No one will ever visit Lisbon without a walk from Rossio to Praça do Comercio, or vice-versa.
The rebuilt area of Lisbon, after the earthquake, is an example of modernity and open mind, contrasting to the narrow and winding streets in the hills, older than 1775, that still flank it.
Praça do Comércio
Aka Terreiro do Paço
The most beautiful square in Lisbon, this harmonious space by the river is the perfect tribute to those who died in the earthquake of 1755.
The crashing of the lower part of the city allowed a reconstruction where the perfect geometry contrasts with the narrow, winding streets that survived in the surrounding hills.
The balance of all the elements in the square is better seen if you arrive from the river.
All the elements, including the statue of king’s José I, date form the 18th century.
The only changes made in the square were… colors. Originally yellow, in 1910 the republicans decided to change it to pink. Recent analysis decided to return to the original yellow, and that’s what is expecting you.
King Jose I
José I was the king when Lisbon suffered the earthquake. Shadowed by the great work of Pombal, José had, however a very hard work, creating educational em economical institutions to adapt Portugal to the Industrial revolution going on in Europe, while facing several wars with Spain and France.
It’s fair, his statue in the middle of the central square, Praça do Comércio, created by Machado de Castro, nowadays the oldest statue in Lisbon.
Now it’s about time to start learning some Portuguese:
“Direita” is a Portuguese word that means either right or straight. Each city uses to have its “Direita” street that, by coincidence is generally one of the least straight of them.
Don’t try to understand – that’s Portuguese logic.
King José statue in Praça do Comércio is the subject to a traditional game that all the children visiting it must face:
– Which one is the “direita” leg of King José’s horse?
Wrong! It’s the other one. If they answer “the right one” they will be corrected- the straight one is the left. If they answer “the left”… well… the right is the other one. With this innocent joke no child will ever forget that statue.
The Portuguese cobblestone pavement is famous, enhanced by the used of contrasting colors in well elaborated drawings (black basalt in calcareous pavements). It may be seen in Lisbon almost everywhere, in some places with real artistic results.
Praça do Comércio was one of the places, but, wit successive modifications, it may change almost each day.
The arch in the north of Praça do Comercio, the start of Rua Augusta, was initially built in 1775, right after the earthquake, but was later demolished after the substitution of Pombal, and rebuilt in 1844 with a new conception.
I don’t know why did that happen because, among the statues of the celebrated national figures included in the monument, we may see… Marquês de Pombal.
Recently, an elevator started operating to the top – 2.50 €
Conceição Velha Church
A few meters east of Terreiro do Paço, a splendid Manueline door reveals this church.
As almost everything in low Lisbon, by the river, it is a reconstruction from the 18th century, in this case of a former church, built upon a Jewish synagogue.
Address: Rua da Alfândega 108. 1100-016 Lisboa
Directions: Between Rua da Madalena & Rua Arameiros
Tram 28 is special.
Crossing most of the old town, you may enter it at Chiado and it takes you westbound to Sta Catarina (sightseeing), S. Bento (Parliament and PM residence), and Estrela (Church); eastbound to Praça do Comercio (descend at R. Vítor Cordon), the Cathedral, Santa Luzia (sightseeing, and best place to start Alfama visit), the castle of S. Jorge (exit at Lg. Portas do Sol), S. Vicente (church, national pantheon, and flea market two times a week), Graça (church) and Martim Moniz.
Beware of pickpockets.
Palace of Totta bank
In 1907 the bank Lisboa e Açores built a very beautiful building in rua Augusta.
Life has passed by it, Lisboa e Açores became “Totta e Açores” later “Santander Totta” but, fortunately, the building was never modified.
Address: Rua Augusta
Only a block west of Terreiro do Paço, there’s a small and interesting square.
City Hall a palace from the 18th century, several times destroyed and reconstructed (last time after the fire of 1996) dominates the area, but a large and strange modern sculpture in the facing side breaks the classical look added by the court building, and the 18th century pillory, in the middle of the square.
Address: Praça do Município, 1100-365 Lisboa
Website: CM- Lisboa
In one more visits to Lisbon (January 28th, 2013) I was surprised by a slab in St Julião church facade, identifying it as the museum of Banco de Portugal.
Back home I checked the news and found that… it will be true.
The original church was destroyed by Lisbon earthquake, and a new one was built in location, in the usual Pombal style. From 1868 to 1933 the national bank bought one by one all the nine buildings in the quarter, the church being the last one.
Since then it was used as warehouse and later garage, until 2007, when the bank decided to recover the building as a respectable place to Money museum.
The works were expensive but they are about to be finished, so, if you come to Lisbon after the mid of this year you will have a new museum well located, right beside City Hall.
Address: Rua do Comércio 148, 1100-150 Lisboa, near Largo São Julião
Website: Museu do dinheiro
It’s not a highlight of Lisbon, but, in the way up to the cathedral you may visit this modest but nice church.
Built after the earthquake to replace a former church from the 12th century that was built in place of a roman temple, this church uses an old door brought from… well, another destroyed church.
Bairro da Sé (cathedral quarter)
Folkloric Lisbon rely on the rivalry between its traditional quarters or “Bairros”.
For a foreigner it’s impossible to distinguish differences between most of them. For instance, the “Bairro da Sé” next to Alfama or S Vicente, shows the same ambiance, and the same look of narrow streets, stairs, and ramps, with clothes hanging from many windows, despite the general forbidding.
Well, when June 13th comes and marches compete, everything turns different.
Built in 1150 in the place of a former mosque, this church suffered the consequences of several earthquakes, and subsequent rebuilding.
Many elements were kept, some other added, thus becoming a mix of styles.
The church is open to the public but the visit to the Gothic cloister and the treasure is paid (2.50 € each, 4.00 € combined), with discount to students.
Address: Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa
One of the most remarkable remains in the cathedral of Lisbon is the baptismal sink, were Saint Anthony was baptized in 1195.
The chapel decorated with tiles, illustrates the saint preaching to the fishes.
Saint Anthony church
Born in Lisbon and dead in Pádua, Saint Anthony is the patron of Lisbon (and of Pádua too).
His church was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt afterwards with popular subscriptions, especially from children who created a tradition of asking for a dime to the saint (“Um tostão para o Santo António”). That’s why the floor is full of coins.
Saint Anthony is also the saint of marriages, introducing the tradition of a prayer in the church before the ceremony. Since the middle of last century another tradition was born: The state pays the marriage of poor people, that accept to marry in a common ceremony in June 13th, largely covered by TV and media.
The church stays very close to the Cathedral.
Address: Rua Pedras Negras 1, 1100-401 Lisboa
Website: Santo Antonio
Lisbon earthquake, in 1755, destroyed the original church, built in 1556.
Ten years after the earthquake, Marquês de Pombal ordered the reconstruction, with a new architecture, according to Pombal patterns.
It’s free to visit, in Victoria street, crossing the main avenues of central Lisbon.
Santa Justa lift
Built following Eifell style by another French engineer of his school, this elevator is still in use, allowing a quick and convenient ascension to Carmo level. Most people limit themselves to admire the construction, but, since you need to go uphill, it’s a good idea to use it, however, if you want to save the time lost in the long lines, you may use the trick I describe in my Local Secrets tip
Address: Rua do Ouro,1150-060 Lisboa
Praça da Figueira
Adjacent to Rossio, the main square, and maybe because of that, this square was neglected until not many years ago.
In Pombal project it was the main market of the city, being demolished in the mid of 20th century.
Only by the end of the dictatorship the square received some investment and after being embellished with king João II’s statue, now it shares with Rossio its Metro station and most of the commercial activity.
Rossio (D. Pedro IV square)
Lisbon’s living room, Rossio is a well balanced square, usually taken by visitors as the reference point of their strolls across town. Easy to reach by Metro it is not advisable as a starting point except in a walk down to the river, because of its low level. You’d better take a transport to each one of its surrounding hills, and visit the interesting points in your way down to the square. Most foreigners will have their meals in one of the many restaurants in “Rua das Portas de Santo Antão”, right beside the national theater.
Nothing to oppose, because you may find there some good restaurants, but… do choose well, because its also a place for big disappointments.
The most “African square”
If you visit Rossio, the most central square in Lisbon, you may feel in Africa, due to the prevalence of black people in the area. Since the abandon of the colonies, the refugees use to gather in the area, that with the transference of commerce to the big malls is being skipped by the locals. Tourists and Africans are, nowadays, the great part of the dwellers and passersby.
PS – This image is fading: the crises sent back home thousands of immigrants, and the growth of tourism is balancing colors now, however, our colonial history remains clearly present in this square.
Let me tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell anybody:
Once in Lisbon, your guide (or friends… or book), are going to count you stories about the king in Rossio, the central square also called Dom Pedro IV square. Do you want the truth? Here it goes:
The man in Rossio must be the Mexican emperor Maximilian.
It just happened that the statue was in Lisbon, coming from France in its way to Mexico, when the emperor was murdered. For precaution the statue stopped in Lisbon, until someone found that it looked like the Portuguese king and… we never have been bad in business…
But remember! You promised not to tell anybody…
Built in 1846 upon the ruins of a former palace used by Inquisition, the national theater D. Maria II suffered a strong fire in 1964 saving only the walls. Being the most emblematic building in Lisbon’s main square – Rossio – it was reconstructed respecting the original, reopening in 1978 and being now regularly used with public management.
Address: Praça Dom Pedro IV, 1100-201 Lisboa
Website: D. Maria
São Domingos church
Several million people pass, each year, by this church, in the heart of Lisbon. Who dares to enter? Less than 1%. Work, for locals, or prevailing highlights to tourists, give no time for that. But, having time, why not?
Did you know that, damaged by the earthquake of 1755, this church was rebuilt using the remains of the Royal Chapel, also destroyed in the same cataclysm?
Did you know that, in 1954, a fire burned the entire interior that still keep evidences of it?
No need to enter, but, since you are there… having time…
Address: Lg S. Domingos, adjacent to Rossio
Website: S. Domingos
Local traditions are fading, but some still have their followers. Ginginha is one of them: two tiny shops were the landmark of this cherry liquor, that, of course, you may buy everywhere, including shops and supermarkets, but the tradition was to stop, ask for a Ginginha at the counter, and drink it outside, watching the passing people.
Portuguese sanitary authorities forced the closing of the small stalls that traditionalists would like to reopen. Meanwhile, Largo de S. Domingos keeps being a talking area, only without the glass in people’s hands.
“São Luis dos Franceses” church
Many times I passed by this “always closed” church. What is? Still working? how to visit?
Trying to find something I browsed the pages of City Hall (they are doing a very promising job “explaining” Lisbon, I will surely return to this resources) where I found (in Portuguese…Yet):
Inaugurated in 1572 by the Confraternity of the Blessed Saint Louis King of France, composed of French and Bretons Boilermakers residents in Lisbon, it was ruined by the earthquake of 1755. The reconstruction was made with money granted by Versailles, retaining its external appearance, but modifying completely its interior.
