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Is Portugal Calling Your Name?

From Travel and Leisure to Conde Nast Traveller to 500 Hidden Secrets…everyone is obsessing over Portugal.

More than ever, I am getting asked about Portugal - my favorite spots, the best time of year to go, where to stay, what to see. Lisbon has seen a massive transformation since covid times, and now more than ever, it's time to experience the magic of this City and Country.

Let's start with the newest luxury hotel in the heart of Lisbon, The Ivens.
Designed by Catalan architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán known for creating numerous multi-segment environments, famous hotels, and restaurants.

There are several restaurants at the Ivens. The Bistro has the flavors of Italy with the authenticity of cooking on an open fire. The atmosphere resembles a traditional Italian osteria: unique, noisy, delicious.

The Crudo Bar takes you on a gastronomic journey to the best of the ocean in a unique atmosphere with stadium seating with a Beverly Hills vibe.

There's a world-class DJ spinning tunes in the bar area until late in the night. The Ivens is my top pick for the chicest place to dine in the city.

I am particularly impressed with the newly opened Sublime Lisboa, an elegant 20th-century townhouse turned into a 15-room luxury boutique hotel close to the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. It is incredibly chic, very well designed with a staircase that still has patina and creaky age lending to its authentic history. The moment you walk into the townhouse, it feels like home.

The newest hipster spot is Mama Shelter. It's young, bohemian Parisian in every sense of the word. Its quirky, irreverent style brings a whole new energy to the city.

I happen to be in Lisbon during the celebrations of Saint Anthony of Lisbon. The streets are decorated with colorful streamers, and the scent of grilled sardines is wafting through the air. There's a particular custom of gifting pots of basil to their special someone, which is a symbol of luck…romantic luck 😘

You must tap the top of the plant with your hand and take in the scent. I have never smelled more fragrant basil… FYI it's not your typical basil. It just grows during this time, and there are pots of it everywhere!

There is a main procession down Avenida da Liberdade, filled with colorful floats and even more colorful costumes. Each neighborhood is represented, and at the end, one neighborhood is chosen as the winner of the "Popular Marches."

Lisbon is packed like I've never seen before.

Other notable Hotels:
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz
Memmo Alfama
Memmo Principe

Another favorite is the Bairro Alto Hotel, which has incomparable rooftop views overlooking the Tejo river. On their rooftop terrace bar, you can enjoy some of the amazing wines of Portugal while enjoying a magical sunset. Lucky for us, it's a 5-minute walk from home and a stone's throw from Hermes 😘

From Alentejo to Douro, the wines are superb and, if I may say so myself, highly underrated. I have so many favorites; however, my suggestion is to try as many as you can…and have fun doing so😘

Then there's the Portuguese cuisine…

The most unlikely place you would think of for an amazing restaurant is the cruise ship terminal in Alfama. Head to Zunzum Gastrobar, by head chef Marlene Vieira. Its modern, Scandi-style, mostly red decor is lacking in design. Still, it more than makes up for it with the extraordinary food and cocktails.

XXL by Oliver is part of the group with some of the best restaurants in Lisbon like Yakuza, Seen, and KOB…took over XL during the pandemic, once a glamorous Sao Bento landmark restaurant in the 90s…a hotspot for jet setters, politicians and artists…and made it "bistro chic" again.

A drive to Guincho is a must if you want a lovely lunch on the ocean, overlooking gorgeous sand dunes and watching the crashing waves. Favorites of ours, Monte Mar and Furnas do Guincho.

Then there's a drive over Ponte 25th Abril to Caparica, where you will find several new beach clubs to enjoy and have fun by the sea. Two of the newest, Casa Reia, Praia Cabana do Pescador  and Clássico Beach Bar By Olivier.

My partner's personal favorite is Princesa.

Is it your first trip to Lisbon? I highly recommend if you want a first-class experience…reservations at the top restaurants, all the insider tips on what's new, etc... You hire one person, Monica from MCL Connecting.

This City Insider has connections everywhere and is a delight to work with that you may want to move to Lisbon! We did 😘

Favorite ice cream spot: Nannarella

Favorite spot for breakfast: healthy v, the mill

Favorite pizza place: I loved the pizza at Mama Shelter. If you want to sit by the water, try Casanova by the Santa Apolonia station or M'arrecreo. It's especially nice to take a pizza to go, sit at the Miradouro, and enjoy the city views as the sun sets.

Our favorite restaurant with the best sunset views: A Vela / Associação Regionalde Vela do Centro. It's a very simple, local restaurant we go to quite often.

Other notable spots:
jncquoi asia
O Palacio (like Ramiro minus the tourists)
ultimo porto
time out market
O frade in Belem

Something I've always wanted to do (and it should be top of list): sunset sail on the Tejo (Monica can arrange the perfect evening on the water)

Best miradouro: San Pedro do Alcantara (there are 7 hills in lisbon, 7 viewpoints but this one is my favorite)

For shopping, there are very few places to recommend; however, the main street in barrio alto/principe real would be my choice for smaller brands and more artisanal pieces.

I do love the linens from Stro. Their scarves, shirts, and tees are of lovely quality, and I'm all about beautiful fabrics. Of course, if you're into the big brands, all are on the Avenida Liberdade… except Hermes, which is in the center of Chiado.

Another place I love for gifts is this 7th generation candle shop just up the hill from Hermes - Casa das Velas Loreta. Established 14th of July, 1789, coincidentally the same date as the french revolution. I love buying their handmade candles as gifts at this historic landmark business.  

I'm obsessed with bordallo pinheiro; bring an empty carry-on and shop till you drop.

As crazy as it sounds, one of my all-time favorite grocery stores is at El Corte Ingles. I can only buy groceries there. Don't go when you're hungry because it has everything imaginable (half of which I bring back to Miami with me) like specialty salts, olive oils, and the others that get consumed immediately like their enormous cheese selection, cured meats, chocolates, and a caramel ice cream made with almond tart crumbled inside that is out of this world. The grocery store reminds me of the best grocery ever in Paris at Le Bon Marche.

Well, this should keep you busy…

Happy Travels!
Viagens felizes!

Karen xx

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