GUEST AUTHOR, Luis Pinheiro, Spotahome Student Ambassador
So, you have just arrived in town and don’t know where to start to get acquainted with the city. I am going to help you!
Lisbon is a city where culture is alive in its neighbourhoods. Each street has a story to tell and each corner may reveal a different secret!
Don’t worry, you won’t feel as though you have nothing to do! There is always something in this lively and exciting city. Feel free to get familiar with beautiful streets, cosy venues, a strong culture and wallet-friendly restaurants.
These are the neighbourhoods I consider to be the coolest and the most important ones for you to start your adventure in Lisbon. You will see that you quickly get into the city spirit!
Baixa & Chiado
It is downtown where visitors usually begin their trip. As a new citizen, you will not be different.
Get to know many of Lisbon’s main Landmarks such as “Terreiro do Paço”, a very nice and friendly square where you can sit on a terrace and breathe the city atmosphere.
This is also the perfect place to go shopping. There are long streets devoted to different types of business. You should try and visit the oldest bookstore in the world: “Livraria Bertrand”.
This hilly neighbourhood full of up and downs is filled with apartments belonging essentially to local people. However, plenty of restaurants, cafés, tattoo parlors, hostels and stores along with proximity to downtown animate this area, mostly at the weekends.
Tip: Go downtown on a Saturday afternoon and end the day having dinner in the Bairro Alto.
If you are interested in fashion you will spend a lot of time at Príncipe Real, where the best designers have their stores.
But that is not all!
Here you will find trendy restaurants, ideal for those who want to see and be seen. There is always something happening in this neighbourhood. Life starts early with shopping, then moves on to lunch or coffee at a view point with one of the city's best panoramas. Evenings begin with tapas and local wine.
This is the fancy and elegant lifestyle that everybody appreciates but not everyone can afford!
Cais do Sodré
In past decades, no other neighbourhood has suffered such a transformation as this one. Cais do Sodré was mostly known as a red-light district. However, little remains of that reputation. It has been completely renovated into the coolest spot of the city and is now considered to be the major hangout for nightlife. Get familiar with cool bars, fancy restaurants and modern stores. There’s one particular place you won’t forget: the colorful Pink Street.
Go at any time to Time Out Market or “Mercado da Ribeira”, which is one of the city’s main food courts that holds everything from traditional meals to trendy treats and bakeries. There’s a choice of food for every pocket!
This is the city's oldest neighbourhood, often described as a labyrinth. Do not miss the opportunity to try a traditional meal accompanied by equally traditional “fado” music. Take a break enjoying the beautiful view over Lisbon at “Castelo de São Jorge”.
Belém is the last Lisbon neighbourhood before the beachside suburbs. Located where the river meets the Atlantic, it’s home to the city’s most famous monuments and museums. Whether you are into cultural visits or not, you can’t miss the opportunity to go at least once to Belém and stop to appreciate these landmarks.
There are two alternatives that I consider the most interesting ones to visit Belém from the city center: either by tram or by bike (near the river).
Tip: Go by bike along the river. It’s worth the ride and when you arrive you will be ready to eat the very famous and delicious Portuguese pastry: “Pastel de Belém”.
Not very far from here is the Lx factory, where you probably will go often during your stay in Lisbon. These buildings that once belonged to a fabric company have been rebuilt and have become one of the coolest hangout spots in the city. It is now a creative island full of shops, places to eat and serves as a stage for a diverse set of events related to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture and music.
I hope you enjoy your stay in Lisbon!
Lets us know in comments below if you have any other good tips for getting started in Lisbon.