In the past 20 years Lisbon has opened its doors to the world. Revered for its history and culture, from its famous seafarers and writers to fado music, the city has built bridges into the future from the modern Parque das NaÃ§Ãµes to the revamped AlcÃ¢ntara docks. It all adds up a heady cocktail of art and architecture, vibrant street life, cafe culture, and hip terrace bars.
Strolling through the Baixa. At the center of historic Lisbon, the grid of neoclassical streets known as the Baixa is the easiest place to get your bearings. Start at the Lisbon Welcome Center in the PraÃ§a do ComÃ©rcio, and drift through the monumental Arco Triunfal into the bustling Rua Augusta, where street sellers tout souvenirs and paintings.
A night of Portuguese food and fado. When it comes to food and entertainment, the Portuguese know how to put on a good spread. I like to sample the best regional bacalhau (salt cod) dishes, skewers of meat and fresh fish at a fado restaurant such as CafÃ© Luso in the Bairro Alto or explore the latest restaurants opening in the arty Santos Design District.
Exploring the Alfama. The Alfama is Lisbons ancient heart, a tangle of cobbled streets and nar- row steps. Start by the turrets of the Castelo de SÃ£o Jorge (St Georges Castle), taking in the panoramic city views before following the tram tracks down past the cathedral (see p 8). I make a point of rising early on Tuesdays or Saturdays for the Feira da Ladra (Thieves Market), a treasure trove of bric-Ã -brac and painted ceramics
Cooling off in the Botanic Gardens. I know of no better haven from the summer heat than these lush gardens, between the Bairro Alto and Rato. Stroll under the shade of tall palms, breathing in the scents of orchids and listening to water trickle into the pondsâ€”the city traffic is just a faint buzz.
Taking in the city views from Lisbons miradouros. I never tire of Lisbons hills: the rewards are the views from the miradouros (viewing points). Youll discover your favor- ites, mine include the Castelo de SÃ£o Jorge, looking towards the ruined Convento do Carmo; SÃ£o Pedro de AlcÃ¢ntara, for an Alfama panorama; and the top of Parque Eduardo VII, which looks down its formal gardens and the tree-lined Avenida da Liberdade.
Enjoy prized views from a bar terrace at night. Already spoiled with panoramic views from the miradouros, now Lisboetas want to enjoy them with a drink on one of the many bar terraces. Youll find them overlooking the River Tagus waterfront, but the higher up, the more fashionable it is, especially rooftop bars like O TerraÃ§o in the Baixa and hillside terraces in the ancient Alfama.
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