Lisbon’s history is rich.
Lisbon’s history is rich. It has a vibrant energy with a new generation that is looking to the future and enjoy having fun…. As such there is a great mix of traditional cultural events with Opera, Dance, Theater and classical Music, together with Fado houses, little know bands playing in basements, jazz, drag shows, great clubs and discos. You will be spoiled for choice.
Baixa & Chiado
Baixa, home of PR, CN, FI, and CR apartments, is the one of the most charming neighborhoods of the city. The medieval city center, including the Royal Palace was destroyed in 1755. Rebuilt with much stronger buildings, it survives to our day. Three elegant squares (Praças) dominate the Baixa- Praça do Comércio by the river, the northern end, Rossio with the classical Teatro Nacional and Praça da Figueira.
Chiado, home of LisboaVacation’s CH apartments, is the prime shopping area of the city anchored by Armazéns do Chiado- an icon that is now a shopping center. Upscale stores, restaurants and the Theater district are minutes away. This area is being considered for a World Heritage Site status.
The area of Príncipe Real, (PI, FL) started its urbanization in the 1700s with the building of a convent from the Company of Jesus, subsequently turned into the Colégio dos Nobres/ College of the Noblemen, and later becoming a part of the University of Lisbon, and now Museu da Ciência- which still houses the priceless Botanical Garden. The area saw a number of residential palaces for wealthy individuals being built from the late 1700s and being subsequently expanded right into the turn of the century- resulting in an interesting mix of styles. The name came in the late 1800 to honor the son of Queen Maria Pia. The area is now know for eclectic shops, nice restaurants, antique dealers, and a number of popular bars and clubs. It has a number of gay bars. Praça do Príncipe Real hosts a organic produce market on Saturdays. Praça das Flores is most loved leafy square of the city.
Anjos (home of AR apartments) is a vibrant city district. Minutes away from both Praça da Figueira and the geographic center of town, and it is also close to the historic neighborhood of Graça and Alfama. There is a traditional market- Forno do Tijolo and a number of well known seafood restaurants (e.g. Ramiro). The area is multicultural mix of young and old- where eclectic and bohemian, cohabit easily with the traditional and established. A few yuppies and artists have taken residence in the area. The Praça do Intendente, with a number of interesting bars and restaurants, has reclaimed its status as the heart the of the quarter.
Traditional/ Portuguese/ Mediterranean Fare
In Bocca al Lupo – organic Pizza in Principe Real (same street as PI1 and PI2) click for site
Sacramento in Chiado for upscale/cool dinning- click for site
Carmo– also in Chiado, more relaxed with excellent fare –click for site
SeaMe in Chiado for Seafood – Click here for site
Tascardoso in Principe Real for real, simple and delicious fare – Click here for site
Brasserie de l’Entrecote in Chiado
Querido Bistrô– brand new restaurant with already high marks for contemporary Portuguese cuisine and a great brunch on saturdays. Site
Sinal Vermelho in Bairro Alto.
O Farol– Get on a Cacilheiro, cross the river to Cacilhas and eat fantastic Seafood at this riverside restaurant with the locals- site
Pateo 13– Dining al fresco in Alfama- site
Pāo de Canela– Casual dinning in Principe Real- site
Pizza a pezzi– casual pizza near Bairro Alto- site
O Talho– a paradise for meat lovers near Gulbenkian Museum- site
A Cevicheria– ceviche with a twist, and great cocktails- site
For petiscos (equivalent to tapas) head to one of the markets- Campo de Ourique or Mercado da Ribeira– with lots of different stalls offering gourmet Portuguese savory and sweet dishes- Click for site ; Ribeira- click for site
Dona Quitéria– gourmet petiscos in the heart of Principe Real site
Time Out also has a good listing of restaurants- site
Lisbon offers a wide choice of entertainment options. Here is a small sampling.
For a cocktail or an after dinner drink head over to Bairro Alto Hotel – site
Other interesting rooftop bars are the SKY bar (Tivoli Hotel), Park near Bairro Alto; Topo in Martim Moniz.
Dancing and Live Music- check listings in Time Out
Gay and Lesbian
Lisbon has a vibrant GLBT scene and cherishes its GLBT travelers. The heart of the gay community still resides in the Bairro Alto- Principe Real axis where a number of bars and clubs exist. Over the last few years a number of new bars have opened. Together with perennial favorites, such as Construction, Trumps and Finalmente, the newer arrivals such as TR3S and Cru are making their mark. Most people start the evening in Bar da Esquina in Travessa da Espera in Bairro Alto before heading out to one of the bars. Be prepared to stay up late, as most discos do not get going till 3 am.
