| Non-native advice || Nov 30, 2004 |
I hope some people more knowledgeable than I will chip in, but since we usually go to Lisbon once a year in early September, perhaps I can get the ball rolling.
First of all, here's a site with lots of informal tips in English as a substitute for other replies.
We nearly always stay at the Ibis Hotel that is right off the Avenida da Liberdade (link below). Ibis is not for everyone, but we spend little or no time in the hotel except for a couple of beers in the evening. It is not cute, but central, plain vanilla, and clean. In September we paid EUR 64/night. The beds are hard or firm, depending on your point of view. Other people might call the hotel sterile, but we always get into conversations with the receptionists and other guests.
Our friends who joined us last September liked the breakfast, which we never take (it's a buffet, which offers too much for us and costs EUR 15, I think) - we always go down the street to the cafe next to the newspaper kiosk. A few steps on is the Avenida, which is my favorite part of Lisbon. It is lined on both sides by plane trees (probably with brown leaves or bare in the winter, unfortunately) and paved with small white square stones, interspersed with black medallion mosaics. The white stones (limestone) have a magical sheen. To me it is like walking on mother-of-pearl. The walk down to the Praco do Comercio and Tejo River is fantastic, especially at twilight.
Most of our activities are outdoors, so will probably be far less appealing in the winter unless it is mild: a day riding around in the old trolley cars and walking around in Alfama, the castle, the Fado Museum, the Jardim da Estrela (which has a tiny lending-library kiosk so you can read in the park even if you forgot to bring a book or a newspaper), and the old and beautifully tiled micro-brewery Cervejaria da Trindade in Bairro Alto. We also spend a day at the beach at Caparica, but that's not an option in the winter. The aquarium built for the Expo is fascinating, if you like that sort of thing (the otters are fantastic), and we usually go to the zoo (expensive) to see the elephants and the botanical garden (Estufa fria).
There are also a lot of museums, and on some future trip I will go to the Gulbenkian collection, which one of our friends with us last September raved about, and the museum of modern design.
I'd recommend restaurants, but I can only describe how to find them, not the street names, and at least half the pleasure of Lisbon from my point of view is walking around and discovering places (at least in good weather).
Watch out for pickpockets and dark alleys as you would as a tourist anywhere, and take comfortable shoes because the city is hilly and walking on the limestone pavement can be tiring.
Have a nice trip and a happy New Year.
[Edited at 2004-11-30 20:01]
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