The 3 lilac flowers of the weapons of France began to appear throughout the Church, and the marble and gold as main elements of decoration. At the level of the upper floor, 3 rooms were adapted to dispensary, intended to rescue shipwrecked sailors and poor French, which was replaced by the Hospital of St. Louis, in the 19th century (Fernanda was operated in that hospital, once).
Acquired by the Portuguese Government and abolished the order of St. Louis, in 1792, only in 1841 it was integrated in French heritage. In 1860 the Church was delivered to the Congregation of the Lazarist Fathers, which today still ensure the religious service of the Church and spiritual of the French community of Lisbon.
That’s it! Is it there any french friend to invite me in?
Website: S. Luis
Portas de Santo Antão street
Close to the centre (as a matter of fact… in the centre) this is a street that you must walk, in its pedestrian section. There you may find almost everything: some remains of traditional commerce, a couple of the most famous restaurants in Lisbon (Gambrinus, Solmar) and many other options from top level price to popular ones, passing by touristy places, classical palaces (even if you don’t want to eat there, enter Casa do Alentejo, to see the Moorish yard) the most popular theater in Lisbon, Coliseu, and… the life of Lisbon. I think that, by day, nowhere else in town you may find such integration between locals and tourists.
The most central train station has been closed for sometime, due to problems in the tunnel.
Now reopened with a face-lift, this neo-manueline building is the most impressive in the short connection between Rossio and Restauradores, but don’t limit yourself to the look of its facade: go inside and see its beautiful roof.
Address: Between Rossio and Restauradores
The main avenue in Lisbon descends from Marquês de Pombal square, to Restauradores, another square with an obelisk in its centre.
That’s the monumento to celebrate the recuperation of nationality, in 1640, after 60 years of Spanish sovereignty. Today it is the favorite place to all legal and illegal nationalist events.
Directions: Off Avenida da Liberdade
The useful palace
This beautiful palace from the 18th century (Foz Palace), right in the centre of Lisbon, is now used as the centre for social communication ant tourist office.
Most of its richness was moved, and today some rooms may be rented for social or cultural events.
Address: Praça dos Restauradores, 1250-187 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 322 1201
Website: Palácio Foz
Portugal played a very secondary role in WW1, but with dramatic consequences. Half-way in Liberdade Avenue, a small monument remembers those victims.
I think it is a wise monument, so poor, sober and honest as we were in the war.
Don’t blame me for dedicating to this a special attention: the best documentation of the Portuguese drama in WW1 was the painting of my grand uncle, (as it may be seen in Military Museum), and its memories are always present in the family.
Marquês de Pombal
A very beautiful square, with a high column topped by Pombal and a lion, is the main hub for transport in central Lisbon, and a mandatory visit to any foreigner.
Adjacent to it Edouard VII park deserves a visit, and it is a good starting point to stroll down to the centre.
Do not miss the monument, where several artists represented the reforms made by Pombal in almost all cultural and economic sectors.
Eduardo VII park
The park Eduardo VII marks the northernmost and highest point of Pombal Lisbon.
It is a beautiful park, with excellent views over Lisbon and the River.
There you may see the discussed (easy to understand why) monument of the 25th April, the Estufa Fria, and the beautiful oldest sport pavilion of Lisbon.
There’s a great esplanade near the pavilion.
Estufa Fria (Greenhouse)
No one visits Lisbon without passing by Eduardo VII park. Most people opt for a superficial visit, only to enjoy the superb views from its top, but the appreciators of Nature, and those who want to know all the details, may stop a while and visit the greenhouses in the park.
Initially a cold greenhouse, after several additions (warm and sweet greenhouses) it shows today a large variety of plants, some of them exotic, and composing a beautiful garden that you may see in a short and relaxing time.
The entrance is free on Sunday, costing 3.10 € in the other days, with discounts to groups, seniors students, and always free to handicapped people. The area adjacent to the entrance is now used for… occasional meetings, however, it seems to be safe during the day.
Website: Estufa fria
The ugliest monument
In one of my prior tips I wrote about the second ugliest monument in Lisbon – it is in Arieiro, out of touristy main circuits, and only “attacking” locals.
However, the UGLIEST one is in a very visited area, atop Eduardo VII park.
For hygienic reasons I refuse to describe it, and if you have the bad luck to see it, just look around – it’s only an accidental pile of rocks waiting for the workers to build something.
Yes, around it the views are great!
The house of the setting sun
Look at the picture:
It’s centrally located.
It’s an outstanding building.
It’s not cheap… it’s free.
Guests use to stay for long periods.
However,… that’s the last “hotel” I would recommend in Lisbon.
Why? – Because it is local jail.
A discreet façade hides one of the best collections of Portuguese treasures – the church of S. Roque also called Misericórdia.
Just in the centre of town it is a simple building with four different chapels in each side. Each one of them is a masterpiece, but the chapel of S. João Batista, made in lapis-lazuli is astonishing.
Simply… don’t miss it.
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, 1200-470 Lisboa
Website: São Roque
Until 1974 Carmo was only a touristy place, with its beauty and not many references.
In the revolution of 25ft April it was the surrendering place to the government, since then becoming a reference to freedom.
Still beautiful as before, or… even more!
Address: Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal
Built in the 14th century by the hero of Aljubarrota, Nuno Alvares Pereira, celebrated in Praça da Figueira, and especially in Batalha, this convent was seriously destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, and it was never totally repaired.
Now it stands as a reminder that another earthquake is coming, no one knows when, and meanwhile, it is used as the Archaeological Museum. It’s almost impossible to visit Lisbon without seeing it, and it is easy to reach using the lift of Santa Justa
Directions: At Travessa Dom Pedro de Menezes
In Carmo convent you have 2 in 1: The ruins are also the archaeological museum (I mean… one of them – the National Museum or Archaeology is located in Jerónimos). Well, I must confess that the display, though historically rich, is not too convincing, with great part of the collection not exposed. The most remarkable thing is the building… or what remains of it. Anyway, if the theme interests you, there are pieces from the pre-history to the 19th century, and … it’s there.
The entrance costs 3.50 €, with discounts to students and seniors.
S. Pedro de Alcântara
If you have to choose just one of the many overlooks in Lisbon, this should be the one.
Facing the castle, with Bairro Alto in your back, this is a mandatory stop for picture, better at the end of the afternoon.
After or before the picture don’t forget S. Roque church, only a few meters distant.
Before the trend of big malls, Garrett street was the most remarkable shopping area in Lisbon.
Business faded but sophistication remains, with some historic shops surviving the new challenges.
Totally recovered from the big fire in 1988, it is a “must see” not only for shoppers.
As a “seven hills” city, Lisbon has some steep areas.
By the end of the 19th century, several lifts were made. Some of them disappeared, but four were kept and modernized, still being useful to make the visits walking downwards, and some of them even transformed in national monuments.
That’s what happened with Santa Justa elevator and Lavra, this one sharing with Bica the circumstance of staying a little “out of the beaten path”, thus not so useful for tourists as the other two.
Gloria elevator starts right in central Restauradores square, and it is very useful to go up to “Bairro Alto”.
Address: Bounded by Rua dos Lagares & Travessa Olival à Graça (West to East) and Rua da Verónica & Rua dos Sapadores (South to North)
Cais do Sodré is a ugly square that most visitors need to use, either to take to train to Cascais or the tram to Belém. If it happens to you having some time in the area, forget the square and the river, and go across the avenue.
The old Ribeira market keeps the beauty of its secular look, and is now a smart area of cultural events, gastronomy and crafts market.The small gardens west of it are also beautiful.
Address: Avenida 24 de Julho – Cais do Sodre, Lisbon, Portugal
Portuguese are very dedicated to celebrate all the (dead!) nationals that go a little bit upper than average. But this concern, sometimes leads to some situations difficult to explain. For instance, why does the small square adjacent to the beautiful building of the 24th July market, in Cais do Sodré, have the name of king Luis I, and the statue of the marquis of Sá da Bandeira?
I don’t know, but it is a beautiful small spot in a not so beautiful neighborhood, so, if you pass there (maybe, it’s just beside the historical area), have a look and try to find yourself the explanation.
The Castle and traditional quarters
It’s far from being one of the best castles in Portugal, but its precious story, accessibility, great sights over the city, and the typicity of the surrounding quarters turn it in a mandatory visit.
At the eastern end of tram 28 line, it is a natural stop, to discover the city descending to the centre.
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa
Website: S. Jorge
The First King
The conquest of Lisbon was a decisive step towards our nationality and independence.
Afonso Henriques, our first king is celebrated everywhere, and the castle is no exception.
Some people identify the small figure at the entrance as the king – it’s a clear mistake:
it’s St Jorge and not the king whose statue is in evidence inside the castle.
Website: S. Jorge
Spreading over seven hills, and usually with a bright sun, Lisbon has lots of wonderful sights.
Each hill has a couple of privileged spots, but the castle tops them all.
The lift of Santa Justa is another special place, with good views over the castle.
The castle is a landmark in Lisbon, but you must be warned that most of its elements are no more than a ruin.
Great views over Lisbon, a few interesting details, tons of history, reconstructed elements, and… ruins, disguised by the trees and gardens.
“Graça” is one of the Portuguese words for beauty but the quarter doesn’t make great justice to its name.
Impersonal, degraded, it has a few churches to visit, a couple of good sightseeing points, and several streets to get out of there.
However it is not bad as a residential area.
S. Vicente Quarter
Not so visited as its neighbor Alfama, this quarter still has its attractive look, sharing most of the characteristics, and giving a perfect look of Lisbon.
A few interesting monuments enhance this quarter’s interest.
In common Portuguese conversation, when someone says “that is like the works of St Engrácia” that means a never ending work. That phrase was born when the people got convinced that this church, started in 1568 would never be finished.
Officially, it has been finished in 1966, but the initial plans were revised, and there are still four towers missing, justifying the popular expression. With0 all the stop and go in its construction, it became a strange building where baroque dominates, but with several interpretations.
Located in a typical quarter near the centre, since 1916 it is the burial place of some of our great figures, the last one Amalia Rodrigues. And now Eusébio…
Address: Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-471 Lisboa
São Vicente de Fora church
Close to the Pantheon and Alfama, this church, following an Italian style, it’s not a top attraction, but it has some beautiful chapels, and adjacent to it an old monastery with good panels of Portuguese tiles and other interesting details.
It is considered the most important remain of the Spanish domination at the end of the 16th century.
You may also visit the tombs of the kings of the fourth and last dynasty, but don’t try to see the famous panels of Nuno Gonçalves – they never have been part of the church.
They were found in S. Vicente de Fora palace, and are now displayed in the museum of old arts (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga)
Address: Largo de São Vicente, 1100-572 Lisboa
Feira da Ladra – Flea Market
Each Tuesday and Saturday morning, the streets behind the church of S. Vicente, and the Campo de Sta Clara, are invaded by a crowd selling… everything.
