Article: Karolina Kivimaki
The capital of Portugal is full of colours and flavours and guaranteed sunny weather just two and a half hour’s flight from London. This ‘little big city’ feels like an excursion off the beaten track. Bursting at the seams with history and culture, with quirky boutique hotels to stay in and delicious food to feast on - perfect for a city break.
WHAT TO SEE
The great thing about Lisbon is that you can explore by foot; the higher you climb, the better the view. Start from Rio Tejo up through the back alleys of Bairro Alto Miradouro de Santa Catarina, where you’ll have a breath-taking panoramic view of the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon’s version of San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge, and Christo Rei statue, a smaller version of the Rio de Janeiro’s Christ statue. Neo-gothic Elevador de Santa Justa is also a must, taking you up to Largo do Carmo square, with stunning views from 45 meters high. You can also jump on the tram to soak up the city. A popular route number 28 passes through the old parts of the city in Bairro Alto.
You can’t escape tiles; they are everywhere in Lisbon - inside restaurants and shops, even whole buildings covered in them. The old town Chiado area has the most beautiful blue geometric tiled buildings. The Tile Museum (Rua Madre de Deus, 4, museudoazulejo.pt) is located in a 16th century convent filled with pretty Moorish geometric tiles and more modern creations.
For a bit of design, art and fashion, head to Mude Design and Fashion Museum (Rua Augusta 24, mude.pt) with eight floors of local and international artists and designers including Le Corbusier and Francisco Capelo, as well as collections of Pierre Balmain and Vivienne Westwood. Berardo Museum (Praça do Império, museuberardo.com), the Tate Modern of Lisbon, features art by Picasso and Warhol as well as local artists Paula Rego and Vieira da Silva.
WHERE TO SHOP
Fashion stakes are high in Lisbon. ModaLisboa Fashion Week (modalisboa.pt) takes place in March and October. Emerging designers like David Catalan – winner of Fashionclash Award - Carolina Machado, Inês Duvale, Patrick de Pádua and Rúben Damásio showcased impressive AW16 collections as part of 'Sangue Novo' platform in March. There were beautiful leather pieces (Portuguese leather is world-famous), tailoring and outerwear.
Lisboan fashion sells for a fraction of the price of other European ready-to-wear designers, so definitely worth a shopping trip. Established ModaLisboa designers Felipe Faisca (Calçada do Combro 99, filipefaisca.com), Alexandra Moura (Rua Dom Pedro, 77, alexandramoura.com) and Nuno Gama (Rua do Secolo, 171, Principe Real, tel: +315 213 479 068) have their own boutiques on the main shopping streets. And then there are the cool concept stores. Slou (Rua Nova da Trindade 22E, sloulisbon.com) stocks French brands APC and Comme des Garçons and local La Paz brand and menswear store Espaço B (Rua Dom Pedro 120, espaco-b.com) is by local designer José Luis Barbosa. For guys tailoring, check out Ayres Gonçalo (Rua Rodrigues Sampaio 19-4˚B, ayresbespoketailor.com), who also has a workshop on Savile Row.
If you love a rummage, head to Baixa area. A Outra Face da Lua (Rua da Assunao, aoutrafacedalua.com) is a real gem for vintage designers as well as vintage wallpaper (they have a massive 2,000 roll selection).
There are historical shop interiors to admire too. Sapataria do Carmo (Largo do Carmo, 26, sapatariadocarmo.com) was opened in 1904 and still keeps the shoes in beautiful old boxes stacked on the wall.
Ourivesaria Aliança, dating back to 1909, recently re-opened as Tous flagship (Rua Garrett, 50, tous.com/pt) with elaborate Louis XV style décor. Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 34, conserveiradelisboa.pt), in its original 1930s glory, sells tuna and sardines in a cool vintage style packaging.
WHERE TO EAT
Head to Pharmacia (Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1, tel: +351 213 462 146) for lunch or an aperitif on the sunny front yard.
Bastardo (tel +351 213 240 993, restaurantebastardo.com) in Internacional Design Hotel has artfully disproportionate interior and an innovative menu. Bread comes in multi-coloured Lego box and they serve the yummiest butternut squash risotto with goji berries, truffle oil and Azores cheese.
Chef Kiko’s latest Cevicheria (Rua Dom Pedro 129, chefkiko.com) is Peruvian cuisine with a Portuguese twist. Try melt-in-the-mouth Pure Ceviche with white fish and tiger’s milk (doesn’t contain any dairy nor striped animals) and Codfish Causa. Wash it down with excellent local white wine from Douro region, Raul Riba D’Ave Sílica for €15 a bottle.
Casa de Pasto (Rua de S. Paulo 20, casadepasto.com), apparently Mick Jagger’s favourite, is a clever mix of tradition and quirky Lisbon innovation. What seems like an entrance to an apartment, leads into a converted dining room. Meat lovers will chef Diogo Noronha’s rustic milk-fed lamb and Maronesa veal rib. Definitely a hidden gem off the beaten track.
For a true Lisbon tradition, try out local cuisine with a melancholic Fado music at Sr Fado de Alfama (Rua Dos Remédios 176, sr-fado.com). Do not leave Lisbon without tasting the mouth-watering pasteis da nata, traditional egg tart pastry. Pop in to Pasteis de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92, pasteisdebelem.pt) for an authentic one, or a few.
WHERE TO STAY
You have a choice of ultra-modern as well as traditional, old-worldly hotels. Next to the Praça do Rossio square, is colourfully decorated Internacional Design hotel (idesignhotel.com). If you’re into grand old-world charm, you’ll appreciate Pestana Palace hotel and National Monument (pestana.com) set in 19th century palace.
You might want to stay one or two nights in town and then head to Cascais coast for the rest of your stay half an hour drive away. The Oitavos resort (theoitavos.com) nestled in the middle of the dunes is a perfect antidote to tourist masses to enjoy the nature and a bit of pampering in their spa. Time stays still while lazing by the seawater infinity pool overlooking the golf course and the sea. Caiscais beach line goes on for kilometres and the waves are famously popular amongst the surfer community.
Reporting on culture travel, creative events and social issues.
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