From the category archives:



by Madeleine Dick on June 3, 2013

Lisboa_(Belém)_-_Praça_do_Império_e_Fonte_Luminosa pasteis de belem lisboa portugal turismo TorredeBelmLisboaPORTUGAL

Belem is an historic area of Lisbon just 6km to the west of the city centre along the riverfront is this tranquil and antiquedistrict is full of attractions. Belem is significant in the history of Portugal as the point from which many of the great navigators set of on their explorations of the oceans. During the time of the discoveries Portugal flourished and many monuments were constructed such as the Belem tower and the Jeronimo monastery.  The grandeur of 18th century Portugal is also displayed in the opulent interiors of the Ajuda Palace and the Coaches Museum. After the earthquake in 1755 the 17th century Palace had to undergo some repair work but on the whole the original building withstood the quake as Belém and nearby Ajuda were two areas least affected.  The Royal Family therefore relocated out to Belém following the earthquake later to take up permanent residence in  the Ajuda National Palace.


Jeronimos Monastery-  The Jeronimos Monastery is one of the most striking symbols of the wealth and power of Portugal at the time of the Discoveries.  Built in 1502 to commemorate Vasco de Gama’s voyage to discover India and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the success of the voyage.  Vasco de Gama’s tomb was placed at entrance inside.  Many other important figures in Portuguese history are entombed in the monastery including writers Luis de Camões and Fernando Pessoa.  The monastery was inhabited by  monks from the order of saint Jerome,  it was their job to give spiritual guidance to sailors. The architecture is a stunning example of the Gothic style so prevalent in Portugal at the time of the discoveries.  Carved into the stonework in many parts of the cloisters are depictions of the sea and its exploration.  At the entrance to the former refectory there is a striking vaulted ceiling with networked patterns of stonework and the biblical story of Joseph carved into the walls.

The Belem Tower &  the Discoveries Monument-  The Belém tower was built in 1515 as a protective fortress guarding the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour and it became the starting point for many of the voyages across the oceans. There is a statue of our lady of Safe Homecoming at the front facing the river as a symbol of protection for the sailors. The modern Discoveries Monument was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The huge stone monument is designed to represent a three sailed ship ready to depart. around the sides are huge statues of important figures in the history of Portugal and many of  her explorers. The shear scale of the monument is almost difficult to capture and only becomes apparent when you stand at the foot of the stone structure. There is an elevator inside that takes you up to a viewing deck for a fantastic view of Belém and its many historical buildings.  Between the Tower and the monument there is a river esplanade,  a great place to stroll along,  or take a rest in a cafe and view the magnificent buildings, river Tagus and 25 of April bridge. 

Gardens Belem. jardim tropical 2 Parks and Gardens One of the attractions of Belém is its many green areas   and well kept gardens. In Belém  you will notice green areas in abundance, almost everywhere you turn there is a park or garden. There is large well kept garden in front of the Monestary with a large water fountain in the middle, known as the ‘Imperial Garden Plaza’.  Right next door is the Large Garden of Belém with its open green area, trees and childrens paly areas.  There is also an esplanade with several restaurants offering a wonderful outdoor dining setting. There is another park following known as the Afonso de Alberquerque. The garden is another well kept and designed garden dedicated to the discoveries and in particular Alerquerque one of the  Governors of India, of whom there is a  very large imposing statue in the middle. Also in Belém you will find the  somewhat hidden gem the tropical garden, also known as the Jardim do Ultramar. The garden is situated just behind the main street in Belém, where you find the famous café selling pasteis de Belém, just a short walk from the Monastery and the tram & bus stops. If you would like to stay in the beautiful Belém check  out the Belém apartments.

Pastéis de Belém-  Belém has become very well known as the home of the famous Portuguese custard tarts. The custard tarts known as Pastal de Nata everywhere outside of Belém where created more than 200 years ago by the Catholic nuns in the monastery at Belém. The Casa Pastéis de Belém was the first shop to sell the coveted cake in 1837, it said that the shop received the recipe directly from the nuns and is therefore the most genuine.  The shop has become famous over the years with locals and tourists alike stopping by to sample the original recipe fresh out of the oven.   The Patal de Nata is usually served with a sprinkling of cinnamon and or icing sugar, many local also like to accompany the delicacy with a small glass of Ginja (a cherry liquor) or an espresso coffee. 

