by Marita Acosta
One of the things I most love about Portugal‘s capital this time of year is its festive lighting – those enormous decorations for Nadal (Christmas) enlivening the streets – along of course with its spectacular public Christmas trees. I recall wandering the historic Baixa (Lower Town), passing through the monumental Rua Augusta Arch, and emerging onto the enormous and usually empty Praça do Comercio to be dazzled by a towering evergreen packed full of holiday cheer (this square is also where folks come out to celebrate New Year’s Eve).
Some of Lisbon’s other most impressive holiday lighting displays can be found at the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre (Avenida Dom João II 40), reachable via the Metro’s red line to Estaçao do Oriente, 10 minutes from city centre. And furthermore, here are three other Yuletide favourites of locals and visitors alike:
The most colourful and festive areas, especially at this time of year, are the Baixa and neighbouring Chiado, the Bairro Alto, Príncipe Real, and Avenida da Liberdade (this last home especially to the most upscale brands).
The top special sweet of this time of year to try in the city’s cafés include Bolo Rei (King’s Cake), with raisins, nuts, and candied fruit; rebanadas (similar to French toast); sohnos (pumpkin fritters), and filhós (pumpkin doughnuts).
A Holiday Run
The São Silvestre Race is run on December 31st from Avenida da Liberdade.