 Refreshing Things to Do in Lisbon This Summer

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

If you’ll be in Lisbon this summer (that means until October) and are looking to cool off and relax, here is what you should do:

Find yourself walking in the heat in the middle of the city and wish to dive into the ocean or pool? Head to the NH Liberdade Hotel right on Avenida da Liberdade and you’ll have a rooftop pool available to cool off. It charges 20 euros and in addition to the pleasure of the refreshing waters you have a wonderful city view. You may also order a salad or sandwich for a light poolside meal.

Nata Lisboa

Although the originals still made using a secret recipe are found in Belém, Lisbon’s famous custard tarts can be sampled at any café or pastry shop in the city. And there’s a brand new one specializing in just that — the custard tarts. It’s found on a wonderful backyard of a gallery and bookshop in the Principe Real district, it’s called “Nata Lisboa” and in addition to the tarts it serves refreshing drinks as you sit in the sun or shade on the grass.

You can have a picnic at any of the city’s parks and gardens, but you’ll have to pack the food yourself. So if you want to lay on the grass for a full worry-free meal, head to Cantina da Estrela, a restaurant not far from Estrela Basilica (on Rua Saraiva de Carvalho, 35). Every day (except Sundays and Mondays) it’s offering picnic lunches for 17.50 per person, which includes a basket filled with foods that are easy to eat with your hands but not exactly the typical finger food. Only the drinks are not included in the price.

Although Lux is Lisbon’s coolest club at any time of the year, it’s even better in the summer because of its terrace. This year it’s offering something new and special, the “Luxini” cocktail. It uses ice cream of the beloved local Santini brand and makes interesting blends of flavors with Grey Goose vodka. Choose your favorites at 10 euros each and enjoy them on the moonlit terrace as others crowd the dancefloor below.

Sea Turtles, Lisbon

The big sea creatures have been living in Lisbon’s Oceanarium since 1998, but only recently have the fascinating sea turtles arrived, in a new annexed building. Not only is this a memorable learning experience it’s also cooling and relaxing as you escape into the underwater world.

Silk is Lisbon’s most exclusive club and you’ll understand why if you can actually make it inside. It has one of the most fantastic city views, and this summer it’s opening at 6PM and offering light meals in addition to the usual drinks. But if you can’t it make there, you’ll make it elsewhere, at the more recent Rooftop Bar of the Mundial Hotel. Relax as you watch the afternoon glow turn into night over Lisbon.

Lisbon’s favorite lemonade is found at the tiny hole-in-the-wall “Liquid” but you’ll want to go for something extra special this summer. Grab a refreshing all-natural drink of exotic fruits and other healthy ingredients and take it with you as you walk up through the trendy shops of Chiado.

One of Lisbon’s most underrated, often-forgotten attractions is Edward VII Park right in the center of the city. You’ll be surprised by how peaceful and uncrowded it is, even in the summer, and will be captivated by the wonderful greenhouse which will invite you to stay longer than you anticipated, cooling off in this little-known oasis.

If the greenhouse is a little-known oasis, the botanical garden is a secret forest. You’ll never guess from the entrance gate how big it is, and this summer it’s presenting new pavements and cleaned-up tracks, although it retains its charmingly wild somewhat-neglected feel. Best of all is its small butterfly greenhouse, the only one in Europe open to the public where you can step into a habitat of the colorful insects growing and spreading their wings around.

The Fragoleto ice cream shop downtown (on number 61 of Rua da Prata) is offering special flavors this summer, using traditions and ingredients from around the world. There’s a dozen of them, ranging from Morroccan tea to American lemon cheesecake to Italian cappuccino. But since you’re in Portugal, why not go for the Portuguese rice pudding (“Arroz Doce”) flavor? But hurry because they’re only available in July.

A New “Jurassic Park” North of Lisbon

Friday, June 1st, 2012

DinosaursThe world’s largest open-air dinosaur park is about to be created north of Lisbon in the town of Lourinhã. This is one of the richest areas on the planet when it comes to dinosaur fossils (including the biggest collection of dino eggs), so in addition to a leisure destination it will also be something of a museum scientifically recreating the Jurassic habitat. It will have over 200 life-size models of the creatures that once ruled the Earth, spread over 2.5km of woodland. A central building will be an actual museum presenting the important collection of fossils and will include a restaurant and an auditorium.
The project costs 10 million euros, and if that comes as a surprise at a time when Portugal is being one of the victims of the euro crisis, it should be noted that this comes from private investment, in part from a German company. Studies show the park will be profitable with just over 135,000 visitors per year, something quite achievable when considering that the village of Obidos nearby attracts 2 million people every year.
If everything goes as planned, the “dinopark” can be ready by late 2013.

