Lisbon's eternal charm has been enhanced by new features that are turning it into one of the most interesting cities in the world – now closer than ever with a direct flight from São Paulo
A curious encounter has been taking place in Lisbon. Modern dishes are successfully popping up inside the kitchens of restaurants in this temple of codfish. A museum of futuristic shapes (MAAT) is drawing attention in Belém, a neighborhood that's home to such classics as the Monastery of Jerónimos. Craft beers and elaborate cocktails are bubbling in the land of wine – which, incidentally, had its first bar ever included on the list of the 100 best in the world, the speakeasy Red Frog. A wave of contemporaneity has just hit a destination that's charming by nature: home to the seven hills upon which little pastel-toned buildings are perched, the trams that defy gravity on their vertical courses, the Portuguese sidewalks, the poetic riverside that sweeps through the city before emptying into the sea in front.
Red Frog: Rua do Salitre, 5A
Maat: Avenida Brasília
Even in the most traditional realms, the new arrivals just keep coming. There's a new tram line running (number 24, reactivated after decades) that goes by Jardim do Príncipe Real, as well as other attractions. Every now and then, Lisbon gets back its emblematic regions with the conclusion of public works – as is the case with Ribeira das Naus, a promenade that sprouted up between Baixa and Cais do Sodré in 2013; Largo da Graça in 2017; and Campo das Cebolas this past April, which has turned into a tourist hub and the locale where chef José Avillez chose to open his latest enterprise, Cantina Zé Avillez.
Cantina Zé Avillez: Rua Arameiros, 15
Photo: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos: Praça do Império
All this to say: the old country is in fashion. Last year, Lisbon was voted the best city in the world in the British magazine Wallpaper's Design Awards, and one of its restaurants (Bistrô 100 Maneiras) was featured at the top of the list in the magazine Monocle. A few months back, its 1908 Lisboa Hotel was also ranked number one among Europe's design hotels in the World Travel Awards. The spotlights don't seem to be going away and, to top it all off, flying there just got much easier thanks to LATAM's new direct flight from São Paulo. Next, read about three itineraries by the city's residents that reveal the essentials of Lisbon's traditional, contemporary, and bohemian sides.
Bistrô 100 Maneiras: Largo da Trindade, 9
1908 Lisboa Hotel: Largo do Intendente Pina Manique
A colossal wasp climbing up a bush. A fountain filled with giant lobsters and crabs. Frogs, lizards, snails... In the gardens surrounding the Museu de Lisboa, the ceramic zoo created by artist Bordallo Pinheiro comes to life, giving way to a world of fantasy. “He was the greatest and most complete Portuguese artist of the 19th century,” sums up Catarina.
From there, a 30-minute walk will take you to one of Lisbon's sweet institutions: Pastelaria Versailles which dates from 1922, filled with mirrors, reliefs, and original stained glass. According to Catarina, trying the duchesse, a kind of eclair made with whipped cream, is like “eating a cloud.”
Jardim Bordallo Pinheiro: Campo Grande, 245
Museu de Lisboa: Campo Grande, 245
Pastelaria Versailles: Avenida da República, 15A
The trip back in time continues in the historic city center, between Chiado and Baixa. At Luvaria Ulisses, the gloves are handmade, one by one. At the coffee shop A Carioca, the beans are ground fresh and in different textures. There's also Rua da Conceição, with its rows of retrosarias (haberdasheries). “Lisbon's charm has a lot to do with this commerce that has been maintained,” claims Catarina, who, not coincidentally, opened the flagship store of her brand, A Vida Portuguesa, right nearby. The store is the result of an intense curatorial endeavor on the part of its founder, who inventoried national products that survived over time, such as soap, statues of swallows, and tiles. From there, she recommends continuing your journey into the past at the restaurant Gambrinus, where she always orders the roast beef sandwich with a tulipa mista, a mixed beer.
Baixa is surrounded by hills and the tip is to head for the surrounding overlooks, like the one at São Pedro de Alcântara and the one at Jardim do Torel. “They're complementary views. You can see one from the other,” says Catarina, who recommends that the excursion also include the neighborhood of Belém and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, whose highlight is the room of Portuguese jewels of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Luvaria Ulisses: Rua do Carmo, 87A
A Carioca: Rua da Misericórdia, 9
Gambrinus: Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, 23
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara: Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara
Miradouro do Jardim do Torel: Rua Júlio de Andrade
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga: Rua das Janelas Verdes
Manuel Aires Mateus’s contemporary Lisbon
One of the greatest and most award-winning Portuguese architects in recent years
What do the Monastery of Jerónimos, which dates from the 15th century, and the building for the new cruise ship terminal have in common? According to architect Aires Mateus, both are icons of contemporary Lisbon. “The concept of contemporaneity in a European city involves a succession of time periods,” he theorizes. “Cities are constructed gradually in layers. There are moments which are disruptive, and this can be modern or ancient.”