Travel to & from Belém- Belém is situated by the riverfront to the West of the City about 20-30 minutes from the downtown centre  by  tram. You can catch the Nº15 tram from several locations in the city centre such as Praça de Comercio or Cais de Sodré. The Nº 15 tram is often one of the iconic old electric tram cars usually crowded and a little noisy but atmospheric nonetheless. also running this route are  modern trams, if your not in a hurry and a modern tram comes along it probably wont be took long  to wait before one of the old trams comes along.  For a better idea of the neighbourhood check out the Map of Belém.

Parking in Belém- Given that Belém is a little out of the city centre parking is not as difficult as in downtown Lisbon. There are in fact many parking spaces available in free open air car park by the main esplanade, although technically free there are often self appointed parking attendants who direct cars to spaces in hope of a small tip.  It is also possible to find parking on the street in many of the side streets in the area. 


Expo – Parque das Naçoes

by Madeleine Dick on April 19, 2013


Parque das Nações is the area of Lisbon commonly referred to as ‘the Expo’. The area has a modern almost futuristic  design and is located in the east of Lisbon around 20-mins to half an hour from the historical city centre. Much of the area was rundown and derelict until it was renovated when Lisbon successfully hosted the World Exposition in 1998 (hence the name Expo).  The World Exposition 98 was a particularly special one as it was the 100th exposition and at the same time coincided with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India. The Portuguese put on a spectacular event from May to September that year. Many architecturally stunning buildings, stations and installations where built in the Parque Naçoes area.  The longest bridge in the world (at the time) was also built and named after Vasco da Gamma and is visible from most parts of the Expo area. The Expo area was designed to be in use long after the World Exposition had moved on and true to its planning the Expo area is still a great place to visit and stay while in Lisbon.  Check out the map of the Expo area for more detail on its location.

Parque Das Nacoes- The Oceanarium- The oceanarium in Lisbon is one of the largest in the world and was designed by the American architect Peter Chermeyeff.  It is designed to appear as if it is rising out of the water and is accessed via a foot bridge.  The Oceanarium houses an enormous central tank that is around the size of 4 Olympic swimming pools.  It was the first oceanarium in the world to incorporate  different ocean habitats within one single environment. The different habitats are in fact separated by invisible acryllic walls which gives the impression they are all in the same tank. 

Cable cars and Vasco da Gama Tower with Vasco da Gama Bridge at Expo

The Cable Car-  Another of the installations of the Expo 98 that still provides a great attraction today is the telecabine  (as they are known) that stretches across the Parque Naçoes riverfront.  From the cable cars you get an amazing view over the river, the Expo area, the gardens and the Vasco da Gamma bridge. At many points on the journey you are suspended over the river itself. The journey stretches for more than 1000 metres. The cable car really is a great relaxing trip and to view the stunning modern, futuristic architecture from a completly different angle.                                                                                            

IMG_2561 Gardens & Riverfront promenade- One of the great left overs from the Expo 98 is the fabulous gardens and long riverfront promenade. All along the riverfront for quite a considerable distance is the beautifully kept promenade and landscaped gardens. Many of the gardens are themed such as the water garden, the Brazil garden, the Africa garden.  many of the gardens house unique species of plant and they are all certainly relaxing and beautiful to look at.  The riverside promenade has great views over the river and the spectacularly long bridge. On your stroll you will come across many different pieces of urban art all different shapes, sizes and designs. Among the most striking are the 4 metre high water fountain volcanoes, there are 6 in total. You can walk or cycle from the Parque das Naçoes all the way to the Vasco da Gama Bridge . Here at the riverfront you will also find many restaurants cafe’s and bars that are open all day and into the night.  Many of the restaurants and bars have outdoor seating areas with great views over the river.  


The Gare do Oriente –  Another striking feature of the Expo are is the stunning railway station the Gare do Oriente designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The railway station is stunning by day and even more so at night with lots of atmospheric lighting and angles.  Just opposite the station is the Vasco da Gama shopping centre thought to be one of the best in Lisbon.  Here you will also find stunning architecture with a striking glass ceiling. In the same area you will also find other stunning architectural achievements such as the  the Atlantic Pavilion, The towers of São Rafael and Gabriel and the Vasco da Gama tower with the round panoramic top floor restaurant. 

The Expo area is full of attractions there is a theatre, conference centre, the Pavilion that frequently hosts concerts, and the Lisbon Casino.  The Expo are is a thoroughly modern area with modern architecture and  art everywhere you look. The riverfront is a great place to take a walk and enjoy the views over the river and enjoy the peaceful landscaped gardens. In the Expo area you will find all necessary amenities with its many shops, restaurants and bars.  If you would like to stay in the Expo area check out our Expo apartments. The great thing about most of the Expo apartments is the free parking space!

