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Hire a boat out of Peniche, Portugal, when available, and travel six miles offshore to the pristine Berlenga Islands. Then hike, kayak, snorkel, and swim the day away. Pack a picnic lunch and feast on the beach. The perfect day in paradise.
A blend of neo-Gothic and art nouveau, the enchanting Livraria Lello bookshop dates to 1906 and is rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Rua das Carmelitas 144, 351/222-002-037 This appeared in the January/February 2012 issue. Photo by Sergio Azenha/Alamy.
At the mouth of the Douro River, the medieval city of Porto, Portugal, is undergoing an architectural renaissance. Old World icons, such as the baroque Torre dos Clérigos bell tower that helped the city earn UNESCO status in 1996, contrast with contemporary buildings by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura. New boutiques are transforming historic streets, and upscale hotels are bringing former palaces and row houses back to life. This appeared in the January/February 2012 issue. Photo by Oliver Strewe/Lonely Planet Images.
Nutty bread layered with olive oil, jam, salt and cured pig's neck were the perfect accompaniment to rich Portuguese wine and 80 year old port. When visiting wine bars let the staff select your wines ask for the stories behind them. You'll feel more connected to food and the people. (And when offered 80 year old Port always say yes!)
This neighborhood, with its cosmopolitan and bohemian vibe, is probably known more for its bars and nightlife than for its day life. But I would suggest a walk during the day, as you will meet the locals and find alternative commercial spaces, tattoo and piercing shops, and also multi-brand stores. Besides being a linchpin of the cultural and artistic life of the city, it's a typical neighborhood in Lisbon. Built in the late 16th century, secular houses and traditional commerce can still be found here. The street names Diário de Noticias and Século are newspaper names, since back in the 1970s and '80s, most of the press was located here.
Across the street from the Cais do Sodré train station, the “river market” is Lisbon’s preeminent food bazaar. Beneath the building’s 1930s dome, vendors sell fresh seafood, meat, fruit, piri-piri peppers, and flowers. The second floor houses a cultural center where travelers can pick up crafts, port wine, and local honey. On weekends, the central stage hosts local bands. Av. 24 de Julho, 351/21-031-2600. This appeared in the May 2013 issue. Photo by João Canziani.
Martinho da Arcada is a Lisbon legend. Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I passed through it just to experience the phenomenon and look inside. The cafe was founded in 1778 as Café do Gelo (the Ice Cafe) and mostly sold beverages and ice. After passing through the hands of different owners, in the early nineteenth century it was called the Casa da Neve (the House of Snow) and sold ice cream to the best of Lisbon society. Only in 1845 did it receive its current name—after its owner at the time, Martinho Bartolomeu Rodrigues, who turned it into one of the finest and most popular cafes in the city. Its two-century history is closely linked to the social, political, and cultural life of Lisbon. If you come for dinner, make reservations.
Pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, common in Portugal. Those found at Pastéis de Belém have become legendary for their super secret recipe. Any day of the week, a line trails out the door waiting to savor one of tens of thousands made daily. Eat them warm with a cafe.
The Tile Museum was a must-see for me while in Lisbon. It's in a convent, which makes it a beautiful setting. I loved the tile work and the chapel. It was one of my favorite places to visit.
‘Canned Food goes Gourmet’ is the concept of this new restaurant, which was opened only three months ago in Terreiro do Paco, one of the central locations in downtown Lisbon. Some people might raise an eyebrow when they hear about canned food, but the final result is very surprising and delicious. Portugal is blessed with fish and seafood, especially sardines, and considered one of the biggest canned fish exporter in Europe, so it was just a matter of time that a restaurant like that will be opened. The menu is rich and diverse, using only Portuguese products. It offers salads, sandwiches, Tibornas (spreads on bread) all presented in a very aesthetic way, accompanied with a range selection of Portuguese wines. The restaurant was designed by one of the partners, who created a large chandelier, made out of cans. If you make reservations for dinner, you can also enjoy a live concert by a local Portuguese artist. Better make reservations ahead of time for dinner. Can the Can, Terreiro do Paço 82/83, Lisboa
Only the a local would have known to take us to Bom Jesus. While staying with a host through Airbnb, two friends and I had the opportunity to spend the day with her and explore Braga. She told us, in her broken but sufficient English, of a church that was out of the city and very beautiful. I was not convinced until seeing the sparkle in her eye to suggest it was a spot not to be missed. After waiting 20 minutes for a bus to come that then took us up a slow winding road to nearly the top of a hill, we got off and started out trek to Bom Jesus. Stairs after sets of stairs, we walked just to get to get to the position that this photograph was taken from. If turning 180-degrees at this point, you will see a vast view of Braga that continues on for more and more miles at we made our way up to the church. It was raining off and on that day keeping every living thing lush. It smelt of moss and the sounds of water, running through the inlaid fountains bordering the stairs, filled the air. Every turn up this symmetrical staircase unveiled a private garden or a set of carved initials. At the top there is a grotto filled with flowers of all colors, huge planters with sculpted shrubs, a much needed snack bar, and a view that will never be forgotten. Bom Jesus was the bomb and worth every step.