Second hand articles and all you may guess will be there, but not so cheap as in the old days.
If you are careful about pickpockets (and bargaining experts) the place uses to be safe.
Close to the train station of Santa Apolónia and at a walking distance from the city’s centre, in S. Vicente quarter, it’s located the Military Museum.
It’s a large and rich museum, where – forgive me – the main attraction is my grand uncle’s collection of paintings.
No! I was kidding – there’s a big and good collection, in a marvelous palace.
And…yes… those paintings!
Address: Forte do Bom Sucesso, 1400-038 Lisbon
Phone: +351 21 301 7225
Website: Museu Militar
The visit of the Military Museum may be considered “three in one” – the palace, the weapons and the art collections.
In a recent visit I noticed the hard work done to enhance each one of these aspects. The palace was in the old days the arsenal, destroyed by the earthquake in 1755.
Rebuilt immediately, it suffered a few transformations, acquiring the present look in 1905.
Housing also the artillery foundation, it was used as artillery museum until 1926, when it received the present designation.
With several beautiful rooms, the highlights are Vasco da Gama, D. Maria and World War rooms.
Once again, forgive me… the museum’s heart remains WW1 rooms, dominated by… my grand uncle´s paintings. Good God! Staying under heavy bombing, holding only a pencil to capture those dramatic moments must have been…
In my recent visit I visited for the first time the interior “páteo” where we may see now, one of the greatest cannon collections in the world, with cannons from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Also, part of the basement is used to display the many cannons of the collection.
The most typical quarter in Lisbon is famous for its narrow streets and staircases, but it also has a few wide places where churches and sightseeing points help to observe the intricate maze of the houses and the colorful confusion of roofs.
Alfama allows two different programs – one by day, and the other in the night (Fado being the cherry atop the cake!)
Directions: Between Castelo de São Jorge & Rio Tejo.
Right at the “main door” of Alfama you have Fado Museum. It deserves your visit, and, with luck, it is a good opportunity for listening to fado outside the commercial circuit.
My pictures were taken in the museum, during a recent homage to the fado’s fraternity (Confraria do Fado) chairman – my friend Abel Coutinho
Address: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, 1100-139 Lisboa
Phone: 351 21 882 3470
Website: Museu do Fado
Casa dos Bicos
Built in 1523 by a Portuguese businessman, impressed and inspired by Italian architecture, this odd house has nothing in common with traditional Portuguese architecture, but it is one of the most surprising buildings that survived the earthquake.
Halfway from Terreiro do Paço to Alfama, it is easily seen (and the outside is the only thing you may see).
Address: Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 1100-135 Lisboa
For long neglected, this typical quarter, by the castle, is one of the most central and accessible. Without great touristy attractions, the quarter is being recovered and cleaned, and it is today a good option to descend from the castle.
Rua do Capelão is a narrow street commonly mentioned in Fado, because it was the residence of Severa, the first great reference of Fado, only surpassed by Amália many years later.
Fado is still present in several small taverns in the area.
Curiously, there’s a small monument to a fado singer that celebrates a least known artist died in 2003.
I knew Fernando Maurício (I think that I may have played guitar to him once or twice in our happenings of fado in my youth), and I remember that he was very appreciated by the experts, but his fable voice never convinced me too much. Born in Rua do Capelão, he had a life totally devoted to Fado, and last September his name was given to a small square in Mouraria where I was now surprised by his bust.
Everybody knows Amalia, but the real first icon of fado was Maria Severa, a reference to Amália herself.
There’s a fado restaurant with her name in Bairro Alto, but she lived and sung in Mouraria, by the castle.
Rua do Capelão, (a known fado theme thanks to Severa), is the place where she lived, with her house well identified.
Several small taverns around her house are now popular places where fado “happens”.
This could be one of the best areas of Lisbon, but it is one of the worst. Not recommended at night, even during the day it may have problems, because of the ethnic and religious minorities that dispute the place for all kind of deals.
If you want some really cheap shopping and accept all the inherent risks, however, this may be your best solution.
City hall made great effort to recover the area, and the results are coming. Martim Moniz is getting better, so much better (at least by day…) that this tip is becoming no more than a memory of the the Lisbon before “touristy revolution”!
Understanding the site
If you have, at least, one day in Lisbon, Belém is one of the things you shouldn’t miss. You may build your own program, from a couple of hours till one or more days.
Supposing that you will have only half day, then you can only have a glimpse of the ensemble of the Praça do Império, visit the Tower and Jerónimos.
The area is still keeping the look won in 1940, when the political regime tried to make an impressive exhibition to hide the colonial nature of our possessions in Africa and Asia, spreading the idea of a multiracial, multicultural, and universal country.
The gardens and some buildings were kept.
For instance, the Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular) and the restaurant in the artificial lake (Espelho de Agua) were part of the exhibition, but the real gems of Belem come from history, with Jerónimos and the Tower on top.
Jerónimos is a wonderful monastery, build in the 16th century, to celebrate the discoveries and to be the king Manuel I’s burial monument. It took all the century to be built, and houses the tombs of the king and his sons.
It is one of the best examples of Manueline architecture (the other “super” examples are Batalha and Tomar, with the famous window), a Portuguese style in transition between Gothic and renaissance, making use of nautical decorations, and that took the king’s name.
The church and mainly the cloisters are splendorous.
In the main corps you can also see the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Camões, transferred there about 50 years ago.
The Portuguese are proud of “their” exclusive style – Manueline.
It’s a Gothic style, with nautical elements, celebrating the discoveries. This style is present in many monuments, as their original concept or in later adding.
Jerónimos in Lisbon is among the best examples but Batalha doesn’t stay behind and a window in Tomar is considered the most precious detail of that style.
Senhor dos Passos chapel
This beautifully gilded chapel, concluded in 1669 in Jerónimos monastery, was initially dedicated to Saint Anthony.
Despite most visitors focus in Vasco da Gama and Camões tombs, many other may be seen in Jerónimos, with evidence to those of king Manuel and his wife.
Vasco da Gama
In the many details to see in a visit to Jerónimos, you must include the tomb of Vasco da Gama, built in 1888 in the monastery that celebrates his successes in India.
The Tower of discoveries
Belém Tower was built in 1515, by order of king Manuel I according to the defense plan of the Tagus estuary decided by his antecessor, King João II.
The tower is replete with Manueline decoration, with crosses of the Military Order of Christ and some naturalistic elements such as the rhinoceros, said to be the first such representation in stone known in Europe.
If you have time you may go inside and up to the top, but if you are in a rush than maybe you’d better save your time for another highlight of the area –the monastery on the top of all.
Website: Torre de Belém
Inside the tower
Most visitors don’t enter the Tower of Belem.
It’s acceptable, because its content is poor and time generally short, but if you have time, and want to discover how it was conceived and used as stronghold, you may go inside and have a look. It is not a waste of time, and it will not consume much of it (time).
Monument to the Fighters in Africa
Just a few meters west of the Tower of Belem, a monument inaugurated in 1994 celebrates the fighters in colonial war (about two hundred thousand and… me).
Surrounded by a long wall with the death’s names, a modern formation pretends to be the symbol of the union among people.
OK! No problem. It’s just beside the tower, can be seen in a glimpse, and, as a sample of modern architecture, it’s better then the bunker called Cultural Center.
Popular Art Museum
Included in Belem complex, by the river, this museum uses some of the best buildings from the 1940 Expo.
t shows crafts from almost all the country, and if you have no opportunity to discover them in their original location, it may be a quick and easy way to find out what our Country produces in popular crafts.
The Monument to the Discoveries was inaugurated in 1960 during celebrations of the 500 year anniversary of Infant D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator)’s death.
It evokes the maritime discoveries, and reproduces a model that was used in the 1940’s exhibition.
With the shape of a caravel, it is headed by Henry the Navigator with the company of most of the historical Portuguese figures.
From the top, which you can access by elevator located inside the building, you have a magnificent view of the area, having at your feet the compass in paved stone offered by the Republic of South Africa, in 1960, to the celebration, and that between galleons and mermaids, shows the routes of the Portuguese discoverers.
A large symbol of the nautical Portuguese successes exploring the seas, close to the discoveries monument, has been drawn with colorful stones – the “Rosa dos Ventos”.
Contrasting with the black in white of the typical Portuguese cobblestone pavement, this formation is better admired from the top of the adjacent monument.
Joe Berardo’s collection
In a disputed agreement between the government and a rich collector, Joe Berardo, the Cultural Center of Belém has, now, a new museum of Modern and Contemporary art, that, I must confess, I didn’t visit. Yet!
Phone: +351 21 361 2878
Website: Museu Berardo
Belem Cultural Nights
You spent your day in Belem and want to stay for the night? Move to the Cultural Center of Belem (Centro Cultural de Belem, or commonly, CCB). Since its controversial construction, (opened in 1993), most of the nightlife of first quality happens there, and if you arrive in daylight, modern art is always present, as a final touch for an extremely rich day. I didn’t mention dinner! Do I need to? Don’t you know that, close to Belem, near the bridge, the docks are the real capital of Lisbon’s young nightlife?
Anyway, you have the scheduling program online.
Gago Coutinho’s Plane
Leaving from Belém, on March 30, 1922, Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, succeeded in the first aerial crossing of South Atlantic.
The plane, named “Lusitânia” is displayed close to the Tower, in the open garden.
It’s free to see.
Kids Do Count
If you have plenty of time (and kids) The Planetarium, right beside the Jerónimos Monastery, may justify your visit.
Recreating the sky at night, their several sessions, presented in Portuguese, English and French, will tell you more about ‘The solar system’, ‘The moon’, ‘The evolution of the stars”, ‘The movement of the earth’, ‘ Earth – Planet Alive’, ‘The universe’, ‘The sun’, ‘The constellations’ and many others.
You just have to choose the scheduled program.
A Break in Historic Tour
Need a break in Belém?
East, and behind the Presidential Palace, the Tropical Garden (Jardim Tropical) is a pleasant place to rest and… to breath.
Maybe the most visited museum in Portugal, it is a “Must see”, generally included in the visit to Jerónimos monastery, located at short distance.
It has a precious collection covering three centuries.
The museum was moved to a new and modern building in 2015 but the original and beautiful palace remains being used as a nucleus, now under the name of Royal Riding School.
The entrance costs 8 €, 4 € for the palace
Phone: +351 21 361 0850
Website: Museu dos Coches
Pastry is famous in Portugal, mainly for its taste and diversity, but, sometimes, it mixes with art, with surprising results.
In the carriages museum sugar was used to built a replica of one of the displayed coaches.
Carriages museum was moved to another building in Mai 2015.
I don’t know if sugar “melt” in transfer.
The official residence of the President of Portuguese Republic is a palace built in the 18th century in Belém.
It’s possible to visit the palace but only in organized groups, booked through the palace’s national museum.
