If you come to Lisbon, you cannot miss Alfama, one of the most picturesque and historical medieval neighborhood, a mesh of small tiny streets, cul-de-sacs and stone stairs. Here lives a mixed population, people of all ages, “true” lisboners or lost tourists come to visit or to listen Fado. Like in many other places in Lisbon, you’ll find here also some of the most spectacular viewpoints of the Tagus river and the city. Here you can still find various forms of traditional commerce, as well as nice quaint little restaurants and bars. From the apartment you can walk to the majority of the most popular sightseeing destinations, such as the “Castelo de S. Jorge” the “Sé” or the “Baixa Pombalina”. For transportation, walk, or go down to Santa Apolónia the main train station and its recently opened metro station, or use the popular tram n°28 that zigzags through Alfama and pursues its trip up and down the hills of Lisbon. Although of restricted access by car, there are several parking facilities nearby.
This sector of the city often called « Avenidas Novas » is the actual traditional business centre of Lisbon with large avenues bordered with trees, linking in-town parks like Eduardo VII Park in the continuity of the avenida da Liberdade or the garden of the Gulbenkian Foundation which surrounds the museum of same name or pleasant green squares like Praça de Londres or Alameda. The Gulbenkian museum is a « must » of all types of art gathered by a distinguished collector Calouste Gulbenkian ; you must visit it, you will be surprised !
In this vast district, a couple of separate shopping areas : Saldanha, El Corte Ingles or the Avenida de Roma, each of them is very animated and busy with all facilities of a modern city : restaurants, shopping centres, cinemas… On-site you will find all commodities for your day-to-day shopping like a true “Lisboeta”, with groceries and bakeries around the corner.
One of the major asset of the place is its proximity to many types of public transportation, buses or metro lines take you to the historical centre in a 15 min ride. You are also at walking distance of the Entrecampos or Areeiro train stations and from there you can go and visit the royal city of Sintra or reach the other side of the Tagus River and its large white sand beaches.
Don’t forget cultural life with several cultural centres like the Instituto Franco Português or the Culturgest entertainment hall. Here are continuously programmed a mix of music, contemporary ballet shows and art exhibitions, and don’t miss the Portuguese bull fight corridas in the Campo Pequeno arenas a few blocks away.
From Lisbon, take the red bridge, on the other side of the Tagus river you are already in Alentejo. Midway between Lisbon and Setubal, the region of Azeitão offers various aspects well worth trying for most people : well known wines under Terras do Sado name and Moscatel of Setubal, international level golf courses with their exclusive mansions. You are next to the Arrabida Mountain Natural Park with spectacular cliffs plunging into the sea and harbour villages like Sesimbra. A little further along, the huge white sand beaches of the Atlantic. The access to Lisbon is quick via motorway but a car is mandatory to get around in the area.
Bairro Alto is the best known part of Lisbon. Everybody has heard or read of this strange area, located at the top of one of the seven hills of Lisbon. Forming a grid of narrow streets, the part of the city is famous for being a nightlife hot spot, starting its activity early with shopping in Portuguese fashion designers shops and galleries, continuing with any type of restaurants and finally at dark with numerous bars, discotecas or Fado houses full of people until the following morning. The rest of Lisbon is also so close !The Bairro Alto has a very central position, it is then so easy to walk to Chiado and go downstairs to Rossio and Baixa or with the Gloria funicular.
The Baixa which means “downtown” is delimited by a hill on each side : Chiado and Bairro Alto on one side and the Castelo hill on the other side. Until the end of the XIXth century, the city was entirely dedicated to the trade business with the Indies. Any ship coming from the colonies would dock at Terreiro do Paço. It is in this same area that king D. Manuel ordered his Palace to be built in the XVIth century. But in 1755, an earthquake destroyed entirely this part of the city and it had to be reconstructed, following this time a geometric grid design for streets and squares. Trade activity always took place in the Praça do Comercio under the arcades, by the Tagus river bank, but nowadays it gave place to Ministries. From the square start several shopping streets, like the rua Augusta, a very busy pedestrian street with cafes and stores. The Baixa area stretches until Rossio, the most central square of the city, famous for its cafés, like café “Nicola” or the pastry “Suiça”, but also for its train station, a beautiful monumental building with a superb typical façade of Manuelin style, where all trains leave to Sintra.
By the Tagus River, ten minutes away from the Praça do Comecio (Comercio square) byt the tramway number 15, Belem is one of the most sought after areas by tourists visiting Lisbon. Here many monuments can be found, from the Monastery of Jeronimos, through the Tower of Belem, the museum of Carosses, the Palace of the Presidency, the Museum of the Marine, and the monument of discoveries. Belem is also a cultural centre highly recommended as the Centro Cultural de Belem CCB has hosted the Museo Colecção Berardo since 2007, a magnificent private collection of contemporary art and another large hall with a very interesting program. And don’t miss the Pastelaria de Belem with its world-famous Pasteis de Nata (Belem Pastries) !!