Terminal de cruzeiros: Rua Rio Tejo
Casa dos Bicos: Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 10
Continuing on chronologically, you'll come to some Lisbon attractions that have breathed modernity into the entire city center known as Baixa Pombalina, erected by the Marquis of Pombal after an earthquake in 1755: the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with its concrete and bronze building dating from the 1960s, “which has a very special relationship of interaction with the garden,” according to the architect, and the entire Parque das Nações area (which was born out of Expo 98). “It was the first time that the city was developed with a massive plan of contemporaneity and that the public space was treated very well,” says Aires Mateus.
For him, the occupation of the streets is a trademark of contemporary Lisbon. This is reflected by the Ribeira das Naus, which stretches from Praça do Comércio to Cais do Sodré, as well as Campo das Cebolas, home to the medieval Casa dos Bicos (headquarters of the Fundação José Saramago), two revitalized areas that are now quite popular. “The best way to get around Lisbon is on foot, getting lost and discovering secrets by chance,” recommends the architect, who reveals two of his own: the way up to Castelo de São Jorge through the Mouraria neighborhood, uncovering minuscule restaurants in the small houses, and Rua do Poço dos Negros, where he recommends the sponge cake with a Japanese accent at Kasutera and the delicate collection of teas at the Companhia Portugueza do Chá.
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: Avenida de Berna, 45A
Pavilhão de Portugal: Alameda dos Oceanos, Parque das Nações
Castelo de São Jorge: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo
Kasutera: Rua do Poço dos Negros, 51
Companhia Portugueza do Chá: Rua do Poço dos Negros, 105
João Ventura’s bohemian Lisbon
Brazilian musician, PhD candidate at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and resident of the Portuguese capital for the past three years
Pensão do Amor: Rua do Alecrim, 19
When Madonna caused an uproar in May of this year by climbing on top of a grand piano during a surprise show at the Met Gala, all eyes turned to the young pianist accompanying her. Then came 15 minutes of fame for Sergipe native João Ventura, who met the pop diva while performing at his favorite little bar in Lisbon: the minuscule Tejo Bar, tucked away on the hills of Alfama. “Its size is inversely proportional to the grandiose things that happen inside,” he says.
When he arrived in Lisbon in 2015 to begin studying for his PhD, João (partner of Toquinho on European tours) dove in headfirst to the nightlife in the Portuguese capital. He lists three spots for good live music: Espaço Espelho d’Água in Belém, which welcomes everyone from big name artists to international up-and-comers; A Barraca Teatro Cinearte, installed in an old movie theater in the Santos region; and Fábrica Braço de Prata, which has concert halls, a bookstore, and an exhibition space inside a mansion located in the hip neighborhood of Marvila.
Tejo Bar: Beco do Vigário, 1A
Espaço Espelho d’Água: Avenida Brasilia
A Barraca Teatro Cinearte: Largo de Santos, 2
Fábrica Braço de Prata: Rua Fábrica de Material de Guerra, 1
If you're looking to cut a rug, João has the place for you: B.leza, which specializes in African music. “I love African culture. It's a place that has lots of swag and swing.” He also recommends Pensão do Amor, located between Cais do Sodré and Chiado, where every room has different but always extravagant décor – there are tarot tables, stripper poles, velvet imperial armchairs... “It's a crazy and incredible place,” says João, whose tour of Lisbon also includes two Portuguese restaurants: Zé da Mouraria and the small tavern Jaguar. At the latter, he always orders the Alheira de Mirandela accompanied by rice and beans (the sides aren't on the menu; you'll have to place a special order).
B.leza: Cais da Ribeira Nova, Armazém B
Zé da Mouraria: Rua João do Outeiro, 24
Jaguar: Avenida Conde Valbom, 87
LATAM has direct flights to Lisbon from São Paulo.
Buy a complete package with accommodations and tours in the destination with LATAM Travel.