48 hours in Lisbon

Flea markets, fine food and fado: how to spend a weekend in Europe's sunniest capital

48 hours in Lisbon
Edited by David Clack

Looking for things to do in Lisbon? Not much time to do them in? Here's our quick-stop guide to the city's best restaurants, bars, museums and more.

Day one: the old town


Head up to St. George's Castle (Rue de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 21 880 0620) to get your bearings, taking the antique no.28 tram or a bus if you want to ride all the way. The battlements afford breathtaking views of the river and the city draped over a series of hills.


Wander down towards Alfama, stopping off at the Museu-Escola de Artes Decorativas www.fress.pt (Largo das Portas do Sol 2, 21 888 1991) if you have a taste for applied arts, or detouring to the remains of the Roman theatre (Pátio do Aljube 5, Rua Augusto Rosa, 21 882 0320).


If it’s a Tuesday or Saturday, take in the Feira da Ladra (ampo de Santa Clara, São Vicente, 21 358 8596), a sprawling flea market. The nearby monastery of São Vicente has magnificent azulejo tile panels – and more views. Lunch on grilled sardines or bacalhau at a local tasca, or go for a more exotic alternative, such as Michelin-Starred Tavares (Rua da Misericórdia 35, 21 342 1112).


After lunch, catch the tram across to Chiado for some shopping or people-watching. Of the many local churches, the highlight is the Igreja de São Roque www.museudesaoroque.com (Largo de Trindade Coelho, 21 323 5000), with its lavish baroque decoration.


Art lovers may want to schedule a visit to the very Portuguese Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Rua das Janelas Verdes, 21 391 2800) or the wider-ranging Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Avenida de Berna 45, 21 782 3461/50). Although the latter has a lovely garden, keen botanists will find more to marvel over closer to hand in the Jardim Botânico (Rua da Escola Politécnica, 21 392 1893) in Príncipe Real.


Time for an aperitif, with the Solar do Vinho do Porto (Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara 45, 21 347 5707) an excellent place to have one. It’s on the edge of the Bairro Alto, with its myriad restaurants and late-opening bars. When these finally close, those with sufficient stamina should head downhill to Lux (Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, 21 882 0890) or another all-night club.

Day two: discoveries and rediscoveries


Set aside half a day to explore Belém, a district that will be forever linked with ‘the Discoveries’, the golden age of Portuguese maritime exploration. As well as key examples of the late-Gothic Manueline style of architecture, the area has museums galore and a fine modern art collection. Take a break from culture to indulge in some of the famous custard tarts of the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92, 21 363 7423): it’s almost considered a sin by lisboetas to walk past here without stepping inside to munch a few of its specialist pastéis de Belém.


Have lunch at Alcântara Cafe (Rua Maria Luísa Holstein 15, 21 362 1226) – a Lisbon landmark since the 1980s that remains the centre of 'new Portuguese' cuisine, but with proper old-fashioned generous portions. Or, for a kitscher flight of fancy by the same designer (Antonio Pinto), nip round the corner to Espaço Lisboa (Rua da Cozinha Económica 16, 21 361 0212). Tables are laid out in a mock-up of a Lisbon square with tipico shops, but the food is less stylish than at its nearby cousin.


Cross town to the Parque das Nações, the former site of Expo 98, whose theme was the oceans and the Discoveries. It has attractions for visitors of all ages, with the Oceanário (Esplanada Dom Carlos I, 21 891 7002/6) the big crowd-puller. To cover more ground, let the mini-train or cable car take the strain. Otherwise, hire a bike or a pair of inline skates.


Head back into town for a late-afternoon drink at one of the numerous miradouros, Lisbon’s wonderful look-out points.


Dine at a casa de fado, where singers will pour their hearts out for you, accompanied by a lute-shaped Portuguese guitar. The best bets are Tasca do Jaime up in Graça (Rua da Graça 91, 21 888 1560, fado 4-8pm Sat, Sun & holidays), for songs punctuated by the rumble of passing trams, and Tasca do Chico in the Bairro Alto (Rua Diário de Notícias 39, 21 343 1040, fado 8pm-1am Wed, Fri). The origins of the saudade they are expressing lie in part in seafarers’ homesickness and the longing of the women they left behind.


The Barrio Alto Hotel (Praça Luís de Camões 2, 21 340 8222) sits at the pricier end of the city's hotel spectrum, but the understated opulence of its boutique suites justifies the pricetag. Head to the rooftop bar for a pre-dinner drink with a view.

For shoestring travellers, Lisbon Lounge Hostel (Rua de São Paulo 111, 21 346 2061) provides just about everything you'd expect from budget accommodation, as well as a few things you wouldn't. Rooms are comfortable and clean, while the lounge boasts modern decor and internet access. Offbeat bars are just around the corner.


TAP Portugal flies from London Heathrow to Lisbon, with return fares starting at £127.

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By w84@earthlink.net - May 19 2013

We are from New York City.
Last year we opened the International Drum Academy.
Come celebrate our one year anniversary on
21-05-13 at República da Música
rua do centro culural 27-1˚
metro alvalade
My husband will be playing with his band
"The Michael Lauren All Stars" (great jazz)
I hope to see you Tuesday.
Thank you,