Time Magazine Highlights One Day in Lisbon

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Time Magazine - Lisbon

The latest issue of the weekly Time magazine (on sale worldwide) dedicates two full pages to Lisbon with a four-hour itinerary. It says “it’s surprising how much of Lisbon can be covered in a few hours, from eccentric bookstores to colorful flea markets and magnificent monuments,” then goes on to present a step-by-step guide to the center of the city, stopping mostly in off-the-beaten-path attractions.
Describing the Portuguese capital as “a stately white city, a scholars’ lair, a seafaring hub,” it starts in the Cais do Sodré station, going up the hill towards Chiado, stopping for a glass of Port Wine at Solar do Vinho do Porto. The author then suggests a “must-do” ride on tram 28 to the “magnificent vista of Lisbon’s splendor” from the Graça viewpoint.
Another curious stop recommended is the Fado Museum dedicated to Lisbon’s music “through highly imaginative and loving interactive displays.” That should be followed by another museum on the riverfront, the Orient Museum, “a glitzy showcase of Lisbon’s other heritage: the Portuguese colonies,” adding that “it’s the next best thing to a trip to Goa or Macau.”
The itinerary ends with a ferry ride across the river for views of “Lisbon’s gleaming urban topography and the 25th of April Bridge.”

The 5 Best Ways to Save in Lisbon

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal

Most of Lisbon’s national monuments and museums are free on Sunday mornings until 2PM. That means that if you’re in the city on a weekend, be sure to wake up early on Sunday and head to the Jeronimos Monastery. After a visit to the church and cloisters, head next door for the Archaeology Museum (currently with an exhibition of Portugal’s Celtic and Roman past and with the “sick mummy”), then next door again for the Maritime Museum (telling the story of Portugal’s history at sea).
Then cross the road using the underpass across from Jeronimos’ gardens and walk towards Belem Tower. It’s also free until 2PM. Then walk back again, past the Discoveries Monument and enter the Berardo Museum for its surprising collection of international modern art. This museum is always free, every day of the week.

Even if you take advantage of the free Sunday mornings for monuments and museums, you’ll still have to pay for transportation. So to avoid having to look for change and taking time buying tickets, acquire the Lisboa Card. It’s the city’s tourist card which provides free unlimited rides on all of the city’s buses, trams and metro except for the special airport bus. It saves you lots of money and time on getting around, but it also offers free admission to all the major attractions, even when it’s not Sunday. The few attractions that are not free with the card still have reduced admission with it. It’s really the best investment you can make in Lisbon.

You’ll find that eating out in Lisbon is much cheaper than in most other European capitals. However, prices have gone up and it’s probably a good idea if one of your meals is not at a restaurant. The best lunch options are often at cafés, especially in Chiado. Many offer great-value meals often with restaurant-sized portions. Those may includes pastas, salads or sandwiches. The same type of light meals are found at fast food restaurants in the shopping malls. Next to McDonald’s and other well-known names you’ll find local options such as “Go Natural,” “Vitaminas” and “H3” offering healthier choices. The Armazéns do Chiado mall in Chiado has a good food court with city views, with several of those fast-but-good restaurants.

Although Lisbon’s hotels are officially the best-value in Western Europe (especially 5-star accommodation according to annual surveys), you can really save by staying at an apartment. Many renovated houses in charming residential neighborhoods like medieval Alfama or in the heart of the city in Baixa are now used for tourist stays. GoLisbon has the most Lisbon apartment choices online, for as little as 20 euros per person per night. That means your own Lisbon home, with more privacy and even more space than a hotel room. It’s perfect for families or for those looking for the “living in Lisbon” experience.

The Berardo Museum mentioned above is not the only major attraction that’s always free. The Design and Fashion Museum is also free, and so are the most impressive churches: São Roque Church, Estrela Basilica and Santa Catarina Church. Also don’t forget that perhaps Lisbon’s main attraction is the city itself, its setting and scenery, so sitting at the terrace viewpoints will perhaps be your most memorable experiences, where you take the most beautiful photos, and it’s always free!