Address: Calçada da Ajuda, 1349-022 Lisboa
Phone: +351 213614600
Website: Presidência da República
Afonso de Albuquerque square
A small garden adjacent to Empire square, in Belém, facing the presidential palace, has in its centre a Neo-Manueline monument built in 1902, topped with the statue of Afonso de Albuquerque, a famous governor of India.
One of the less visited museums in Lisbon (It is new, opened in 1996) this museum, in Belém area, shows several displays concerning energy producing.
It was not difficult to gather a good display, since the museum occupies an old thermoelectric central station, keeping the old equipment.
If you have nothing more important to see…It uses to have some interesting temporary exhibitions.
Website: Museu da Electricidade
Collection of Museums
Still with time?
The National Archaeology Museum (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia), in the monastery, Navy Museum (Museu da Marinha), complement the large collection topped by the Carriages Museum
Built after the 1755 earthquake, this palace was unfinished due to French invasions.
Used by the government for some feasts, is has been restored and enriched with art collections. Its location, in somewhat despised area, means few visitors, but if you don’t mind crossing some degraded areas (under recuperation), you may be surprised by large views, and the splendorous colors of Lisbon.
I heard that it is going to be open to public visits, and that… it is very interesting.
I will check it out.
Maybe it is interesting! Maybe it is just starting to make and display its collection! Maybe I didn’t see the best part.
I had a professional meeting in this museum, and used the occasion to have a look.
Well, not impressed!
For a lover of the theme or for a museum devourer forced to see them all, it’s OK, but if you have to select, look at the nice building and head to the mandatory ones.
25 Abril Bridge
The biggest work of the dictatorship was… a copy. Salazar bridge was an important work, reproducing in Europe the Golden Gate of S. Francisco. I saw and crossed both, and… prefer ours! Not for nationalism, but for three objective reasons:
– The light of Lisbon is unbeatable (even when the fog releases S Francisco’s bridge – 25 minutes each year).
– Lisbon’s bridge is better framed by the views
– The statue of Christ in the southern bank helps a lot.
– Its new name (25 Abril) helps to remember that, no matter how much the dictators spend promoting their names, history generally ends making justice, and erasing their memory.
Don’t read back! Do you remember dictator’s name?
Sights across the bridge
Facing Lisbon, in Almada there’s a replica of Christ Redeemer of Corcovado inaugurated in 1959.
It is the best sightseeing point to a general look over Lisbon, and the entrance costs 4€.
Night til Morning
Night in Lisbon concentrates mainly in two areas: Bairro Alto and Docas.
This area by the river, is the easier to access, and safer (it it is possible to assure that in any city, by the end of the night).
Night that, on weekends, most of local youth extends to the morning, when the hot bread by a awaking river is a temptation.
This was the area for the 5th Euromeeting dinner, in May 2011 – a good choice
If you admire modern architecture, modern gardens, modern art and modern people, Parque das Nações (Expo 98) is for you.
The site of the 1998 exhibition has been restructured as a new neighbourhood, preserving most of the common areas and commercial services.
There are several attractions in the area, with a predominance of young costumers (and foreigners).
Expo 98 benefits
The eastern part of Lisbon was awful, a true shame for all. The needs to embellish the area to receive EXPO exhibition, gave a “face-lift” to a large area, and some old and degraded buildings were recovered.
Now, travelling in Marvila it’s a true pleasure to those that once knew the area and confirmed that, when man wants everything has a solution.
Even at a price…
Garcia de Horta garden
A nice garden in EXPO area, but I couldn’t interpret the chart at the entrance – or at the exit?
Things seem reversed in the plan, and identifying spaces and species is a bit tricky.
A pity, since the garden, though somewhat neglected, deserves a visit.
Gare do Oriente
One of the jewels in the modern area of Parque das Nações (Expo 98), the station, is an outstanding project of the Spanish Santiago Calatrava.
It fits perfectly in the modern buildings that surround it, and besides the important role if plays in actual public transport network, it became an attraction on itself, challenging Rossio as the most beautiful station.
Address: Av. Dom João II, 1990 Lisboa
Built for EXPO 98, this huge aquarium is a marvel of conception, and a mandatory visit to every child (and adults also, of course!).
ore than the large collection, covering all the world, the way they reproduce the environmental conditions of each species, it’s almost perfect. Around it, the other remains of the exhibition justify several hours of strolling relax, with all kind of events nearby.
Address: Esplanada Dom Carlos I s/nº,1990-005 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 891 7002
Tile Museum – Madre de Deus
Unless you are studying Portuguese tiles, or visiting Madre de Deus church, or having plenty of time, I think you could skip this museum.
It’s interesting and well organized, but Lisbon is, for itself, a large tile museum, and standing so apart from everything…
However, don’t misunderstand me:
its a serious institution, and if you’re a tile lover it may be your place.
Madre de Deus church
Located in the eastern part of Lisbon, it stands a little bit isolated, turning it in a less visited monument.
It’s a very interesting church from the 16th century, now making part of the Tile Museum, though allowing an independent visit.
To go there, you must search for Xabregas, served by bus.
For sure the richest art art collection in Portugal, this modern museum is a must see.
Located in a large and new building near Praça de Espanha, it displays treasures from almost all the world. Outside, the statue of Calouste Gulbenkian and a nice garden receive the visitors.
Address: Av. Berna 45A, 1067-001 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 782 3000
Luís de Camões is the main cultural reference to Portuguese readers. All across Portugal and old colonies you can find monuments celebrating the writer of Lusíadas and more.
A high school (where I studied 3 years) gets his name, and in the frontal garden a discreet monument is… just one more.
Well, not outstanding nor remarkable, but… just one more, evidencing that the school is the real celebration.
A large building now used for military purposes, is something I can’t qualify.
It seems a fort, but it is only a palace with a style that… style?
Well, just have a look and make no questions, because I don’t know the answers, unless that it belonged to a rich man named Vasco Eugenio de Almeida, also known as count Vill’alva, that lived using his fortune… and doing things while he could.
He died in 1975, the palace was there… the army needed space… the walls were strong… you know!
Praça de Espanha
Dominated by the beautiful palace of the Spanish Embassy, this square, abandoned for a long time, became an important centre to travel in and around Lisbon.
Most of the buses to cross the river and to the coast, depart from there.
Furthermore, it’s at walking distance from Campo Pequeno and the top of Eduardo VII park, with Gulbenkian Museum and Lisbon’s mosque in each way.
In the centre of the square, an arch belonging to the old aqueduct of “Águas Livres” and that has been dismantled to enlarge one street, is out of context but embellishing the square.
A little far from the touristy area, in modern Lisboa, stands my favorite monument: It is the “Monumento aos Mortos da Guerra Peninsular”, which means the dead fighting the French invasions of Napoleon’s soldiers.
It’s a medium size monument, but so harmonious, so expressive, so perfect, that each time I see it I find it even better than before.
It is in the square of Entrecampos, the meeting point of Av. da Republica, Campo Grande, Av. Estados Unidos and 1st May Av.
When I was born, Lisbon had a marvelous avenue, wit splendid buildings from the beginning of the twentieth century.
The pressure to build in highness led to the infamous decision of… demolishing them, to replace by uncharacteristic concrete and glass blocks. No one was arrested, nor even publicly condemned, but the result is there.
Anyway, by miracle, a couple of buildings escaped, and are now protected.
They may pass unnoticed, because they are small, but, if you cross this large avenue, pay attention: here and there something deserves your look and helps to imagine how it was!
The old bullring in Lisbon was completely renewed, being today a shopping mall and a large show business center.
Bullfights still take place there, but… it has much more, carefully preserving the old architecture, and giving daily life to a structure that was only used a dozen times each year.
No… I don’t like bullfights, and it seems that, gradually, more people “join the team”, decreasing the frequency of this kind of shows. However, they do happen, and it’s there, usually on Thursday night, in spring and summer. The crisis made them invest in another kind of shows, and Campo Pequeno is, today, a large concert room where big productions (with or without bulls) may take place in a modern shopping mall. So, it’s easy and advisable to check scheduling.
Praça de Londres
London square at the southern end of Roma avenue, marks the limits of the so called “Avenidas Novas”, the new quarters of Lisbon.
With the typical structure and look of the mid of last century, it is a lively place, dominated by the modern and large church of S. João de Deus.
In the small garden, a statue of Guerra Junqueiro, a famous writer.
The Second Ugliest Monument
Celebrating the memory of Sá-Carneiro, a prime minister killed in a plane crash a few years after the revolution of 74, the beautiful square of Areeiro was the place for an ugly monument.
Most people criticize it, some considering it offensive to the memory of Sá-Carneiro.
A small face in the stone pedestal, and a mass of tin trash atop of it, challenge the champion of bad taste: the monument by Cutileiro, to the celebrate the 25th April in Parque Eduardo VII.
One of the most typical works during the dictatorship of “Estado Novo” was a large alley, with the interesting building of the Instituto Superior Técnico in one top, and a large fountain sustaining a garden in the other.
The harmony of the ensemble is regularly being broken with massive works, that last for… an eternity.
António José de Almeida
The sixth President of the first Portuguese Republic (and the only one that could exercise his mandate to the end) has a simple statue in the square with his name, in the back of Instituto Superior Técnico and near “Casa da Moeda”.
Built in the beginning of the dictatorship, in 1937, and conceived by one of the masters in sculpture of the regime, it enhances the relative smallness of the politician when compared with the Republic, figured at his back with the official image.
Coretos (Band Stands)
Remains of the romantic days, a few band stands may still be seen in Lisbon.
Graffiti are a common menace, but people generally look at them with sympathy and some nostalgia.
Though turned useless, they keep being the key element in a few small gardens of Lisbon, like in Pr. José Fontana, facing Camões high school.
Campo Mártires da Pátria
Each town has its touristy places where visitors dispute each view and detail, and the inner places “reserved” for locals, where tourists only go when… lost.
This is one of those places, but a charming one: beautiful buildings surrounding the garden, calm, tranquility, history, tradition, not far from the centre…
It’s not difficult to get lost that far…
Religion and beliefs
Portuguese are traditionally catholics, tradition that is fading, mainly in the big cities. Here and there religion is mixed with popular beliefs with stronger manifestations than the official religion. A medical doctor from the second half of the 19th century, Sousa Martins, dedicated his life fighting tuberculosis, with such empathy with his patients, that someone started saying that he made miracles. More than one hundred years after his death, people keeps praying for his help, and thanking him for the cure. The base of his statue, in front of a medical school, is covered with hundreds of stones celebrating his “miracles” and there is always an old lady bringing flowers or praying. A touching scene of the unknown Lisbon!
If you find yourself near the statue of Fernão de Magalhães, then you are in Praça do Chile, which means that, probably… you’re lost.
Not because the place has something against it, but because it is out of the regular tourist circuits, though being visited by many locals, in search of the popular items and prices of the nearby commerce.
