Photo by Luis Ferraz; courtesy of Vintage Hotel & Spa
Photo by Elisa Michelet/Unsplash
It’s never a bad time to visit Lisbon, but a spate of hotel openings, hot restaurants, and music happenings make a summer visit nearly imperative.
With a slew of hotel openings, a booming dining scene, and brand-new ways to see the city, Lisbon’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.
It’s true: It does seem like everyone on your social media feed has now captured and posted about the rich cultural offerings and peerless beauty of the Portuguese capital. But whether you’ve been or not, this summer is a great time to visit Lisbon thanks to a spate of experiences that will elevate your stay. Plus, new nonstop flights from TAP Air Portugal make getting to Lisboa (that’s leezh-boa, if you want to sound like a local) easier than ever from most corners of the United States. The national carrier’s U.S. footprint is skyrocketing this summer; it inaugurated connections from Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., on its new Airbus A330neo, bringing its total number of U.S. hubs to seven (it started 2016 with only two). So at this point, no excuses—go discover your inner Lusophile.Stay someplace cool and new in this cool old town
Following a 15-month top-to-bottom refurbishment that was finalized this May with the completion of the rooftop bar, the midcentury modern–inspired Vintage Hotel & Spa brings a glamorous hotel option in a residential pocket between Avenida da Liberdade and Principe Real. Throwback style is layered with eye-catching accents, like bar carts in all 56 rooms, stocked with a complimentary DIY gin and tonic kit; area rugs in a patchwork of colors; murals and neon installations designed by Quiet Studios; and ceramics by artisans from all over the country. João Silva, who used to cook at Michelin-starred São Gabriel in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, oversees the farm-to-table kitchen at the street-level Blue Restaurant.
The One Palácio da Anunciada, a 16th-century palace converted into an 83-room hotel surrounded by a 27,000 square-foot garden, has just opened near Avenida da Liberdade. In addition to the sprawling greenery, there are three restaurants, a spa that uses Natura Bissé skincare products, and a rooftop pool with Balinese daybeds. Inside, the property offers a tale of two spaces: While communal areas feature palatial opulence (stained-glass windows, marble floors, and the building’s original baroque ceilings), guest rooms follow a more pared-down aesthetic. Blond wood panels and a muted color palette of white and gray are punched up with bright, artsy plates decorating the headboards and modern furnishings throughout.
In late July, one of the mainstays of Lisbon’s hotel scene, the Bairro Alto Hotel, one of the few luxury boutique hotels in the city when it first opened in 2007, reopens following a 20-month renovation that included the addition of 32 new rooms and suites. Renowned homegrown chef Nuno Mendes, who built his name in London with projects like Chiltern Firehouse, has returned to Lisbon to oversee the property’s five different restaurants.Taste the foods of summer
The dining scene in Lisbon has never been stronger. It seems like every week sees discerning locals clamoring after another buzzy opening. Here are five to try this summer.
A survey of Banksy’s art—Banksy: Genius or Vandal?—is running at the Cordoaria Nacional through October 27. The exhibit, which has already traveled to Moscow and Madrid, features 70 pieces (from videos and installations to sculptures) from private collections, including an original print from the iconic Girl with Balloon series that Banksy started posting around London in 2002.
As in so many places around the world, summer in Lisbon is lively with music festivals.
As tourism in Lisbon continues to grow, travel agencies and tour operators have updated their offerings with experiences that go beyond the beaten path, as well as ones that take a deeper look at well-visited sites that tourists may gloss over. First-time visitors can build out their Lisbon trip by taking a new Butterfield & Robinson itinerary that dives into the city’s medieval history and is guided by experts like a medieval manuscripts librarian from the National Library and the director of the national archives. Context Travel’s walking tour of the narrow, steep streets of the city’s Alfama neighborhood makes some sense of the quarter’s complicated and fascinating history. These private tours, led by architectural engineers and historians, provide a unique perspective on an area that has been gathering stories since Phoenicians sailed up the Tagus River.
>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Lisbon Travel Guide
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