Your second time in Lisbon
There are many different Lisbons to be relished by visitors and residents alike, all of them captivating. Naturally, a first four-day-visit to the city should include the charming neighborhoods of Chiado and Baixa, St George’s Castle with its breathtaking views and enchanting Alfama. This busy first visit would be a lovely acquaintance with Lisbon, and enough time for you to begin to understand and fall in love with the capital of this seaside country. Yet, will you have you seen it all? No, not really, and you will have a longing to stay longer and shall likely immediately start planning a return trip, to travel farther and see other sides of Lisbon.
Let us get your second visit started and take you straight to Beato and Marvila, areas between Alfama and Parque das Nações (Expo Park). In 10 years, these places will be in all guidebooks, but follow my tip, escape the throngs of tourists and go there right away. Begin by visiting the National Tile Museum at the wonderful Madre de Deus convent, where you will learn how this iconic part of Portuguese culture evolved along the centuries. It is so quintessentially connected to the country’s culture that Portuguese tiles are a candidate to UNESCO’s World Heritage. Do also visit the convent itself, it is magnificent.
After this visit, why not lose track of time strolling along the tiny alleyways, old houses and warehouses whilst on your way to cultural venue Fábrica Braço de Prata? Take the 2.5 km walk amidst charming cobblestone streets, where you will find hidden gems, like the truly local church Igreja do Beato, the cool and fashionable cultural venue Eka Palace and the Cantinho do Vintage, for vintage furniture and objects. Also in the region, and well worth a visit, are the art galleries such as Filomena Soares, Francisco Fino, Baginsky, Murias Centeno and Underdogs. You can even find fun things to do like parkour at Spot Real or climbing at Vertigo Center. Should the walking awaken your appetite, there are excellent restaurants to satisfy most tastes, my favorites being Casa do Bacalhau, Marítima de Xabregas and one of the best Chinese in town, the Dinastia Tang.
When you do reach Fábrica Braço de Prata* have something to drink, check out the non-mainstream exhibitions, watch one of its open air performances and enjoy the concerts in this eclectic building, which was once a gun factory.
There are so many other interesting places you could and should see when in Lisbon. Mouraria, Largo do Intendente, Vieira da Silva and Mãe de Água museums, to name a few, as well as Cacilhas on the other side of the river, with amazing views of Lisbon. But, I shall leave these for your third visit to Lisbon!
By Luis Pedro Carmo Costa – a true Alfacinha**