Farah Trading Co's wine and travel writer Joana here! Having lived in Lisbon for ten years I am excited to share with you my top Lisbon neighborhoods for you to explore.
Lisbon is the capital city, a hub for business, technology, arts and culture. While seemingly undiscovered for decades, Lisbon has recently become a hot spot attraction for visitors from around the globe. It's old world charm mixed with a cosmopolitan, artsy flare makes it an incredible destination to soak up all Europe has to offer. But with so many great diverse Lisbon neighbors to stay in, we often get asked for our top neighborhood picks.
By day Lisbon has a naive theatrical quality that enchants and captivates, but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments going down to meet her dark lover. – German Novelist, Erich Maria Remarque
Crushed by an earthquake in 1775 Lisbon has both older and “newer” neighborhoods. All of Lisbon's neighborhoods are easily walkable if you are up for a hike, as Lisbon spans out over a few hills, much like San Francisco.
Below we chronicle some of our favorite Lisbon neighborhoods for visitors to soak in the city, but in no way is exhaustive.
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.
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 a grand shopping street where both international stores as well as locally owned boutiques can be found. This is one of the best neighborhoods for shopping in Lisbon. Make sure to check out the Burel Factory showroom right off the main drag!
For a great break stop at either the Manteigaria or Pastelaria Aloma for a phenomenal pastel de nata - Lisbon’s famed custard tart. Check out our fill Pastel de Nata guide for more. One of my favorite hotels in Lisbon is at the edge of Chaido, the Hotel Carmo located on the beautiful and quiet Carmo plaza.
A Chiado Rooftop Bar
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 plenty of boutique local food shops and old classic restaurants that make this a must visit location.
Feels like Home Rossio is a great low key 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 in the wind. And with the sound of live Fado coming from just about every bar after dark, Lisbon's Alfama is about as old school and romantic as it gets.
Lisbon's Alfama neighborhood did not fall during Lisbon’s earthquake and boasts Lisbon’s great Castello.
The old streets of Alfama
This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon, the Moorish district. Increasingly popular, the neighborhood still holds most of its essence and character. as it has not totally been gentrified. There is a large immigrant community and this is a great place to get foods from across the globe.
You can feel its diversity and street culture while you walk the cobblestone streets and listen to the Fado music being sung until the late hours of the night.
And, if you head to Mouraria, make sure to look out for the portraits of the neighborhood's older residents which line the walls of this Lisbon neighborhood.
Wall portraits of the neighborhood's older residents
Bica is a very charming, traditional ... and vertical part of Lisbon. The entire Lisbon neighborhood sits on a slope leading from the Chaido district down to the waterfront.
The romantic and picturesque neighborhood is full of small walkways. Of much note is the Bica elevator, which you can take from near the water all the way up to the Chiado district; a great way to experience Lisbon's Bica neighborhood, and avoid its hills!
Streets of Bica
Barrio Alto, or the old town, is one of Lisbon's most lively areas for nightlife. After dark, people pour out of the small bars onto the cobblestone streets. If you are looking for young nightlife (think 2X1 mojitos) this is your spot - if you are looking for peace and quiet - this is not! During the day Barrio Alto is relatively quiet with some nice restaurants and shows worth a visit.
Santos and Lapa
Santos and Lapa are two adjacent Lisbon neighborhoods, closer to Lisbon's famed bridge. This part of town is dotted with embassies, small parks and small boutique cafes. While about a 15 minute walk from the bustling center of the old town, this is the perfect neighborhood for those who want it a little quieter, less touristy and upscale.
The beautiful view from the Lapa Palace hotel in Lapa