To stroll through the streets of Lisbon is to take in one of Europe’s most distinct cities; decadence and the avant-garde come together to create a place where contrasts materialise on every corner. The yellow and blue painted façades, peeling from the humidity, and the unmistakeable tiles that adorn the houses, make the Portuguese capital a truly unique place.
A wander on foot is one of most pleasant ways to get to know Lisbon. We’d recommend that you head to highest part of the city in one of the traditional yellow trams that run through the narrow streets. You can simply lose yourself wandering around, but it’s also wonderful to look out from on high and get an overview of this unique city. The best place is the viewpoint of the Castle of São Jorge, one of the most emblematic, situated as it is on a hill point in the historic centre. Form there you can truly know the history of Lisbon and of Portugal.
Lisbon is older even than Rome, so just imagine the cultural and historical riches the city, the cradle of the poets Camões y Pessoa, holds. ‘El Fado’, the melancholic and nostalgic music that reflects the city’s scarred soul, was born here. To discover all there is to know about it, you can visit the Fado Museum, listen to it in the ‘Casas de Fado’ and if you want to hear it as the locals do you can head over to the neighbourhoods of ‘La Alfama’, ‘Mouraria’ y ‘Barrio Alto’.
While here, a visit to the ‘Casa dos Bicos’, the House of the Spikes, is a must. This impressive building holds the Saramago Foundation, the perfect place to get to know the writer better. Architecturally this majestic building is spectacular, while inside you can find every single one of the Portuguese Nobel Laureate’s works. The Foundation is guarded by an olive tree where every night uncountable tributes are laid by the writer’s fans.
Camões, Pessoa, Saramago… how then could our hotel, the Vincci Baixa 4*, not have a library? Of course it does, and a very special one at that.
When a traveller leaves ‘a tale that accompanied them’ in their room, that book will be welcomed into our petite library. Some forget, others, though, choose to leave them, making this small, diverse collection a literary exchange that arises from any number of places around the world.
Lisbon’s cuisine is also highly commendable, with plenty of restaurants where you can eat fine cod, which is found in nearly all the traditional dishes.Lisbon, magical city of contrasts
Lisbon, magical city of contrasts.
And you can’t leave Lisbon without sampling the ‘vinho verde’; a good place to enjoy a glass, while watching the sunset and surrounded by the magic of the circus, is the ‘Chapito’ bar and restaurant. But if you’d prefer something 100% contemporary, then head to the ‘Peixaria Moderna’, an original seafood restaurant that aims to pay homage to Portugal’s traditional fish shops and fish restaurants.
Leave room for dessert because you won’t to leave without trying the beloved ‘Pastéis de Belém’, egg tart pastries, which have been made since 1837 and whose recipe is a closely guarded secret. More than 20,000 are served up every day… make sure there’s room for a couple in your suitcase when you leave!
Lisbon is also a stupendous place for shopping. On Saturday mornings don’t miss the ‘Mercado de la Ladra’ (Campo de Santa Clara), an antique market where you can find countless items of retro furniture in perfect condition. And don’t forget to head over to the ‘Baixa y Chiado’ area – its vibrant street life is in itself enough of a reason to wander around there, but it also has a number of innovative shops.
For fine shopping the perfect commercial district is the ‘Avenida da Liberdade’, chosen by top fashion designers and leading brands to be the home of their boutiques. There you can find Louis Vuitton, GANT, Armani, D&G, Zegna, Hugo BOSS, BURBERRY, Carolina HERRERA, ESCADA, LACROIX and many more. This is one of Lisbon’s privileged areas, an elegant boulevard in the French style, constructed at the end of the 19th century and inspired by the Champs-Élysée.
If you have a little more time, we’d recommend that you head out of Lisbon and take a trip to Sintra, some 30 kilometres from the city. Its beautiful beaches, many palaces and natural forests will give you a unique experience that will change you forever.