Crisp, clear blue water beats against tall, rocky edged cliffs. Brightly colored buildings cover every square inch of land along this coastal city. Railway cars roll down sloped streets covered in cobble stones. The ocean breeze provides the background noise to a bustling metropolis. Serving as a home to many, and the capital city to the country of Portugal, Lisbon is a must see place this summer.
Known for its rich history, intricate architecture, and gorgeous beaches, Lisbon is a beacon for arts, culture, and adventure. From ceramic tiles, to gothic architecture, to some of the best seafood, Lisbon has something to offer for all its visitors. Here are our top recommendations for sights, eats, and stays in the City of Seven Hills.
(Headline Image: Portuguese National Pavillion. Courtesy Viuva Lamego)
Places to Visit:
Museum of Art, Architecture And Technology
Designed by British architect Amanda Levete and AL_A, the Museum fo Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) explores contemporary culture through various medias. Since 2016, the museum has used visual arts, new media, architecture, technology and science to explore different social and cultural topics. The curved white building mimics the ripple of a wave, as the museum itself touches the edge of the Tagus River. Slanting limestone tiles mimic ceramic tiles, one of Portugal's staple pieces of art and an integral design of the local architecture.
Guests are welcome to explore all of the MAAT campus, including various ongoing exhibitions, and can tour the once operational power station that is located on the museum grounds. Currently, the museum has 9 exhibition, all which tackle the changes in both local and global art, architecture, and technology. With tours starting at $9.90, the MAAT is a great way to spend an afternoon learning about the ways art, technology, and architecture affect the Portuguese culture, and cultures across the world.
National Azulejo Museum
Since 1509, the National Azulejo Museum, or National Tile Museum, has welcomed guests to discover the beauty of Portugal’s ceramic tiles. Dating back five decades, the collection begins with Queen D. Leonor’s reign in the 15th century, and continues to modern day.
The museum itself is located in the former Madre de Deus Convent. Once a place of holy worship, the 16th century building is decorated with Portuguese baroque details, gilded and carved wood, paintings and tile panels. The outer walls are covered in ceramic tiles, hand painted with blue and yellow floral like details. On the inside of the church, golden frames border different paintings of biblical scenes.
The original tiles from the church were made in Holland and placed on the walls in 1698. Artists such as Willem Van der Koet painted scenes from the Bible, like “Jehovah calling Moses”, or beautiful scenes of rustic country sides. These tiles work in tandem with the museum’s collection, allowing guests to discover the history of Portugal through centuries of craftsmanship.
A Vida Portuguesa
Located on the most famous road for shopping in Lisbon, A Vida Portuguesa is upholding Portuguese traditions of craft making. From hand-sewn leather bags, to quirky ceramics, to graphite pencils that date back to the 1920s, this store gives you history you can hold.
Once a former perfume factory, the building still possesses it's old charm. The original wood cabinetry line the walls, and are now filled with unique trinkets, woven blankets, and other products. Linens embroidered with traditional Portuguese floral patterns bring a sense of whimsy and life to the yellow hued shop. Pungent scents, such as rosemary and olive oil, perfume the room due to the abundance of soaps and other toiletries one can peruse.
La Vida Portuguesa embraces tradition and craftsmanship, as we do at Elysian Collective. They believe in the ability to share stories and bring different parts of the world to our homes through remarkable pieces of decor. This Portuguese craftsmanship is beautifully exemplified in our collection's Souk Decorative Mirrors. This mirror involves 5 distinct types of material and handcraftsmanship, taking 8 weeks to complete, resulting in an exquisite piece of art.
Places to Eat:
Palacio do Grilo
In the heart of Lisbon, dinner and a show awaits. Once an abandoned 350-year-old palace, now a hub for theater, food, and connection. Founded by French architect Julien Labrousse, Palacio do Grilo is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Guests can marvel at the beauty the palace has to offer, as well as the various works of art and sculpture scattered around the grounds. Once inside, every member of staff is a performer, and entertains restaurant goers with a life performance, directed by Oliver Urman. Once known as the “Dreamer of Stone”, Palacio do Grilo is truly a place where fantasy can become reality. Serving a variety of cuisine, and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Palacio do Grilo is a must try.
Taberna da Rua das Flores
For a more traditional option, the Taberna da Rua das Flores is the place to go to get in with the locals. From seafood to historic tapas, the Taberna da Rua das Flores is the place to go to try all the local favorites. Located in a small tavern, the restaurant is decorated with wooden chairs, cabinets filled with trinkets, and a chandelier made from wine glasses give this place a true hometown, rustic charm. Featuring a chalkboard menu, you’ll never get the same dish twice as the chefs are constantly cooking up new dishes. The Taberna da Rua das Flores does not accept reservations beforehands, so be sure to put your name down on the wait list upon arrival.
Places to Stay:
Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina
A former home to an 18th century count, the Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina is a beacon of history. Designed by architect Teresa Nunes da Pont, the four floor building highlights the city’s architectural and design focal points. Combining modern design features, such as jewel toned furniture, with restored elements, such as hand painted ceramics and baroque clading, the Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina shows how Lisbon's design style has evolved over time.
From marble pillars, to rooftop pools with views of the entire city, this destination hotel is truly fit for royalty. Enjoy a tailor-made breakfast by the hotel’s head chef, or wander right into the heart of Lisbon's old town for a day of adventure. No matter your reason for visiting Lisbon, the Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina is a perfect place to discover the city in a luxurious way.
Part of the Marriott Group’s Autograph Collection, The Ivens shows the style of Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood.Standing out amongst the limestone buildings, this pink hotel pays homage to the creativity that spawned from the XIX century. Creatives, artists, and bohemians, have made this hotel a place to cultivate creativity, passion, and consider it a space where art comes to fruition. The eccentric design features, including wicker chairs, jungle wallpaper, and old Hollywood-esque banana leaf decor, truly give this hotel a character one has to experience for themselves.
Designed by Spanish interiorist Lázaro Rosa-Violán and the Portuguese Cristina Matos, the hotel draws inspiration from the travels of Ivens and Capelo, two of the greatest Portuguese explorers. With 87 rooms, the hotel is a quaint, yet lively place to stay. Nestled in the heart of the city, getting from place to place is easy and allows guests to experience Lisbon as a local.
With summer slowly approaching its close, Lisbon is the destination to end the season right. Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend away, or need a new spot to immerse yourself in breathtaking art and architecture, the city has something for everyone. Get lost in the wonder of the city where the mountains meet the sea.