One Per­fect Day: Lis­bon

Ex­plore Por­tu­gal’s vi­brant cap­i­tal in just 24 hours

Qantas - - Contents - BY EMILY McAULIFFE.

In cen­turIes past, Por­tu­gal’s cap­i­tal stood tall as one of the most pow­er­ful cities in Europe. But a cat­a­strophic earth­quake in 1755 and the coun­try’s eco­nomic woes in the past decade saw the city slip into the shad­ows, out of sight of Europe-bound trav­ellers. But that was then and this is now – Lis­bon has emerged from its qui­es­cent state more vi­va­cious than ever. Startups have swooped into the city and tech gi­ants are fronting up for this month’s in­ter­na­tional Web Sum­mit. In ad­di­tion, up-and-com­ing de­sign­ers have opened their doors and top chefs have flamed their fires to shape a city that ca­su­ally in­ter­twines its rich his­toric past with un­pre­ten­tious moder­nity. Pair all that with a dusty-or­ange cityscape that bounces soft light across its seven hills at dusk and you have a golden city beg­ging to be ex­plored.


Break­fast in Por­tu­gal usu­ally en­tails a pas­try and cof­fee so kick off with ar­guably the coun­try’s great­est gift to the culi­nary world, the pas­tel de nata, when Man­teigaria (Rua do Loreto 2; +351 21 347 1492) in Chi­ado pulls its first batches of silky cus­tard tarts from the oven. Bal­ance the sweet­ness with a shot of bit­ter es­presso, sipped like a lo­cal, stand­ing at the bar.


Head east through the cen­tral Chi­ado dis­trict and take a detour down Rua do Carmo to pass the 45-me­tre-high cast-iron El­e­vador de Santa Justa with fil­i­gree de­tails. For­get queu­ing for the brief el­e­va­tor ride to catch the view and in­stead make your way down the city’s main shop­ping street, pedes­tri­anised Rua Au­gusta, towards the Ta­gus River. At the end is Lis­bon’s em­blem­atic gate­way to the city, the Arco da Rua Au­gusta, flanked by sun­shine-yellow build­ings that hug the water­front square Praça do Comér­cio. Take the lift and some stairs to the top of the arch for a 360-de­gree view of the city and river, mi­nus the crowds. It costs €2.50 (about $3.75) but en­try is in­cluded if you pur­chase a Lis­boa Card (vis­itlis­, which per­mits dis­counted or free vis­its to many at­trac­tions.


From Praça do Comér­cio, walk 10 min­utes east to one of Lis­bon’s old­est and most tra­di­tional neigh­bour­hoods, Alfama. You’ll prob­a­bly spot women peg­ging wash­ing from tiny bal­conies, most likely chat­ting with a neigh­bour do­ing the same. Vis­it­ing in the morn­ing en­ables you to snap the nar­row cob­ble­stoned streets be­fore the tourist surge hits. There’s a clus­ter of key mon­u­ments in the area, in­clud­ing Igreja de Santo An­tónio, a church ded­i­cated to Lis­bon’s most pop­u­lar saint, and Sé de Lis­boa, the cathe­dral built af­ter Por­tu­gal’s first king, Afonso Hen­riques, took the city from the Moors in 1147.


To ap­pre­ci­ate Lis­bon’s mod­ern his­tory, go to Museu do Aljube (museu­, across the road from the cathe­dral. Housed in a for­mer po­lit­i­cal prison, it tells the story of Por­tu­gal’s fight for free­dom from dic­ta­tor­ship be­tween 1926 and 1974.


Walk 15 min­utes up­town (or take the 737 bus from the cathe­dral to Praça da Figueira), past the carved dual arches of Ros­sio rail­way sta­tion, to Igreja de São Domin­gos. In this church rat­tled by Lis­bon’s 1755 earth­quake then gut­ted by fire in 1959, the charred pil­lars and walls set against the high red ceil­ing have an eerie yet calm­ing pres­ence. Af­ter­wards, if you’re feel­ing in­dul­gent, line up for a shot of ginja (Por­tuguese cherry liqueur) at hole in the wall A Gin­jinha (Largo de São Domin­gos 8; +351 21 346 8231), just across the street.


A five-minute walk north-west will de­liver you to the start of Lis­bon’s beau­ti­ful tree-lined cen­tral boule­vard, Avenida da Liber­dade. Tread the black-and­white mo­saic tiles to browse high-end stores with el­e­gant 19th-cen­tury façades, in­clud­ing Bul­gari and Prada.


