A heady mix of tranquil gardens, dramatic nostalgia and vibrant contemporary design, the all-welcoming Lisbon district Principe Real is perfect for a sunny and delightful weekend. Here are the top 6 things to do and see in Lisbon in 2019.
AT CASA OLIVER
Praça do Príncipe Real 25
Evergreen views of the botanical garden’s palm fronds and breakfast-time pasteis de nata with rich coffee are just two of the countless pleasures at this traditional 1895-built guesthouse. Be greeted warmly with local maps and a tawny port tipple, before being guided to one of the echoey 26 high stucco-ceilinged suites. All rooms come with luxe contemporary design features such as large marble shower ensuites, Roberts radios and enormous cotton-laden beds. A smattering of great bites and concept stores line the same street. Embracing an exclusively private way of travel, staff are meticulously attentive from 6am daily but leave the premises at midnight, meaning peaceful silence during sleeping hours and no fuss from a concierge.
Indulge in a full body experience
Rua D. Pedro V, 56
Delight in the hotel’s famous house port wine and a decadent lunch, after a rejuvenating swim with the Lisbon vista at this boutique stay’s poolside bar and restaurant loved by locals and international chic cliques alike. The emerald green pool is large enough to do some laps, and combined with the cocktails this elusive, hidden-away spot will offer much-needed cool refreshment to those who have been walking the sizzling streets in high season. Spot the life-size oil portrait of the Royal Prince after which this neighborhood is named. In lieu of the usual red port tawny wine seen throughout Portugal, enjoy a chic white wine in a cut glass with rocks and soak up the rays at this undiscovered pool, bar and restaurant with the ultimate city panorama.
Consider the octopus
At A CEVICHERIA
Dom Pedro V 129
A gargantuan octopus sculpture of sci-fi proportions and real likeness looms over diners at this deservedly much talked-about pisco and ceviche bar from chef Kiko Martins. It’s only natural to find that the fish quality used in this raw marinated delicacy with a twist is extremely fresh. Staff wink and joke that the tiger’s milk comes from a live tigress in the basement and the open kitchen allows bar diners to see the puro dish – grouper, sweet potato, algae, red onion, tiger’s milk – prepared with precision after a delectable scallop and squid ink crisp green gazpacho appetizer. The original puro ceviche never fails to wow, but try the tuna version with beetroot tapioca puree, citronella and radish, accompanied by a potent pisco sour or three; passers by order them from the restaurant and knock them back on the pavement.
Invest in the avant-garde
AT GALERIA DE SAO MAMEDE
Rua da Escola Politécnica 167
After taking shade from the Mediterranean heat in the concept stores and boutique emporiums peppering the district for artisanally crafted clothes, jewelry and trinkets, browse the ever-changing permanent and temporary exhibitions at this cool and calm two-floor space, tucked in between historic pastelerias and antique shops. With its origins rooted in the 60s, the avant-garde curation spotlights the very best in Portuguese modernism, from modern classics to emerging talent. The gallery’s staff are incredibly well-versed with each piece’s value. Explore the rest of this street’s exquisite antique shops for additional precious souvenirs with stories to take home.
Sing for Europe
AT PAVILHÃO CHINÊS
Dom Pedro V 89
Eurovision 2018 meant Lisbon was teeming with camp and OTT festivities outside of the contest arena, but last year’s winner Salvador Sobral (and the reason this year’s contest is held in Lisbon) was definitely fado-inspired – that is the traditionally melancholic Portuguese singing style. It’s still Fado mad in Lisbon, Eurovision or not. It’s so adored that it’s officially been named a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, and you’ll find warblers performing live nightly in all sorts of restaurants and bars. For traditional fado song, head to the cavernous, trinket-filled cocktail parlor which opened in the fittingly gaudy late eighties. €20 includes entry and a good glass of wine; worth seeing the inside of this place. On Fridays, the same fado clan host the ultimate wail-fest at the old local water cistern vaults under Príncipe Real square.
Discover a local legend
AT FUNDAÇÃO AMÁLIA RODRIGUES
Born in 1920, the highest-selling Portuguese artist in history lived her whole life as the nation’s most gushed over fadista in a beautiful, grandiose townhouse in Principe Real. She rose to worldwide fame after humble beginnings as a quayside fruit seller. Sadly, she passed in 1999 but today you can explore the home of Portugal’s greatest national diva treasure as she kept it, in all its lavish glory. You can wander the magnificently plush yet cosy living and dining rooms where she hosted parties for the global glitterati (Madonna was a friend) which no doubt crescendos with some moody digestif songs in fabulous gowns. Say hi to Amália’s oldest friend and former globetrotting companion and secretary Estrela before enjoying a tart in the outdoor cafe where the singer’s colorful parrot still noisily resides. The gift shop is a small but glorious gallery of sparking Amália-inspired jewelry to adorn yourself with as you saunter dramatically around the neighborhood and get nostalgic about your favorite past Eurovision song contests of yesteryear. ■