The only thing that Lisbon lacks is the reputation of other European capitals such as Paris or Rome. Its underrated status, however, is a big part of its charm. Here it is all about atmosphere rather than major attractions. Sit and sip coffee or wine in the evening sunshine (the city is famed for its incredible light), stroll the cobbled alleyways and staircases of ancient neighbourhoods like Alfama and Graca or head down to the waterfront and gaze out over the Tagus towards the Atlantic. Shop in the wide pedestrian boulevards of Baixa and Chiado, take a stroll through the exotic Estrella Gardens or catch the train out to the upmarket seaside town of Cascais. For a capital city, Lisbon feels small and friendly, with plenty of hidden bars and restaurants to discover around every corner.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in Lisbon
Alfama - The city’s oldest and most historic neighbourhood, located on the steep hill behind the cathedral. Winding alleyways and colourful squares are crammed into an impossibly small space in one of Europe’s most unique neighbourhoods.
Bairro Alto - The city’s party district. By day this grid of old cobbled streets seems quiet and peaceful, but at night doors open to reveal hundreds of bustling bars and clubs.
Cais do Sodre - The old dock area used to be a bit on the seedy side but regeneration in recent years has seen the cool kids move in and transform it into the hippest part of the city.
Baixa/Chiado - The grandest part of town where you’ll find the commercial centre, complete with high end shops and the city’s most upmarket restaurants.
Cascais - Catch the train from Cais do Sodre along the coast to Cascais, a former fishing port that’s become one of the country’s most in demand holiday resorts.
Things to See in Lisbon
There are things to see round every corner in Lisbon, with each cobbled street and elegant square bathed in history. Climb the hill from the 12th century cathedral through the enigmatic Alfama neighbourhood and towards the Moorish castle. Visit Graca and gaze out over the terracotta rooftops of the city from the stunning viewpoints there. Down on the waterfront you’ll find the vast Praca do Comercio, where the last king of Portugal was killed more than 100 years ago. Walk along the waterfront towards the imposing 25 April bridge or head in the opposite direction towards the new Parque das Nacoes district. See everything with a Sintra Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.
Things to Do in Lisbon
For a good grounding in the city, catch the number 28 tram from Estrella gardens. This rickety old ride runs through the city centre and up the impossibly steep hills towards Graca. Sample fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese cuisine in a huge choice of restaurants, or head out on a fishing trip to catch your own. Climb one of Lisbon’s seven hills at sunset for incredible views over the city and when night falls, experience the buzz of Bairro Alto, one of Europe’s biggest party neighbourhoods.
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