A gorgeous, remarkably relaxed city with so much sunshine to lift the mood of the sun-starved northern European visitor. With seven hills shaping the city you’ll be working those legs unless you deploy some of the most charming transportation rattling up and down through the streets. I will model this into a guide, add some more places in and save it to the left column soon.
Elevador Santa Justa: constructed in 1882, designed by French architect Raul Mesnier du Ponsard, an apprentice of Eiffel.
The Convento da Ordem do Carmo – or Carmo Convent in Chiado. Afte the devastating 1755 earthquake these medieval architectural bones now house the small Museu Arqueológico do Carmo. If you’re looking for more substantial relics, head out to Belém for the National Archaeology Museum.
Álvaro Siza’s sweeping span at the Expo location. The Oceanarium here is one of the world’s best.
Mae d’Agua is a temple to water. The terminus for a long Roman aquaduct cutting through the city. On a sunny day you could do a lot worse than climb onto the roof and zone out on the huge terrace overlooking the arches looping across the city.
Hop on a train (40 mins?) to Sintra, the seat of kings to wrap your eyes around a UNESCO city of true fantasy architecture. Find the Inverted Tower to come descend the nine circles of hell, paradise, or purgatory.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in the museum district of Belém is the ultimate Sunday spot. Take your pick of any number of museums, walk along the corniche, through the mini botanical gardens or just Sunday lunch.
Discover more about Vasco de Gama and the golden age of sea navigation at the Maritime Museum and what lay in store for the early seafarers some time before the trade of people and goods across the Atlantic to the new world. Exquisite models and sketchbooks created by crews.
Pastéis: the national product? Sweet custard tarts that came from the monks of Jeronimo. Join the long line of hungry shoppers outside this famous patisserie.
Museu da Electricidade is a more science focused museum in a really great building.
Cascais, 45 mins on a train from Cais do Sodré Station in Lisbon. The perfect journey snaking up past Belem along the Estoril Coast. A well-heeled, sophisticated seaside town with golden beaches dotted along.
You’ll find the sublime Paula Rego Museum in Cascais. The museum, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura is a contemporary interpretation of classic Portuguese features in terracotta burnt orange. Rego’s work is another matter – the warmth of the building belies the works within which are as dark as they come. What a mind…
The Museum of Design & Fashion in Baixa, central Lisbon is in the former Banco Nacional Ultramarino. The finest feature is the marble and stone counter which runs round the entire space, contrasting with the faintly apocalyptic nature of the largely gutted interior.
Not familiar with Portuguese vin? Vinho Verde is spot on – known as green wine.
Casa do Alentejo in the Baixa. Extraordinary Moorish space with rambling rooms – plenty of space to stuff the tourists. Actually its a real mixed bag in here: this is a social club for people from the Southern Alentejo region, and they have numerous consecutive events going on at once. The dining room in the ballroom is just one small feature of the multi-faceted space. Food is so-so (rustic shall we say) and the wine is unfortunately appalling (you won’t really find a bottle for more than 10 Euros!). Perhaps stick to Northern variants.
Chavaris do Vinho Enoteca is in a mini 18th-century stone-built aqueduct. It is perfect – a fantastic wine list, tapas and what a setting. But oh woe, I wish they’d change the beech Ikea-y furniture which just jars so. If you can get past that, you’ll never forget this spot.
Restaurant Antigo 1 de Maio on Rua da Atalaia, 8 in Bairro Alto is perfect, Intimate, atmospheric and charming service.
Flashy, cool Bica do Sapato in the Docks has stood the test of time. Part backed by John Malkovich this lofty, design dream has a few brilliant features such as the projection of deeply traditional ceramics. Service was a touch frosty, food everso slightly hit and miss but its still recommended as a fantastic and lively contrast to the cosy, more trad joints in town.
Café a Brasileira in Baixa-Chiado. Pop in for a pit-stop cerveja.
The bars around Cais do Sodre have been here a long time. The former red light district serving sailors who’d docked in just a short stagger away. The names say it all: Viking Bar, Copenhagen Bar, Rotterdam. It’s now the most lively place in town and teaming with al fresco revellers at the weekend. The Scandi Club plays some pretty good Afro tunes though I really wouldn’t like to say which country specifically (Angolan?).
I need to live in a country where I can go to a shop like this. So many specialist shops in the city.