Weird Lisbon: Strange Trees Growing in the City

Monday, March 5th, 2012

There are close to a million trees in Lisbon, and around 65 of them have been classified and protected. Many of those are naturaly in the city’s parks and gardens, others are isolated on the streets. Here are the ones that most catch the eye of the tourist:

Largo do Limoeiro

Close to the Santa Luzia viewpoint, up the hill from the cathedral, is this strange tree which probably came from Brazil. It was placed here just over a century ago, substituting a lemon tree that grew on the site. Its roots, branches and trunks are growing wildly in every direction on the sidewalk, causing many to stop and take a look. Children sit and hide inside it while parents take photos. Many give their own interpretation of what each shape looks like, with some more perverse minds seeing phallic symbols.

Principe Real garden

This 130-year-old tree with a 23-meter (75 feet) diameter is a gigantic umbrella in the garden of Principe Real. The official scientific name is Cupressus lusitanica, and while “lusitanica” recalls the name of Portugal during Roman times, this tree does not have origins in Portugal or even in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s from Mexico and probably ended up in Portugal in the early 1600s when it was planted in the Buçaco forest. Sadly, the iconic tree in Lisbon is slowly dying and probably won’t last for many more decades.

Botanical Garden, Lisbon

The strangest trees in the city are found in the enchanted forest that is the botanical garden. Among the countless species from all over the world is this strange subtropical dragon tree. It’s native to the Canary Islands, although it’s also found in Portugal’s Azores, the probable origin of this one growing here for decades. And we do mean grow, as it’s rapidly expanding more to the sides than up.

Botanical Garden, Lisbon

This majestic tree welcomes you to the botanical garden and has strangely developed several trunks over the years. It’s originally from Australia and it’s been here for over a century. It’s usually planted to provide shade, as it can grow up to 60 meters (around 200 feet) tall.

Lisbon’s New Walking Tours

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Lisbon walking toursVisitors looking to get a greater insight into Lisbon’s culture and history will want to consider one of these recently-launched walking tours. Meant for small groups, both take you through the city’s oldest neighborhoods, pointing out the buildings, the views and the easily-overlooked details. The “Old Town Walking Tour” concentrates in Alfama and the castle hill, taking you places even many locals don’t know about. You go through the maze of twisting streets in a trip that lasts just over three hours and takes place in the morning.
The other tour, the “Lisbon Guided Walking Tour” starts downtown in the heart of the city, Rossio Square. From there it goes up the hill to Chiado, one of the most elegant and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, followed by a short ride on a tram to the Alfama district to visit the medieval cathedral. In that neighborhood you’ll also learn about the city’s Fado music before ending up on the riverfront in Comercio Square.
Both these tours are perfect for first-time visitors, allowing you to explore places you’d otherwise miss, and introducing neighborhoods you may then explore on your own, focusing on your more specific interests.
If walking is not for you, you may always consider other types of tours, including those that take you on daytrips to Sintra, Cascais or all the way to Fatima: Lisbon Tours

New Places to See in Lisbon Before You Die

Monday, February 6th, 2012

1000 Places to See Before You DieThe 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 Marvão, the “open-air museum of Portuguese architecture” that is the city of Evora, the “pleasure palace” of the Buçaco 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.

10 Great Lisbon Attractions Forgotten by Guidebooks

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

No matter if you choose Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness Guide or Fodor’s, you won’t be told about these great attractions. But we say you should consider them for your Lisbon itinerary.

Museu Medeiros e Almeida

It’s been open for ten years but apparently no travel writer has found out about it. It’s one of Lisbon’s most important art collections which includes a Rembrandt portrait, a Tiepolo painting, magnificent decorative art and sculpting such as a fountain that once stood in the gardens of Versailles.

Tapada das Necessidades

The former royal palace of Necessidades is now the ministry of foreign affairs and therefore closed to the public, but apparently very few people know that its garden/park is open to everyone. It’s actually undergoing some renovation to turn it into a more popular attraction, and right now you’ll likely have it all for yourself, with a view of 25 de Abril Bridge and rare plants from all over the world.

Jardim do Torel

Another green space unknown to many is the small garden-viewpoint of Torel. It stands on a hilltop, reached by the landmark Lavra funicular, and offers views of downtown and a terrace café.

Pena Church

Just a short walk down the street from Torel is this apparently ordinary church that hides a surprisingly opulent interior. Its altar and side chapels covered with gold were models for countless other churches in Lisbon and throughout Portugal.

Way off the beaten path, this park is found northwest of Ajuda Palace on Rua Tristão Vaz in a residential neighborhood. Still, it’s a place worth finding, as it offers plenty of green space to rest and have a picnic, do some exercise, or simply to take a look at the centuries-old windmills recalling a time when this was not part of a capital city but a rural land.

