Spend a colourful 24 hours in Lisbon by bouncing from one artistic corner of the city to another. Lisbon has gained a reputation as one of Europe’s creative capitals and the city seems to be offering more unique venues and events in response. With all that choice where should you go if you only have one day to explore? Here’s Culture Trip’s art lover’s guide to Lisbon.
If there’s only time to visit one museum, the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology is a fantastic choice and represents Lisbon in a totally unique way. The building’s design symbolises local maritime history and doubles as a miradouro over the Tagus River. Inaugurated in the fall of 2016, it brings together entrepreneurs and forward thinkers from many backgrounds whose exhibits represent key elements in modern Portuguese culture, specifically architecture and technology.
Why not visit one of Europe’s most amazing art collections with pieces dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Donated to the city by Calouste Gulbenkian, this collection, mixing historical and contemporary art, took over 40 years to build and contains relics from numerous countries, cultures and eras.
Spend a day immersing yourself in modern and contemporary art at the Berardo Collection Museum. This permanent exhibition is the personal collection of businessman and art collector José Berardo. Featuring pieces that date back to the turn of the 20th century; they continue to represent the shift in art throughout the ages and looking ahead to the future.
Pois Café located on the edge of Alfama and near the Lisbon Sé Cathedral, is known as a tourist hangout but it is still a great and comfortable café where you can sit and work. Wicker chairs, sofas, and armchairs covered in pillows, provide cozy seating but there are wood chairs too in case you need that boost for productivity. The all-day menu includes coffee, sandwiches and a variety of snack items, and the kitchen only closes at 10 PM (opening hours are 10 AM every day except Monday when it opens at Noon).
Make a stop for coffee and/or lunch at this bright and cozy café that’s just a two-minute walk from the Santa Apolónia station. As its name suggests, the Arts Café has paintings decorating the walls and cute accents cheering up the place further (like colorful furniture and small vases on the tables filled with flowers). The menu is pretty full, too, with items ranging from traditional Portuguese pastries and toasties to salads, beer, juice, coffee, and more.
Founded in 2012, the Galeria Belo-Galsterer is a contemporary art gallery with an international and multicultural personality. The artists, who come from around the world, pull inspiration from their own unique perspectives and use many different ways to express themselves including sculpture, installations, and drawings. Located around the corner from Marquês de Pombal Square, it is centrally located and easy to find while exploring the city.
One stop on art tours through the Portuguese capital is the Galeria Graça Brandão, located in Lisbon’s eclectic Bairro Alto. Founded in 2006, the Galeria Graça Brandão shines a light on contemporary art created by some of the newest and best creatives in the Portuguese-speaking world.
This rainbow-hued mural consists of over 52,000 small azulejo tiles, making it Lisbon’s largest work of street art. Bright and seemingly random with international symbols like the Eiffel Tower and New York City skyscrapers, it showcases places and things with meaning to the artist. Of course, you’ll also see symbols from Lisbon like the Águas Livres Aqueduct and a cartoon caricature of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. To really enjoy the mural and take stunning photos, avoid visiting on Tuesdays and Saturdays when the city’s Feira da Ladra flea market is in progress.
Café Tati fosters a friendship between musicians, coffee, and its customers. This cafe puts on live music, often free performances by local musicians and creates a chilled environment for customers to relax and unwind. Come prepared with a big appetite when it comes to brunch; serving hearty portion sizes with all the brunch necessities (eggs, croissants, fruit and yoghurt), Café Tati’s friendly staff will ensure you leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
Café A Brasileira is Lisbon’s most famous cafe and one of the oldest of its kind, being in business since 1905. In the early 20th century, Brasileira used to be a meeting spot for the city’s writers, artists and journalists, most notably the poet Fernando Pessoa. The cafe has kept its traditional art nouveau decor and old carved wood furniture, however, it mostly attracts tourists today. Brasileira is also a great spot to have a quick coffee or drink before attending a show or theatre performance nearby.
In reality, you could spend an entire 24 hours dedicated to finding Lisbon’s street art, and many neighbourhoods have excellent examples of urban art. Graça is a traditional neighbourhood, characterised by narrow cobbled streets, steep hills, and local restaurants and cafés. Walk uphill from the stunning Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte, after taking photos of the view and you’ll see these two popular designs decorating the façades of old buildings.