Well, since you are there, don’t panic, there’s no reason for that.
If it is lunch time, good, you have Portugalia a few meters south, in Av. Almirante Reis.
If not, and you don’t mind shopping, just look around. If you are really lost and only want to leave, you have the Metro, or, why not, walk a little to the north and find Alameda, Areeiro, João XXI (remember, Pote – MY all time restaurant), Av Roma, Campo Pequeno…
How I love to get lost sometimes!
Alto de S. João
Some cemeteries are famous, attracting visitors from all the world.
Some other… don’t.
Alto de S. João is the biggest cemetery in Lisbon, and though not being a local attraction, it always impresses me by its entrance – the mausoleums of the Viscount of Valmor, and “Misericórdia de Lisboa” are a great tribute to art.
Alfredo da Costa
If in Lisbon a cemetery deserves mention, the place where you were born deserves it no less.
The Alfredo da Costa maternity hospital honors a distinguished doctor. Built on the foundations of a temple at the beginning of the 20th century and inaugurated in 1932, it blends in well with the beauty of the buildings of the time that still remain on the new avenues.
If you decide to see something outside the main touristy areas of Baixa or Belém, a trip to the upper and most remote areas may be very rewarding.
For many years the Zoo took advantage of Portuguese presence in Africa. I is a nice place to an easy contact with many animals, kept in an adequate ambiance. It’s location, near central Lisbon, and the ease of public transport, assure the good frequency that it registers and justifies. A pleasure to children and adults!
Address: Praça Marechal Humberto Delgado, 1549-004 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 723 2900
Website: Lisbon Zoo
Museus do Traje e Teatro (Costumes and Theater Museums)
At the northern entrance of Lisbon, a beautiful complex of buildings and gardens is the place for the museums of costumes and theater, both connected by the park of Monteiro-mor.
It’s not easy to reach, if you are not on wheels, but Metro (Lumiar) stops not to very far, and there are buses around (3,4,7,35,101, I think).
In the hot busy days it’s a refreshing and interesting alternative to the mandatory places, crowded of tourists.
In a hill in the north entrance of Lisbon a park surrounds the museums of costumes (Museu do Traje) and theater (Museu do Teatro).
It´s a large and refreshing park with lots of botanical species and a well conceived sequence of alleys and fountains, with statues composing harmonious sights.
A good break, in the outskirts of town.
“Aguas Livres” aqueduct
Built in the 18th century to bring water to Lisbon, it offers some good views of Lisbon, in one of the the ugliest areas of town. Progress around has endangered it, because the arches are too narrow for the actual road needs, but the love and respect of the inhabitants is keeping it untouched.
It is 19 km long, but the best points are the arches crossing the valley of Alcântara, and the arrival point at Amoreiras, now the water museum of “Mãe-de-Agua”
Address: Calçada Quintinha 6, 1070-225 Lisboa
Website: Water museum
Around central Lisbon, the old quarters developed themselves with precarious, narrow and windy streets, giving access to also precarious habitations.
With the development of town, the precarious habitations gave place to stable buildings, but most of the old streets were kept, under the name of “azinhaga”.
They are disappearing, but, here and there they still may be seen, sometimes providing unusual views in a modern and quickly growing town.
Mãe de Água
A refreshing garden surrounds the buildings that sign the arrival point of the aqueduct built few years before the earthquake, and that, surviving it, stood working until recently.
Now the place is used as the museum of the water company and deserves a visit.
When I took the pictures a temporary glass exhibition was on. It should be repeated (new ideas) soon, but… I’m retired, and without my help things will be more difficult to the artists.
Assembleia da Republica (Parliament)
S. Bento is one of the two main political points of Lisbon and Portugal. The other is Belem, where lives the President of the Republic. Here, in S. Bento, you have the Prime-Minister’s residence (from which you can only see the walls, gate, and discreet security), and the Parliament.
Open to escorted visits, it has two important references to me: Democracy, and four of my grand uncle’s best paintings.
Ssome more may be seen in Military Museum and Contemporary art Museum, and other).
Address: Rua de São Bento, 1249-068 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 391 9000
Basilica da Estrela
At the westernmost stop of tram 28, a big church from the 18th century, keeps the tomb of queen Maria I. That queen ordered the building of this church to pay a promise made if she had a male son. She did, but the child died before the end of construction with smallpox.
Facing the church there’s a pleasant small garden with the same name.
Address: Praça da Estrela, 1200-667 Lisboa
Directions: Off Avenida Infante Santo
Phone: +351 21 396 0915
Campo de Ourique
This residential area, a little bit in the outskirts of town when built, now almost in the heart of it, keeps its original look and lifestyle.
The local market, inaugurated in 1939, suffered already two transformations, trying to adapt to the new standards (including tourism).
It’s a calm area to stay, but with short tourist facilities.
Once upon a time, I lived in Lisbon, when the cultural references for most of our citizens were those maniac that seven or eight centuries ago went east and south to cut Muslim’s throats.
The dictatorship times were gone, and it’s a pleasure to meet another Lisbon, where tolerance and multicultural coexistence is appreciated.
More than a worship building, this is a monument to the cultural progress of our country.
Lisbon has no beach but it is served by several beaches less than one hour distant by public transportation, suitable for all tastes (if you accept cold water):
Big surf with secluded beaches in Guincho (wild), Praia Grande (Sintra), Praia das Maçãs, or across the river in Caparica (long coast with several beaches)
Low surf in Estoril coast with evidence to Cascais, Estoril, Oeiras and Carcavelos (the largest).
Going a little further, Ericeira in the north, and Sesimbra or Arrábida south, merge an interesting visit to their beach facilities.
Of course, going even further there’s… Portugal.
Mandatory for anyone spending more than two days in Lisbon, a trip along the coast until Cascais allows you to see some beautiful beaches lined with classical palaces and modern villas.
Estoril joins the best of the several beaches with the Casino that now has got some competition in Lisbon but keeps being a highlight in Lisbon’s coast.
It’s also commonly planned a trip to Sintra and/or Ericeira starting or ending in Estoril coast.
In my opinion, “ending” will be the best solution, because most of night animation may be found in this area.
While in Lisbon, in summer, it’s a common question, even for locals: – What beach shall I choose for a swim?
The answer depends on your options concerning time, surf, price, loneliness, water temperature, additional activities, way of transport, whatsoever.
Forgetting the details, I think that the binomial Oeiras/Carcavelos is the most balanced of all:
They are only a few minutes from Lisbon, accessible by train.
Torre in Oeiras is calm, Carcavelos, west of the fort, has moderate surf.
Except on Sundays, they are not overcrowded and supported by several good restaurants. Yes, for a quick swim while in Lisbon, if you don’t want to merge the swim with the visit of Cascais and Estoril (or Sintra), this should be my advice
One of the oldest traditions still in use in Lisbon and around is the “Volta Saloia” that consists in going out from Lisbon to the surrounding small towns and villages, from where the “saloios” (rural folks) used to feed Lisbon.
It’s a search of nature, and culturally unspoilt people.
Well, things are changing, and the landscape evidences the hand of progress and new energetic demands, but the volta saloia keeps on, always with a pretext for a meal in the “real country”, and the good views of an old volcanic area, with people progressively spreading across hills and valleys.
Eating in Lisbon
Given the length of my notes on Lisbon, I decided to divide them into sub-pages, by zones, the same applying to restaurants. More information about Lisbon restaurants is published in “Baixa“, Belém“, “New avenues“, “EXPO” and “Remote“. Here I will list the restaurants that we may find all across Lisbon.
Wok to Walk
Wok to sit
Yes, I know that is is one more of a wide chain of restaurants, but with my routine of refusing fast-food areas, this was my first experience. It happened in Dolce Vita mall, near Lisbon, and… it was fun.
They have displayed several ingredients, you choose what you want, they fry them together in the wok, in front of you, and… it’s done, either to take away or to eat in location. It was tasty, it was fast, it was food, and… it was cheap.
The only inconvenience – they didn’t sell wine, and I had to buy it next door – one of the convenient resources in the food ranks of the malls.
Address: Dolce Vita and other Malls
Phone: +351 21 317 0850
Fogo de Chão
Brazilian fast food
If you want to eat fast, with the food trying to imitate slow food, this could be a good option. Available in almost all the malls, it combines Brazilian grill with Portuguese and international cuisine, in a cheap way.
Of course, you get what you pay for.
Address: Several malls
Phone: +351 21 386 1137
Website: Fogo de Chão
ViniPortugal and Lisbon Welcoming Center
Right in the centre of Lisbon, under the arches of Praça do Comercio, two organizations side by side offer to tourists quality in food and wine.
Wineportugal, a organization, including most of the local associations and producers, has a shop where you can get all the information needed to buy Portuguese wines, and even taste them.
It’s a good stop.
Luxury and Service
Lisbon Welcoming Center. a very ambitious project to promote Portuguese cuisine is the base of this modern complex of restaurant and bar, where luxury and good taste are used to sell some of the best Portuguese recipes, carefully prepared and supplied.
Its location it’s perfect for the tourists, the only drawback, as you may guess, is… the price, but not “forbidden”, having in mind the European standards.
O Cantinho da Rosa
Just a common restaurant, in Bairro Alto.
One day, I had to eat both meals in Bairro Alto. I had lunch in an Italian restaurant, forgotten 5 minutes before exiting.
At dinner, I went to a low class restaurant, and… had a cheap and good dinner.
Price is not everything!
Favorite Dish: Massada de cherne
Address: R. Rosa,224, Lisboa
With less than one hour to have lunch, I entered the closest restaurant with the look of allowing a quick meal.
It did, but so… common, banal, tasteless, inexpressive, that I found the regular price paid a little excessive.
Address: Rua dos Correeiros 37, 1100-161 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 346 0905
One of the traditional liquors in Portugal, is Ginjinha, made from a sort of cherry. The most famous (and the best) is the one from Alcobaça, but tradition shows it being drunk in Óbidos and in central Lisboa, specially in S. Domingos square, R. Portas de S. Antão or near the Parque Mayer.
However, a secret known only by locals is a cheap long drink in a very small bar in Restauradores – O Pirata. It’s a secret that seems to be made with Port wine, and has two varieties: Pirata and Perna de Pau, this one my favourite.
Look for the entrance at left of Eden building (Virgin).
Decided to try another unusual restaurant in one of the the biggest conglomerations of restaurant in Lisbon, I chose this place. Everything was positive until paying time – the chosen mixed grill was tasty and well served, the chips discreetly flavored with herbs, the waiters efficient and polite. A disillusion with the bill – the usual “couvert” trick, that I describe in my Portugal page – Couvert Tip.
I protested and the not ordered nor consumed cheese and butter were immediately retired from the bill, but without any excuses.
Address: R Portas de Santo Antão, 78
Alentejo at its best
Located near Chiado, in the centre of town, there’s a restaurant so discreet that you may pass by it without noticing it.
