You've been selected to participate in a beta for a new release of our website. If you do not want to participate in this beta,please click here >
I decided to take a day trip to Sintra; which, I was told was kind of touristy, but worth the trip. So my expectations of the place were pretty low. After a short 40 min train ride from Lisbon and we arrive just in time to walk through the Pena Palace before they stop admitting people at 6:00pm. The 434 bus took us on a jolting, spiraling, blood rushing ride to the top of the mountain before letting us off at the entrance. Once we entered the giant stone gate, we were blown away by the breathtaking views, decorative details and bright colors. The architecture of the place varies from Neo-Gothic, to Islamic and Renaissance styles. I honestly could not stop taking pictures. Beyond the Pena Palace, there is so much more to check out in Sintra. Check out some of the gardens or the National Palace of Sintra.
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.
I have to confess that I am addicted to Portuguese tiles. Some people are addicted to chocolate or singing in the shower, while others like me are constantly taken by the intrinsic detail and colourful patterns of one of the most beautiful forms of street art in the world. Although the most elaborate examples were kept for the interior of the houses, these are in its great majority painted with a Lapis lazuli blue on a white background and are best reviewed as paintings. Lisbon has an Azulejo Museum of its own, that I strongly urge you to visit, as a complementary educational visit to the ones you find in the narrow back streets of the Alfama, Castelo, Baixa, Bairro alto, Chiado and Principe Real districts.
If you want to know more about Lisbon memories, visit Lisboa Story Centre. Learn about the post-earthquake (1755) era and the reconstruction of the city by Marquês de Pombal, who introduced modern city planning. This interpretation center takes visitors on a 60-minute journey through space and time with an audio guide presenting historical events and dramatic scenes. It’s located in Terreiro do Paço. You can get there by bus, tram, or subway—or just by walking down Augusta Street straight to the river. It’s open every day from 10 am till 8 pm (last tour at 7pm). Adult tickets cost 7€, but if you have Lisboa Card, you will benefit from a 20 percent discount on the admission price.
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.
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.
One of the most impressive castles in Lisbon is Castle of Sao Jorge in Alfama. Dates from medieval times, is located atop the highest hill in the historic center of the city. The castle is one of the main historical and touristic sites of Lisbon. Take advantage and walk along the castle walls to see a better view of the city and pay a visit to the store and the Museum Centre where you can learn more about the heritage of the castle and the city. Family friendly
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!
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.
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.
This might be one of the most famous cafes in Lisbon, located in Chiado area of downtown Lisbon. The cafe was opened in 1905 to sell original Brazilian coffee, and kept its original interior and exterior. Today it is one of the most popular and touristic cafes in Lisbon and is a great touristic attraction. On a different note, a bronze statue of Fernando Pessoa, by sculptor Lagoa Henriques, was eventually placed outside the café in 1988, although the writer has preferred a different coffee place across the street.
Way up in the Alfama, the Castelo Sao Jorge is a Lisbon must see (and do). This castle was really the beginning of Lisbon. The first king, Afonso Henriques captured this hilltop fortress from the Moors in the 12th century. The site was occupied by Romans, Visigoths, then Moors. In the 14th century, it became the Royal Palace. You can walk the pathways, explore the castle,and enjoy the fantastic views of downtown Lisbon, the Tagus River, and the April 25th Bridge. Sit and enjoy a cool drink at one of the stands or have lunch at the Casa Do Leao. Watch the peahens and pigeons wander the grounds. If you buy the Lisboa Card,( information centers sell them. A good Lisbon map indicates locations. ) you get a discount for the castle. Don't neglect the rest of the Alfama after seeing the castle and if you are happily weary after this adventure just take the trolley down to the Praca do Commercio.
I would like to tell you about the place where you can the authentic real stuff that ordinary persons are selling on the street. An open air market called Feira da Ladra (Flee Market). It takes place around the Church of São Vicente de Fora on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6h00 till 13h00. Here you can find everything that is characteristic about the Portuguese culture in objects, which belonged once to someone, who made it a part of their life for a number of years and now they are almost giving it away. I remember on one of my first trips I managed to grab a beautiful vintage 1940’s white linen hand braided table cloth that was custom made for the Henrique Family’s new dining room table. I got it from a middle aged woman, who went by the name of Maria Henrique who was selling a few pieces that had belonged to her grandmother. The hand sown H for the initial of the family’s last name approved for the authenticity of the item and I had no problem dishing out the incredible amount of…5 Euros.
