Lisbon’s neighbourhoods and what they are like

Lisbon is home to many different neighbourhoods. Each has its own exciting things to feel and different things to discover. Here’s just a few of the areas which you can explore here in the city:

1. Alfama/Graça

Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon and the area from which the city sprawled from to become modern-day Lisbon.

The cobbled streets are narrow and the tiny houses are toppled on top of each other in a seemingly impossible way.

Although the area is a major hit with tourists, there are still many older Lisboan residents who live in this area. Older Portuguese women sitting with their doors open and speaking to each other from across the street is a common and heart-warming sight to behold. Community is the defining word in this neighbourhood.

Alfama is the home of Fado music – traditional Portuguese folk music which you can listen to in many of the restaurants in the area while enjoying some traditional Portuguese food and a glass of local wine.

2. Bairro Alto/Bica

Bairro Alto and Bica are the trendiest areas in the city and the hotspots for nightlife. During the evening, it is the perfect place to begin your night, with a drink socialising on the street in the summer months, or inside bars listening to some musicians during the cooler times of the year.

There are some excellent places to eat in this area, such as Estrela da Bica, a creative and inexpensive Portuguese tapas restaurant.

This area is around a 10-minute walk from LUSA and can be a good place for students to stay if they are looking for somewhere that is lively and easy to reach from all parts of the city.

3. Baixa-Chiado

This district could definitely be described as ‘shabby-chic’. It is mostly frequented by shoppers, since it is jam-packed with places to buy clothes, souvenirs, and anything else you are looking for.

Praça Rossio is a great place to go for an evening drink of Ginginha – a local alcoholic spirit which tastes of cherry.

Restaurants tend to be geared towards tourists so you are better off eating elsewhere if you are looking for value-for-money. However, the newly renovated Palácio do Chiado is a must see. The concept of the owners was to maintain some of the old antique features of the palace, but bring the building into the modern era. Now, the palace is beautiful restaurant and social area, which offers a range of excellent different food and drink option, including high-quality sushi.

4. Príncipe Real/Sāo Bento/Estrela

This area is home to some of the most gorgeous green spaces in Lisbon. The botanic gardens, located close to the university are the perfect place to wile away the hours during the warm summer months – a real getaway from the city.

The Jardim da Estrela is the best place in the city to lie on the grass, relax, and read a book. In the summer months there are often musicians playing and the park is popular with families.

In Príncipe Real, there are antiques markets and stalls selling organic produce on some days of the week. There’s also a lot of boutique designer shops around this area for those who like the finer things in life.

5. Mouraria/Martim Moniz/Intendente

This area is the most multicultural in all of Lisbon. The area is in a period of change, after many years of being considered unsafe and run-down. Now, there are an abundance of renovation projects, including excellent ‘associations’, which often organise community events for the area.

There are also an abundance of fun and pocket-friendly bars and cafes serving excellent food, with appealing terraces for the summer months, such as the Praça Martim Moniz and Largo do Intendente. In the summer, there are often street acts in the evening time which you can watch with some petiscos, a coffee, or a cold beer.

There are also a number of Chinese and Indian supermarkets here if you are looking for some exotic ingredients to cook with.

6. Marquês de Pombal/Campo do Ourique

This is a favourite of young Portuguese locals. It is far removed from the tourism industry in Lisbon and is really a place to live, rather than visit.

Check out the Mercado de Campo de Ourique – also known as the ‘mini Time-Out market’. It’s a popular spot to have great food and wine and buy handcrafts and cheese.

The area is also just a small walk from the Jardim da Estrela, one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city.

7. Ajuda/Belém

This area is just a 10-minute train from LUSA. Belém is home to the a number of incredible art galleries, such as the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) and the newly opened Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT).

Belém is also home to the famous ‘Pastéis de Belém’ – a shop which sells the best custard tarts in Portugal. They are served warm and there is often a queue that round far past the door all-year-round.

In the summer months, the Brunch Electronik festival runs every Sunday during the day in a field in Ajuda. For music lovers, it’s the perfect place to blow off some steam before the week starts again.

8. Line Cascais

If you are a beach-bum looking for an escape from city life, the train line which runs to Cascais has a number of places to stay or just visit for the day, such as Parede or Carcavelos. The journey time is between 20-30 minutes from LUSA so it is possible to stay in one of these villages and commute for your language lessons.

The beaches can get extremely crowded in the summer so it is best to get down early to bag your spot. Because of Lisbon’s temperate climate, it is still possible to enjoy time at the beach as late as the beginning of November and to start going back again as early as March.

The villages along the line to Cascais tend to be populated with Portuguese locals and have retained a very authentic feel. It is also a lot cheaper to live in this area than in the Lisbon city centre.

9. Cascais and Estoril

Cascais is an area in and of itself. A beautiful suburb in Lisbon which is right by the beach. It’s a great spot for a day trip out of Lisbon and there are plenty of fantastic restaurants to eat, and parks to chill out in the summer.

It’s the ideal spot for families, who want to stay close to Lisbon without the hustle and bustle of city life.

Wherever you choose to stay during your time here, Lisbon really has a spot for everyone.


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