Lisbon, Portugal

Oh, Lisboa 

In 2014, I attended Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Outside of class, I explored almost every corner of this wonderful city. Upon returning in 2022, I saw how much the city had grown, thriving with new restaurants and hostels. 

Accommodation:

  • I lived with a lovely young family in a modern apartment near Marquês de Pombal. (Shoutout to Barbara, Bernardo, Teresa and Didi for putting up with me on the daily, and for Tio Andrés for taking me out all the time). My permanent living situation however, didn't stop me from exploring some gorgeous hotel properties throughout the city.

    • Sitting within the walls of the medieval Castelo de São Jorge, Palacio Belmonte has the best views in the city. My favourite aspect of this hotel is the incorporation of original 18th-century azulejo tiles in the drawing rooms.

    • Pousada de Lisboa is a great choice for art aficionados, as the hotel offers cosmopolitan luxury complimented by tapestries, sculptures and paintings of Portuguese artists. The designers did a phenomenal job of weaving luxury with cultural heritage. 

    • We're spoiled for choice! LHW now has four properties in central Lisbon​ alone. I have never not enjoyed a night at an LHW hotel, and would therefore confidently suggest staying at any of their locations in Lisbon. If you enjoy shopping, stay at the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade on Lisbon's prime retail street. If you like going out at night, I'd suggest the hotel in Bairro Alto.

 

Activities:

  • Azulejos are my favorite thing about Lisbon. I actually became obsessed with tiles after my stint living there. Azulejos are essentially the tiles that decorate the thousands of building façades throughout the city. The Moors introduced elaborate tile work to Portugal, but following the Reconquista, the Portuguese broke free of Muslim laws against depicting figures and developed the hand-painted tiles we see around the city today - azulejos. Go to the Museo dos Azulejos to learn more about their history, and stop into a rare ceramics shop to see samples of new pieces being made. I recommend Fábrica Sant'Anna and Solar. The traditional hand-painted method is dying out, which breaks my heart. Equally, stop to look at the tiles decorating storefronts and homes. From a distance they may seem to be crumbling, but up close they are beautiful pieces or art.

  • Cascais beach is just a train ride away. As foreign students without cars, we relied on trains to get anywhere alone, though I also joined my family for a few day trips to beaches on the other side of the 25 de Abril bridge.

  • Portugal is a football crazy nation. Cristiano Ronaldo is the poster boy for (I-kid-you-not) every single brand. Watch a game! I was lucky enough to be there during the 2014 World Cup and saw Portugal play a friendly game against Greece.

  • Fado music originated in Lisbon, so don't be surprised to end up at a show. Music can be very moving, but particularly these melancholy, somber tunes.

 

Food:

  • My host family owns and runs several upscale hostels in Portugal. The signature hostel is Home Lisbon Hostel. I spent a lot of time at this place getting to know the staff because I wanted to practice my Portuguese and eat Mama's dinner. (Mama was my host grandmother - I was living with her son - she cooks traditional Portuguese dishes for the guests every night.) Since I was living there, my family has also opened three cafes, Nicolau, Amélia, and Basílio. Parabéns!

  • Chapitô à Mesa is located below the castle (São Jorge), offering a dazzling view of the city below. Chefs use Portuguese ingredients and culinary traditions to update well-loved dishes. If you visit on a warm night, request a table on the garden patio to dine al fresco under low-hanging trees decorated with tea lights. To add to it, dining at the restaurant supports a charity dedicated to teaching children from tough neighborhoods Big Top Circus skills. Ótimo!

  • Pastéis de Belem

  • June is the month of celebrations and festival of Santos Populares. Traditionally, locals party at night while cooking sardinha assada in the middle of the street. The smell is engrained in my memory. I hate fish, but if you don't, try it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightlife:

  • Bairro Alto

  • Topo Lisboa

  • Lux

  • Urban

 

Tourist Attractions:

  • Praça do Comercio

  • Sintra

  • São Jorge Castle

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Parque Eduardo VII, great for runners

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