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.
I have visited Napa and Sonoma, and have been to Tuscany, and Bordeaux, but no wine region of the world has surprised me with its beauty as much as the Douro. If your find yourself in Porto, it is well worth renting a car (or better yet, hiring a driver) to explore the region. I did a day trip and my favorite stop was Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, a 300-acre estate with a working vineyard, chapel, and an 18th-century manor house that has been turned into an 11-room hotel. If you stay the night you can follow walking routes that begin at the hotel and explore abandoned pre-phylloxera terraces, and the vegetable garden. There is an on-site pool and of course a cellar and tasting room. But the highlight of the trip was an alfresco lunch from chef Tavares Pinto. Our three-course meal was paired with Quinta Nova wines and was the most memorable of my year. The food was simple and rustic but perfectly executed. We started with a perfectly tender octopus with marinated, shaved fennel and moved on to a juicy pork chop with mango chutney and ended with a chocolate shortbread ice cream sandwich. I often dream of flying back to Portugal just to relive that meal.
If you are more interested in the night life of Lisbon, I highly recommend to stay in the area of Barrio Alto, known as the nigh-life and entertainment district of Lisbon. One of the most beautiful hotels in Barrio Alto is LX Boutique Hotel, which was a historic building, that turned into the current hotel. Each floor in the hotel is designed and dedicated to a concept related to Lisbon; One floor is dedicated to the fado music, another floor is dedicated to the Tagus river, and others are dedicated to Barrio Alto, the Seven Hills of Lisbon, and Fernando Pessoa, one of the greatest poets of Lisbon. If you are looking for a great night hang out, just cross the street to Pensão Amor, one of my favorite bars in the city. LX Boutique Hotel, Rua do Alecrim 12, Lisboa
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
Castelo de Sao Jorge has guarded the city since 48 BC and has seen Lisbon grow into a beautiful jewel of Europe. One of the best parts of visiting the Castelo is walking up to it. Lisbon, also known as The City of Seven Hills, is full of steep terrain, so strap on your walking shoes and enjoy the hike and the views as you traverse through the narrow, twisting cobblestone streets up to the Castle. It is not filled with fancy artifacts or furniture from times past, but rather a hollow, noble shell of the life that it used to hold. The views of Lisbon's red-roofed buildings and the Tagus river are spectacular, especially as the sun sets and reflects golden shadows on the tiles. I brought a journal and scribbled some thoughts as a guitarist serenaded passerbys at dusk. Quite a magical experience, indeed.
The Moorish Castle is strategically located on one of the top hills of Sintra to defend both the local territory and the maritime access to the city of Lisbon. The castle was built around the 10th century by the Muslim populations that occupied the Iberian peninsula. The castle acted as a control tower for the Atlantic coast and the land to the north, mostly serving as an outpost for the city of Lisbon. The castle's Muslim rule ended in 1147 when King Afonso Henrique conquered Lisbon. In 1995, UNESCO listed Sintra hills as a Cultural Landscape, World Heritage, including the Moorish Castle. Highly recommended to climb and walk along the walls of the castle, carved out of the rock, to have a panoramic view over Sintra and its castles and palaces.
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!)
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.
A Ginjinha was the first establishment in Lisbon to commercialize the drink called Ginjinha. Ginjinha is a liqueur made with ginja berries, aguardiente (Portuguese brandy), sugar, water, and cinnamon. Francisco Espinheira, a Galician friar of the Church of Santo Antonio, put together all these ingredients, and the result was this sweet and very good liqueur. In Óbidos, the drink is served in chocolate cups, about the size of shot glasses. (They make a very nice gift.) You can eat the cup after drinking the liqueur, or just pour more into the cup. Before having a drink, visit São Domingos Church. It’s worthwhile.
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.
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
Lisbon's well worn grit takes on a magical golden beauty at night. Here, on Lisbon's main square Rossio, the Rossio train station beckons travelers to step through her horseshoe shaped doors and step into the adventure of train travel. One of the most surprising things to this traveler was the wonderful night lighting all over Lisbon. It seemed as if the daytime scruffiness of the buildings faded away, as they preened in the golden glow of nightfall. Like a beautiful woman, Lisbon becomes more lovely when bathed in the glow of romantic light.
© 2014 AFAR Media