And it would be a pity, because it’s really an excellent place to eat. The starters, main meals and wines are delicious; the only drawback is the price.
One of my favorite Portuguese dishes – carne de porco a alentejana, (pork meat fried with clams with a
coriander sauce) – gets here the name “medalhões de porco com ameijoas”, and, believe me, it’s impossible to do it better.
Everything else deserves your choice. A few friends in Virtual Tourist followed my advice, and it was nice to receive their thanks for the suggestion. That’s the double big pleasure in VT – being useful and showing our best to visitors.
Favorite Dish: Medalhões de porco com ameijoas – pork with clams and… pleasure.
Address: Rua do Alecrim, 47-A, Lisboa Phone: +351 21 3423845
With a privileged location, in Largo de São Domingos, this restaurant has guaranteed a high frequency just by raising the awareness of passers-by.
Perhaps for that reason, the best thing about the restaurant is its external appearance. Ordinary food, no major repairs, mechanical service, moderate price.
Served, but did not invite to return.
Pastéis de Belém
Maybe you won’t distinguish one “Pastel de Belem” from the common (and also good) “pastel de nata”, but, the short break to eat a “pastel de Belem” is mandatory. Why? For two reasons:
1- It’s good.
Am I joking?
Of course… But can you tell me why everybody in Brussels must see the Manneken Pis?
Or the mermaid in Copenhagen? Or…
Did you answer “because they’re unique”? Well, then your pastel de Belem (and the other 14000 they produce each day) is also unique. And… damn… it is good.
Address: Rua Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 363 7423
Website: Pastéis de Belém
Well located and priced
Located next door to the house of Pasteis de Belem, close to the Monastery of Jerónimos, this restaurant with the same name has a discreet (even ugly) entrance, that takes us to a reasonable room. The menu is well balanced, the prices affordable, and the service nice, quick and acceptable.
A good place for a quick lunch, without surrendering to fast-food, nor paying luxury.
Favorite Dish: Arroz de Peixe, Grilled fish
Address: R. Belem 74-78 Lisbon
Tertúlia do Tejo -Eating in Belém… or near
To Check Again
Located in a food mall of Alcântara, in the recuperated side of the river, after walking up and down I sat in this esplanade. The menu was inviting and the service gentle.
I chose “Tranche de cherne na brasa com molho de coentros”, expecting a grilled piece of fish with coriander. I got it, but the fish was so high that it was badly grilled.
If you like sushi that could be your fish, though the sauce was too discreet for a Japanese dish. It was tasty, well served, the list of wines was well balanced, the wine I asked was served “au point”, nothing to complaint.
However, the almost 30 € I paid was excessive. So… maybe another visit, but I don’t know when. The world is so big, and even the “courtyard” that is Lisbon has so many good places to eat, that… I don’t know!
PS Two years have passed and I didn’t return there. Yet!
Address: Doca de Santo Amaro, Pavillon 4
Phone: (+351) 213.955.552
Website: Tertúlia do Tejo
Manaus -Eating in Belém… or near
Small and Practical
Having a meeting near Alcântara, and only 40 minutes to lunch, I tried to find something simple for a quick meal. This pastry shop announced regular meals, and looked as filling my needs.
I had a delicious roasted pork, a regular wine, the best melon in my memory and a coffee, all in less than 30 minutes.
Time enough to walk a little in that less known area of town: here a fountain… there a church… a palace being recovered… some graffiti… the hidden beautiful Lisbon!
Address: R. Sacramento – Alcântara 54
Directions: Between Travessa Sacramento a Alcântara & Avenida Infante Santo
Located in “Parque das Nações” this is one of many restaurants lining the river. My wife wanted “Sopa de cação”, and that was the criteria used to choose. Well, the experience was good: excellent food, nice service, only a little bit pricey.
It was our last meal with two friends from Canada, and, at the end, Jordan passed me a signed paper with the statement:
PORTUGUESE KITCHEN IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD
I knew it, but Atanvá was the last and definitive detail to help him see the truth!
Favorite Dishes: Sopa de Cação, Naco, Bife Barrosão
Address: R. da Pimenta, 43/45, Parque das Nações Phone: 351 21 895 04 80
It was a good surprise, this restaurant located in “Parque das Nações”. Standing in the middle of a offices area, they found the balance between quality for those who can pay it, and price for those who need to lunch out each day.
A positive impression, to check again.
Address: AV. D.Joao II lt 1.17.02 LJ A
Phone: +351 21 048 4490
Me and You
Located in Parque das Nações this restaurant tries to conquer the mid class workers in the area. A modern decoration, international food half-way from fast-food to traditional one, balanced prices.
Nothing special to recommend or to blame
Address: Avenida Dom João II Lote 1.17.03, 1990-084 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 894 7020
Sabores do Douro
Another eclectic restaurant somewhat hidden in a calm street of the busy and touristy area of Parque das Nações. The food is good, well served, and presented at average price. Just one more in the many options around. I read that it is the best place in Lisbon to eat “Francesinhas”, a sort of hamburger with a special sauce that became typical in Porto, but, being fast-food… I skipped it, obviously.
Favorite Dish: Secretos de porco preto
Address: Alameda dos Oceanos, lt 14 Galerias Rio Plaza
Phone: +351 21 820 57 53
Website: Sabores do Douro
This is a large restaurant, with an eclectic kitchen allowing several type of meals, from a buffet to a “a la carte” meal.
With visible Brazilian hands, it is reasonably priced.
Address: Parque das Nações
Phone: +351 21 896 8069
Dedicated to Fish
My son, who doesn’t like fish invited me to this “Mister fish” restaurant – strange!Well, they have a good steak (he knew) but the speciality is fresh fish. Good, restaurant, reasonably priced.
Favorite Dish: Grilled fish
Address: Parque das Nações, near Rua Bojador
Phone: +351 218 955 892
Website: Senhor Peixe
Beer and food
It is specialized in beer, but it works also well with those who don’t appreciate the drink. Fish or meat are well prepared and served, and, without being a cheap restaurant, the prices are regular.
(I had wine. A good one!)
Address: Rua Pimenta 15, 2715-311 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 895 7041
My first time in Chimarrão was a good experience: I like barbecue, and Brazilian style and service is very special.
A little bit pricey, as expected, but good.
This second experience was a disappointment. The restaurant downgraded the service in all aspects: Noisy room (with the help of a musician playing uncharacteristic and disposable music), confuse service, and hard meat.
We were twelve, I ordered “Rodizio” for all and, at the end, when Fernanda complained about the quality of the service, they told us that we were served “espeto longo” that only costs 13€ and not the 20€ of Rodizio.
7€ of consolation for a client that ordered… Rodízio. Chimarrão was “entering water”, but time has passed, and it will deserve a third visit!
Favorite Dish: Picanha, that passed along my table four times (at least) and only was served when I expressly called the waiter and demanded it (and served only for two or three of us).
Address: Parque das Nações, between the Casino and the Aquarium.
Phone: 21 895 2222
Republica da cerveja
Beer and more
Specialized in beer, selling a large variety, this restaurant is prepared to large groups, with a broad menu including Portuguese dishes but also Italian or German. I don’t drink beer, that’s why, unless I am following someone, I always choose… one of its neighbors.
Address: Parque das Nações
Directions: Near Rua Bojador . In Parque das Nações
Phone: +351 21 892 2590
Website: Republica da Cerveja
Modern and cheap
Located in the trendy area of Parque das Nações, this restaurant tries to attract the people working in the offices around. Being mainly a pastry shop, it has also a modern cuisine, combing traditional Portuguese with international food.
The decoration is modern, the service is simple and the price suitable to get regular users.
Favorite Dishes: Grouper with spinach
Address: Av. D. João II, Lote 1.16.03
Phone: +351 218949534
Regular Business place
Discreet behind a long corridor, a reasonable restaurant, with some quality intentions is mainly aimed to professional meals than touristy ones – its location, out of the touristy paths, recommends that orientation.
I had a good lunch, paid a little more than 20 €, and came out, pleased but with no particular reason to go there again – or to avoid it.
Address: Av. Marquês de Tomar 83
Good first impression
Located in the edge of the touristy area, but in the best area for hotels and transport (near Saldanha, in the back of Gulbenkian museum) there’s a quiet area with a few esplanades serving restaurants. We decided to try this one and didn’t regret.
The food was well prepared, the menu was interesting, the service correct, and the price as expected. Nothing in particular to remember, but a positive impression.
Address: Av Conde de Valbom, between Avenida Elias Garcia & Avenida Visconde de Valmor
Phone: +351 21 797 0410
Once upon a time, in the middle of last century, high society living in the new quarter called exactly “Avenidas Novas” used to gather in selected places, for the 5 o’clock conversation with or without tea.
Versalhes was in the top, a real landmark.
Times changed, coffee houses were replaced by banks or phone houses, the most resistant tried to survive selling something to be eaten on foot, but not Versalhes.
There it is with a shining facade, assuming its role of a social monument of town.
Address: Avenida da República 15A, 1050-185 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 354 6340
If you find yourself in the new part of Lisbon, around Arieiro or Av. Roma then you may eat at “O Pote”. That’s my everyday restaurant in Lisbon.
It features Portuguese food, homemade type, with a long menu, good quality and reasonable price. I started to eat there in 1962, when it was only a small tavern, with prices for student. The employees (9 brothers at all) bought it later, and started to enlarge and modernize the place, always with good attention to the clients.
Now, those kids are old guys like me, but it’s good to confirm, each time I go there, that everything remains as before.
A group from Hungary went there in May 2013… and I got a gift for the suggestion… Thanks. Tito is now working close to it, and that’s a new good reason to keep going there. I do it almost each month, and… great, as usual.
Favorite Dish: Iscas com elas and 12 more
Address: Av. João XXI, 7 Phone: +351 21 848 6397
Website: O Pote
Many decades ago, while visiting “O Pote” as a regular costumer, I witnessed the opening of another restaurant, across the street, with a more impressive image, and, (I thought), another range of price. I never entered it.
A few days ago, I went to Pote again, but… it was closed for maintenance. Fernanda suggested to try the facing restaurant, and I entered it for the first time. Forty years passed I realized that (now) it is not an expensive place, neither… good. The food was so common and industrial that we all decided to forget the place. Besides, “our” Pote opened the next week…
Address: Av João XXI Phone: +351 21 849 8730
Isaura, now Martinez
For almost one year I was delaying my notes about one of the best restaurants in Lisbon, if you care about price/quality ratio. Last week I went there once more, and… it was closed, not surviving the crises.
But… no! It is impossible!
It opened again with a new name, “Martinez” and I don’t know if it keeps the quality and standards. The new owner is Spanish, and that may mean a great difference. I will check it out.
I did! I had a curious dish (braised tuna with vegetables), everything else was acceptable, and we paid… 15€… both…
Address: Av Paris 4B Phone: +351 21 848 6651
From the old days as student, I kept the idea that the restaurants in Roma avenue where expensive and… bad. For more than thirty years I skipped them.
