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What's new in Lisbon

Lisbon's Príncipe Real, a once overlooked hilltop district, is now stealing the show with a constellation of contemporary attractions

By Sarah Barrell
Published 8 Sept 2018, 16:00 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 10:18 BST
Cocktails at Memmo overlooking Lisbon.

Cocktails at Memmo overlooking Lisbon.

Photograph by Memmo

With no metro or tram stop, it's perhaps little wonder that few travellers make it to hilltop Príncipe Real. But the area is now on the tourist map with the reopening of the exotic Botanical Gardens, Príncipe Real's green heart that recently underwent a year-and-a-half of renovation. And with Lisbon Fashion Week kicking off on 11 October, this bairro is ready for its moment in the spotlight. The fair's main pavilion sits on the eastern edge of the neighbourhood, but you don't need to be a VIP to get in on the action. Just step into one of the boutiques on Rua da Escola Politécnica — you'll find the ateliers of some of the young designers celebrated at this year's Fashion Week here. There's also a gamut of chic stores, such as New Black Urban Concept Store last year, and Embaixada, a shop housed in a restored Moorish palace stocking everything from handmade shoes to organic skin cream. Whatever your penchant, it's time for this hood's close-up.

Tuck in — Local

Having opened its doors last summer, Local has hit all the right notes with the city's foodie crowd. The tiny 10-seater has a real chef's table buzz, serving a mini menu of creative, modern Portuguese plates dished up with Nordic flare. Rua do Século, 204.

Drink up — Pavilhão Chinês

Don't be fooled by the humble facade — it belies the screwball interior. The 'Chinese Pavilion' has been a local institution since the Eighties, so step inside for cocktails in a bar that's floor-to-ceiling with retro curiosities.

Bed down — Memmo

The area's pioneering five-star popped up in 2016 and is a 41-room, boutique treat: a modernist palace of cool whose pool, restaurant and rooms — complete with Portuguese tiles — offer VIP views across the city. A port tonic on the terrace is the drink of choice.

Follow @TravelBarrell

Published in the October 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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