Did you know that Lisbon is older than London, Paris AND Rome? This fact makes my oft repeated statement “it looks just like Paris!” moot and backwards and also possibly means we’ve all been lavishing touristic praise on the wrong Old World hubs this whole time. Lisbon pros: its climate is mediterranean (average annual temperature is 70°F); its architecture covers the gamut from Romanesque to Brutalist; its seafood will sway the most diehard Pacific fish fanatics; and its Modern and contemporary art scene is very brilliant. Here are few things to see and do (though keep in mind I only had 3.5 days to explore).
1. Boto Machado Garden: Andre Saraiva’s hand-painted mural.
You may know Andre from the world of nightlife (Le Baron) or food (Cafe Henrie) or maybe his graffiti (Mr A) but it’s his latest endeavor that will really solidify his legacy. Hugging the outer wall of Lisbon’s Boto Machado garden is Andre’s 10,000 square foot hand-painted mural depicting his dream world. Famous features plucked from NYC, Paris, Lisbon,
2. Centro Cultural de Belem / Museu Colecado Berardo
The CCB is a very big center that houses a fantastic contemporary and Modern art collection, theaters, workshops and I think everything you can think of that fits under the umbrella of “cultural.” It also has two tiny FIGURATIVE Rothko’s I’ve never seen before.
3. The National Azulejo Museum
I usually don’t like tours but this museum is worth getting a guide for. The intricacies of tile (Azulejo in Portuguese) are something I never considered before this trip and now I am obsessed. Colors, patterns, material all have different messages about wealth, status and history. Also, a great place for souvenirs!
4. Four Seasons Sunday Brunch
This is worth the splurge. Every Sunday the kind ’n courteous hotel staff lay out a decadent spread of every food stuff. Seriously the gamut runs from pancakes to charcuterie to miso soup to traditional Portugeuse caldeiradas (fish stew) and it’s all delicious!! Make a reservation though.
5. Lavaria Ulysses
Founded in 1925, Lavaria Ulysses will fulfill all of your leather glove dreams! This shop’s fame is well deserved.
6. Restaurante Gambrinus
Amazing old school steak place that smells faintly like cigars and is filled with old Portuguese men. Order the coffee at the end of your meal.