Igreja de Santa Catarina

It’s a mystery why one of the city’s most beautiful and artistic interiors is overlooked by guidebooks, especially when it’s located just steps from Chiado and Bairro Alto. With its monumental gilding, rococo ceiling and organ, it’s actually a Lisbon must-see.

Convento dos Cardaes

With such a nondescript exterior, it’s understandable how it goes unnoticed. It’s a convent still inhabited by Dominican nuns, but a guided tour tells you about its fascinating history dating back to the 17th century and shows you its rich decorative features which includes rare Dutch tiles and a masterpiece baroque altar.

Many cities have a museum dedicated to cinema and this is Lisbon’s. But “Cinemateca” is much more than an institution that preserves the art of filmmaking, it’s also a movie theater with daily showing of classic features. They’re presented in their original language, most often with Portuguese subtitles (sometimes in English), and is a great attraction on a rainy day or for a special movie night.

Passeio das Tagides

One of the best places for a stroll is the Parque das Nações waterfront. This boardwalk over the river that goes from the Oceanarium to close to the Atlantic Pavilion offers the most picture-perfect views of Lisbon’s most modern landmarks and is one of the city’s most pleasant walks.

With so many museums in the city, very few people would dedicate much time to one about electricity. However, this museum is actually one of Lisbon’s most visited attractions due to its high-profile temporary exhibitions usually related to contemporary art and photography. So although you won’t see it listed on your guidebook, pass by to check out what is happening when you’re in town. It’s located just down the road from the Discoveries Monument.

Lisbon to Tell Its Story in Its Main Square

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Comercio Square, Lisbon

It already has a museum presenting its history and cultural heritage (the City Museum), but in 2012 Lisbon will have another space dedicated to the celebration of its life as we know it. It will be called “Lisboa Story Center” and will be found in the city’s largest square, Praça do Comercio. It will be just one of several new attractions on that riverfront plaza, which this year already renovated and opened one of its courtyards with new cafés, restaurants and a tourist shop.
The new establishments should be in business by next summer, and will include yet another restaurant, two cafés, a bar, a beer hall, a florist shop, and space for special events.
It will cost a total of 10 million euros and is part of the ongoing riverfront renovation works which is taking longer than expected due to budget cuts and institutional reforms.
As for the “Lisboa Story Center,” it will be ready in October, but no information has been given on how it will complement the exhibits already found in the City Museum. However, previous reports indicated it should be related to “Pombaline Lisbon,” the time when Lisbon rose from the ashes of the 1755 earthquake and built a state-of-the-art downtown. It will focus on the architectural innovation of the area and the rebuilding of the city’s most monumental square.

The 10 Grandest Baroque Attractions in Lisbon

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The word “Baroque” derives from the Portuguese word “barroco.” Portugal is renowned for this architectural style and although Lisbon is characterized by its architectural diversity, it’s essentially a baroque city. That’s because most of it was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1755 and now many of its grandest monuments are filled with baroque splendor. The magnificence of many of the city’s interiors is also the result of the discovery of gold in Brazil, giving Lisbon a profusion of golden decorations. Here we present the 10 baroque attractions you should not miss.

Sao Roque Church, Lisbon

Home to what is said to be “the world’s most expensive chapel,” this deceptively simple church outside has one of the city’s (and Europe’s) richest baroque interiors.

Estrela Basilica, Lisbon

This domed basilica is one of the city’s most monumental churches, covered with marble inside. It includes an impressive baroque nativity scene.

Menino de Deus Church, Lisbon

It’s usually closed, so this church hides one of the city’s most remarkable baroque interiors that mostly survived the 1755 earthquake.

Madre de Deus Church, Lisbon

The church of the convent that’s now home to the Tile Museum is truly magnificent. Covered in gold from floor to ceiling, it also has some outstanding tile panels and paintings.

Paulistas Church, Lisbon

Also known as Paulistas Church, this is one of Lisbon’s most impressive yet least-known churches, covered with baroque and rococo decorations.

Pena Church, Lisbon

Yet another church with an ordinary façade but with an extraordinary interior, covered in gilt.

Sao Miguel Church, Lisbon

One of the city’s many secrets is this church in the middle of Alfama’s maze of streets. It only opens for mass, revealing a rich baroque interior.

National Pantheon, Lisbon

The resting place of many of Portugal’s leading figures is a domed monument that took centuries to complete.

Martyrs Basilica, Lisbon

In addition to a beautiful ceiling painting, the interior of this basilica surprises for the well-preserved baroque details that fill the entire space.

Encarnacao Church, Lisbon

Found in the center of Chiado, this church has one of the city’s most elegant interiors, mixing the baroque and the neoclassical styles.