Originally published in Travel Age West
Lisbon, Portugal, offers an array of visual inspiration for art and design enthusiasts, ranging from centuries-old sculptures and paintings to modern street art that revitalizes the community with splashes of color. Travelers to this seaside city will most likely find themselves meandering along intricately pattered sidewalks and admiring the azulejos (distinctively detailed ceramic-painted tiles) adorning the city’s architecture.
Food lovers adore award-winning chef Jose Avillez’s stunning and stylish Belcanto, the molecular gastronomy restaurant that has two Michelin stars. Located in the town’s revitalized Chiado district, Belcanto’s dining room has been recently refurbished, and its menu reflects the chef’s artistic cuisine. Creative standouts include: Dip in the Sea (sea bass, mussels and razor clams) and the Mandarin dessert (a frozen citrus dessert with light, flavorful foam) to finish off the meal. Fans of Avillez also make it a point to visit his four other lively and notable eateries just steps away. Each has its own personality, decor and offerings: Cafe Lisboa is situated on Sao Carlos Square, Mini Bar spotlights innovative cocktails and snacks, Cantinho do Avillez blends traditional and modern cuisine and the casual Pizzaria Lisboa offers a friendly, yet eclectic, ambiance.
The iconic Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is home to one of Portugal’s largest private contemporary art collections, displayed throughout the entire property. Overlooking the city, the majestic hotel features approximately 60 pieces of artwork specifically commissioned for the hotel’s opening in 1959. Guests are invited to explore the collection through a free iPad app that provides a historical and cultural tour showcasing statues and paintings by famous Portuguese contemporary artists such as Pedro Leitao, Estrela Faria and Querubim Lapa. Art aficionados consider a collection highlight to be tapestries by Jose de Almada Negreiros.
Tooling around sunny Lisbon in a 1940s-era motorcycle sidecar not only makes for a memorable afternoon, but it offers a unique vantage point from which visitors can learn about this picturesque city and its diverse artwork. The Sidecar Touring Company launched an art excursion that focuses on the vibrant street art and multihued murals that have appeared across the city in recent years. Company founder (and frequent driver), Joao Soares created Sidecar Touring more than 10 years ago to share his own local perspective of the city. The company also offers food excursions and scenic jaunts to the beach. Drivers can accommodate two passengers per vehicle, and trips for groups can be arranged.