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Lisbon, Portugal has become an increasingly popular European holiday destination over the past few years. I have heard so many great things from friends and family about their visit to Lisbon, I was very excited to experience this first hand.
Lisbon is the stunning capital city of Portugal. Lisbon city perfectly reflects the Portuguese culture, which embraces modern culture while maintaining its unique heritage and traditions. Lonely Planets named Lisbon as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2017.
WHERE TO STAY
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During our time in Lisbon, we stayed at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon located right in the heart of the city. It provides a bird’s-eye view of the city’s stunning historic sites, the perfect starting point to exploring Lisbon. Renowned as one of Portugal’s premier hotels, it boasts views galore, historical artwork, a luxurious spa, indoor pool, fitness centre and acclaimed dining.
We stayed in the Deluxe Room, decorated in imperial blue with its own private terrace and outdoor seating. Our terrace overlooked the beautiful hotel garden.
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Each morning, we enjoyed breakfast at Varanda Restaurant. Overlooking Eduardo VII Park and the hotel’s terraces, Varanda Restaurant features a buffet renowned for its variety. French Chef Pascal Meynard brings his vast experience from Michelin-starred restaurants to the table.
Hold your breath and be inspired by the Fitness Centre. Located on the rooftop of the hotel, providing breathtaking views of the city and the Tagus River. The Fitness Centre comprises an exercise room, two studios, one of which is fully-equipped Pilates room and an outdoor running track. It such a treat to be able to experience running out in the open air while enjoying spectacular views of the city.
After a long day of exploring Lisbon city, we loved going to the 18-metre indoor lap pool to swim and relax. The pool is heated to the perfect temperature between 26C and 28C.
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Make sure you make use of the hotel’s Concierge services. They have the best recommendations from restaurants to shopping spots in Lisbon. The staff are extremely helpful and friendly.
VINTAGE SIDE CAR TOUR
One of my favourite experiences while in Lisbon was the Vintage Side Car Tour. This is one of the best ways to get a bite size taste of Lisbon and experience Lisbon through the eyes of a local guide. We cruised through winding cobblestone streets and around leafy squares to city’s most spectacular sites including Aflama, Castelo de São Jorge, Bairro Alto and Chiado. At each stop, we walked around and were given informative and insightful views. Not to mentioned there were many Instagram worthy spots along the way to take photos!
THINGS TO DO & SEE
ELEVADOR DE SANTA JUSTA (SANTA JUSTA ELEVATOR LIFT)
The Elevator de Santa Just a is a 19th century life that transport passengers up the steep hill. The lift dates from an era when wrought-iron was both a construction material and art form. The structure is adorned with neo-gothic arches and geometric patterns. Today this lift is primarily a tourist attraction and one of the most unique sights of the city. At the top of the lift is a newly opened viewing platform which provides a beautiful panoramic views over the historic centre of Lisbon.
RUA AUGUSTA ARCH
Take a lift to the top of the Rua Augusta Arch for breathtaking views over Praça do Comércio square, Sé Cathedral and São Jorge Castle. The arch was built to celebrate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake and marks the start of the central Baixa area, which bustles with shops, cafés and market stalls.
TORRE DE BELÉM (BELÉM TOWER)
Completed in 1515, Belém Tower is one of Lisbon’s most famous sights. Built to defend the River Tagus and harbour, it was the last thing intrepid seafarers saw as they sailed away to expand the Portuguese Empire. Inside is a rather average museum, so take to the terrace instead for views across the city.
Vintage trams criss-cross the jumble of city centre streets and hills. Popular Tram 28 provides insights into local life and sweeping views across the Tagus. Be prepared to queue and watch out for pickpockets. If time’s short, Tram 12 is a great alternative, running through areas including Baixa and Alfama in 20 minutes.
CASTELO DE SÃO JORGE (CASTLE OF ST GEORGE)
Perched on the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, this castle was the royal residence until the 15th century. Its best attractions are the panoramic views from the ramparts and the beautiful gardens. See Lisbon from a different perspective through the camera obscura that provides a sweeping 360º real time view of the city.
Miradouros (viewing points)
Top viewing spots include the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara at the top of the Elevador de Glória funicular, offers views over Baixa and Castelo de São Jorge. Take Tram 28 to Miradouro de Santa Catarina, to see the port and landmark Ponte 25 de Abril, resembling San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
Located in the Convent of Madre de Deus, a magnificently ornate chapel built in 1509, this museum catalogues the history of Portugal’s azulejos (glazed tiles). The ceramic tiles cover much of the city and this gallery has a collection that spans the art form from the 15th century to the present day.
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WHERE TO EAT
- Sea Me: Contemporary restaurant with Portuguese/Japanese fusion seafood menu including lobsters and crabs.
- Cevicheria: A hot spot for fresh fish with a modern market ambiance by young Portuguese chef Kiko Martin. The best part is no reservations required.
- Mercado da Ribeira (Time Out Market): The new Mercado da Ribeira, revitalised by Time Out Lisboa has about 30 restaurants with 500 seats indoors and another 250 in the terrace area. Here are represented the best chefs, restaurants and national product. A must-visit spot for those who wants to taste the best flavours that the city has to offer.
- Bel Canto: The first restaurant in Lisbon to be aware 2 star Michelin Stars. Chic, wood-paneled dining room serving modern takes on Portuguese classics from by well known Portuguese Chef José Avillez.
- Loco: One of the newest Michelin Star Restaurants in Lisbon. Alexandre Silva, famous for winning the first Top Chef de Portugal competition showcases his cuisine via two enticing and creative tasting menus, which makes full use of locally sourced ingredients.
- Alma: Another Michelin Star restaurant by celebrity Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa. You might have seen him from his weekly television cooking show or if you are dining at Alma, chances are you’ll meet him as he serves up some of the dishes himself.
SEAFOOD AND FRESH FISH
- Cervejaria Ramiro: A traditional restaurant for local for seafood and fish. Relaxed, informal 3-floor eatery established in the 1950s.
- Monte Mar: is one of the best restaurants for seafood and fish. It has an elegant and urban-chic atmosphere.
LITTLE BITES IN THE AFTERNOON:
- Manteigaria: Famous for their Portuguese custards. It’s a must-try while in Portugal.
- Santina: You will find the best ice-creams in Lisbon here. Some locals before heading towards South for summer vacations, grab some icecream boxes to have plenty for their vacations!
- There are a couple of historical cafes in town too: some favourites include Benard (in Chiado neigborhood) and Versailles.
NEW FOOD CONCEPTS IN LISBON:
- Palácio Chiado: Newly renovated 18th-century palace houses Palacio Chiado which opened to a lot of buss in April. Once the residence of the baron of Quintela, the space has been transformed into a particularly elegant food court. It has two floors offering seven stops, each spinoffs of existing restaurants.
- Bairro do Avillez: The newest food venue from Chef José Avillez. The casual venue has different gastronomic offerings, inspired by the best Portuguese flavours, presented in the the following areas: Taverna (tavern), Páteo (patio) and Mercearia (grocery store).
WHERE TO SHOP
- A Vida Portuguesa: For the best Portuguese vintage gifts.
- Claus Porto: A Shop that’s more than looking good, it also smells good: A Portuguese brand soap shop.
- Luvaria Ulisses: Amazing hand made gloves. There you can find some Gucci-like gold elbow ones at affordable prices.
- Vista Alegre: For fine luxury porcelains.
- Luis Onofre: – Amazing shoes in Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon’s main hopping street within walking distance from the Hotel.
- Chapelaria Azevedo Rua: For Hats, hats and more hats