Lisbon, the charming capital city of Portugal, is beloved for its rich history, tile-clad buildings, and beautiful streets. Each of its neighborhoods—from the trendy streets of Príncipe Real to Bairro Alto and the historic Alfama—brings something unique to the table. Couple that with a burgeoning restaurant scene and mild year-round weather, and it’s no surprise Lisbon is one of Europe’s most popular cities. With a new seasonal United route from Washington D.C. to Lisbon, there’s no better time to book a visit. Here, our guide to Lisbon’s distinct neighborhoods.
The oldest district in Lisbon, Alfama has gorgeous architecture; traditional dining spots; and narrow, winding cobblestone streets. Its picturesque pastel-tiled buildings offer a glimpse into what the city looked like in the past, and the nearby tile museum, which can be booked through Get Your Guide, will help fill in the historic gaps. The Portas del Sol lookout point shouldn’t be missed, and if you follow the labyrinthine streets in the right direction, you’ll also end up at the historic Caste de São Jorge.
This hilly neighborhood is a buzzing nighttime hotspot thanks to its abundance of bars, restaurants, and 16th-century alleyways. It’s a great connecting point between Chiado and Príncipe Real, making it a popular home base for visitors. Among its lodging options is the 53-room boutique Bairro Alto Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of The World. Once you’ve checked in, explore the neighborhood’s many vintage and antique shops, and catch the 800-foot Bica Funicular (Ascensor da Bica), which was built in 1892 and is commonly seen in Lisbon photographs.
It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring Belém, thanks to its incredible museums; quiet, tree-lined streets; and gorgeous riverfront location. Make sure to visit the Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site, followed by the The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT). When you’re done, grab some traditional Portuguese bites at Canalha and a pastry at Pasteis de Belém, the self-proclaimed inventor of the popular Lisbon treat.
Chiado is the perfect place to grab a bite before a night out in nearby Bairro Alto. Rocco, a newly opened Italian spot, is one of the hottest reservations in the city with options like fresh pasta and tableside tiramisu. The neighborhood is also home to theaters, the oldest operating bookstore in the world (called Bertrand), and the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado.
Trendy Príncipe Real features grandeur around every corner. Its namesake Palacio Príncipe Real, a 25-room mansion in the heart of the city, is a must-see landmark with original tiles and hand-painted ceilings. The property has a gorgeous outdoor pool and is within walking distance of the stunning Jardim Botânico de Lisboa. While you’re in the neighborhood, make sure to visit its incredible concept stores, like the artisanal market of Embaixada.