Of all Lisbon’s neighbourhoods, Alfama is the most bewitching. This is the city’s oldest quarter, its warren of narrow streets and crooked lanes steeped in history and a joy to explore. Nearby, residential Graça mesmerises with its colourful character and local flavour – Lisbon at its most authentic and unassuming.
See & Do
Alfama’s beguiling attractions include Castelo de São Jorge with its solid, honey-coloured battlements and tree-lined verandas. Several museums punctuate the neighbourhood. Consider visiting the Decorative Arts Museum for its fine collection of valuable antique furniture. Across the road is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a terraced viewpoint complete with pergola and azulejo (tile) panels. Tram 28 stops nearby and takes passengers up to Graça. Alight near Igreja da Graça, a religious site of majestic proportions.
These neighbourhoods are crammed with restaurants, and in Alfama half the fun is trying to find them amongst the maze of twisting streets. For lunches Pois Café does the trick with its light, healthy menu. Similarly, Cruzes Credo is great for coffee and cake. At upscale Faz Figura, haute cuisine is served with a fantastic view. But for the best panoramas, bag a table at Via Graça and enjoy Portuguese fare and a castle backdrop.
If jazz is your thing, Onda Jazz combines good food with great music (or just great music if you’re not particularly hungry). But this area is renowned for is its fado houses. At Clube de Fado they perform some of the best. For a more local feel, it has to be A Baîuca. This tiny restaurant stages amateur fado shows where residents literally walk in off the street and sing in front of diners.
There are several notable hotels that cater for budget travellers as well as the more discerning visitor. For a truly romantic hideaway, consider Solar do Castelo, a boutique bolthole ticked away within the walls of the castle. One of the most attractive – and colourful – bed & breakfast choices is Solar dos Mouros, while the cosy and intimate Albergaria Senhora do Monte in Graça perches on Lisbon’s highest hill: the nightime views are sublime!