Before I moved to Lisbon, nearly 1 / 4 of a century in the past, somebody informed me: “From afar, it looks like a queen. But from closer you see that the old empress’s make-up is smudged and flaking, and that the ornaments fluttering in the wind are not lace, but someone’s laundry drying at the windows. But she’s still is a real beauty.”
I fell in love with Lisbon from the off. The metropolis has since been severely spruced up and redeveloped, nevertheless it hasn’t lost its shabby-chic glamour. It’s a really user-friendly metropolis: not too massive, not too small, protected, and never too costly. Even immediately, 20 years later, it nonetheless manages to shock me with its magnificence and luminosity.
Terreiro do Paço
Praça do Comércio is a big sq. flanked by elegant buildings, with one aspect open to the river Tagus, or Tejo in Portuguese. Lisboans nonetheless name it by its outdated title, Terreiro do Paço, or Palace Courtyard. It was the emblematic centre of the Portuguese empire, the place kings lived, and treasured spices and colonial items had been traded for gold. In 1755, Lisbon was hit by an enormous earthquake, adopted by a hearth and a tsunami, which nearly destroyed it in a day. The sq. in its current incarnation rose from the rubble of that catastrophe. It was additionally right here that, in 1974, a army coup changed into a well-liked democracy motion, with purple carnations within the barrels of the troopers’ rifles. It is an effective start line for exploring Lisbon on hop-on-hop-off double-decker buses.
Bistro 100 Maneiras
Photograph: Fabrice Demoulin
This is a narrative of unexpected success. The proprietor, Ljubomir Stanisic, born in Sarajevo, fled the warfare to Portugal as a boy. Now he’s a star chef, with books, his personal TV programme, and eating places which can be the peak of trend. Bistro 100 Maneiras, a two-floor restaurant in an artwork deco mansion within the busy Bairro Alto district, is ideal for high-end eating: squid, octopus, rack of lamb. The house is elegant but casual, there’s a refined choice of cocktails and one of the best Portuguese wines, and every dish is an excellent shock. You can dine right here for €40 a head.
• Largo da Trindade 9, 100maneiras.com, open Sun–Sat 7pm–2am
Miradouro da Graça
Photograph: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images
Lisbon’s local weather implies that, hopefully, we may be outdoor all yr spherical. The metropolis’s miradouros, or viewpoints, are good spots to hang around. Miradouro da Graça is my favorite. On a terrace excessive above Lisbon’s patchwork of tiled roofs, within the shadow of pine bushes, you possibly can benefit from the breeze whereas sipping a espresso or chilly beer. Downtown, the medieval fortress, the purple suspension bridge, the river, and the statue of Christ, arms vast open overlooking the estuary, all match right into a single fascinating image, and it’s particularly photogenic at sundown.
The metropolis on seven hills additionally affords many different panoramic views. Santa Catarina, Senhora do Monte, Monte Agudo … Any place referred to as a miradouro is a wonderful place to sit back. And take note of the sky: right here it’s two tones nearer to indigo than the common sky blue. You will likely be stunned by the whiteness of clouds towards that blue.
• Calçada da Graça
Photograph: Vera Marmelo
Intendente is probably the most numerous and multicultural space in Portugal. Once a druggy purple gentle district, it has been taken over by hipsters, immigrants and artists. Intendente sq. correct is encircled by historic buildings – some restored, some not – and small bars serving petiscos (much like tapas) at pavement tables. It is a beautiful, pleasant place to linger from morning until late at evening, over a small draft beer (€2).
Inside the 17th-century palace that dominates the sq. is Casa Independente Cultural Association, based 5 years in the past. It’s a beautiful various house, with high-ceilinged lounges, scruffy again backyard and massive ballroom. I like its relaxed environment, petiscos, and eclectic cultural and musical programme.
• casaindependente.com, Largo do Intendente 45
Take the tram to the Thieves’ Market
Do a traditional Lisbon city-safari by taking the quantity 28 tram, which passes by the favored districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. The trams are small, like wardrobes on wheels, to cross by the slender streets of the oldest quarters. For a few years, on Saturday mornings, I have been taking the 28 by the labyrinth of Alfama to Feira da Ladra, or Thieves’ Market. It is an open-air flea market overlooking the river: picturesque, vibrant, swarming with individuals, but surprisingly calm, the place you possibly can stroll, purchase trinkets (money solely), and have lunch. It’s full of wonderful issues, from genuine antiques to genuine trash.