On the same street, en­ter the city’s new up­scale fash­ion-meets-food hang­out, Jnc­quoi (jnc­ The lower floor houses Fash­ion Clinic, where you’ll find men’s de­signer cloth­ing and a tai­lor­ing ser­vice, while the mid­dle level fea­tures a 42-seat bar and gourmet deli. Head up­stairs to the restau­rant lined with cen­tury-old fres­coes and en­joy an à la carte lunch of mod­ern Por­tuguese cui­sine teamed with lo­cal wines.


From Avenida da Liber­dade, jump on one of Lis­bon’s fa­mous fu­nic­u­lars, As­cen­sor da Glória (Calçada da Glória 6), and chug up the steep, graf­fiti-splashed street to Mi­radouro de São Pedro de Al­cân­tara look­out. Af­ter ad­mir­ing the views of Castelo de São Jorge and the Ta­gus River, walk up to Praça do Príncipe Real, a hub of Lis­bon’s gay com­mu­nity. Once home to dusty an­tique shops, the neigh­bour­hood has been gen­tri­fied and the el­e­vated main street now runs like a cat­walk past bou­tiques and trendy cafés, with glimpses of the sprawl­ing city ei­ther side. The show stopper is Em­baix­ada (em­baix­, a three-level shop­ping and din­ing gallery in­side a 19th-cen­tury palace. Even if you don’t in­tend to buy any­thing, it’s worth drop­ping in just to mar­vel at the NeoMoor­ish ar­chi­tec­ture, grand mar­ble stair­case and dis­tressed stucco ceil­ings.


Em­baix­ada is across the street from Jardim do Príncipe Real. Stroll through this leafy park be­fore hail­ing a taxi to the new Museu de Arte, Arquite­tura e Tec­nolo­gia ( in Belém, about six kilo­me­tres away. The fu­tur­is­tic white-tiled MAAT cul­tural cen­tre ad­joins an old power sta­tion, which is now an ex­hi­bi­tion space known as Cen­tral Tejo and in­cludes a dis­play about the evo­lu­tion of elec­tric­ity. A com­bined ticket gives ac­cess to both mu­se­ums. Af­ter your visit, head next door to su­per-mod­ern Sud Lis­boa (sudlis­, where you can en­joy a cof­fee on the ter­race over­look­ing the river and the iconic rust-red Ponte 25 de Abril, a sus­pen­sion bridge named to hon­our the day of Por­tu­gal’s revo­lu­tion in 1974.


Catch a train or tram 15 to Cais do So­dré in the city cen­tre and have a pre-din­ner drink at Pen­são Amor (pen­ in Lis­bon’s for­mer red-light dis­trict. The quirky bar’s red walls, vel­vet arm­chairs and sug­ges­tive art­works hint at its bur­lesque past but these de­sign el­e­ments work well with the mock-fresco ceil­ing and chan­de­liers.


José Avillez’s two-Miche­lin­starred Bel­canto (bel­ is one of Lis­bon’s most renowned fine-din­ing es­tab­lish­ments. Re­cently, Avillez has ex­tended his epi­curean em­pire with the taste­fully themed restau­rant Beco Cabaret Gourmet (beco cabaret­, hid­den at the back of his Bairro do Avillez din­ing precinct, a 10-minute walk from Pen­são Amor. Book a ta­ble for the nightly show and en­joy the 12-course dé­gus­ta­tion in a fun and glam­orous set­ting. Your per­fect day ends when the bill ar­rives at mid­night in a glit­ter­ing stiletto. Now if only you could click your heels and ex­pe­ri­ence Lis­bon’s charms all over again.

(Clock­wise from left) Por­tu­gal’s famed cus­tard tarts; the Alfama dis­trict is one of Lis­bon’s old­est; El­e­vador de Santa Justa

(Left to right) The fu­tur­is­tic Museu de Arte, Arquite­tura e Tec­nolo­gia; sev­eral tram lines con­verge at Praça do Comér­cio; Por­tuguese azule­jos (painted tiles) adorn many build­ings

(Clock­wise from left) The open kitchen at Jnc­quoi restau­rant; Bel­canto’s sea bass with sea­weed and bi­valves, aka Dip in the Sea; catch din­ner and a show at Beco Cabaret Gourmet

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