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With its rich history, Lisbon offers a wealth of cultural arts and entertainment. Classical concerts are held at São Carlos Theatre (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos) housed in a grand 18th century building with a stunning interior and excellent acoustics.
One of the world’s greatest collections of modern art is found at Berardo Museum Of Modern And Contemporary Art. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum contains an eclectic mix of modern and ancient art both inside its contemporary building as well as in the peaceful surrounding gardens. The National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) celebrates the Portuguese tiles (azulejos) that decorate most of the buildings in the city.
If sport’s more your thing, catch a football match at UEFA elite Stadium of Light (Estádio da Luz) or maybe the Lisbon Half Marathon in March as thousands run across the famous Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
From the ultra modern Vasco da Gama shopping centre to tiny bespoke shops, Lisbon shopping is geared towards both fashionable chic and elegant antique. Leather, linen and filigree gold are exquisitely made. In up-market Chiado you’ll find Luvaria Ulisses, purveyor of handmade gloves since 1925 and internationally acclaimed fine porcelain at Vista Alegre. Madeira House on Rua Augusta is perfect for traditional handicrafts and gifts whereas for fun souvenirs visit The Wrong Shop back in Chiado.
Don’t miss eclectic Feira da Ladra (Thieves Market); a dawn to dusk flea market held on Tuesdays and Thursdays on Campo de Santa Clara street.
Lisbon is a gastronomic delight with its multitude of street side cafés and restaurants catering from traditional Portuguese fair to international cuisine. Close to the sea, fish is naturally the dish of the day. It is said that there are 365 ways to prepare bacalhau (dried salted codfish), the nation’s favourite. The Portuguese also have a sweet tooth and tantalising pastries abound in tiny bakeries on every street corner.
Lisbon’s oldest restaurant Tavares is the high end of food heaven with its gilded, luxurious interior. Less hard on the wallet is Olivier’s serving an international menu with excellent desserts. Café Martinho da Arcada is the oldest café in town built into the arches of Commerce Square. A light affordable lunch at Deli Delux has riverside views. Vegetarians are amply catered for at Terra in the leafy neighbourhood of Principe Real.
No trip to Lisbon is complete without stopping for a quick bite at A Brasileira, Lisbon’s most famous café once frequented by Portuguese Poet Fernando Pessoa.
Become a Port wine connoisseur by visiting Solar do Vinho do Porto set in an 18th Century palace. With over 300 varieties of Port Wine available there is something for everyone. For the sweet toothed, traditional liqueur ginjinha from A Ginjinha near Rossio Square will hit the spot.
Bairro Alto is the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife featuring a multicultural and multi-genre music scene and is also the home of Lisbon’s gay quarter. Quiet by day, the area leaps to life after dark as its cobbled streets fill with people of all ages. Some will end the night down at the Docks (Docas) in one of the many clubs of which Lux is the most exclusive.
After a heady night out, next morning head towards one of Lisbon’s Miradouros (viewpoints). Order a coffee and gaze out across the serene River Tagus (Rio Tejo).
Lisbon offers a warm welcome to the thousands of tourists who descend on the city every year. High end hotels include the opulent Olissippo Lapa Palace set within sub-tropical gardens and Palácio Belmonte considered to be one of the “coolest hotels in the world”. If your purse doesn’t stretch to palaces, there’s the hip LX Boutique Hotel with its city and river views. Cheap and cheerful at the budget end are Residencial Princesa with friendly staff and clean rooms and arty Lisbon Lounge hostel. Alternatively, go it alone and rent an apartment from Lisbon Apartments.com.
It is said that Lisbon is The City of Seven Hills (Sete Colinas). One of the best ways to see the sights is on foot. Steeped in old world charm it’s a given to get lost in the medieval maze of Alfama – the area which survived the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Explore the castle with its exceptional views across the city. Wander down to bustling Rua Augusta, the main pedestrian street which leads to the gateway of Lisbon – Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio).
Leisurely amble along the riverside to Belém to see world heritage sites Belém Tower (the symbol of Portugal) and the impressive Jerónimos Monastery. Climb to the top of the Discoveries Monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) for a birds eye view of the giant compass mosaic below. Alternatively watch a showing of the Lisbon Experience film beneath the monument. Don’t forget to visit Pasteis de Belém to taste the delectable custard tarts.
To rest tired feet, hop on the charming Number 28 tram which circles the city and stops at many of the tourist attractions.
If the new world calls, marvel at the futuristic architecture in Parque das Naçoes. Whilst there, relax in the Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa), one of the world’s best aquariums.
With an excellent bus and rail system, day trips from Lisbon are easy. Head for historic Sintra a World Heritage site in the mountains. There you can visit national monument Pena Palace or mysterious Quinta da Regaleira. Alternatively follow the locals to one of Lisbon’s many beaches for a day in the sun.
Fado, meaning ‘fate’ is the sound of Portugal. From famous fadistas like Amália, modern Fado was born. Mariza, Madredeus, Dulce Pontes, and fun fado inspired Deolinda are all names to look out for. For an authentic Portuguese night of music, reserve a table at Senhor Vinho in Lapa or Clube de Fado in Alfama.
High heeled shoes. The mosaic pavements (calçadas) are iconic but provide little grip. Leave stilettos at home and wear shoes with sturdy soles.