Travel Spy: Lisbon - Rich Heritage and unpretentious Charm

Lisbon is a city that breathes history and sophisticated charm. A perfect getaway for a long weekend if you are seeking culture, relaxation, an enjoyable climate and a superb dining scene.

The city was founded around 1200 B.C. by the Phoenicians and is the westernmost capital in Europe. Capital to a country that once ruled half the world, at its high point the empire of Portugal was expanded from Indonesia to Brazil. The fact that beautiful beaches are a stone's throw away makes Lisbon even more attractive. Within 30 minutes you are by the sea and the blessed climate makes it possible to enjoy the beach from May to October.

 

STAY

Memmo Alfama Lisboa

Memmo Alfama Lisboa

Hidden at the end of a narrow alleyway and in perfect harmony with the traditional buildings around it, you will find Memmo Alfama – a member of Design Hotels. Once you enter the unpretentious white building you will find sophisticated calmness with super welcoming staff and light-flooded interiors. The architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho has created a contemporary yet earthy and elegant feel through the use of warm wood and sandy tones, which will make you feel at home in an instant. The panoramic postcard view over the red rooftops of Alfama from the terrace is definitely the highlight. Sit on the rooftop to watch the sunset, explore the fine Portuguese wine selection from the bar and enjoy the stunning views.

Palacio Belmonte

Palacio Belmonte

When you wish to enter a different world to entirely disconnect you should choose to stay at the magic Palacio Belmonte. The Belmonte is the exact opposite of standard accommodation, it is the oldest palácio in Lisbon which epitomizes 2197 years of Portuguese history and culture. Built on the walls of the medieval Castle São Jorge, this 3700 m2 property offers peacefulness, space and privacy on the highest level. You have 10 glorious suites to choose from, each eclectically decorated with period art and black marble baths. Breakfast is served in the glorious suites and any culinary wishes are fulfilled by the celebrated Michelin star Chef Jose Avillez.

Casa Amore

Casa Amora

The lovely Guesthouse Casa Amora is beautiful simplicity. Located in the central Praça das Amoreiras district with its residential charm.

10 bright and uniquely decorated rooms and suites. A pretty sunlit garden patio where breakfast is served. The central location makes it convenient to walk to the popular Chiado district and to historical Barrio Alto at night. If you are into modern art take a stroll to the Vieira da Silva Museum nearby.

 

EAT

Whether you are into fine dining, creative cuisine or a casual setting –   

Lisbon’s culinary scene is diverse and exciting with a strong focus on seafood as it is near the ocean. When in Lisbon you simply must try the traditional Portuguese dishes such as Bacalhau a Bras – salted cod, potato and olives or Qmêijoas à Bulhão Pato – mouthwatering clams in white wine sauce. And the delicious custard tart Pastel de Nata will sweeten your day.

A Cevicheria Lisboa

A Cevicheria

Situated on a charming corner of Príncipe Real is one of the newest additions to the Lisbon food scene. A Cevicheria opened its doors in late 2014 and is a real culinary gem with only a handful of tables. Take a seat at the bar just below the signature giant octopus hanging from the ceiling, if you want to watch the handsome cooks prepare your incredibly delicious dishes. Chef Kiko Martin celebrates the traditional Peruvian dish with a Portuguese twist, as besides the typical Ceviches made of raw salmon or octopus you will find cod Ceviche. Try several variations of Ceviche as each will pleasantly surprise your palate and don’t forget to order a pisco sour. A Cevicheria does not take reservations but you can order a drink from the side window and wait outside for your table whilst enjoying people watching.

Tabik Restaurant

Avenida da Liberdade is a quite unusual setting for Tabik, but after a stroll through the fashionable shops along the avenue this excellent restaurant will spoil all your senses. Promising young Chef Manuel Lino has gained experience in Spain’s Michelin starred restaurants El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz where he developed his skills. In Tabik he serves Portuguese fusion cuisine using the best local ingredients. The food is mouthwateringly delicious and the presentation and service impeccable. The restaurant does not just impress with the food but also the wooden minimalistic interiors paired with stunning Caravaggio and Velázquez paintings decorating the walls. Calculate to stay longer than expected, the superb Gin and Rum selection, exciting Cocktail menu and passionate talkative bartenders will make you forget time.