Lisbon Gay Guide
PATROC Lisbon Guide
There are four major areas you must consider when going out at night: Cais do Sodre and Bica, Av. 24 de Julho (Alcântara, mainly bars and discos), Bairro Alto (plenty of restaurants, bars and discos), Docas (Doca de Alcântara, plenty of restaurants, bars and discos) and Parque das Nações (mainly restaurants and bars). All offer lively entertainment into the wee hours of the morning.
Nightlife guide check link
Cultural / Activities
For the latest events and festivals check the page of Turismo de Lisboa. A few of not to miss events in Lisbon’s calendar:
A few of not to miss events in Lisbon’s calendar :
- Lisbon Fish and Flavours -April site
- Indie Lisboa– a indie movie festival- April
- ARTE LISBOA– international art fair- May/June
- Festas de Lisboa– massively popular, with lots of street entertainment, food stalls and sardines- June
- Jazz in August– head to the Gulbenkian gardens. Site
- Queer Lisboa- international queer
- Doc Lisboa– Movie festival dedicated exclusively to documentaries- Sep/Oct site
- New Years Party– large celebration with lots of free entertainment, fireworks in Tejo- Best seen from Praça do Comércio
International Queer Film Festival is a Film Festival dedicated LGBT themed films, a genre known as Queer Cinema.
Since its first edition in 1997, the festival has grown and consolidated its reputation internationally- and it is now one of the most recognized festivals of its genre at a European level and worldwide, for the quality of its programming and activities as well as the guests that it attracts.
The programmed films are organized in the Competitions for Best Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film, School Film (short format) and Queer Art, this last one dedicated to more experimental languages. In parallel to the central program there will be non-competition sections, special screenings, film programs dedicated to a filmmaker, theme or country.
Dance/Theater – Quite a few independent companies, as well as more established players such as the Kirov regularly visit Lisbon. Check the latest at time out or VisitLisboa or site
Museums– In addition to the better know museum- Museu do Oriente, Museu de Arte Antiga, Museu dos Coches, Museu da Cidade, Museu Gulbenkian, Centro Cultural de Belem, here are a couple of smaller lesser know but really interesting museus
Atelier- Museu Julio Pomar
A building with several awards by Portuguese architect Siza Vieira holding the collection of painter Julio Pomar, interesting temporary exhibitions and charming grounds. A step away from Camoes Square and our Principe Real Apartments.
Museu do Fado/ Casa Amália Rodrigues
While not co-located, they co-exist in the art form and one of its most exquisite performers. Museu do Fado is in Rua do Comercio, and Casa Amália Rodrigues is in Rua de Sao Bento steps away from PREAL1 and PREAL 2
Athletics/ Running – A couple of well attended events
Going to the beach
A number of beaches are easily reachable from the city center, either going to Estoril and Cascais, or crossing the bridge and going to Costa da Caparica. We can loan you beach towels for a small fee if mentioned before arrival.
Jogging in the river front- One of the favorites for Lisbonites and visitors alike is to go for a jog between Cais do Sodré or Docas to Belem Tower or Algés and back. Most of the way is river side and it is a nice way to take the city in and enjoy some of the monuments in the Belem area. An alternative is to explore the river front in the Parque das Nações area with more than 6 km with very interesting architecture, different thematic gardens and river side breezes.
Bike riding– Although Lisbon is quite hilly there are a few itineraries in the river front that are mostly level, and there are also electric bikes for hire to discover the other parts of town. A personal favorite is to head on to the river.
Golf– In addition to the Algarve fine golf course exist nearby Lisbon.
Places of Interest
Alfama/ Castelo de São Jorge/ Miradouro da Graça
Discover the Alfama side of town on foot, and take a moment or two as you climb to take in the stunning views. The Moorish castle has a lovely coffee house perfect for a rest. You can reach this area from Baixa with little effort, taking the free elevator in rua dos Fanqueiros (Elevador da Baixa) which will bring you to the top of rua da Madalena. Cross the street and head towards the sign of Pingo Doce supermarkets/ Chao de Loureiro where you can take a second elevator (offering panoramic views of the city) This will bring you almost to the level of Castle, enabling you to arrive refreshed. This is also suitable for wheelchair, but be warned of cobblestone streets and a small slope upwards at the end of the way.
Re-built after the earthquake, it nevertheless keeps narrow streets with a variety of really interesting stores. Somewhat quiet during the day, it explodes with activity in the evening- this is one of the hotpoints of Lisbon’s nightlife with a multitude of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Jardim do Torel
Small garden with great views of the city. Take Elevador da Lavra from Avenida da Liberdade and follow the signs. You will be rewarded with unbeatable views of the city and some quiet.
Elevador de Santa Justa and Ruínas do Carmo
Elevador da Justa in Baixa, can whisk you to the top of Carmo, where you can visit the convent do Carmo and enjoy serene views of the city (right by our CH apartments)
Gems of the city
Confeitaria Nacional– In operation for nearly 200 years, it has served the King House. Still going strong with irresistible delicacies in Praça da Figueira
Pasteis de Belem – one of the most sought after sweet pastries- site
Amoreiras 360º Panoramic Views– The ViewPoint.