Recently, I had something to do in the area, with only twenty minutes to have lunch. This restaurant was close to our destination, and Fernanda insisted to try it.
My first surprise was the answer when I asked it it would be possible to be served and eat in twenty minutes – YES.
The second surprise was the quality of the quick meal – a well done octopus.
The third one… the price – less than 10 € each. Twenty minutes later we were on our way, with one decision – next time I will not hesitate, and will have a deeper observation.
Address: Roma Av. near the railroad
Bife da Portugalia
Forty five years ago, I found a restaurant in Lisbon with a special steak, swimming in an exclusive and delicious sauce. Though ninety per cent of the costumers eat seafood with beer, I always keep eating the steak… with wine.
Once, I found near the Liberdade Avenue another restaurant with the same recipe – the Ribadouro. I tried it, and… an absolute disaster. Obviously, it was my first and last visit.
Nowadays, the Portugália became a chain of restaurants, in Cais do Sodré and most of the shopping malls, but, forgive me… my steak remains in Av. Almirante Reis, near Praça do Chile.
Anyway, I must confess that, seen from outside, the restaurant in Belém (photo) has a special attraction.
Favorite Dish: Bife a Portugalia
Address: Av Almirante Reis, 117 Phone: +351 21 314 0002
Cervejaria Alto Mar
A Double surprise
If you risk to read my tips, maybe you found one of them that I called “you’re lost”, to write about this residential area of Praça do Chile, where (I thought) tourists would never come.
I was wrong (or maybe, things had changed).
Not only I saw tourists dragging their bags in Morais Soares street, but I had the surprise to see in this restaurant, where I entered for the first time, that the other customers where (only) a french family.
The restaurant was a very positive experience.
First of all, they had something that I had never tasted ( and that pleases me). Furthermore, the dish was a simple variation of one of my favorites (Pork with clams, “à Alentejana”) but with rabbit replacing the pork. Funny, unexpected, simple and tasty.
Fernanda had a grilled fish, fresh and well done. To end well, the price, after a very good coffee, was moderated. All said, this restaurant entered my list to a second visit.
Favorite Dish: Coelho à Alentejana
Address: Rua José Falcão, Nº 62-64 Phone: +351 21 846 08 33
I went there several times, not exactly to eat but to listen to Fado (I was told that this is, nowadays, the best place in Lisbon to listen to amatuer fado). I was surprised by the quality of the food and service.
At a reasonable price (nothing to compare to the crazy price you will pay in professional Fado restaurants), we had an excellent meal, and fado afterwards.
Yes, this is golden tip (come on… give it your five stars) because this a local secret, not available to tourists, except in this small corner of my page
One single warning – Fado will happen only in Thursday nights; all the other nights and by day it is only a good restaurant.
Address: R Francisco Manuel de Melo, near Parque Eduardo VII’s top.
There´s a historic rivalry between the two great football teams of Lisbon – Benfica and Sporting. I defend Sporting and Tito does the same. What the hell made him take us to Benfica stadium for lunch? Claudia… of course!
Not bad… but… Sporting, where I never ate anything, must be much better. Of course! I still have some red spots in my eyes, but I’m getting better.
Address: Luz stadium
Phone: +351 21 721 9500
Casa dos Passarinhos
Popular, out of the beaten path
“Lost” in one of the residential quarters of Lisbon – Campo de Ourique – I needed a quick meal and entered this unknown restaurant. Well, I had a good quick meal, at a very popular price.The advantages of stepping a little bit out the (expensive) touristy paths…
Favorite Dish: Cozido à Portuguesa
Address: campo de Ourique, near Rua da Arrábida
Phone: +351 21 388 2346
First time in Carnide
Carnide is a quarter in Lisbon, neglected for so long that it could keep its traditional image. Completely out of touristy circuits, they are trying to get a new reputation, betting in food as the best way to attract people.
Already with a good image for locals, I must confess that I rarely go to that area, and, for Tito’s surprise, this was my first time eating there.
We didn’t go to the restaurant we wanted to use (closed) but we tried this small and popular place close to it.
It was a good lunch, simple, tasty, and cheap.
Maybe Carnide will enter the touristy circuits soon!
Address: Rua Neves Costa 21, near Largo Praça
Phone: +351 21 714 0120
“Out of the beaten path” this restaurant was a good surprise. If it happens that you’re travelling in “2ª circular” by lunchtime, this may be a good small detour. Quick service, good homemade food, popular prices.
It was also the place of our first meal all together: us, the boys and their girlfriends. I hope that we may repeat the happy lunch for a long time.
Favorite Dishes: “Açorda de Marisco”, Pepper steak, Octopus with vegetables
Address: Estrada da Luz, 177, near Rua dos Soeiros Phone: +351 7263784
Located in a place little accessed by tourists, this is a good restaurant, with a very interesting menu and correct prices.
The difficult dish of “Carne de Pork à Alentejana” was very well prepared and served here, just behind the special “Churrascaria”, in Chiado.
I’ll be back there, most likely.
Staying away from the tourist areas, this is a restaurant where you don’t pass by, but where you go. Eating in remote Lisbon may be rewarding, and this, not being a notable gastronomic institution, it is a restaurant worth visiting (by car or bus 736 from Marquês de Pombal).
I was surprised by an unusual dish (rice with prawns with chickpeas) that turned out to be delicious.
Everything well prepared, abundant, at an acceptable price, and served with great friendliness.
We were 6, all satisfied.
Estrada do Desvio, 28 Ameixoeira – Lumiar Site: Compadres
Lisbon is a very safe city, but…
As everywhere, crime may be present, and tourists are the main targets to pickpockets. The official report of 2013 has been announced, confirming that idea.
They act mainly in public transport, and the typical trams of Lisbon demand extra care.
Be cautious (avoid paranoia) and you will have a nice stay.
Marriage to the River
When I lived in Lisbon (I left in 1972) the city was divorced from the river.
Ugly and dirty banks, abandoned buildings, dangerous territory!
With EXPO 98 Lisbon rediscovered the river, and now Tejo is not only the traditional theme for poems and fado, but also a well-maintained resource, with lots of places where we can safely stroll, rest, or practice any kind of sport.
Maybe because of my bad memories of Lisbon, I was not invited, but I do celebrate the second marriage of Lisbon to the river Tejo.
“Wow! What a lovely color! What tree is that?”
I couldn’t answer to my friend Jordan, marvelled by the colours of Lisbon in June.
Now I know – it’s Jacaranda.
One of the beautiful trees that, in many avenues, shine under Lisbon’s sun.
After many years despising the river, the inhabitants of Lisbon are gradually learning to enjoy it.
Restaurants and bars line the north bank, and fishing is a popular sport.
New rules may turn it more difficult (and expensive) but, for my surprise, some samples justify the costs and risks.
However, only locals or fishing maniacs would spend all those hours looking at the water and missing… Lisbon.
A weekend in Lisbon
One million people flock each day to Lisbon, turning it in a nightmare of cars, full transports and restaurants, noise and confusion, common to all big cities.
When the weekend comes, everybody seeks somewhere else the tranquility and peace of spirit needed to compensate the stress of a hard week.
The confusion is then mounted in Cascais, Estoril, Sintra, Ericeira, Sesimbra, Arrábida, i.e. in all the good places at a short distance.
There are many weekend destinations for who lives or works in Lisbon.
Those who don’t mind much with fuel prices go even further – Algarve is a temptation, or the search of each one’s origins in the centre or north of the small and accessible country that is Portugal.
Resting is changing, and if, for those living in a city, the countryside is a relief, for who lives in the countryside (like me, in Turquel, a weekend destination for many “Lisboetas”), changing is… a big city.
Lisbon on Sunday! Wow! Easy traffic, parking everywhere, most of it free of charge, people moving slowly with time, at last, to see and live their city, lively gardens, museums… shows… sports… malls… All available at a healthy pace.
Oh! The pleasure of finding a new detail in a city that you thought you knew for more than 50 years! The bright eyes of that kid, happy for having his parents back to his exclusive property.
The unique sensation of watching people in search of their human dimension in the breaks of the formal day by day.
Weekend in Lisbon! A must.
In my student days (so long ago!) I lived in a street called Oliveira Martins, but, frequently, the taxi drivers insisted in taking me to Sousa Martins st.
Who the hell would be that Sousa Martins?
Well, I discovered him later, in a discreet square of Lisbon, called Campo Mártires da Pátria, where people pass without time to look, and only in a free day we get time to stop and look around.
Sousa Martins was a doctor, pioneer against tuberculosis, and his success turned him in a saint, in most popular minds.
His statue, facing a medicine school, is surrounded by marble plaques, each one as a remind of a miracle.
Stop and have a look! “Tons” of miracles!
Address: Campo Martires da Patria
Lisbon – Nautical sports in Belém
Lisbon is not a great example of nautical sports (the river has too much traffic and sometimes suffers the agitation of the sea) but it is possible to practice a few water sports, in the Estoril coast and in the city.
In Belem, the Nautical Club has some activity and it seems to have good structures.
El Corte Ingles
The biggest Spanish chain conquered Lisbon. With the best accessibility among all the greater shopping malls (central location and Metro) this is an easy place to shop. Prices are not very cheap, but diversity in quality and brands, and the integration of space are the strongest arguments. I must confess that, till now, I was forced to spend there 0.35%* of my life, and Fernanda is not giving up!
* Raised to 0.43% in 2017
Directions: Where av. António Augusto de Aguiar, Marquês da Fronteira and Sidónio Pais meet.
Phone: 213 711 700
Website: Corte Ingles
Vasco da Gama
Is it the shopping mall part of the train station or is it exactly the opposite?
I think that neither one answer nor the other.
They are two independent structures, conceived to work together as good neighbors, and they do, in an absolute harmony, sharing the leadership of Expo 98 most frequented place.
Don’t expect me to waste my time describing it – it is a large collection of the same shops in all the other big malls in Portugal and in the world.
The only differences are the architecture and the languages of the sellers.
One single question:
Why do they forbid pictures inside?
The first big mall in Lisbon and the most central of them all, (though having been over sized by the newest ones), this mall continues to be one of the favorite shopping centers of Lisbon.
Furthermore, its “risky” architecture still feeds many discussions among the specialists.
Its weakest point is the great distance to the closest Metro station.
Dolce Vita or FNAC Ubbo?
Not exactly in Lisbon, but very close and serving the majority of those who work in Lisbon but go to sleep in the north of the city. Dolce Vita is a large shopping center with good accessibility, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
As for the stores…well, aren’t they all the same in that regard?
A secret only for you
Don’t tell anybody that you knew by me, because I will deny it!
This is a secret only for Portuguese – and only for the elected ones!
Night in Lisbon sometimes means… FADO
There are many (good and bad) places where tourists may change a handful of Euro notes for a dinner and a Fado experience.
