As one of Europe’s oldest cities, Lisbon boasts a wealth of historic landmarks, fine dining options and creative cultural activities. Combine this with charming local hospitality and mild year-round temperatures and visitors can really appreciate a wonderful weekend (or longer!) getaway in the Portuguese capital. Not convinced? Here a few of my favorite places and things to help you fall in love with lovely Lisbon:
Lisbon’s prime seafront location and proximity to hilly green spaces means plenty of fresh fish, livestock and produce. At present, the city’s reigning culinary king is José Avillez. The young chef has an impressive collection of restaurants including Cantinho do Avillez, Michelin-star Belcanto and his newest venture: the stylish Mini Bar, which offers the tastiest (and cutest!) mini burgers in town. Other local standout eateries include the funky Decadente, SeaMe (name says it all) and BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto for excellent tapas.
Cantinho Do Avillez
Master at Work
The Funky Decadente
Though Lisbon offers plenty of options for all wants and tastes, I simply adore that they tend to restore many of their historic buildings into gorgeous luxury hotels. A few examples of this trend are the Pestana Palace (once the 19th century city residence of a marquis) and the ritzy, hilltop Lapa Palace. But if modern style and convenience is more your speed, I recommend Internacional Design Hotel located on Rossio Square right in the heart of the city.
The bar at The Pestana Palace Hotel
Gorgeous ceiling mural at the Pestana Palace hotel
Pestana Palace Hotel
Something cool at Lapa Palace Hotel
Very artsy Hotel
A painting at the Internacional Design Hotel
Get lost taking in the charm & art of the Internacional
With a city as historic as Lisbon, you’d probably imagine that I would recommend discovering it on foot. Well, that’s partially true. Another mode of transportation you absolutely must experience is a ride (or two) up the rolling hills on the iconic yellow trams. Explore the panoramic views in Alfama district, where you’ll find some of the city’s best Fado (melancholic folk music) houses. Another must-see landmark is the Praça Marquês de Pombal, a stunning square featuring the regal Eduardo VII Park.
In trendy Chiado, enjoy a visit to Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon’s oldest opera house, while the recently renovated Praça do Comércio is a pleasant waterfront stop surrounded by cafés, a small museum and fantastic views of the Tagus River. And finally, no visit to Lisbon is complete without a jaunt to the old town of Belem, where you will surely (I promise!) marvel at architectural wonders found at the 16th century Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower.
Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos
Praça do Comércio
The elegant, tree-lined Avenida da Liberdade features international upscale fashion brands right alongside chic local boutiques. For vintage-style clothing and original home furnishings explore Chiado and the newest hip spot, Principe Real districts that feature delightfully kooky shops such as the Chiado Factory and Embaixada, a Moorish residence turned avant-garde mini-mall.
And for touristy knick-knacks (admit it, you want to take a few back home with you) stroll down the charming arched pedestrian walkway Rua Augusta, whose mosaic pavements lead you directly to picture-perfect views of the sea (a.k.a the Tagus River). What could be better than that?