The Portuguese are so obsessed with the freshness of their fish that they prefer to consume it on the coast, to make sure the fish does not need to travel. This obsession is the reason why there are so many restaurants on the “marginal,” the seaside road that connects Lisbon to Cascais. Our favorite is Porto de Santa Maria, which has served outstanding fish and seafood since 1947. Everything on the menu is wonderful: grilled fish, oysters, clams, shrimp, stuffed spider crab, and lobster rice.
Porto de Santa Maria is famous for its fish baked in bread, a technique to cook a whole fish that keeps it moist and succulent. Savoring this culinary delight while enjoying the magnificent ocean view is simply unforgettable.
Porto de Santa Maria is located in Guincho, 30 km from Lisbon. You can make reservations by telephone (351 214 879 450 ) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Click here for the restaurant’s web site, here for a virtual visit to the restaurant, and here for a live camera view of the beach.
Tuk tuk is a new company that operates three-wheeled motorized rickshaws in downtown Lisbon. These fun vehicles are the perfect way to travel: slow enough to see the sights, but fast enough to cover all there is to see without getting tired.
If you smell a whiff of cinnamon, it is perfectly ok to ask the driver to follow the trail and find the pastries that are sweetening the air. After all, visitors have been coming to Lisbon in pursuit of sugar and spices for more than five centuries.
Click here for the web page of Tuk Tuk Lisboa.
Sintra is a village near Lisbon where Portuguese monarchs used to seek respite from the Summer heat. It is a place like no other, with its lush vegetation and fairy-tale palaces. The National Palace (shown above) is the oldest and most historically significant. It was remodeled so many times that it looks like a visual dictionary of Gothic, Manueline and Moorish styles. The Pena Palace is the newest and most romantic. Built in the 19th century, it sits on top of a hill where, in ancient times, the Romans worshiped the moon.
On the way to Pena you can visit a 9th century Moorish castle with wonderful views to the surrounding region. From here you can get a glimpse of other palaces, Monserrate, Seteais (an 18th century palace converted into a luxury hotel), and Quinta da Regaleira. They are all worth visiting.
Staying in Sintra is a privilege. In the morning, you can see Pena while the fog hides the modern world and brings back the 19th century. And at night, you can walk to Seteais to see the moon paint the hill with silver light, waiting to be worshiped.
If you are near Chiado, don’t miss the chance to have an espresso in Lisbon’s most famous café, A Brasileira. The poet Fernando Pessoa spent here many golden hours, writing words that became immortal. If you want to pay homage to his genius, do not take a photo with the awkward Pessoa statue resting in the esplanade. Sit instead at a table and write a poem.
The blank page can be intimidating, so it might help you to know that Pessoa’s first poem was a modest effort. When he was seven, his widowed mother decided to remarry and start a new life in South Africa. Pessoa, worried that she might leave him behind in Lisbon, gave her this poem :
Here I am in Portugal
In the land where I was born
As much as I adore it
I love you even more
These simple words were Pessoa’s ticket to South Africa. So, summon the muses and write their whispers on your blank page. Who knows where those words might take you!
It happens to the best of us. You are in Lisbon, enjoying the fresh fish and the wonderful seafood when, suddenly, you have a craving for pizza! There’s no need to rush to the airport and fly to Naples. You can satisfy your longing for Italian food in Lisbon.
In the 1970s, Maria Paola Porru moved from Italy to Portugal to study cinema. Years later, she opened Casanostra, a restaurant in Bairro Alto, planning to go back to the movie industry once she made some money. But the restaurant was so successful that she continued to run it while working as a sound engineer in several motion pictures.
A few years ago, Porru opened the Pizzeria Casanova in a beautiful location by the Tagus river. The Pizzeria does not accept reservations and there is often a long line. It is here that young people go to see and be seen because, while they wait for some of the best pizza on this side of the Tiber, they feel they’re in a movie.
Restaurante Casanostra, Travessa do Poço da Cidade, nº 60, Bairro Alto, Lisboa, tel. 21 342 59 31, email Italma@sapo.pt. Restaurante Casanova, Avenida Infante Dom Henrique Cais da Pedra à Bica do Sapato, Loja 7, Lisboa, tel. 218877532.
The name is a play on words. “Cem maneiras” means one-hundred ways. But trade the “c” for an “s,” and you get “sem maneiras,” which means without etiquette. Both expressions hint at what makes this tiny restaurant in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto so special.
Yugoslavian chef Ljubomir Stanisic is a magician who combines traditional Portuguese ingredients in inventive ways. But his restaurant is not one of those culinary temples where diners must eat in reverent silence, heads bowed in a show of appreciation for the chef’s genius. The atmosphere at 100 Maneiras is unpretentious, and the only important etiquette rule is that guests have some great gourmet fun.
Restaurante 100 Maneiras, Rua do Teixeira, 35, Bairro Alto, tel. 910 307 575, email: email@example.com. Click here for 100 Maneiras’ web site.
One of Lisbon’s hallmarks are the “eléctricos,” the yellow trams that have helped residents negotiate the city’s narrow streets and steep hills since 1901. A very popular way to see Lisbon is to board tram number 28.
You can make Campo de Ourique your first stop and have a wonderful lunch at Tasca da Esquina. Save some room for dessert because, around the corner, you can eat a slice of life-changing chocolate cake. Don’t drink coffee yet; the tram takes you to Chiado where you can have an espresso at Brasileira, one of poet Fernando Pessoa’s favorite cafés.
Next, the 28 goes downtown. You can stroll in Rossio and sit in the esplanade of Café Nicola, enjoying the views and drinking another cup of coffee. Then, walk to Terreiro do Paço through Rua do Ouro (goldsmith street) or Rua da Prata (silversmith street). In Terreiro do Paço you can contemplate the Tagus river and have yet another coffee at Martinho da Arcada, another Fernando Pessoa favorite.
Now that you are fully caffeinated, board the 28 to go uphill to Alfama, the only neighborhood that survived the 1755 earthquake. You can walk to St. Jorge’s castle and enjoy the sunset views. Then, back to Chiado, where you can have a great dinner at Cantinho do Avilez, followed by some ice cream at Santini. As the day ends, you’ll realize that the tram 28 is much more fun than the Orient Express.
In the 1940s, it was impossible to find an hotel room in Lisbon. Aristocrats, businessmen, smugglers, and spies of all stripes filled the luxury hotels. They also crowded the gambling tables in Casino Estoril, the place where Ian Fleming, a young British intelligence officer, found the inspiration for the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
Most of the hotels popular in the 1940s have been renovated beyond recognition. One exception is the beautiful Hotel Britania, which was recently restored to its original elegance and understated glamour.
Built in 1944, it was designed by architect Cassiano Branco in an art deco style. Located on a quiet street, it is the kind of place where Ingrid Bergman could have mended her broken heart, and where martinis are served shaken, not stirred.
Click here for Hotel Britania’s web site.