With year round sunshine, a plethora of easy day trips and an incredibly walkable center full of vibrant restaurants, shops and bars Portugal’s capital has become one of Europe’s top travel destinations.
Crushed by an earthquake in 1775 Lisbon has both older and “newer” parts of town. All are easily walkable if you are up for a hike, as Lisbon spans out over a few hills, much like San Francisco. Here are snapshots of four of the city’s most emblematic neighborhoods.
My personal favorite district in Lisbon is Principe Real.. Set atop one the city’s western hills, Principe Real is a hip, local zone with wonderful shopping, dining, cobblestone streets and small plazas that speak of old Lisbon. Principe Real boasts numerous panoramic vista spots dotted with small cafes and bars - check out the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara for great view. And for a secluded romantic plaza with small eclectic shops and restaurants surrounding beautiful fountain make sure to stop at Praca Das Flores. One of my favorite eateries in the plaza is a middle eastern restaurant, Cafe Terhan. Sit on the patio to enjoy the square. If you are up for shopping make sure to stop at Embaixada, a stylish emporium for goods make in Portugal.
Down the hill from Principe Real you will find Chiado - an elegant and bustling neighborhood with shops and bars all housed in glistening buildings which were restored after the earthquake. Rua Garrett is the main shopping street where both international stores as well as locally owned boutiques can be found. For a great break stop at the Manteigaria for a phenomenal pastel de nata - Lisbon’s famed custard tart. One of my favorite hotels in Lisbon is at the edge of Chaido, the Hotel Carmo located on the beautiful and quiet Carmo plaza.
Rossio is literally smack dab in the middle of it - in the middle of Lisbon, in the middle of bustling restaurants and shops, in the middle of ample public transport, and in the middle of tourists.
This is a great zone for people who want to be in the thick of it with easy access to all neighbors, although not a great fit for those who prefer to stay in the quieter more hidden parts of a city. That being said, there are ample boutique local food shops and old classic restaurants that make this a must visit location. Feels like Home Rossio is a great hotel with a wonderful breakfast and staff just a few minute walk from the Rossio metro station.
Alfama is old Lisbon. Think small narrow pedestrian only streets, small restaurants and bars spilling out onto the cobblestone and beautiful buildings with tile work and hung laundry flowing from them. And with the sound of live Fado coming from just about every bar after dark, Alfama is about as old school and romantic as it gets. Alfama did not fall during Lisbon’s earthquake and boasts Lisbon’s great Castello and other antique buildings and structures - check out the tile museum for some artistic inspiration. While the rambling hilly streets with vistas and photo opportunities galore are delightful, it is also the most touristy part of the city, at times feeling saturated by the crowds. I would suggest visiting the area early in the morning or later at night to beat the crowds. And of course, if you need a break from the crowds stop in for a glass, or two, or three at the Wine Bar Do Castello, one of my favorite wine spots in Lisbon!