Transport To & From Expo/ Parque das Nações-  The Parque das Naçoes is easily accessable from the city centre and in fact is very close to the airport. The Metro station Oriente will take you right into the heart of the city centre and its complete contrast old-town. There are also several buses that will take you to many destinations city centre, airport or other train stations. One  of the Lisbon tour buses comes right out to the Parques Nações and you can get off here and enjoy a few hours before catching the bus back into the centre again.  The Oriente train station has several train links for those wishing to travel further afield. 


Parking- Many of the attractions at the Parque das Naçoes have their own car parks its one of the many benefits of modern town planning.  Many of the apartments in the area also have  a parking space included. There are a few parking stations in the Expo area such as,

Feira Internacional de Lisboa Car park- Address: Rua do Bojador 1800 Lisbon, Mon-Sun 24hr Underground parking wiht 830 spaces. Prices €1.20 per hr, €37.90 for 24hrs
Tágides Car Park- Address: Rua do Bojador 1990 Lisbon, 400 spaces Mon-Sun 24hr €1 per hr.
Vasco da Gama Car Park– Address: Avenida Professor Gama Pinto 1.05.02 Lisboa, Mon-Sun 06.30-1.00 Underground car park with 2564 spcaes. Prices €1.20 per hour, €20.00 maximum.
Edifício Meridiano Car Park– Address: Rua do Pólo Sul 1990 Lisbon. Underground 120 spaces. Mon-Thurs 08.30-00.30, Fri 08.30-04.00, sat 14.00 -04.00, sun  14.00-00.30. Price €0.80 per hr.
Tivoli Oriente Car Park – Address: Avenida Dom João II 1990 Lisbon. Underground €12.50 per day
There are also car parks at the Oceanarium, the Casino, and 2 parks at the Gare de Oriente train station. For more detail about the parking in the Parque das Nações
    7309187416_8e990d8055_z vasco-da-gama-bridge2



April 15, 2013

Tweet Graça is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods which can be found at the top of the highest hill in Lisbon, just to the north east of the castle São Jorge.  The neighbourhood of Graça is largely residential yet with plenty of attractions for visitors.  In the main square the Largo da Graça you will […]

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April 15, 2013

Tweet Chiado  for most of Lisbon’s inhabitants is pretty much the city centre as it here where you will find the main in-town shopping area. Chiado was devastated by a fire in 1988 that destroyed many of the cities oldest shops. The famous Portuguese architect Siza Viera took charge of the reconstruction project.  Viera and his workers […]

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April 10, 2013

Tweet   “Cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa” “Cheira a castanha assada se está frio” “Cheira a fruta madura quando é Verão” “Lisboa tem cheiro de flores e de mar” …   “It smells good, it smells of Lisbon” “It smells of roast chestnuts when it’s cold” “It smells of ripe fruit in Summer”  “Lisboa smells […]

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The Bairro Alto

April 5, 2013

Tweet   By Day      By Night       The Bairro Alto is truly a part of Lisbon’s soul. By day the Bairro (which means neighbourhood) is a picturesque working class quarter of the city with buildings dating back to the 16th century. By night the Bairro is one of Lisbon’s most lively  places  full […]

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The Baixa (downtown Lisbon)

April 4, 2013

Tweet The Heart of Lisbon is the  Baixa  (or the downtown) which stretches from the riverfront commercial square up to the main avenue (Avenida da Liberdade).  The area is often referred to as the Pombaline Baixa taking this name from its benefactor the 1st Marques of Pombal, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo.  He was a key figure in […]

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Restaurants in Lisbon open at Christmas and New Year 2010-2011

December 7, 2010

Tweet Once again this year, many of our clients have asked us what their options are for dining out in Lisbon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2010-2011. Last year, we were able to compile quite a comprehensive list of restaurants open at Christmas & New Year, but this year we’ve concentrated on the […]

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You Go: Lisbon Tourist Guides for the Mobile

October 25, 2009

Tweet The Director General of the Lisbon Tourist Board, Vítor Costa, has announced a new tourist guide available to be viewed on mobile devices, which provides tourist information and recommendations on several subjects for Portuguese tourists and also those from abroad who visit Lisbon, Sintra, Oeiras, Estoril or Mafra. The guides can be purchased at […]

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The Audi Q5 in Lisbon: A highly emotional tour guide

July 8, 2009

Tweet The video below comes courtesy of Audi TV. It is a promotional video for the Audi Q5, but it shows the wonderful city of Lisbon more than it promotes the car! This is a good visual guide to Lisbon, showing some of the city’s main sights – certainly not all of them, but enough […]

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