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Bairro Alto: Don’t miss these places!

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Lisbon

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 21/06/2024, 17:45

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Those that come to Lisbon for the first time focus more on Alfama. It doesn’t really surprise me. Alfama is very atmospheric. However, don’t focus only on that part of the city. Bairro Alto has great things to do and see. It’s another historic, atmospheric part of Lisbon, which is worth exploring and spend some time in.

I admit that I like Bairro Alto more than Alfama. For some reason, I am really attracted to that part of the city. It seems that there are lots to see there. I go there again and again to admire the architecture and to get to know the city even better.

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    I think there are so many places in Bairro Alto that you would run out of time to see them all. That’s why I written about those I love myself and I keep coming back there. Here are things to see in Bairro Alto:

    Rossio

    a sculpture in the fountains on rossio square in lisbon
    These fountains on Rossion Square are really amazing.

    Start your sightseeing from the most popular place in Lisbon. Rossio Square, which official name is Peter the 4-th Square is very beautiful and is the lively center of the city. It is also its symbol.

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    The name comes from the tall column of the king of Portugal, which stands in the middle. A very interesting fact is that it was supposed to be a sculpture of Maximilian the 1-st, who in the 19th century ruled Mexico. The art was ordered to be made in Portugal and then it was planned to transport it to Mexico. Unfortunately, just before it was finished, Maximilian died. Smart Portuguese didn’t want to waste good work and decided to use the monument. They announced that it’s the sculpture of Peter the 4-th and put it on a column in Rossio Square.

    Map

    Elevador da Bica

    tram bic in lisbon at night
    You can see Bairro Alto quicker if you use the lifts here.

    Among things to see in Bairro Alto this is probably one of the most special ones – a small tram with only one carriage, which goes up and down on the hills of the city. In the past, this used to be a very convenient way for locals to get to their homes. Today Elevador da Bica is a tourist attraction and really amazing fun for visitors. The ticket costs 3 Euro – a bit much for such a short distance, but riding one of these trams is a must thing to do in Lisbon.

    Ticket: 3.70 Euro

    Map

    Convento do Carmo

    the walls of the monastery in lisbon
    The monastery is small, but you can really fall in love with it.

    This place made a big impression on me during visiting Bairro Alto. The medieval monastery of Carmelites was destroyed during the famous earthquake in 1755. Until now it hasn’t been restored and is a live proof of those events.

    There is also an archeological museum in the area, where you will find very interesting artifacts. Unfortunately, they are not described and there’s no information, but it’s really worth having a look nevertheless.

    Entrance: 4 Euro

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    Map

    Elevador da Santa Justa

    the view from elevator de santa justa in lisbon
    The view from the lift.

    There are really long queues at this elevator. People come here for amazing views. Elevador da Santa Justa is in every single guide book, but not many know that there’s an easier and cheaper way to get to the top. After you leave the Convento do Carmo, turn right straight away. Go up the stairs to the Bellalisa restaurant. You will find another staircase there, which lead to the entrance to the lift. From here you can get to the top for only 1.50 Euro.

    Entrance: 1.50 Euro

    Map Elevador da Santa Justa 

    Map Bellalisa

    Igresa and Museu Sao Roque

    The amazing ceiling in this church is a true work of art.

    This little church was on my list of things to see, but I wasn’t that keen on going there. There are many churches in Lisbon and I thought it was going to be ok if I miss this one. It’s actually lucky that I went there at the end because Sao Roque is very charming and has one of the most beautiful ceilings! During my visit there was a rehearsal for a nativity scene and I couldn’t take that many photos. I was just standing there and looking up until my neck started to hurt.

    Entrance: free

    Map

    Cais do Sodre

    people resting on benches on a sunny day by the river in lisbon
    You can party here, but you can also relax by the river.

    Do you fancy a drink or a party, go to Cais do Sodre. At the metro station, a couple of metres in the direction of the city center, you will find a countless number of bars and the famous Pink Street. This area used to be lined with brothels and today it’s a great location for parties.

