Join Simon Calder’s email list for valuable travel tips and ways to save money.
Receive travel updates, tips, and deals from renowned travel expert Simon Calder by subscribing to his email newsletter.
Subscribe to Simon Calder’s email newsletter and stay updated on the latest travel tips, updates, and deals from the well-known travel expert.
Our microguides collection is influenced by the slow travel trend, promoting a more leisurely approach to exploring a beloved city. Instead of a rushed schedule that tries to cover every popular spot, these condensed guides encourage you to focus, move at your own pace, and experience a destination from a resident’s perspective.
Lisbon has become such a popular destination for a city break that its central districts can, at times, feel saturated by tourists. Somehow – and thankfully – the crowds haven’t yet found their way to hilltop Principe Real.
Sitting atop São Roque Hill, one of the seven hills that make up Lisbon, is the vibrant and green neighborhood of Principe Real. While it is situated just above the bustling areas of Chiado and Bairro Alto, its atmosphere is more authentic and relaxed. Rather than relying on tourist attractions, Principe Real draws visitors in with its unique shops, lively bars, and diverse restaurants (with hardly any chain establishments in sight). It also has a touch of counterculture, serving as the city’s LGBT+ district.
Rua Dom Pedro V and Rua da Escola Politecnica, both located in Principe Real, are connected to each other. These streets are the main attraction in the area. The no 24 tram travels down this boulevard, but you can also reach it by taking the Gloria funicular from Avenida da Liberdade, which is the main street in Lisbon.
Discover the hidden gems of Lisbon with these tips.
The central hub of this vibrant area is the primary plaza of Jardim do Principe Real. Take a break at one of the two kiosks for coffee and pastries, rest in the shade of the large cedar tree, or peruse the stands offering top-notch presents and gourmet items from local producers on Saturdays.
Learn more about traveling to Portugal.
History lies beneath your feet in Jardim do Principe Real. Find its fountain and descend the steps to the Patriarchal Reservoir. This 19th
The Water Museum includes a group of sites, including a colonnaded cistern from the 18th century that used to be supplied by the Aguas Livres Aqueduct.
“The Botanical Garden at the Natural History Museum in Lisbon is a hidden gem, tucked away behind buildings. Covering four hectares, it boasts a variety of colorful flowers, palms, and majestic trees. On bright days, it offers a peaceful escape from the noise and commotion of the bustling streets and trams.”
Can we attribute the survival of Convento dos Cardaes to divine intervention? Despite the 1755 earthquake that devastated the city, this stunning baroque church was spared and was built in the 1600s. It boasts an impressive array of sacred and ornamental pieces, such as a meticulously crafted, gold-plated wooden altarpiece.
Portuguese cuisine has lots going on for carnivores. Atalho Real is great for high-quality but reasonably priced feasts (the picanha steak or black pork are particularly good). The set lunch is just €15pp, best enjoyed in the leafy courtyard.
Around this area, you can find a variety of international flavors such as Persian, Italian, and Austrian. However, the standout option is Sumaya for their tasty mezze and grilled meats, particularly their Lebanese cuisine. Don’t miss out on trying their rakakat (fried pastries filled with cheese), soujouk (spicy sausages), and smoky baba ghanoush (eggplant dip).
Indulge in a delicious Italian gelato at Niva for a delightful dessert option. While Lisbon offers many tasty ice cream options, Niva stands out as consistently exceptional. Popular flavors include pistachio, peanut butter, and fruity sorbets, as well as daily specials like cremino (white chocolate and hazelnut).
One of the standout options in the nearby dining area is Lumi Rooftop, located in Bairro Alto and situated on a high point. Their menu features small dishes such as burrata salad, roasted octopus, and pica-pau (a beef stew with a hint of mustard), all while offering a scenic view of the river and surrounding terracotta rooftops.
Start your day off with a boost of energy from a cup of coffee (or for an even more indulgent option, hot chocolate) at Bettina Corallo, a charming chocolate café run by a family. Along with the delicious coffee, you’ll also receive a complimentary piece of chocolate made in-house with a dedication to using only natural ingredients and no preservatives.
If you are not lodging at this location, it is still important to make a stop at the rooftop bar of the Vintage Hotel for a cocktail. To add a local touch, try the Vini Negroni, made with Portuguese vermouth and Madeira wine, as you take in the sights of São Jorge Castle and the historic neighborhood of Alfama.
Find a more local scene at favourites such as Imprensa, an oyster bar with great cocktails, service and snacks in a former printing house, or try Jobim for its friendly vibe, Brazilian bar food and the best caipirinhas this side of Copacabana.
Shopping malls don’t come fancier than Embaixada, which occupies the gloriously restored former residence of Palacio Ribeiro da Cunha. One of Principe Real’s most emblematic buildings, this 19th-century Moorish Revival mansion is packed with artistic detail – all the better for showcasing the dozen or so stores within. The focus here is on innovative fashion, design and lifestyle products from Portuguese brands: everything from sneakers and casual shoes to women’s wear and olive-oil soaps. Don’t miss FV Concept Store for accessories, clothes and must-haves for the home.
Find more concept stores and independent boutiques along Principe Real’s main street. Be sure to pop into Livraria da Travessa (a thoroughly charming bookshop) and Mr. Blue if you’re on the hunt for menswear.
The Vintage Hotel is located away from the noise, yet conveniently close to all attractions. Perfect for those who appreciate design, the hotel boasts a chic color scheme and furniture inspired by the midcentury era. Each room is equipped with a drinks trolley featuring everything needed for DIY gin cocktails.
The Casa Oliver Principe Real is located near the praça (square). Each of the 26 rooms has a unique design, but all feature simple and retro elements that add to their charm.
top-rated accommodations in Lisbon