The best sights, neighborhoods, and dining in Portugal’s capital
The best way to explore the city is on foot. Among Lisbon’s many beautiful churches are the standout Igreja de Sao Roque, decorated with precious stones; Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora, with stunning painted tiles; and 300-year-old Igreja de Santa Engracia, with pink and brown marble interiors. The Castelo de Sao Jorge is another must – the castle is perched high atop a hill for amazing views and a fascinating history. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is also outstanding, with its remarkable collections of Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Asian, and European art and sculpture.
Neighborhoods to Explore
The oldest quarter in Lisbon is Alfama, where cafes, shops, and winding streets make for charming strolls. The Bairro Alta features a similar labyrinth layout for peaceful wandering through beautiful alleys and squares (it then gets lively at night). For shopping, the Baixa and Rossio districts are best, with many beautiful shops and street cafes. For the city’s cultural highlights, Belem is an excellent place to explore. Parks, museums, and dining are abundant here, scattered along the attractive Tagus River waterfront. Sights in the area include the 16th-century Torre de Belem tower and the Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument).
Housed in an old cloister, Largo features inventive Portuguese fare from acclaimed chef Miguel Castro Silva – the lunch menu offers a good value. For more Portuguese cuisine, Restaurante Pap’Acorda gives classic dishes a modern twist, while Sinal Vermelho dishes out traditional favorites. Keep in mind that regional food tends to be served in large portions – though it’s often possible to order uma meia dose (half a meal). For particularly fine dining, the Luso-Belgian restaurant A Travessa is a fine choice, located in a converted monastery. The wine list is fantastically extensive, the courtyard setting is exquisite, and the Belgian beers should not be missed.
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