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    At the river, you will also find bars. I recommend K-Restaurant for a romantic evening and a glass of wine. The atmosphere there is amazing!

    Map

    Santa Catarina

    If you want to watch a sunset, go to a view point. Santa Catarina is one of my favorites. You can admire the panorama of the city and the bridge. During the summer you can enjoy a free concert. Crowds gather here to drink beer and have fun until late.

    Map

    Embaixada Concept Store

    a lamp in embaixada store lisbon
    Embaixada is a small shopping center with a very stylish decor.

    It’s one of the newest attractions in Lisbon. During your visit in Bairro Alto, don’t miss this small and very stylish shopping center. All the shops here sell handmade clothes and home decorations. The stock cannot be found anywhere else. Of course, you will have to pay a higher price for it and not everyone can afford that. However, you can still come here and admire the stores and the decor.

    Map

    Miraduro De Sao Pedro de Alcantara

    I really like this viewpoint for its relaxed atmosphere.

    Another one of my favorite spots in the city. I really like coming here because there is a small kiosk with coffee just around the corner and there are not that many tourists, especially in the winter. I also spent the New Year’s Eve here and I recommend coming here during that time. You can party for free and admire the city.

    Map

    Jardim de Principe Real

    a big tree in lisbon
    This is perfect for relaxing.

    A very lovely park located near Miraduro De Sao Pedro de Alcantara and opposite Embaixada. The main attraction is a huge tree under which you can sit on a bench. It’s also a good place for families with children.

    Map

    How to get to Bairro Alto?

    Bairro Alto is located very close to Alfama, which is one of the most famous areas in Lisbon. The closest metro stations are Restauradores, Rossio, Cais do Sodre, or Rato. Many buses also operate to these spots from various places in the city. Transportation in Lisbon is not too bad and it will take you to to the best spots in the city. You can either jump on a bus, a tram or on a metro, or just simply walk around the city. Lisbon is still quite small to get everywhere by foot.

    Map

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    How to visit Bairro Alto?

    The best way to explore Lisbon is on foot. Then you can see the real face of the city. Don’t be afraid to walk into small, hidden alleys, have a coffee in a small, local cafe and just take your time to get to know the city.

    If you’re looking for something out of the beaten path and something really extraordinary, hire a private guide. I recommend GetYourGuide, who connect independent guides with tourists and create beautiful, memorable experiences.

    Where to eat in Bairro Alto?

    During visiting Bairro Alto you will get hungry. At the moment I am still trying different things in Lisbon and have a lot still to explore. For now I can recommend you:

    Estrela da Bica

    A very nice, quiet restaurant, which serves a few dishes. It’s mainly Portuguese cuisine, but you can also find some Japanese specialties. I chose to go there for Valentine’s day and I really recommend it. The food is delicious.

    Website

    Pharmacia

    A little bit more expensive, but it’s a great idea to come here for dinner. The restaurant is located in the museum of pharmacy and the decor reflects that. During the warmer days, you can sit in a big armchair outside and admire the panorama of the city.

    More information 

    Nannarela Gelato

    This place was recommended to me by one of my readers, who loves this little ice cream shop. I am not such a big fan of gelato, but ice cream in Nannarela are like clouds from the sky. I really recommend it to everyone who loves sweet desserts. Portions are quite big and the prices are affordable.

    Map

    Where to stay in Bairro Alto?

    • Dear Lisbon Charming House: Beautiful rooms with a view over the city. The service is nice and breakfast really good. The price reflects the standard, so it’s only for those, who can spend a little bit more.
    • Oasis Backpackers’ Hostel: This nice hostel is located near the Santa Catarina viewpoint, so it’s a perfect starting point for your trips to the town.
    • Friendly Hills Bairro Alto: Modern, minimalist interiors, perfect location and amazing service. What not to like?