10 Things to Do in Lisbon This Spring

Museu Berardo

SEE PICASSOS AND WARHOLS WHILE THEY’RE STILL FREE
The Berardo Museum of modern and contemporary art has always been free since it opened 10 years ago, but the free ride is over this May 1st, when the museum will start charging a €5 admission. Until then, you can see temporary exhibitions together with the permanent collection that includes works by Picasso and Warhol for free.

Global City, Lisbon

SEE THE FIRST DEPICTION OF THE FIRST GLOBAL CITY
It’s not free, but the exhibition you can’t miss is “The Global City – Lisbon in the Renaissance” at the Ancient Art Museum. It lasts until April 9th, and revolves around a painting of the main shopping street in 16th-century Lisbon, showing the Portuguese capital as the first global city, offering goods from all over the world.

GO TO THE EXHIBITION OF THE YEAR
The other major exhibition in town is one dedicated to one of Portugal’s most important painters, Almada Negreiros. It’s being shown at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum until June 5th, and is already one of the museum’s most-visited exhibitions.

MAAT, Lisbon

FINALLY SEE THE NEW MAAT
If you were in Lisbon last fall, you may have already been to the new MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology). It was inaugurated last October, but only a couple of the rooms were open and with very little to see inside. It is currently closed, as it gets ready to finally inaugurate the entire building on March 22nd. The building itself is an attraction, already one of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks.

Cais do Sodré

RELAX AT THE NEW PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY WATERFRONT
After a visit to these current exhibitions, head to the waterfront and relax at the new Cais do Sodré. That riverfront district was under (re)construction over the last year, but it is now accessible to all, with more pedestrian space, new places to sit by the river, and new spots to eat and drink.

ENJOY THE FISH AT THE CITY’S BIGGEST GASTRONOMIC FESTIVAL
Lisbon’s biggest gastronomic festival takes place in the spring, and this year it’s happening from March 30th to April 9th, at a new location. The “Peixe em Lisboa – Lisbon Fish and Flavours” festival is obviously dedicated to fish, and the new location is the Carlos Lopes Pavilion, a century-old building in Edward VII Park, that was once a sports pavilion, and that was completely renovated earlier this year.

GO TO THE ANIMATED FILM FESTIVAL
Spring is also the start of the film festival season, and the first one is dedicated to animation. This is the 16th edition of the festival, and you may see which films are in competition here: www.monstrafestival.com

GO TO THE INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
The second film festival is all about independent features. The IndieLisboa – International Independent Film Festival takes place on May 3rd to the 14th, at four different venues, but mostly at the São Jorge Theater, right in the heart of the city, on Avenida da Liberdade. Check the festival’s website for more: www.indielisboa.com

Hotel 1908 Lisboa

SLEEP ON BRAND NEW BEDS
Several new hotels have opened in Lisbon over the last few months, but the newest are the Hotel 1908 Lisboa and the Star Inn Lisbon Airport. The first one is the result of a renovation of a beautiful building from 1908, and the second one is right at the airport.

RIB, Lisbon

RATE THE NEW RESTAURANTS
You can be among the first to rate the hottest new restaurants in town. One of them, the Infame, opened on the ground floor of the Hotel 1908 Lisboa, and serves an international menu inspired by its multiethnic neighborhood. Another is “Tapisco,” a casual Spanish tapas and Portuguese petiscos restaurant by local celebrity chef Henrique Sá Pessoa (Rua D. Pedro V, 81). Also from a well-known chef is “Absurdo,” a spot for faster meals on the waterfront serving only “absurd,” meaning unusual, sandwiches (Avenida Ribeira das Naus, 16). For a fancier place, head to “RIB – Beef & Wine” on the beautiful ground floor of Pousada de Lisboa.

10 Cool New Hotels in Lisbon

Memmo Principe Real Hotel, Lisbon

MEMMO PRÍNCIPE REAL

This is a 5-star design hotel in the city’s trendiest neighborhood. It has a wonderful view from the rooms (some of them with small balconies) and from the restaurant and small pool.

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Alma Lusa Hotel, Lisbon

ALMALUSA BAIXA/CHIADO

It faces one of the main central squares, home to the city hall palace. It has a nice restaurant with outdoor seating, and places you within walking distance of most downtown attractions.

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Palácio do Governador Hotel, Lisbon

PALÁCIO DO GOVERNADOR

Facing the city’s most iconic landmark (the Belém Tower), this 5-star hotel is the former 16th-century home of the tower’s governor. It has a wonderful spa, an even more wonderful outdoor swimming pool and another indoor pool, a refined restaurant and a décor inspired by the city’s famous blue-and-white tiles.

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PortoBay Marquês Hotel, Lisbon

PORTOBAY MARQUÊS HOTEL

With a small rooftop swimming pool and terrace, this hotel is in a good central location, just around the corner from Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s main shopping street. It also has a gym and a good restaurant.

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Pestana CR7 Lisboa Hotel, Lisbon

PESTANA CR7 LISBOA HOTEL

The CR7 in the name refers to world-famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, who teamed up with the Pestana chain to offer this sports and fashion-inspired hotel right in the heart of Lisbon. The bar and bistro on the ground level is open to everyone, and serves good cocktails as big screen TV show different sports events.

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Lisboa Pessoa Hotel, Lisbon

LISBOA PESSOA HOTEL

This hotel is just a few feet from a charming square in the city’s most elegant central district, Chiado. It has a nice rooftop terrace serving drinks and views throughout the day.

