To Make the Most of Lisbon, Meanderby Ana Linares
After discovering that my grandmother’s family came from Porto, Portugal jumped to the top of my travel list. Compelled to learn more about my roots, I set off for the colorful country, beginning in Lisbon.
MEMMO PRINCIPE REAL
Arriving in Lisbon on a Wednesday morning, the weather is warm, and I hit the streets. My first stop is the Memmo Principe Real, a beautiful hotel in one of the chicest areas of Lisbon. So many details catch me by surprise. The interiors and design are stunning. I relish my mornings by the pool and afternoon aperitivos at their restaurant—not to mention the scenic views from my room.
I get lucky with sunny fall days throughout my stay, and with it being an off-peak month, the city isn’t as crowded. My advice is to let yourself get lost in Lisbon. I had a list of places to go that I’d researched, but there was nothing better than just strolling the city and stumbling upon new places and beautiful tile-covered buildings.
CASA DO ALENTEJO
One of my first finds is Casa Do Alentejo, and it’s a memorable one. Housed in the Palacio Alverca, this 17th-century palace was built to a Moorish design and celebrates Alentejan culture. Their second floor houses an excellent restaurant serving traditional Portuguese food, and there’s a huge ballroom which transports you back in time. The whole space is filled with eye-catching azulejos and picturesque views of their main courtyard.
BAIRRO DO AVILLEZ
The coffee shops in Lisbon are outstanding, as is the food in general. Bairro do Avillez is one for the books. I have lunch at the tapas location and then dinner at their Patio, where they craft delicious seafood. A typical wine from the northern region, their Vinho Verde is a must! My top priority is to try the Pasteis de Nata, one of their signature Portuguese delicacies. The sweet tart is all it’d been promised to be, and I can’t stop eating them. I visit both famed locations, Pasteis de Belem and Fabrica de Nata. Some locals prefer one over the other, but both equally win me over.
After hitting most of the restaurants on my list, I visit the Elevador de Santa Justa. Located in the central Baixa district right next to the Carmo Church, the 19th-century elevator features geometric adornments and neo-gothic arches. Sunsets are particularly beautiful from this viewpoint. Praça do Comércio also offers an incredible view, as well as local shops.
On my last day, I stumble upon a kind Tuk-Tuk driver who drives me around the city. I didn’t think I’d ride one on this trip (technically, you can walk everywhere in Lisbon), but I have limited hours and want to make the most of it. So I ask the driver to take me to LX Factory, one of Lisbon’s hippest spots with great galleries, shops and restaurants.
I head back to Memmo Principe Real for a fabulous dinner, and the next day catch a train to my next stop, Porto.