Bairro Alto is west of Lisbon city centre, and this district is buzzing at night. As the sun sets, friends meet up in famous bars and restaurants, where live music is played. The whole city comes alive, and it is an upbeat and joyful atmosphere until late into the night. Surrounded by historical monuments and huge Baroque-style buildings, the stylish Largo do Carmo area is undoubtedly one of Lisbon’s most attractive and picturesque plazas. Bairro Alto is close to both Chiado and Baixa, so you get the best of both worlds in this fabulous place.
Where is Bairro Alto in Portugal?
Few Lisbon communities are evolving as much as Bairro Alto. The streets here lead a double life, almost empty throughout the day and full of thirsty crowds in the evenings. Although the area is locally known as Lisbon’s party district, there’s plenty of art and history to discover and food to try before sunset.
What is Bairro Alto, Lisbon like?
Bairro Alto is a lively cultural hub by locals called ‘O Bairro’ with many art galleries, exclusive shops, restaurants, and unique places to pause and enjoy Lisbon’s perfect postcard views. As night descends, Bairro Alto truly comes alive, taking in Lisboetas and tourists alike. The Rua da Atalaia, Rua do Diario de Noticias, and Rua da Barroca have plenty to fit any taste, from music and dancing to great dining spots.
What is there to do in Bairro Alto, Portugal?
Bairro Alto is always the starting point for a night out in Lisbon, with the streets lined with bars. Often, even for long-time residents, navigating your way through this labyrinth can be a battle. It’s hard to believe, for outsiders, that this neighbourhood will go from peaceful to heaving within an hour. For the nightlife, most people head here. You’ll, however, explore another side of Bairro Alto during the day, one with emerging street art, historical sights, and culinary treats from all over the world.
Ride on Lisbon’s historical network of funiculars
There are several routes to reach Bairro Alto, but generally, as most Lisbon walks do, it includes going up a slope. The engineer Raoul Ponsard constructed a system of funiculars in the city back in the 19th century to avoid these strenuous climbs. Most of them, including the Ascensor da Bica and Ascensor da Gloria, two funiculars linked to Bairro Alto, are still up and running. You cannot help but admire the picturesque yellow cars as they drive up and down the hills, even though you don’t ride them.
Take a culinary tour of the neighbourhood
Bairro Alto is turning into a culinary hotspot slowly. Several Portuguese tascas, such as petiscos and codfish, serve traditional dishes, but this region also has its share of foreign restaurants. Tantura Middle East restaurant serves delicious falafel and hummus, Grill de Korea offers Korean-style barbecue, and Valdo Gatti bakes organic Neapolitan pizzas. Portugal’s younger residents are also seeking space for their new companies, with locations such as Miolo serving sandwiches, enticing cakes, and sweet treats.
Amazing street art
There’s street art in Lisbon everywhere, and Bairro Alto is no exception. To discover colourful works by Portuguese and foreign artists, stroll around the neighbourhood. Others are tiny black stencils; others, like the mural in Travessa dos Fieis de Deus, occupy entire walls. You may engage in a guided walking tour with Lisbon Street Art Tours to learn more about each piece.
Largo de Sao Roque
The key meeting point in the neighbourhood was Largo de Sao Roque for years. It was a location where people would come together to start their working day, and newspapers would be distributed by the ardinas (paperboys). You will find Igreja de Sao Roque, a former Jesuit church, right in the centre. On the outside, the Roman Catholic Church is unpretentious, but it is adorned with luxurious Baroque details on the inside. To illustrate one of its chapels, opulent materials such as gold, ivory, agate, and lapis lazuli were used. There is a museum next to the church that exhibits an extensive collection of historical religious art, including sculptures, drawings, jewellery, and Flemish tapestries.
Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara viewpoint
The Bairro Alto district, set on a hill, offers a privileged viewpoint of the Lisbon River from almost every street. There is, however, no better way to get sweeping city views than from the most famous observation points of the city, Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara. The terraced viewpoint overlooks the river and Sao Jorge’s Castle, which rises above Alfama’s terracotta roofs.
Take in a Fado performance
The wonderful Tasca do Chico; bright picture frames clutter the walls. This traditional bar hosts various fado performances every night at around 8 pm, a melancholic music genre that is unique to Portugal.
The show is open, but order a glass of wine and accompany it with snacks while you’re waiting, like the chourico assado (flame-grilled chourico). To guarantee a spot, make sure to go early or book a table in advance.
Bairro Alto is regarded as Lisbon’s party district, so lively crowds take over the neighbourhood as the weekend approaches. Most bars are small, so people appear to spill out into the streets, with a drink in hand, hopping from bar to bar. By midnight, in search of an empty drinking spot, you must jostle your way through flocks of people. Even so, there is no lack of choices here. For a low-key treat, go to Loucos e Sonhadores or enjoy the jazz nights at Paginas Tantas. Go to Pavilhao Chines, which once was a grocery store and is now decorated with trinkets and curiosities that make the room feel more like an antique shop or museum, for a stylish choice. During the warmer months, head to the best rooftop bars in Bairro Alto, such as Park and Insolito, enjoy a cocktail with spectacular city views.
What is the climate like in Bairro Alto, Portugal?
In Bairro Alto, summers are hot, dry, and generally clear, with chilly, snowy, windy, and partly cloudy winters. Annually the temperature ranges between 9°C and 29°C and is rarely below 5°C or above 35°C. Visit Lisbon and enjoy the warm weather is from the beginning of July until September.
How do you reach Bairro Alto, Portugal?
Fly direct to Lisbon Airport from the UK and other international airports on a short-haul flight.
The ride from the airport to the district of Bairro Alto takes 30 minutes.
Why visit Bairro Alto in Portugal?
Bairro Alto is the hub for everyone who wants to visit or live in one of Lisbon’s liveliest neighbourhoods. Local attractions are within walking distance, and it is possible to visit other districts like Chiado and Baxia. If you enjoy the nightlife, this is the place to visit.