There are also some popular bars and restaurants, where locals and tourists share the feelings of amateur fado.
Which ones are the best? My expert friends have no doubt: NINI.
Each Thursday night, fado is real. Since it is a amateur meeting, sometimes we have the better, sometimes… the other, but all of them singing with true passion and for passion.
Best of all, the food is good, at a normal price. Reservation is recommended on Thursdays.
Address: Rua D. Francisco Manuel de Melo, 36, near the top of Pq. Eduardo VII
Phone: 351 965 282 303
Be a Portuguese
Dining at a fado restaurant may be a tourist trap.
Portuguese fado lovers use to have dinner somewhere else, in a chosen restaurant, and go to the fado houses later in the night, eating a light snack with a glass of wine, so joining two advantages: eating better, and saving good money.
Fado or… fado
There are three different types of fado: Coimbra style, and Lisbon style, this one having two faces – popular and commercial.
Hard to listen, Coimbra fado is a romantic collection of songs traditionally used by the students of Coimbra university in their love adventures.
Lisbon style is more widely spread, socially, and sounds different when sung by the higher or lower classes.
Of course, it’s important to listen to fado, if you try to understand the Portuguese soul, but getting the righttime and place is a bit tricky.
Portuguese are really friendly. Making friends, is only a matter of time and opportunity. If you had that chance, use them to lead you to the best place.
If you are on your own, either prepare a good amount of money. Go to a touristy restaurant, expecting a professional but soulless performance, or search for “fado vadio”. This means amateur fado, and is sung in several small restaurants in the typical quarters.
Bairro Alto and Alfama have many places where you can eat for a reasonable price. Being lucky, you will listen to good fado. Baiuca de Alfama, Fado Maior and Dragão de Alfama, are popular places in Alfama, while in Bairro Alto you have Tasca do Chico and others.
Being a small group be careful at night. For the best kept secret see my tip “Nini”
Strolling in Lisbon is tiring, because there are many and steep hills close to each other.
If you want to go up to Chiado (and you must, of course) a simple secret is:
Enter the Metro station of Baixa-Chiado in R. Crucifixo, go across it, and use the automatic stairs that will leave you uphill.
Walking down will be easier, and Chiado is also a good location to pick tram 28.
Lisbon in winter
Someone asked me advice for nine days visit to Lisbon in winter, and I think that it will be useful to post it here.
Despite Lisbon being always a must see, nine days in winter, may be two much (three or four will do – I will not repeat any of the many suggestions in these pages), but you may travel around (a car will be the best way):
Reserve at least one day to Sintra, Ericeira (Seafood lunch), Mafra, Cascais, and Estoril.
Do a full day trip to Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazaré (caldeirada for lunch), and Óbidos (if you missed it you may stop in Mafra in your return).
Another full day to Évora and Monsaraz.
The mentioned suggestions are “must see” – they are wonderful all year around, and most of them not too compromised by eventual bad weather.
With time, you may also travel one day to Ribatejo – Tomar is great, and Santarém also interesting, and/or another day to Sesimbra and Arrábida (this in a clear dry day).
Thousands of Portuguese head south to Algarve in New year’s eve. If you want action that’s the place, two hours driving from Lisbon.
Moving in Lisbon
Metro is the most reliable way of moving in Lisbon – fast, with a smart network, and a fair price.
The problem for a tourist is that it misses the sights available from buses or trams.
Anyway, some stations have artworks, enriching visually the trip.
You may have all the needed information in English in: Metro
There are five elevators operating in Lisbon :
Santa Justa is the best known, a vertical elevator built upon Eiffell’s plans, and linking the street with its name to Chiado. Is a touristy “must see” and useful to use. Operating time 7 AM to 9 PM in winter,7 AM (9 Am on Sunday and holidays) to 11 PM in summer
Glória is a special tram linking Restauradores to Bairro Alto, also very useful to locals and tourists. Operating time 7 AM (8 AM on Sunday) to 12 PM (4.30 AM on Friday and Saturday).
Bica is technically identical, starting in Rua de São Paulo (Cais do Sodré), stopping in Calhariz square, near Chiado and Bairro Alto. Operating time 7 AM (9 AM on Sunday and holidays) to 9 PM
Since August 2013 there is a combination working as a 5th elevator in Lisbon. This one is FREE (so far) and links Rua dos Fanqueiros (building number 170-178) to Rua da Madalena, where you may pick another lift in Pingo Doce supermarket up to the castle. Interesting solution, that I tryed… yes it works!
Sintra, Cascais and Lisbon triangle
What’s the best travel card for a tourist, in the triangle Lisbon – Cascais – Sintra?
I made a deep investigation (you may read it below), but a new ticket seems to be your best answer: “Travelling all Lisbon”. It costs 10.40 € and allows free travel in Metro, bus and train to Cascais or Sintra for 24 hours after first validation. It has to be added to “Viva Viagem” card, that you may buy for 0.50€ at the same time.
It doesn’t include travelling inside Cascais or Sintra (you may add the needed additional tickets to the card) tickets , and it is only interesting if you visit both cities in the same day.
Well, maybe… none. I explain:
In Cascais or Sintra and connecting them, the only public transport is bus, owned by Scotturb – www.scotturb.com
Local service in Cascais is called BusCas, paid in the bus (1.00€).
Local service in Sintra is called Sintraline, paid in the bus (1.00€).
Outside both cities and connecting them, there are three fares, according with distance:
T. B.1 – 2.25 €
T. B.2 – 3.25 €
T. B. 3 – 4.10 €
The trip to Pena palace – Circuit Pena – costs 5.00€
Scotturb has a daily ticket allowing all the services in the bus line (except BusCas) for 10 €.
Train&Bus is a combined ticket with CP that allows also free train trips to/from Lisbon. It costs 12 €, and doesn’t cover travelling inside Lisbon.
Connecting both places to Lisbon, generally, we only use train – www.cp.pt
Sintra line connecting to Oriente (2.15€) or Rossio (2.15€) in Lisbon
Cascais line connecting to Belem and Cais do Sodre (2.15€ both).
Inside Lisbon we have Metro (1.45€ single trip or 6.30€ for a day) – www.metro.pt , bus (1.85€ or 1.25€ in a card) and a few tram lines serving mainly touristy points – www.carris.pt.
We have two different cards available:
It’s the most comprehensive and comfortable card, allowing free transportation in all the public transports of all the three cities and free entrance or discount in most museums and monuments. A list of these discounts it’s available in: Lisboa card.
Its prices are: One day 18.50 € 2 days 31.50 € 3 days 39 €
7 Colinas or Viva Viagem:
IThey are rechargeable cards costing .50€, that you may charge according to your needs. There’s a daily ticket combining Metro and bus for 6.00€. You may buy as much days as you want, and combine them with other kind of tickets.
Another version to this versatile cards is “Zapping” – you just charge it with money (from 15 to 20 €, rechargeable from 2 €) and the trips you will make are discharged in it, with a complex bonus system.
Well, this is almost everything about public transport.
Now, having in mind that you surely need the displacement between cities in your visits, but, normally, once a day in each way, and that most of Lisbon is seen… walking, you may plan your best solution.
Considering that the average entrance in museums is 4€, you may also analyse the interest of Lisboa card. I must confess that I always walk the double of my expectations, and my combined card acquisitions are always a bad option.
Sintra Green Card – Includes train from/to Lisbon, Pena circuit in Sintra, entrance in Sinta and Pena Palace and one more museum from a list. It costs 31 € (39€ with Queluz Palace) charged in Via Viagem/7 Colinas card
Let’s try to clarify transport cards in and around Lisbon:
LisboaCard – is a touristy card interesting if you want to enter several museums and shop a lot.
7 colinas or Via Viagem, two names for the same card, don’t cover the train lines and may be charged with three different solutions: daily tickets or zapping, and the new “Travelling all Lisbon”.
Each daily ticket costs 6.30€ for 24 hours. If you want to cross the river to Cacilhas the daily ticket will cost 9.35€.
Zapping is another solution (the best): you charge money in the cards, discounting the cost of each trip, or combined trips.
It’s not allowed to combine daily tickets with zapping (money) – you may successively use both in the same card, but since you charged it with one solution you must use it till the end, before recharging with the other (of course, you may have two cards).
In Zapping, charge may be from 3€ to 40€, with the total amount limited to 40€. Each trip will be discounted in your card.
Now some indicative prices for individual trips and respective discount in Zapping:
|Transport||Isolated trip||Charge in Zapping|
5.15 (Santa Justa)
|Train Cascais or Sintra||2.25||2.25|
Do you have any doubt that zapping is the cheapest and more comfortable way to travel in Lisbon? You jut have to estimate how many trips you will need (not many, walking will prevail) and charge wit that amount or a little less than that, since you may, at any time, reinforce the charge by any multiple of 5 €.
Using Viva Viagem / 7 Colinas ticket (example)
Lisbon is a sunny and pleasant city that invites you to… walk.
If you don’t plan your journey, at the end of the day you may feel very tired.
Since Lisbon is a steep city, the best idea is to use the public transportation to the top of any desired hill, and follow down the interesting path.
For it, the best solution is to buy the “7 Colinas” or “Via Viagem” card, which allows you to charge it with full day trips (6.30 € in 2018) or isolated trips in buses or metro, and now also in train, important to visit Sintra and Cascais, and even in boats to cross the river (Zapping – the best option).
Metro is quick and efficient but buses and trams let you see the sights.
– Rossio and Marquês de Pombal are the best hubs for public transportation, and are close to most of the important monuments. Make one or both of them the reference for your trips.
– To reach the “Parque das Nações” use Metro from any of them, changing at Alameda (you may pop out and see the large avenue with Fonte Luminosa at one end and Instituto Superior Técnico at the other. In the crossing central avenue you may have a distant look of the ugly statue of Sá Carneiro, the prime-minister killed in a plane crash a few years after the revolution of 1974, and in the opposite direction the statue of Fernão de Magalhães in the Praça do Chile).
– Use bus nº 2 to go to the top of Parque Eduardo VII, stepping out at R. Marquês da Fronteira. You may enter it at both hubs, and Praça do Comércio too. In the descent to the center you have at the right the Estufa Fria, a beautiful garden.
– To Belém use Metro to go to Cais do Sodré, and from there tram nº 15, which stops, at Belem, Jerónimos and Cultural Center.
If you want to see Lisbon from the river, you may book a three hours cruise in a typical “fragata” with departure from EXPO park, each saturday.
Someone was asking in Virtual Tourist forum about cruises from Lisbon. For a detailed search, here I list the names of all the companies using Lisbon’s harbor in their cruises:
COMPAGNIE ILLES PONANT
HEBRIDEAN ISLAND CRUISES
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
NORWEGIAN COASTALNYK CRUISES
P & O CRUISES
RADISSON S. SEAS
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
SEA CLOUD CRUISES
SEABOURN C. LINE
SEADREAM YATCH CLUB