Alfama Lisbon A Full Tourist Guide

When I first moved to Lisbon, I lived in the charming Alfama, where I called home for the first few months.

Nestled amidst its picturesque streets and vibrant alleys, the historic district in Lisbon became more than just a residence – it became an immersive experience.

Picture this: cozy corners, local cafes exuding warmth, and a taste of the extraordinary in every sip of orange juice. The oranges are not just citrusy delights but a testament to the region’s rich flavors.

Join me on a journey through the heart of Alfama, where every sip and every step tells a tale of enchantment and discovery.

Alfama Lisbon History

Alfama

Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, is a living testament to the city’s rich history. Its roots can be traced back to the Moorish period.

The Alfama district flourished as a bustling and strategically important neighborhood during the Moorish era. The district’s layout remains an intricate maze, adding to its unique charm and character.

Over the centuries, Alfama endured various challenges, including earthquakes and fires that reshaped its landscape. Today, as you wander through Alfama’s narrow streets, you’ll encounter a fascinating blend of the old and the new.

Alfama has evolved into a hub where history meets modernity, offering visitors a captivating journey through the layers of Lisbon’s past.

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7 Things to Do in Alfama Lisbon

Alfama-Lisbon-Castle-of-Sao-Jorge

With its rich history and unique charm, Alfama boasts many highlights that captivate you. Here, you can find some enchanting attractions while visiting the neighborhood:

São Jorge Castle: Perched atop the highest hill in Alfama, São Jorge Castle offers spectacular views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Explore the medieval castle grounds with Moorish walls, stroll along the ramparts, and immerse yourself in the historical significance of this iconic landmark.

Interesting Note 📝: Get some highlighted information on Sao Jorge Castle before visiting it.

Fado Music: The district is renowned as the birthplace of Fado, Portugal’s soul-stirring musical genre played on a Portuguese guitar. Dive into the local music scene by visiting intimate Fado houses, where talented musicians serenade audiences with melancholy tunes that tell tales of love, longing, and life.

Miradouros (Viewpoints): The neighborhood is dotted with scenic viewpoints that provide postcard-perfect vistas of the city. Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro das Portas do Sol are popular spots where you can relax, soak in the atmosphere, and capture stunning photos.

Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa): Explore the Lisbon Cathedral, a Romanesque gem with a history dating back to the 12th century. The cathedral’s serene cloisters and impressive architecture make it a noteworthy stop in Alfama.

Feira da Ladra (Thieves Market): Held every Tuesday and Saturday, Feira da Ladra is one of the oldest flea markets in Europe. Browse through a diverse array of items, from vintage treasures to antiques, and experience the lively atmosphere of this unique market.

Alfama’s Cobblestoned Streets: Lose yourself in Alfama’s maze-like, narrow streets lined with colorful houses adorned with traditional azulejos (ceramic tiles). The intricate network of alleys adds to the district’s charm, creating a delightful sense of discovery around every corner.

Alfama’s Festivals: If you visit Lisbon in June, don’t miss the Santo António Festival, a lively celebration with colorful processions, traditional music, and delicious street food. The district comes alive with a festive atmosphere during this time.

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Alfama’s Challenges While Exploring

When exploring Alfama, you first notice the steep hills that rise from the banks, starting at Tejo Estuary and going to the castle. Then, there is a second hill leading up to Graca.

Hence, you have very few flat areas, meaning you will climb steep pathways and staircases. Thus, visiting the Aflama district, especially in summer, becomes very demanding.

Hot Tip🔥: To help reduce walking uphill time, I recommend you take the number 28 or 12 tram to Largo da Graca and then walk downhill throughout the district. Also, to prevent getting lost, always move downhill as it leads to the Tejo waterfront.

Cost of Day Trips to Alfama

Alfama-District-1

You need not pay a fortune for a day trip to Alfama if you enter many free buildings like churches and viewpoints. Entrance fees to some of the places cost:

  • Tram 28: €3
  • Lisbon Caste: €10
  • Se Cathedral is free
  • Se Cloisters and the treasury: €3
  • Museu de Santo Antonio: €3
  • Roman Amphitheatre is free
  • National Pantheon costs €4
  • Fado Museum: €5
  • A Metro single ticket costs €1.80

Staying in Memmo Alfama  

@Jupiter-Lisboa-Hotel

Alfama is one of the most popular Lisbon neighborhoods to stay among others. Here, some traditional homes are converted into rental apartments or small hotels.

Hot Tip🔥: Check out some of my favorite hotels in Alfama to stay when visiting.

The best part of staying in the neighborhood is that it is the leading tourist destination within walking distance of the Bairro Alto and Baixa district.

