The Renaissance of Lisbon

The Renaissance of Lisbon

Portugal’s capital has undergone a transformation from a sleepy city steeped in history to a vibrant wine and food destination where tradition and modernity create an irresistible and delicious mix.


The Hotel Marques de Pombal (Avenida da Liberdade 243)  situated on a ritzy tree-lined avenue just north of the historic city center, was recently renovated and some of its modern, comfortable rooms offer views of the Tagus River. The Palacete Chafariz d’El Rei (Tv. Chafariz del Rei 6) occupies a 19th-century Neo-Moorish house in Alfama that has been carefully restored to its former glory. The romantic spot has six suites as well as sitting rooms filled with antiques and a private garden terrace overlooking the river.


Take Tram 28 between the main districts of Alfama, home to Castelo de São Jorge and Bairro Alto, holding on as the tiny cars clang along narrow streets and up steep inclines. Reserve a day to visit Belém, where you will find the iconic Torre de Belém jutting out into the Tagus, and the stunning cloister inside the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Nearby is the fascinating Museu Nacional dos Coches (Praça Afonso de Albuquerque) filled with carriages from the 17th to 19th centuries. Afterwards, join the masses lined up at Pastéis de Belém (Rua de Belém 84–92) where you can pick up some of its famous custardfilled pastries (for less than one Euro each) fresh from the oven— the recipe remains unchanged since 1837.


Wine is intrinsic to Portuguese culture. Start your exploration in the tasting room run by Vini Portugal (Sala Ogival de Lisboa, Terreiro do Paço). Here they hold free tastings daily, each month featuring three different Portuguese wine regions. In the evening, head to the most unique wine bar in the city, Chafariz do Vinho (Rua da Mãe d’Água à Praça da Alegria) housed in the city’s former aqueduct, dating back to the 18th century. Wines by the glass are affordable and the servers will open any bottle if you order two glasses or more. Choose a seat on the top floor if you aren’t afraid of heights.

Lisbon is undergoing a culinary revival, with chefs putting a modern twist on traditional Portuguese dishes and offering affordable tasting menus with well-priced wine pairings. The yearold Assinatura (Rua do Vale Pereiro 19)  makes a statement, with a fully set table hanging upside down from the ceiling. The menu features playful dishes such as an excellent rendition of pork and beans, here starring pork belly and fresh beans. Bocca (Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 87D) celebrates Portuguese wine with 90 options served by the glass. The cooking marries Portuguese and international ingredients with modern methods. Most celebrated of all is Michelin-starred Tavares (Rua da Misercórdia 35), reputedly the oldest restaurant in Portugal, with a gorgeous gilded mirror room and a menu melding modern technique with Portuguese heritage.

End the evening at the newly renovated Solar do Vinho do Porto (45 Rua de São Pedro de Alcantara), the Palacio de Ludovic, where you can try dozens of vintage Ports and buy a bottle to take home.

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Portugal's Wine Frontier

Published on July 5, 2011
Topics: Travel DestinationsTravel Guides