• Campo de Santa Clara, Tue & Sat, 9am–2pm
‘Typical’ eating places
Portuguese delicacies is straightforward and trustworthy. The fish is contemporary from the ocean, the steaks juicy, the wine full-bodied. Lisbon’s old-school restaurantes tipicos, are straightforward to recognise, with meat and fish on ice, and paper tablecloths. My three favourites have grow to be so common I have to ebook, and even queue. They’re all in the identical neighbourhood, so if I don’t get a desk in a single, I strive one other.
For probably the most beautiful grilled cod or octopus in inexperienced olive oil, go to Cova Funda, simply off Intendente sq.; for the freshest shellfish, there’s Marisqueira Lis, simply throughout the avenue; and for a charcoal grill, the Carvoaria Jacto steakhouse, two blocks away (the proprietor is a butcher, so he is aware of his meat). Whichever you select, you’ll wine and dine effectively for beneath €20.
Take a strolling tour
A person walks by a graffiti lined constructing in Lisbon Photograph: Armando Franca/AP
For a number of years now, a gaggle of younger individuals calling themselves the Lisbon Walkers have been taking locals and vacationers on guided strolling tour. It’s a beautiful method to expertise Lisbon. For newbies, there’s a common tour, however issues get extra thrilling while you select to see Lisbon district by district. There are additionally particular curiosity excursions: medieval, African, Jewish, freemason, literary or underground Lisbon. My favorite tour is on legends and mysteries: two hours studying about Ulysses because the founding father of Lisbon, the younger martyrs of Lisbon and St Vincent and the ravens, for €15.
• Daily excursions in English begin from the assembly level in Terreiro do Paço, lisbonwalker.com
National Coach Museum
The assortment of royal automobiles on the Museu Nacional dos Coches in Belem transports you again in time. The oldest car, from 1619, introduced Philip III of Spain to Lisbon to take over the throne; the final for use drove a younger Queen Elizabeth II to go to the Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar in 1957. A trio of opulent coaches had been made in 1716 and despatched to Rome by the richest of all of the kings of Portugal, João V “the Pious”, to indicate to the Pope how religious he was and the way affluent his empire. For a style of Lisbon on the peak of the inquisition, I like to recommend the novel Baltasar and Blimunda, by the Portuguese Nobel prize laureate José Saramago. It’s a narrative of affection, miracles and flying machines.
• Avenida da Índia 136, €eight, closed Monday
Oceanário de Lisboa is ideal for a wet day. It’s home to water creatures of every kind, sizes and shapes: vibrant anemones and corals, sea-stars, fluorescent jellyfish, dragonfish, unique frogs, penguins and playful sea otters. In the large round central glass tank swim giant fish, comparable to sunfish, manta rays and sharks. It is within the hyper-modern Parque das Nações, the suburb constructed from scratch on the waterfront for Expo 1998, by the futuristic Gare do Oriente station.
• Open 10am–7pm, grownup 16,20, little one €10.80, purchase tickets on-line to keep away from queueing
Sunbathing on Tamariz seashore with Estoril Castle within the background. Photograph: Alamy
Thirty minutes west of town, the seaside resort of Estoril, with its Grand Casino, was based in 1935 – for the amusement of Lisbon’s wealthy. At the start of the second world warfare, Lisbon was an vital escape route from Europe, and close by Estoril unexpectedly turned a global vacation spot for refugees. Its Hotel Palácio sheltered the likes of Salvador Dalí, Antoine du Saint-Exupéry, Ian Fleming, and the Duke and of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. As effectively as lots of spies.
After the warfare the resort turned a haven for exiled monarchs and dictators, who used to fulfill within the Palácio for Sunday lunch. Later, it turned common amongst celebrities, together with Orson Welles, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Luchino Visconti and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Rooms within the Palácio, which is as elegant and pompous as ever, nonetheless carry their names. Some years in the past, it was reported that restoration work within the resort had uncovered kilometres of wiring left over from warfare espionage.
Today, Estoril is a quiet, rich seaside city with subtropical vegetation, golf programs and sandy seashores. It’s ultimate for a day journey.
• Trains from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station depart each 30 minutes, €2.25 a technique
Dejan Tiago-Stanković’s debut novel, Estoril is printed by Head of Zeus, £12.99. To purchase a replica for £11.04 with free UK p&p, go to guardianbookshop.com
Way to go
Easyjet and Ryanair fly to Lisbon from a number of UK cities from £82 return.
Where to remain
In a traditional early 20th-century constructing with tiled facade and wrought iron balcony, B&B Casa Amora (doubles from €115) is known as after a Portuguese artist and has a sunny patio for breakfast or afternoon drinks.
Best time to go
April-May and September-October: costs are decrease however climate can nonetheless be beach-friendly.
£1 = €1.15
A small beer in a neighbourhood bar prices from €1.80, a espresso about €1.