The neighborhood of Alfama is arguably the most charming of the bunch thanks to its extremely narrow, winding streets that climb up a small hill at the southeast part of the city. While Barrio is similar in its small streets, Alfama puts forth a community feel that isn’t present elsewhere. As you walk through the streets, you will see clothes hanging outside doors and windows, plants on the sidewalks, and curtains waving in front of doorways. Be sure to spend half a day walking through, take a coffee at one of the shops, and see if you can strike up a conversation with one of the locals. As this is one of the oldest and "poorest" neighborhoods in the city, you are sure to stumble upon some characters.
Bairro Alto: Party
While there are obviously other neighborhoods in which to party, this is the place you want to be if you fancy yourself a bar hopper or a bohemian. The narrow streets of Barrio Alto are compressed with bars and restaurants, the crowds of which spill out onto the cobblestone on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (although you won’t have a problem finding a drink any night of the week). Barrio is also one of the major hubs for the Fado scene, which we described earlier this week. Because of its location on the top of the hill (the name literally translates to mean "Upper District"), the area provides incredible vista views of the city and visitors should not miss the overlook at the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara.
Praça do Comércio: Sit
The locals still shrug their shoulders at this part of town, but it's worth checking out for anyone who comes in on the train due to its proximity to the river. On a nice day, it's a great place for a stroll along the water and an extended coffee break or lunch at one of the cafes. There's no need to make a career out of it at this point as the neighborhood is still developing its personality, but if you have enough time, it's worth a peek as one of the city's more modern areas.
Baixa (Downtown): People Watch
The "downtown" area sits in the "valley" between the hills that harbor Chiado/Barrio Alto to the west and Alfama to the east, and it is the most central and busiest section of the city. Rossio Square, a gathering place for both tourists and locals, was once a place for bullfights, celebrations, and public executions. We enjoyed Baixa not only for its buzz, but for its "reverse views" looking up, as they really drive home how the city is built on top of itself into the hillsides with a myriad of staircases and walkways climbing out of the city center.
Even though the biggest shopping mall in Lisbon is located in Praça do Comércio, Chiado is home to the high-end retailers (think Hermes), street performers, and a whole lot of coffee shops, some lining the pedestrian walkway and others tucked down alleys and around corners. This neighborhood is a good place for your typical ladies' afternoon, popping in and out of stores and chatting over cappuccinos.
This post concludes our coverage of Lisbon and Portugal (for now!). We hope you enjoyed getting to know this beautiful city. If you have any questions or would like specific recommendations, feel free to write us and we'd be happy to help.
[Photos: Ryan Dearth]