A Quick Guide to Lisbon’s 5 Most Colorful Neighborhoods
Lively Lisbon is a city bursting with color on every corner. With playfully painted buildings, bold-colored cars, healthy greenery, and unforgettable sunsets, the hues of Lisbon are a welcome break from stuffy whites and off-whites of other European capitals. To make the most of your visit to the city, include these neighborhoods in your itinerary plan.
In the center of Lisbon, bohemian Bairro Alto is often considered the city’s cultural hub. The neighborhood developed as a result of quick population growth and subsequent urbanization. In two separate waves, people moved into the neighborhood in droves, with a high proportion of artistic and creative types drawn to the area. Today the neighborhood is lively, filled with popular restaurants and boutique shops, while maintaining a working-class grit. Plan your Lisbon trip to get lost in the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets – between graffiti-tagged buildings, you’ll feel Lisbon’s pulse.
What was once the entire city of Lisbon is now known as Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in the Portuguese capital. Filled with Fado bars and restaurants, the area covers the parishes of Sao Miguel, Santo Estevao, and Sao Vicente de Fora, as well as numerous historical attractions. Enjoy a view overlooking the neighborhood to admire the buildings dusted in pale pink, burnt orange, blood red, and sky blue. From afar the colors mix together with traditional rust-colored roofs, forming a mosaic of bright and muted hues. Include walks in your Lisbon itinerary to walk between the lines and catch the smaller details: bright yellow trams chugging along dark cobblestone streets.
Nestled between Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina, Chiado refers to the area surrounding Chiado Square. The commercial neighborhood draws visitors to shop in the delightful mix of old and new establishments standing side by side. If shopping is what you’re after, stick to Carmo and Garrett Streets. Explore the square, making sure to look down and admire the beautifully tiled ground. Take the time to embrace Lisbon’s cafe culture at one of the popular establishments bordering the square. Victim to a fire in 1988, the shopping area has been restored thanks to a renovation project lasting more than a decade.
Home to hundreds of stores and financial buildings, Cidade Baixa has earned a name for itself as an area for shopping and banking. Although the neighborhood was essentially demolished in a 1755 earthquake, the district is entirely rebuilt and features modern architecture designed to withstand earthquakes. Appreciate the architectural ingenuity that led to lattice frameworks that distribute force and high inter-terrace walls meant to contain potential fires. The neighborhood’s earthquake-resistant buildings feature iconic red roofs aligned in perfect grids, with Praca do Comercio to the south and Rossio and Figueira squares to the north.
Sitting at the mouth of the River Tagus, Belem is the most southern civil parish in the municipality of Lisbon. Despite being 6 km (3.7 mi) west of the city’s center, the area contains a high concentration of important Portuguese landmarks, such as the Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem, as well as several museums. With a main street lined in 160-year old buildings, Belem’s color comes from its history. The buildings that have survived years of modernization here tell stories of Portugal from centuries past.
Whether it’s the Fado music floating through the streets or the paint hugging a building, the colors of Lisbon are undeniable. The city mixes culture and nature effortlessly, introducing its visitors to a new spectrum of modern urban character. This historic capital has stories to tell and it uses all the crayons in the box to tell it.
Originally from Toronto, travel writer Roxanne Egan-Elliott spends her winters snowboarding the French Alps and her summers soaking up the Adriatic sun.