The newest attraction will enable you to see far and enjoy all of Lisbon. Open till 22H and currently 5euro. By the Amoreiras Shopping mall.
Cascais, Sintra, Obidos and Sesimbra are popular day trips from Lisbon. While Cascais and Sintra are easily reachable by train, with 3 or more departures each hour, Obidos and Sesimbra are reached by car or one of the many tours. –
- Cascais and Estoril are a seaside resort and the closest thing to a Riviera in Lisbon. Great food, entertainment and beaches are some of the reasons people go there.
- Obidos is a small village with intact city walls that is really nice to visit and sample the local ginja- bitter cherries liquor. Nearby there is Oriental Budha Eden Garden which is an unexpected oriental oasis on a winery –site
- Sintra features beautiful estates, a Moorish castle and 18th century castle. Also sample the famous local pastries – queijadas. Not far from Sintra there is Mafra- with an imposing monastery and Palace
- Sesimbra- is a delightful seaside village with excellent fish and a charming fortification by its sought after beach
- Other places you may explore- Cabo Espichel, Cabo da Roca, Portinho da Arrabida, Azenhas do Mar, Gincho
Montemor is a village located in the middle of Portugal, close to the intersection of major highways only 1 hour away from Lisbon by car. Montemor marks the ancestral force of religious and agrarian nobility orders, expressed in beautiful eighteenth century manor houses, in multiple convents, in churches that associate Manueline, rich baroque altars and unforgettable fresco and azulejos.
If you enjoy modern art (XVI-XVIII centuries) you will be spoiled for choice. The key points to visit are Convent of St. John of God, Matriz Church, Terreiro of Saint John of God, the Salutation Convent, the Church of Mercy, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Visitation, Carvalho Church, the Archaelogic Museum, and the castle of Montemor-o-novo. The most striking art pieces are the frescos inside Matriz Church, the altars and the marble Pieta from the Chapel of Our Lady of the Visitation, the coated azulejos from the Salutation Convent.
Explore the castle at your leisure, passing through the Village Gate, next to the Guard House, and with the necessary care, climb the stairs of access to the Clock Tower. From this point of the wall you’ll find an unique view of the ruins of Palace of Mayors- which have lodged various monarchs and where they met the Court.
Cacilhas is a river front district of Lisbon in the south bank of the Tagus. Take a 10-minute boat journey from Cais do Sodré to discover this village, enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon and sample several restaurants known for their fresh fish.
It was know as a working class district, where shipbuilding dockyards operated- you can visit the remnants of the industrious past.
Also nearby you can visit the Monument to Christ (strikingly similar to Cristo Rei in Rio de Janeiro).
You may also visit the Church of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, built in 1759 with a beautiful gilded interior and tile panels. Across the road you find a large vessel from the 1800s (the “D. Fernando II e Glória”), which may be visited every day except Mondays (free admission on the first Sunday of the month).
Mafra is a city and a municipality in the district of Lisbon, less than 30 min distance by car. Mafra is mostly known for the sumptuous Mafra National Palace built in the baroque style. The Palace also inspired Portuguese Nobel Prize laureate José Saramago to write his novel Baltasar and Blimunda (Memorial do Convento) and was classified as a National Monument in 1910- one of the finalists of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Around the Mafra National Palace you will find the Tapada Nacional de Mafra- a natural park with more than 8 square kilometres, home to different species of deer, wild boar, foxes, birds of prey and many others coexisting in an unusually rich and diversified natural habitat. The Tapada is also open for walking, mountain biking, horse riding, archery and crossbow shooting activities.
Other points of interest around the municipality include Churches from various period of times with original details (Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, São Pedro, Paroquial da Ericeira, Matriz de São Silvestre do Gradil, São Silvestre e Santo André).
Cabo Espichel is a cape located to the west of Sesimbra- approx..1 hour driving time from Lisboa. Pilgrims were drawn there due to impressive views of its cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean, and it is a popular day trip from Lisbon, frequently including Sesimbra.
The location is famous for the sanctuary complex (Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel), built extremely close to the edge of the tall cliffs, which includes a church still in use today.
You will also find several dinosaur fossil track ways exposed in some of the now tilted Jurassic strata which form the cape’s cliffs. It is said that local superstition interpreted the tracks as the path taken by the Holy Virgin (“Nossa Senhora”) when riding a giant mule from the ocean and up the cliffs, which led to the eventual construction of the convent at that location.
Don’t forget to take a tour around Sesimbra – an old fishermen’s village, and popular beach resort with a lot of old restaurants and houses but also affordable restaurants near the beach. Meco is another village nearby, known for its artsy types and alternative life styles popular with Lisbonites.