Bairro Alto is a picturesque quarter dating from the 1500s, that has traditionally been the city's bohemian haunt of artists and writers. Its grid of streets is quiet during the day, but is transformed at night into one of the city's most vibrant nightlife quarters. Behind colorful and graffiti-ridden façades is a variety of traditional and international restaurants, tourist-packed Fado Houses, and a multitude of bars and alternative shops that stay open until late at night. Throughout the week, and especially on weekends, you'll find people of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles bar-hopping through the cobbled lanes or standing outside with a drink in hand, enjoying the city's usual mild nights. It's possible to stay right in the heart of this district, with many self-catering apartments offered by local owners, as well as many more traditional hotels nearby.
The main commercial streets are Rua do Norte, Rua da Atalaia, and Rua do Diário de Noticias, from where it's easy to reach Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara (a garden-terrace with a panoramic view over the city), and two of the city's most interesting churches: São Roque with its magnificent baroque interior and the romantic gothic ruins of Carmo Church.
Neighboring Chiado is an elegant, sophisticated district of theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes, art nouveau jewelry shops, luxurious international names such as Hermes, and local treasures such as the opulently gilded Tavares Restaurant (Lisbon's oldest restaurant, opened in 1784) and the fine porcelain shop Vista Alegre.
Much of the area was destroyed in a fire in 1988, but has since been reborn. It remains one of Lisbon's most beloved districts, with reminders of its past as the center of the city's intellectual life, with statues of literary figures such as Fernando Pessoa, Luis de Camões, and Eça de Queiroz.
To the west, following the tram tracks, is the district of Estrela, dominated by a huge domed basilica. It's not far from the country's parliament (the neoclassical São Bento Palace), and connects to the west to opulent Lapa, the diplomatic quarter with grand embassy buildings and old mansions. It's also the site of the Ancient Art Museum, one of the city's top attractions.
See many of Bairro Alto's and Chiado's attractions, and ride Lisbon's metro, buses, and trams for FREE with the Lisboa Card.
The area's top 3 sights: São Roque
Church, National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado
Don't forget to: Return to Bairro Alto at night for its vibrant nightlife and some of the city's most popular restaurants, bars, and alternative shops.
Off the beaten path: The popular tram 28 passes by, but few stop to see the pretty Estrela Basilica, in the Estrela district nearby.
Transportation: Take the metro or walk from downtown to reach Chiado and Bairro Alto. To get to Estrela and Lapa, take trams 28 or 25.
Roque Church - Home of the world's most expensive chapel
Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara - A garden with a panoramic view over the city.
Camoes Square - A busy square and meeting place between Chiado and Bairro Alto.
Chiado Museum - Museum of Portuguese contemporary art.
Sao Carlos Theater - The city's La Scala-inspired opera house.
Carmo Church - Romantic Gothic ruins evocative of the Great Earthquake.
Principe Real - Charming leafy square.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina - A terrace and cafe with a view.
Broad squares, 18th century architecture, patterned pavements, popular
Bairro Alto & Chiado - Vibrant nightlife, picturesque streets, classic and alternative culture, chic shopping, restaurants
Belem - The Age of Discovery, grandiose monuments, museums
Alfama - Medieval maze, spectacular views, an imposing castle, the sounds of Fado
Uptown - Masterpieces and museum treasures, shopping malls
Parque das Nações - The 21st century by the Tagus; futuristic architecture
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