Though not exactly coindicent with formal divisions of the city, the neighbourhoods (or 'bairros', as they're called in portuguese) are the areas everyone will know when you're asking for directions. This is a selection of the obligatory ones to visit, mostly around the center of Lisboa, and a fraction of the activities you can find nearby.
Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, a picturesque area where you can lose yourself in a maze of medieval streets and find marvelous hidden spots at every turn. Over the years, it has been loosing some of its charm due to the constant presence of turism. Enjoy the many restaurants, popular touristic sights and monuments, but don't leave without wandering about and breathing old Lisboa, appreciating it for what is really is!
The tranquil neighbourhood of São Vicente was built on a hill, offering several viewpoints of the city and the river below. Some historic monuments are located here, aswell as the iconic Feira da Ladra market, and closer to the river the housing gives way to trendy restaurants and bars with priviledged sights of the Tejo!
Sitting on the highest of Lisboa's hills, Graça district grew with a mixture of rich habitation and monuments and working-class houses, large squares and narrow streets. There are also several great gardens, small and large squares, and fantastic viewpoints, making this one of the most diverse areas of the city. A great place for an afternoon outside, and with a good nightlife side aswell.
The district of Mouraria got its name from medieval times, when the moors where relocated to this part of the city. Nowadays, it is the city's most multicultural area, with an abundance of markets, stores and restaurants that reflect the many nationalities of the people crossing the street everyday. It is also home of several fado houses and liquor stores that are tipically portuguese, and alternative cultural hubs.
The elegant Baixa de Lisboa, or just 'Baixa', is the famous grid of streets between Rossio and Terreiro do Paço. Its boulevards are filled with cafes, restaurants, a multitude of shops, rich brands and companies. There is constant movement of tourists and other visitors, making it one of the busiest areas of Lisboa! Walk through the iconic Rua Augusta arch to find Terreiro do Paço and the Tejo river!
Chiado is considered to be the center of portuguese romanticism, connected to intellectual and literary figures, and today breathes an active cosmopolitan atmosphere. Here you can find many new and antique bookstores, cafes where Fernando Pessoa and Eça de Queiroz were costumers, a great number of theaters and museums and the Fine-Arts Faculty of Lisboa. This is also the home of Convento do Carmo, one of the stages of the April 25th Revolution.
A lovely neighbourhood that has been growing more and more trendy over the years, this is the elegant 'bairro' of Príncipe Real. Along its wide streets you will find antique stores, museums, fresh gardens, restaurants and alternative market stores. The nightlife is also a highlight of the area, with several clubs and bars scaterred around.
The always busy Santa Catarina's streets will have you walking up and down in big slopes. To escape that for a while, try the very concurred Bica tram. Very close-by sits the marvellous Miradouro de Santa Catarina, around which you will find a variety of shops and cultural options, along with restaurants, clubs and bars that make this district a lively place all day and night.
Up north, Bairro Alto's usual day atmosphere shares tradition with avant-garde, the elderly living in communion with the bohemian. There are old cafes and restaurants, stores and cultural spots. But the neighbourhood is mostly famous for its night activity, when the streets become full of all kinds of people enjoying the varied nightlife options, for all tastes.
Cais do Sodré centers around the 24 de Julho Avenue, its train station serving as a meeting point from where the crowds of people catch the trams, buses and trains. There are a few great spots to discover, and the sights of the riverside never get old! At night though, Cais do Sodré becomes a center of nightlife, its streets packed at the entrance of live music clubs, bars and other entertainment options.
As you can see, besides the classic ones (Alfama, Baixa and Chiado), the city has a wide variety of colors, flavours and ambiances that range from medieval, to modern, to trendy, from relaxing, to peaceful, to full of activity! When passing by Lisboa, be sure to take your time to wander about and absorb as much as you can!
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