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Hotel Riverside Alfama, Lisbon

HOTEL RIVERSIDE ALFAMA

It’s right next door to one of the city’s most historic landmarks, the curious “house of spikes” Casa dos Bicos, today celebrating the life and work of Nobel Prize author José Saramago. It’s a nicely renovated traditional building, facing the riverfront, with simple contemporary-style rooms.

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Martinhal Family Suites, Lisbon

MARTINHAL FAMILY SUITES

This hotel is made up of 37 apartments, catering to families that want to spend several days in Lisbon. It’s in a very central location, and it offers a “kids club” for parents who wish to leave the kids behind as they explore the city’s cultural attractions.

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Hotel White Lisboa, Lisbon

HOTEL WHITE LISBOA

This hotel is down the street from one of the city’s businest squares in a central business district. A Metro station is right outside, taking you downtown in just a few minutes. A rooftop terrace with pool lets you relax as you overlook the city.

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Turim Terreiro do Paço Hotel, Lisbon

TURIM TERREIRO DO PAÇO HOTEL

Just a short walk from the city’s grandest square and the waterfront, this 4-star hotel has rooms of different sizes. Although it has an 18th-century façade, it’s entirely new inside, featuring a contemporary décor.

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10 New Reasons to Go to Lisbon in 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 Hotels in Lisbon

Valverde Hotel, Lisbon

VALVERDE HOTEL
This luxury boutique hotel is right on the city’s main central boulevard, Avenida da Liberdade. It only has 25 rooms, so it’s perfect for those looking for a more intimate atmosphere. It features an elegant decor, and a patio with a small pool.
See more details and booking info ›

Porto Bay Liberdade, Lisbon

PORTO BAY LIBERDADE
This luxurious hotel says it’s an “urban resort” right in the center of the city, around the corner from Avenida da Liberdade. It has an indoor pool, outdoor lounge with jacuzzi on the rooftop, a spa, gym, and a refined restaurant.
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H10 Duque de Loulé, Lisbon

H10 DUQUE DE LOULÉ
A beautifully restored building has been turned into this beautifully decorated hotel. It’s inspired by classic Portuguese traditions such as the blue and white tilework, but added contemporary touches. It offers a library bar and a meeting room, making it a good choice whether you’re in town for business or leisure.
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Evolution Hotel, Lisbon

EVOLUTION HOTEL
Located uptown, facing a busy square, this hotel offers you a completely independent experience. It uses the latest technology to allow you to self check-in, select your room, and adapt the lighting and temperature to your taste using your smartphone. Everything from the gym to the indoor pool is available 24/7.
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My Story Hotel - Rossio, Lisbon

MY STORY HOTEL – ROSSIO
With rooms opening out to Rossio Square, staying here is being right in the heart of the city. It has a modern minimalist decor, and a restaurant inspired by a historic cafe that existed on the site until the 1970s.
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HF Fenix Music Hotel, Lisbon

HF FENIX MUSIC
Facing Edward VII Park, this hotel draws inspiration from music, and the rooms have different color patterns. On the rooftop is a swimming pool and lounge bar.
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BessaHotel Liberdade, Lisbon

BESSA HOTEL LIBERDADE
Behind a classic tile-covered façade on Avenida da Liberdade is this modern 4-star hotel. There’s a swimming pool, meeting rooms, sauna and gym, as well as a stylish restaurant.
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Brown's Central Hotel, Lisbon

BROWN’S CENTRAL HOTEL
A building from the 1700s has been completely renovated and turned into this modern-design hotel. Some rooms have a kitchenette and all have marble bathrooms.
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Hotel Lis Baixa, Lisbon

HOTEL LIS – BAIXA
The building is originally from the 1800s, and it maintained the old staircase and limestone arches, but everything else is completely new. It’s found downtown but on a quiet street, and has a restaurant serving traditional Portuguese cuisine.
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The Late Birds Guesthouse, Lisbon

THE LATE BIRDS GUESTHOUSE
This hotel targets gay male travelers, with a location in Bairro Alto, within walking distance of many gay bars. It has a small outdoor swimming pool, sun deck and lounge bar, and every room has a computer and free wi-fi.
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Survey Says: Tourists Love Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon had a record year in tourism in 2014, and it seems that almost everyone left satisfied and wanting more. When visitors were asked how much they liked the city on a scale of 1 to 10, the average score was a 9.28, and 99.3% said they wish to return. Over half of those surveyed (62%) said Lisbon exceeded their expectations, and around the same number (60.8%) said they rank the Portuguese capital among their top 5 favorite destinations.

Lisbon was the European capital with the highest growth in hotel stays, and in 2015 there will be close to two dozen hotel openings. But this doesn’t mean that it will become more expensive and overrun with tourists like most other European cities. It remains an undiscovered (overlooked) destination for most tourists from outside Europe, and prices are still well below those of most other Western European capitals, especially when it comes to hotels and apartments.

There are many reasons why Lisbon is suddenly becoming a favorite in Europe, and one of them seems to be word of mouth, which reminds many of one of the most authentic European capitals. Lisbon is now more attractive than ever, especially after its renovated waterfront, new museum openings and a rejuvenated food scene. Tourists sharing all the scenic views they captured on camera in Lisbon on social media, and trip reports on blogs and websites have convinced many to visit the city and see for themselves.

If you haven’t been to Lisbon or it’s been some time since you were last in town, it’s time to discover a whole new destination. So start planning your sightseeing now!