El Gordo Tapas was a wonderful place to eat before a night out in Bairro Alto, the busy, bar-laden area in Lisbon, Portugal. The tables line the stairs and cushions are available for the short wait before being seated.
Jerónimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lisbon. This stunning building took 100 years to build and it's no wonder once you experience the level of detail for yourself. I could have spent an entire day there, with my camera, photographing the stunning architecture. The archways surrounding the inner courtyard look like something from a fairy tale.
Might be one of Portugal’s most famous cafes with a beautiful interior, Majestic Cafe is one of the best historic cafes in Europe and one of the most beautiful ones in the World. The façade, same as the interior, enlightened the street with its Art Nouveau decoration, designed by architect João Queiroz. It has a great atmosphere and not only a touristic attraction. Come with your cameras because pictures are allowed but also sit down for a coffee and a Portugese cake.
Sintra is every storybook fairy tale that you've ever seen or imagined, brought to life. After a 45-minute train ride from Lisbon, you are transported to a land of times past: an entire city in the hills filled with castles, moats, palaces, winding turrets, and mystical gardens. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its multitude of historical buildings, it also has a modern population of Portuguese who are justifiably proud to call Sintra home. Sintra can easily be a day trip, but I recommend staying at least two nights. Enjoy the cafes and take the time to stroll through the castles and gardens. Trust me: Once you get here, you won't want to leave.
This legendary tram 28 is a tourist attraction. It goes all around town. The way from the first to last station takes about 35 minutes.The tram is a hop-on, hop-off service and there are more than 30 stops you can choose from.
A Merendinha do Arco by the Rossio Arch is just that place and it has become one my favourite “Tascas” – Portuguese local eateries - that serves the best char grilled cutlass fish (peixe espada) and red bean rice that I have ever eaten. It’s a small place, with no fancy décor, just what the owner has put in in the more than 20 years of running the place. It starts being special from the outside as it is located just in front of a beautiful 19th century animatograph, which has been converted into a cabaret (aka peep show), and I am positive that it is safe to say that it is the most beautiful cabaret on earth. The restaurant seats about 30 persons sharing 3 communal tables and it always filled with only locals, which gives it an even more real experience feel. The menus are in Portuguese, but the waiters speak a little English, so you may have to do some sign language with the waiter to order your meal. Ask for the daily specials which include salt cod with chickpeas, viel&vegetable stew, fried black pork loin (to die for) and some house green white wine to go with your meal. Don’t forget that at the end of the meal everyone has a shot of aged distilled grape must liqueur, so be ready to feel as happy as you can after this experience.
One of the places you must visit when you are in Lisbon is Belmonte Cultural Club Cafe. It is an inspiring space of Art, Books and a great coffee. I found this place by chance and I kept coming back the day after. It is next door to Palacio Belmonte, which is a place to see by itself. The most friendliest manager ever. He made me my special coffee and I became a fan
When I am in New York, I love shopping in Anthropologie. It is sort of my ‘go-to’ store for design and inspiration for everything that has to do with my tiny apartment. In Lisbon I found the Portuguese equivalent in A Vida Portuguesa, an eclectic store that holds only Portuguese brands and products for the home; from hand-made olive oil soaps to home decor, shoes, pantry, pastry, vintage posters, you name it. There is also an online store, but there is nothing like visiting the store and smelling the soaps and candles.
