Among the seven sun-drenched hills of Lisbon lies a mix of districts, each boasting a unique history, unparalleled sights and outstanding restaurants. Explore our expert guide to Lisbon’s best neighborhoods and discover hidden gems to visit while in the city.
Lisbon doesn’t skimp on history. Vintage trams trundle through the cobbled hillside roads, Moorish architecture punctures the skyline and grand monuments illustrate the city’s past. But the Portuguese capital’s rich heritage is just the start.
As you begin to venture through its different districts, Lisbon’s charm unfolds before you. Let your taste buds lead you through a culinary goldmine, drink in the beauty of the city’s lofty miradouros (viewpoints) and relax in the quaint, sun-drenched parks.
Whether you’re a history buff or keen foodie, discover the best Lisbon neighborhoods to explore during your trip with our handy guide.
Begin your adventure in the Portuguese capital at Baixa, Lisbon’s vibrant downtown district. This attractive area was rebuilt in the aftermath of the catastrophic 1755 earthquake, which destroyed a great chunk of the city. With its sweeping grand avenues, magnificent plazas and friendly cafés, charming Baixa now serves as the true heart of the city.
Enter through the city’s gateway, Praça do Comércio, and enjoy the neoclassical architecture peppered throughout this pocket of Lisbon. Stop off at Igreja de São Domingos, the beautiful Baroque church that managed to survive the infamous city-shattering quake. Walk between the beautiful sculptures and pillars dotted throughout the building and experience a dose of 13th-century history.
Back outside, leave the capital’s streets and descend into the Millennium bcp Foundation Archaeological Centre for a subterranean adventure. A fascinating tour will take you through layers of ruins dating back to the Iron Age, with a resplendent Roman mosaic and a Visigoth burial site to see.
As evening descends on the city, make your way to Bairro Alto. While sleepy by day, at night, this district comes to life. The neighborhood, perched high above the old town, is alive with revelers after dark, creating an electric atmosphere that’s hard to resist.
Allow yourself to be drawn into the magnetic restaurants and bars packed into this hilly district – BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto is one of the best in the area. Spend an evening at this cozy spot wine tasting and sampling tapas – the platters of artisanal cheeses and meats are outstanding. On your way home, swing by lively Alface Hall, a retro jazz and blues bar, and enjoy an intimate concert free of charge.
Trace Roman, Arabic and medieval history in Lisbon’s Old Town. Meander through the warren of narrow streets, filled with the smell of freshly grilled sardines and the sound of live fado, and enjoy the ultra-laidback atmosphere.
Within the ancient quarter, you’ll find the Portas do Sol lookout point which serves up stunning views of the terracotta rooftops, remarkable churches and shimmering river. If you can tear yourself away from the incredible vistas, venture deeper into the district and visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.
Here you can uncover the history of the azulejo, those exquisite hand-painted tiles that can be found throughout much of the city, inside an epic 16th century convent. Be enthralled by the artful exhibition, which dedicates itself to more than 500 years of Portuguese history and craftsmanship. Walk through the colorful collection and drop by the site’s Baroque church to discover a mesmerizing blend of elaborate gilt, frescoes and, of course, tiles.
After a busy day of sightseeing, eat like a local at Ti-Natércia. There are only a half-dozen tables, but bag one of them and you’ll enjoy a perfect evening of Portuguese home cooking. Expect classic dishes to arrive at your table, such as oven-baked salted cod and shredded codfish with béchamel.
Venture further down the coastline to beautiful Belém, home to a treasure trove of sights and attractions. Number one on the list is Jerónimos Monastery, with its mind-blowing Manueline architecture. Marvel at the ornate statues, lavish carvings and exquisite arches decorating both the inside and outside of the church – it’s quite the sight to behold.
This pocket of the city is also renowned for its pastéis de belém. Discover what all the fuss is about at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, where thousands of the sweet treats are baked daily, following a much-coveted 180-year old recipe from the monks of neighboring Jerónimos Monastery.
One bite of the crispy puff pastry nest, filled with a creamy lemon-tinged custard, will transport you to dessert heaven and back. Take yours to go and wander around neighboring Jardim Botânico Tropical. The serene gardens, filled with hundreds of flora species, make for an idyllic picnic spot.
The well-heeled crowd glide along Principe Real’s streets, lined with boutiques, beautiful pastel-hued residences and trendy eateries. Join them and browse designer threads along the palm-lined Avenida da Liberdade.
The strip weaves from Baixa up to the city’s main park, Parque Eduardo VII, which unfolds itself over B one of highest points in the city. Wander to the top of the sloping parterre, or formal garden, then turn around and soak up the view down the lush gardens and out over the twinkling river.
Slip off the main drag and head for Embaixada, a one-of-a-kind shopping gallery. Housed in a gorgeous former 19th-century palace, this show-stopping destination boasts neo-Moorish architecture and regal art along with the goods on sale, including fragrant soaps, handmade purses and stunning home accessories.
From here, stop by O Prego da Peixaria, where the delicious prego, Portugal’s answer to the sandwich, delights customers with its succulent flavors. We recommend the classic version – a garlicky steak patty sandwiched between slightly sweet bolo do caco buns. During the summer, you may want to retreat to the shady respite of Jardim Do Príncipe Real to enjoy your lunch. Centered around a gorgeous cedar tree, this romantic square and garden is the perfect spot to eat, relax and people watch.
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