Minibar Lisboa

Mini Bar

This is not just a restaurant, Mini Bar is where gourmet food meets entertainment within retro décor interiors that sets you back in time. Situated in Lisbon’s Chiado quarter inside the São Luiz Municipal Theater it serves modern cuisine alongside a few traditional dishes. Expect playful cuisine and culinary surprises such as Apple Margarita and Caipirinha to eat. Go for the tasting menu called 'Epic and Now On' for full on food entertainment. Make sure to make a reservation especially if you want to come on the weekend.

 

SHOP

For well-known designer labels head to Avenida de Liberdad the so-called Champs-Elysees of Lisbon. Browse the decor and clothing shops in the Chiado neighborhood. Bairro Alto is home to Caza das Vellas Loreto, Lisbon’s oldest candle boutique. If you are seeking independent labels and boutiques head towards Principe Real, the hippest district in town.

Stivali

Stivali

Stivali is a multi-brand store where you will luxury brands under one roof. The expertise, discretion and friendliness of the staff is impeccable. If you seek styling advice, personal shopping and exceptional service you will find it at Stivali. Interiors are white, sleek and with the perfect lighting.

A Vida Portuguesa

A Vida Portuguesa

The story of A Vida Portuguesa starts with Catarina Portas who realized that in Portugal many local products were still being sold in their original vintage packaging - dating back from the Twenties to the Seventies. She had the brilliant idea to buy stocks of those nostalgic brands and create a world around them in ‘A Vida Portuguesa’. Lovers of nostalgic retro design will find handmade Claus Porto soaps, beautiful Emilio Braga notebooks, Alentejo wool blankets and even gourmet delicacies. There are also a few exclusive ranges and bespoke collections. If you are looking to bring home a special souvenir or present then a visit to A Vida Portuguesa is essential.

Fashion Clinic

Fashion Clinic is a concept store where you will find the most wanted designer brands and reputable Portuguese designers. There are separate stores dedicated to women’s and men’s fashion and accessories, both located on Avenida da Liberdade. You will find the women's store inside the Tivoli Fórum. Check out the curated selection of beautiful candles, books and perfumes.

 

DO

The oldest neighborhood of Lisbon is the picturesque Alfama district. In daytime get lost in the narrow streets … at night discover Fado bars playing the traditional Portuguese blues-like music. For a rustic Fado experience stop by Senhor Vinho and Clube de Fado situated in Alfama. For nightlife and bars the Bairro Alto district is a great choice. The bar Pavilhão Chinês has the feel of a museum with its famous kitch interiors and should not be missed. If you want to listen to Fado in Bairro Alto alongside great food and wine check out Café Luso and a Severa.

When in Lisbon it is hard to resist not to head to the beach at least for half a day. Cascais has beautiful beaches which are roughly 30 minutes from Lisbon. Goare Praia da Conceição is lovely and Praia da Rainha is a small cove. Guincho is best for surfing and even hosted the windsurfing world cup several times. Costa da Caparica is best for those seeking a long sandy beach, you will also find charming cafes and bars along the promenade.

Visit fairytale Sintra which hosts a UNESCO World Heritage listed centre with former royal palaces, dreamy villas and beautiful churches surrounded by lush pine forests. It is 45 minutes by train away from Lisbon and definitely worth spending a day or longer if you have the time. If you wish to see several palaces from inside check for combined tickets instead of getting single ones.

The National Tile Museum definitely belongs on the bucket list of things to do in Lisbon. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo set in the opulent Madre de Deus Convent houses a collection of Lisbon’s famous hand-painted tiles. Azulejos have been produced here for over five centuries and represent the aesthetics and the soul of Lisbon.

Lisbon is rich in culture and hidden treasures. The culinary scene is exciting as it is still evolving, you will discover a new gem each time you visit. Get lost in the narrow streets and avoid the famous avenues and you will find yourself soaking up the calmness and slower pace. You have the river and the sea nearby which adds to the calming spirit. Lisbon is an interesting cocktail of historic and modern and feels like in a transition, you will be leaving wanting to come back for more.

 

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