If you are looking for a great view over the city, consider visiting Porto Cathedral, or Sé do Porto. Its long history and stunning architecture, make it a must see location to visit. When I climbed to the top of the hill where the Cathedral is located and overlooked the red roofs of the old crumbling buildings, I instantly felt there are few sides to Porto; The Porto of the top-level, with the old churches and the bell towers and the one of the low-level, with the residential colorful buildings. The view is beautiful all year around
I thought Lisbon was the most beautiful city in Portugal, till I got to Porto. If you are looking for a weekend destination in Europe, Porto is a great option. It had all the right ingredients for a perfect long weekend or a short vacation in Europe; Its gastronomy is a mirror of its cultural diversity and there are a lot of great chefs’ oriented restaurants in the city. The Port Wine, which stands out from ordinary wines thanks to its huge range of variety. The different kinds of architectural styles; from the Neoclassical to Art Nouveau (I specially loved the variety of the signs fonts) and of course, the comfortable weather.
Simply put, Ramiro is the best seafood restaurant Lisbon. It is a 100% local customer based and long established “Cervejaria” (literally translated to place where beer is dispensed), with an buzzing ambience and above all, very high quality cooked on the spot seafood. What I love more about this place is its unpretentiousness and the "no fuss" approach to seafood. Eating with your hand is more than recommended and don't be scared to dunk the freshly bake buns in the fresh crab meat which comes in the shell or in the velvet buttery sauce of the "bulhão pato" clams. Green wine is the eternal companion of seafood in Portugal, and don't forget to ask for Palacio da Brejoeira for a taste of crisp slightly bubbly 11º white wine. Desert as a special meaning in this place, and it comes in the shape of a charcoal grilled fillet steak in a bun. Yes, you are in Portugal and after a seafood meal you can further indulge your umami taste buds with some animal protein. Although it is open from 12h00 to 24h00, it becomes extremely busy at the end of the week evenings, and the over 1h wait for a seat can be a turnoff. I would always recommend my clients at the Palacio Belmonte, to either go before 19h00 or after 22h00 to avoid the queues. In the case there is a slight waiting period, you can always go for a very Portuguese "at the counter nibble" of some "black pork aged ham" and a cold draft beer, to pass the time. You cannot leave Lisbon without trying this place!
Porto's central train station is said to be one of the more impressive ones in Europe mainly because of the beautiful blue tiled walls. Man look no higher however and don't notice that above the blue tiles are much more colorful ones.
While the tourist hordes in beautiful Sintra, Portugal, are flocking to Pena Palace, head instead to Monserrate. The gardens here are massive and have been recently restored. We wandered here for hours without hardly seeing another person. The palace itself, although not as large as Pena, is just as grand, if not more so. Every inch of the architecture is covered in delicate carving. The Moorish and Indian influences work together to create a cohesive and beautiful design.
Gonçalo Alves and his wife, Marta Fonseca, spent eight years turning an abandoned chicken farm on Portugal’s wild Costa de Prata into their dream retreat. “We wanted a big house to share with people,” says Alves. Their hotel, located a 45-minute drive north of Lisbon, is a whimsical escape with a hippie vibe. Each night Alves and Fonseca invite guests to join them for wine and traditional folk music around a bonfire. The architecture is modern, but the interiors have a fashionable flea-market feel. Inside the 10 rooms and four villas you’ll find bedding, rugs, and light fixtures from Morocco and India, driftwood-frame beds, and fireplaces that hang from the ceiling. Doubles from $345. 351/2-6193- 6340. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo courtesy of Areias do Seixo
Architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida created this 164-foot monument of a ship for the 1940 World’s Fair. It honors Portuguese explorers from Ferdinand Magellan to Henry the Navigator, who stands at the apex. Avenida de Brasília, Belém. Photo by Shaun Egan/Getty Images. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.
Portugal produces at least half of the world’s cork, harvested from its many cork oak forests. A design shop in the Bairro Alto neighborhood sells umbrellas, handbags, and kitchenware made from the recyclable material. Rua das Salgadeiras 10, 351/21-609-0231. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.
One of the first commercial buildings in Portugal that uses two kinds of material characteristic in Europe in the second half of XIX century: iron and glass. The project was developed by the architect Emiliano Augusto de Bettencourt and it was inaugurated on the 7th October 1877. At the beginning, it was used for fresh food sale; nowadays in the central area of the market, there is a Center for Culinary Arts and at the side stores you can find different types of crafts, antiques, and also some eateries. The market is near S. Vicente de Fora Church and also Santa Engrácia Church (more known as National Pantheon). There is a small park in front with a kiosk where you can seat and enjoy the river views. Also on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the Ladra Fair takes place, just some meters from the market.
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