Campo de Ourique
Between Basilica of Estrela and Prazeres, the Campo de Ourique district is at the same time a residential and shopping neighbourhood with its own life. Very animated on week days around the covered market where all the best fish, gorgeous fruit and fresh vegetables are sold. It is also here that Fernando Pessoa had spent the last 15 years of his life, in a house today converted into a museum. Many restaurants and typical bars around where you’ll meet the inhabitants of the area. Here people still say hello to each other when they meet in the streets like in the old days. In the middle of Campo de Ourique there is a garden, with its hundred-year-old trees, its ducks and other farm birds wandering around, and old men like to spend some time here playing cards or just commenting the latest football game seen on TV. This district is very well connected to the rest of the city via buses or the tramway 28 in less than half an hour.
Campo de Santana
The freguesia of the Pena which comprises the Sant’Ana hill is one of the oldest historical district in Lisbon. In 1580 died here the famous poet Luis de Camões, author of « Os Lusiadas » and in 1920 was born in the same place Amalia Rodrigues, the well-known portuguese fadista. This quiet neighbourhood has still many XVIIIth et XIXth century palaces, like the Palace of Bemposta, residence of the queen D.Catarina de Bragança, widow of king Charles II of England, in early XVIIIth century.
Only 100 mètres away, have a walk in the garden of Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, a green space in the center of the city with a public parking lot. Here you will be surprised by the spontaneous religious fervour of Portuguese people who have honoured the statue of doctor Sousa Martins in front of the faculty of medecine for more than a century. Don’t forget that you are located at the top of a hill and go to the Miradouro / Garden of Torel and admire the view over the occidental part of the city, the avenue of Liberdade, the Eduardo VII park and the São Roque hill. Two choices are for you if you want to go down to the center and towards Rossio or the avenue da Liberdade : walking down the calçada de Santana, a very steep slope leading to the squares of Rossio with many restaurants and shopping zones or alternatively (and a MUST for the return) take the funicular of Lavra, the first transportation to overcome a hill in Lisbon 120 years ago, it links the Largo da Anunciada (at the foot of the hill) with the Travessa do Forno do Torel (at the top).
The neighborhood of Costa do Castelo features some of the most spectacular viewpoints of Lisbon. If you simply stroll around for a quick 30 minute walk, you will have views over most of the city and the Tagus river. Should you go up to the terraces of the São Jorge Castle, Lisbon will lie underneath at your feet. From here, turn towards the ocean and spend hours just watching the perfect geometry of the Baixa Pombalina. The Miradouro of Santa Luzia, just in front of Largo das Portas do Sol is only a few hundreds of meters away, so is the sector of Alfama in its vicinity of the Tagus. In the Baixa, a 5 minute walk from here, you’ll find a very busy shopping area where typical portuguese shops stand next to those with the newest brands of the market.
The Chiado is a multi facet neighbourhood : at the same time historical with nice and elegant houses, shopping area with chic boutiques in rua Garrett and cultural centre of Lisbon with theatres, the São Carlos opera house and many historical cafes. Chiado spreads out from the Bairro Alto, next to Luis Camões Square or Largo do Carmo and goes downhill to reach the banks of the Tagus river or towards the Rossio Square in the lower part of the city. In other words, you are here at the very centre of the city, a district entirely rebuilt at the end of the 18th century after the earthquake and more recently after a huge fire in 1988. But the place is mostly known as a shopping area, go down the Garrett street towards Baica and Rossio Square. If you simply look for restaurants, bars, night clubs or fado houses in the Bairro Alto, you only have to climb the stairs, or if you prefer take the Gloria Funicular or even the 19th century Santa Justa elevator to the top of the hill. On the south slope, the Chiado goes down to the banks of the river called “Mar de Palha” (straw sea), next to the metro and train station of “Cais do Sodré” which will allow you to reach the beaches along the coast of Estoril or Cascais in about 45 minutes, unless you prefer to cross the Tagus using one of those typical boats called “Cacilheiro” from the Maritim Station. For food shopping, you’ll enjoy the market across the street with fresh fish coming right from the Setubal harbor, juicy fruits and fresh vegetables.
If you want to have a feel of the Lisbon life choose this neighbourhood located on hills overlooking the city and next to Lapa. Enjoy the calm of the residential area of Estrela, famous for its Basilica and a very pleasant luxuriant garden. Here you are also at a walking distance of Santos, another nightlife sector of the capital, and hundred meters away from the São Bento Parliament, the most famous fado singer Amalia´s Museum House and the antique shops of São Bento Street. You will both appreciate the calm of Estrela and the immediate proximity of all the centres of interest of the Portuguese capital and many types of restaurants or typical shops. The “Rato” underground station is about 350 metres or 5 minutes walk. This district is well connected to the rest of the city via buses or the tramway 28 in less than a quarter of an hour.
The Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) was the site of the Expo ‘98. This exhibition has been the engine of a complete remodelling of this former industrial area, and the result is astonishingly and positively surprising. It is true that the most prestigious architects of the world built here many superb buildings like the Oriente railway station, the 14km long Vasco da Gama Bridge and Tower or the Portugal Pavillion. But after the Expo, the area also kept its full activities and attractiveness for both locals and tourists with the Oceanarium of Lisbon, the Pavilhão Atlantico with major top star concerts and Casino Lisboa recently opened. It also became the new heart of the business city with plenty of headquarter offices, restaurants and shopping areas. Not to be too isolated from the historical part of the city, the Expo offers good transportation facilities with metro or bus links with other part of the capital.
If you want to have a feel of the Lisbon life choose this neighbourhood located on hills overlooking the city and the Tagus river. The famous old stylish tramways n°28 or 25 go across this zone. From those streets going down towards the river, you’ll have some of the best scenic views. Enjoy the calm of the residential area of Lapa with its elegant “Palacetes”, often occupied by embassies. But you are at a walking distance of Santos and Alcantara, other nightlife sectors of the capital. The Estrela basilica is hundred meters away, so are many other monuments to visit like Museu da Arte Antiga or the São Bento Parliament house. In the Lapa street, you will find restaurants, cafes and typical portuguese shops.
Linha de Cascais
The Estoril coast, from Oeiras to Cascais is composed of various coves with nice sand beaches in Carcavelos, Parede or Estoril, all good for water sports practice and in particular for surfing. Even though the water is very fresh in all seasons, you will enjoy living by this coast, swimming or sunbathing on the beaches, walking on the coast trail or even shopping in Cascais. Besides its lovely situation, the firsherman’s village of Cascais has become in a few years an elegant shopping area with many fashion boutiques and nice restaurants. Cultural life around is not forgotten, Cascais, the Estoril’s casino and a few local Summer Jazz festivals have good entertainment programming for your pleasure.
One of the major asset of the place is its proximity of the beach you can easily access by foot. A train station is very close and to go to Lisbon a train is leaving every 20 minutes and will drop you inside the city in 30 minutes.
Principe Real, the historical heart of the city; if you want to have a feel of the Lisbon life with everything at walking distance, choose Principe Real neighbourhood. This area is ideally located on the top of a hill which Lisbon is so famous for, with superb views of the city and the Tagus river. Principe Real is well-known for its delicious garden with exotic and rare trees, but also a café under the branches of a giant tree next to a bio market every Saturday morning. You are a couple of streets away from Bairro Alto where you’ll find hundreds of restaurants and bars at night. If you pass by the São Pedro de Alcantara viewpoint, you can also reach easily the shopping areas of Chiado or Rossio by street elevator. If you go down the other way, you’ll discover typical old streets leading to São Bento Parliament House where you find any type of restaurants and typical Portuguese antiques shops. In this neighbourhood, many restaurants, concept stores, chic boutiques and antiques shops will delight you.
In tourist guides, Santa Catarina area is famous for its viewpoint overlooking the Tagus river and the lower part of the city. But likewise the Bairro Alto next door, it is a typical neighbourhood with tiny streets, stairs and reckons. Here we are in the upper part of the city in a true historical area, also famous for its tramway 28 and adjacent to the entertaining Bairro Alto. Since it is a car transit restricted zone, you should enjoy the calmness of the day-to-day life of local citizens. But don’t be afraid of being isolated, the tramway is in the next street, the elevator Bica can also give you a ride to the lower part of the city; and 300 meters away starts the shopping zone of Chiado with the praça Luis Camões. Should you go the other direction, typical streets will lead you to the Parliament house in São Bento, a place for antiques shops.
Between Santos and Lapa, come and have a taste of the Lisbon life in this lower part of the city by the Tagus river. Enjoy the calm of this residential area, at a walking distance of the typical and popular streets of Madragoa. You will both appreciate the charm of the cobbled streets of Santos and the immediate proximity of all the centres of interest of the Portuguese capital city. The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art) is only a few hundred meters away and you are 6 stops by tram or bus away to Praça do Comercio, five minute walk to the river front. Santos is the new « Design » district of the city and is known for its multi-personality environments where in the same day you can be at the park, visit an Art Gallery, enjoy a nice meal by the river and dance all night in one of the many bars and night-clubs. Here the charming yellow tramways N°25 are still circulating. Many restaurants, cafés and Portuguese shops around and you can even experiment the Market of Ribeira a few minutes away, and buy there fresh fish debarked from Setubal or gorgeous fruits and vegetables.