Best Viewpoints in Alfama Lisbon

Alfama Sunset

With its hilly terrain and historic architecture, Alfama offers several stunning viewpoints (miradouros) that provide panoramic vistas of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Here are some of the best viewpoints in Alfama:

  1. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte: Topping the list is Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, the highest point in Lisbon. You can enjoy outstanding views of the city, the river, and São Jorge Castle from here. It’s a peaceful spot, perfect for sunset or sunrise.
  2. Miradouro das Portas do Sol: This popular viewpoint is located near São Jorge Castle and offers a picturesque view of Alfama, the river, and the dome of the National Pantheon. The terrace is often lively, with visitors enjoying the scenery and local cafes.
  3. Miradouro da Graça: Also known as Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen’s viewpoint, Miradouro da Graça provides a splendid view of Lisbon and its historic neighborhoods. The São Jorge Castle stands prominently in the foreground, adding to the scenic beauty.
  4. Miradouro de Santa Luzia: Situated close to the Lisbon Cathedral, this charming viewpoint features a garden adorned with azulejos (Portuguese tiles). From here, you can appreciate Alfama’s red-tiled rooftops and the river stretching out in the distance.
  5. Miradouro do Recolhimento: A relatively hidden gem, Miradouro do Recolhimento offers a more intimate setting for enjoying the view. It provides a unique perspective of Alfama and is an excellent spot for a peaceful moment away from the crowds.
  6. Miradouro do Castelo: Located near São Jorge Castle, this viewpoint provides a captivating panorama of Alfama and the river. It’s a fantastic spot to appreciate the castle’s medieval architecture against the city’s backdrop.
  7. Miradouro de Santo Estêvão: Found in the heart of Alfama, this lesser-known viewpoint offers a delightful view of the river and the red-tiled rooftops. It’s a more secluded spot, providing a tranquil atmosphere to enjoy the scenery.
  8. Miradouro do Chão do Loureiro: Nestled between Alfama and Baixa, this viewpoint offers a unique city perspective. The river on one side and the bustling city on the other provide a harmonious blend of urban and natural beauty.

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Nightlife in Alfama

Alfama’s nightlife has a unique charm that sets it apart from other districts in Lisbon. While it may not be as bustling and vibrant as areas like Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodré, it offers a more laid-back and intimate nocturnal experience.

  • Fado Houses: Alfama is famous for its traditional Fado music and scattered Fado houses. In a cozy and intimate atmosphere, you can enjoy soulful performances with Portuguese cuisine.
  • Cafes and Bars: Alfama’s cafes and bars are charming and have outdoor seating. You can enjoy mild evenings mingling with locals over drinks and snacks.
  • Night Strolls: Alfama’s nightlife offers peaceful nighttime strolls on its narrow, cobblestone streets. The district is perfect for a leisurely walk, taking in the historic architecture and serene beauty of the surroundings—charming spots off the beaten path where you can enjoy a more secluded and intimate nightlife experience.

 How Safe is Alfama 

Fado Show

Alfama is generally considered a safe neighborhood in Lisbon, particularly for tourists. Its popularity as a historic and cultural destination attracts visitors worldwide.

The district enjoys a higher police presence due to its tourist appeal, contributing to overall safety. Yet, like any urban area, it’s advisable to stay vigilant against pickpocketing, especially in crowded spaces or during events.

Alfama’s charming streets and vibrant community create a unique atmosphere; standard precautions should be taken while enjoying the nightlife.

Hot Tip🔥: Before planning a trip to stay in the district, read my complete guide about a free walking tour of Alfama.

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Wrap-Up: Alfama Lisbon

Alfama is a captivating and historically rich neighborhood in Lisbon. It offers historic landmarks, charming narrow streets, and breathtaking panoramic views.

While its nightlife may be quieter, it presents a laid-back and intimate atmosphere perfect for strolls and enjoying traditional Fado performances. Explore Alfama and immerse yourself in its unique ambiance.

Frequently Asked Questions

The name “Alfama” means “hot springs” or “fountains” in Arabic. 

The best time to visit Alfama is spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the crowds are fewer. However, if you want to experience the lively Santo António Festival, visit in June.

Yes, Alfama is generally safe for tourists. Yet, like any other tourist destination, it is advisable to take basic precautions such as keeping your valuables secure, avoiding dark and deserted alleys at night, and staying alert in crowded areas.

The best way to get to Alfama is by taking the metro to Santa Apolónia station or tram 28 or 12, which runs through the neighborhood. Still, during peak seasons, tram 28 can become very overcrowded. 

Feira da Ladra is one of the oldest flea markets in Europe, held every Tuesday and Saturday in Alfama. Here, you can browse a diverse array of items, from vintage treasures to antiques, and experience the lively atmosphere of this unique market.

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