“The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people!” - Fernando Pessoa
This Lisbon writer is buried at the Jerónimos Monastery in the city of Lisbon.
Are you dreaming of going to Portugal and have you already bought a ticket to Lisbon? Still looking for somewhere to stay?
Of 504,718 inhabitants, 25% are men and 27.7% women aged between 25 and 64. In thirty years, the Portuguese capital will lose around 300,000 of its inhabitants due to its ageing population. While there are around 4,000 abandoned buildings in Lisbon, with many in the Baixa neighbourhood, Lisbon is overpopulated in terms of tourists: 21 million tourists visited the city in 2017.
Are you also looking for somewhere to stay in Lisbon?
In this article, we’ll look at some different neighbourhoods you could stay in.
The Baixa Neighbourhood
You could stay in the Baixa neighbourhood, the city’s beating commercial and touristy heart. It’s located at the bottom of two hills and was rebuilt following the earthquake which decimated the city in 1755 at the behest of the Marquis of Pombal.
This lead to the area having a Pombalian style and it’s also where you should visit if you want to try the famous “pasteis de nata” Portuguese pastries.
In terms of public transport, it’s served by the Cais do Sodré railway station.
This is useful for travelling to other areas in Lisbon and Portugal including:
- The beaches on the Atlantic Coast
- The Alentejo
- The Algarve
In terms of accommodation, prices will be higher in the high season. However, if you look around on sites like Airbnb, you might find a better price than you would for a hotel room.
On the outskirts of the neighbourhood, you can find the Rua Augusta Arch, the Praça do Comércio, the Praça da Figueira where there’s the statue of King John I of Portugal.
Head along to Praça dos Restaurades and the Rossio, two of the city’s prettiest parts.
You can make the most out of your time with a Lisboa Card, which is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours at a cost of €20, €34, or €42, allowing you transport and access to a number of museums and monuments.
This will make visiting the city much easier and you won’t need to worry about which metro or bus tickets to get.
The Alfama Neighbourhood
The Alfama is another lively area of Lisbon. As an older neighbourhood, it’s quite picturesque.
Its name comes from the Arabic “Al-hamma” which means "hot fountains" or "baths”.
It’s located between the Castelo São Jorge (Saint George Castle) and the banks of the Tage. It’s famous for its bars, restaurants, and historic buildings.
If you want to learn about Portuguese traditions, the Alfama is the place to go. To be fair, you’ll be drawn to it from anywhere in the city as it’s perched high upon the hill to the east of the city and home to the castle and the cathedral. This neighbourhood is great for walking about with its narrow streets.
If you can, you might want to plan your stay in Lisbon for June when the Festivities of Lisbon take place, the Festas dos Santos Populares from the 12th to the 20th June. There’s also the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua from the 12th to the 13th of June, a holiday in Lisbon.
In addition to being festive, the neighbourhood’s great for discovering the history of the city. In fact, it survived a lot of the 1755 earthquake and a lot of the Moorish architecture, including streets and staircases, can still be seen today.
The Gothic Lisbon Cathedral was built in 1147. It’s the oldest church in the city. If you want to enjoy the best views of the neighbourhood, the Tage estuary, and the monuments in the old town, head up to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint.
Do you like museums?
On your way back down, pay a visit to the Fado museum of art. While this might be one of the best places in the city to stay, it’s not the best for finding accommodation as hotels tend to be expensive here.
Find out the best time to visit Lisbon.
The Bairro Alto and Chiado Neighbourhoods
As you head downwards towards the west into the historic part of Lisbon and then take the Santa Justa lift, you’ll find yourself in the Bairro Alto.
This area is home to old houses, little shops, a load of bars, and restaurants. This is one of the more alternative parts of town and home to Lisbon’s nightlife. If you go to Lisbon in summer, you’ll find a young, festive, and hipster crowd here. Not that there isn’t anything to do during the day, it’s just that the Bairro Alto really shines at night with people enjoying themselves until dawn.
You’re going to have to deal with some noise if you decide to stay in this area. For quiet types, a romantic getaway, or family holidays, you might want to avoid it. In terms of things to do in this area, there’s the Church of São Roque which is home to plenty of Portuguese baroque religious art.
If you like to chill out and enjoy the views after a few too many bars, head to the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara with the viewpoint overlooking the Baixa and Saint George Castle.
You can take the Bica or Glória Funicular and enjoy a coming together of the old and new. The funicular railway has been in service since 1890, allowing passengers to descend into the Chiado neighbourhood.
The Chiado neighbourhood is a chic and fashionable competitor to the Bairro Alto, famous for its theatres, traditional shops, boutiques, and historic monuments.
- Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)
- Rua Augusta Arch
- The Miradouro de Santa Catarina
- Bica Funicular
- The Santa Justa Lift
- Convento da Ordem do Carmo (Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)
The climbing streets give the area its unique atmosphere.
Find out how long to stay in Lisbon for.
Staying in the Belém and Ajuda Neighbourhoods
Here are two unmissable areas in Lisbon located 6km from Baixa: Belém and Ajuda.
It’s really simple getting to them by train, tram, or bus from the centre. Head along to Belém, with the Tower of Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery, and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discoveries).
Here you’ll see the Tower of Belém, one of the city’s most iconic monuments. Built on the banks of the Tage by the sea between 1514 and 1519 by King Manuel I of Portugal to defend the port of Lisbon, the Tower of Belém played a vital role in Portugal’s development in the 16th century.
The century of great explorers (as well as slavery, the colonisation of South America, etc.), the 16th century saw a boom in international trade between Europe, India, and China.
The Tower of Belém represents the departure point for explorers such as Vasco da Gama and the commercial exchanges with other continents. The monument has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983.
Another unmissable monument is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, which was built in memory of Portuguese explorers in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. You can find it just next to the Tower of Belém.
At 50 metres tall, this monument is a massive caravel-shaped structure with Prince Henry the Navigator at the helm looking towards the horizon. A wind rose 50 metres in diameter shows the route taken by the explorers.
If you visit Lisbon, you can’t avoid the Jerónimos Monastery, which was built in 1502, survived the 1755 earthquake, was classified as a historic monument in 1907, and became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
This is where the Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the heads of state for the European Union member states on the 13th December 2007.
Now all you need to do is get some Portuguese lessons!
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