Portugal’s capital city beckons honeymooners to explore its unique and vibrant culture
Photo: Melissa Varnadoe
Spanning the seven hills on the bank of the Tagus River, Lisbon is more than just another charming European city. Picturesque and wrought with cobblestone streets and magnificent buildings and monuments, its laidback yet fun-loving culture truly sets it apart and makes it an ideal place to steal away after your nuptials.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Spring and summer are the best times to visit although you should expect larger crowds and lower availability. This is especially true in August when most other Europeans are flocking to the city and shores. Being one of Europe’s warmest countries the winter months can be mild, but also rainy.
Portugal became the eighth country in the world and the sixth in Europe to legally recognize gay marriage in 2010. Lisbon has a very visible gay scene with a host of bars, restaurants and clubs catering to the LGBT community.
Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa High style meets comfort in this ultra modern Lisbon hotel. The friendly staff is always on hand and ready with recommendations for sights, restaurants, tours and shopping. Visit the Spirito Spa for a couple’s massage, or head upstairs to the Panorama Restaurant and Bar for sweeping views of the city. Located in the business district just 15 minutes from the airport and within easy walking distance to most major attractions, the Sheraton Lisboa’s location makes it ideal for both exploring and getting away from it all.
WINE & DINE:
Canoodle over candlelight and be swept away by the poignant Fado performed nightly at O Faia in the Barrio Alto. For more than 50 years, this deliciously intimate restaurant has been offering traditional Portuguese cuisine and showcasing some of the most famous Fado performers in Lisbon.
Ask a local where to sample the famous Portuguese rotisserie chicken with spicy piri-piri sauce, and you’ll more than likely be on your way to Bom Jardin. Head there for a perfectly Portuguese lunch of chicken, fries and ice cold Super Bocks. Just follow the alluring aroma of the roasting to their door near the Praça dos Restauradores.
High above in the hills of Alfama, you find Farol de Santa Luzia. Housed in a building dating back to the 18th century, this is an ideal place to be introduced to Lisbon’s bountiful seafood cuisine. The delectable shrimp dish, açorda de gambas, is just one of the menu’s many highlights.
SEE & DO:
You won’t need a translator to understand the passion and longing expressed in the mournful songs of Fado. A visit to a Fado house to hear this beloved Portuguese folk music is a must for your visit.
Start walking: The best way to get a feel for the city and to take in many of its most famous landmarks is through walking the streets. You can join one of the many walking tours available, or just grab a map and make your own way through the winding streets of the interesting Almafa neighborhood, around the Obelisk in Restauradores Square, to the Elevador de Santa Justa for a quick ride up to the chic neighborhood of Chiado, through the neoclassical buildings in Rossio Square to the former entrance to the city at the square of Praça do Comércio or up to the citadel at Castelo de Sao for a breathtaking view of the city.
Barrio Alto: Brimming with cafes, bars, Fado houses and late-night clubs this neighborhood used to be the most desirable place to live in all of Lisbon. Today it remains one of the most charming neighborhoods in Lisbon and home to many gay-friendly establishments.
Belem: History buffs won’t want to miss the Torre de Belem or the Mosteiro dos Jerominos, both built during the country’s great Age of Discovery. The Monument to the Discoveries has a prominent place on the waterfront in Belem where the Portuguese mariners set off for their grand explorations.
Sintra: Once the place of nobleman and royal summer retreats, make your way to this nearby village to explore shops and galleries in its maze of tiny streets. While there, be sure to tour the Palaciao Nacional de Sintra, the Moorish-influenced palace with huge conical chimneys that sits at the center of town. If you can’t get enough of palaces, head up the nearby hill to the Palacio da Penas. Deemed Portugal’s “fairy-tale castle,” it stood forgotten and frozen in time for many years before becoming a tourist attraction. Set deep within a magnificently wooded park, the castle features an assortment of architectural styles and a wealth of personal affects that enhance its beauty and mystique.
Cascais: Take a day trip out to this fashionable resort town to bask in the glorious Portuguese sun and dine at one of the many seaside restaurants. The nearby Estoril Casino is a great place to try your luck or catch a live show.
Photo: Melissa Varnadoe
PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR:
Romance, culture, and European wining and dining.
DAYS TO STAY:
4-7 days would be ideal to explore Lisbon and have time to see some of the surrounding areas.
OH, AND BY THE WAY:
Portuguese speak Portuguese. Unless you’re a native Spanish speaker, it is better to go with English when dealing with locals. The Portuguese are a proud people and can sometimes be offended when confusing their language with that of neighboring Spain. They are, however, always happy to teach you a few phrases in their native tongue.
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