I arrived in Lisbon on a sunny day of June and the shining image of the city gave me the feeling that I would love it. And I was not wrong!
Lisbon’s neighborhoods do not have well-defined boundaries, but you can see specific characteristics of each area you are crossing. When I was looking for accommodation, I tried to find an area that fit my requirements. All the information I gathered then, I will present below, with the thought that it might be useful to you.
- Rato, Principe Real and Avenida de la Liberdad represent the least tourist area of the city. However, the tourist attractions are about 10-15 minutes walk. In addition, being located in a higher area, you have amazing views over the city. If you want to feel the Portuguese daily atmosphere, this is the best choice. In Principe Real you will find many cool restaurants and in Avenida de la Liberdad many 4 stars hotels. The area has a subway and many buses.
- Baixa and Chiado are the heart of Lisbon. Here, the city reveals its own charm, given by the tiled houses, the cosy shops, theaters and the pedestrian streets. Praça do Comércio, Rua Augusta, Convento de Carmo and Igreja de Sao Roque are some of the tourist attractions not to be missed. If you want to have a panoramic view of Lisbon, go up with Santa Justas Elevator or walk to splendid terraces such as Mirraduro de Santa Catarina. Praca do Comercio is a huge square bordered on three sides by yellow buildings, in the Pombalina architectural style. In conclusion, this area is ideal for those wishing to reach, on foot, the main tourist attractions in the city.
- Alfama, the area with the steepest streets in the city, is perhaps the most charming part of Lisbon. In the past, Alfama was the neighborhood of sailors, dockers and poor people. In recent years, the authorities have contributed to the renovation of the houses and the markets, changing the image of a bad neighborhood. The central point is São Jorge Castle, the witness of the Roman and Visigoth occupations, as well as of the battles between the Christians and the Moors. Nearby, you can visit Se de Lisboa, the oldest cathedral in the city, as well as the church of Santo António de Lisboa, built on the birthplace of this saint. Alfama is also home to Panteão Nacional, the eternal place of Portugal’s kings and queens, the Fado Museum, Casa dos Bicos and Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. As you can see, there are many tourist attractions in Alfama, a great advantage to stay here. The big disadvantage is the steep streets.
- Belem is the place where Portuguese sailors started their journeys to discover India, East Africa and Brazil. Do not miss Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the monument erected in their honor and Torre de Belem, Lisbon’s most photographed tourist attraction. The Jeronimos Monastery is the best example of Manueline architecture, and the Fábrica Pastéis de Belém is the birthplace of a famous custard tart. There is no bakery or pastry shop in Lisbon that does not sell the famous tarts (pasteis de nata), but only here they are called pasteis de Belém. If you want to stay in Belem, you have to consider the long distance to the airport.
- Beato with the Azulejo National Museum and its industrial appearance and Parque das Nações the newest neighborhood of the city are bordered by the Tejo river. Gare do Oriente, Vasco da Gama Tower and Oceanário de Lisboa are the main landmarks. Basically, you walk into a different world, where concrete, steel and glass create a different landscape from the rest of the Portuguese capital. Parque das Nações is very close to the airport and has a subway, but it is about 8-10 km from the main tourist attractions.
- Bairro Alto is ideal for those who love nightlife. It is a colourful and popular part of the town with many restaurants and bars where you can enjoy listening fado. Bairro Alto is a maze of narrow streets, where we saw many beautiful buildings with walls full of unsightly graffiti. But do not despair, Lisbon also has some beautiful graffiti and street art that make you forget the ugly ones.
- Graça, one of Lisbon’s old neighborhoods, is located on the highest hill in Lisbon. The two viewing points, Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, can be the starting points for exploring the city, because from here you will be able to identify the main tourist attractions. However, it is not the ideal place of accommodation for those who want to explore the city on foot. The narrow, winding streets makes your tour very difficult.
- I think that Mouraria with Anjos, Intendente and Moniz is the most multicultural neighborhood, being the choice of most immigrants due to the small rents. I crossed it from the east to the west and I noticed the large number of buildings renovated or under renovation with splendid tiles. I think this area will be visited by more tourists in the future, eager to experience the cultural mix from this corner of Lisbon.
- São Bento – the political center and Estrella with the beautiful Jardin da Estrela park do not have many accommodation spaces or subway. However, do not avoid this charming area with many pedestrian streets, children’s playgrounds and quiet places to stop for a breath.
In my opinion, Lisbon is like a charming lady who aren’t afraid that the passing years let traces on her face. Don’t hesitate to visit it!