Central Lisbon is best explored on foot, and this great walk will take from the Bairro Alto to Cais do Sodré by the River Tejo, passing through Chiado. It includes viewpoints, churches, an opera house and a museum, cafés, and places where you can eat and recharge during your walk.
The route is designed from north to south, which avoids climbing up steep hills. Use the map below to locate the attractions.
It can be done in less than two hours, with stops to look at all the sights and to admire the views, but if you spend more time in a church, museum, window shopping, or eat en route, it could take a morning or afternoon. Comfortable shoes are a must in Lisbon.
Distance: about 2km / 1.2mi (30 minutes on a slow pace without stops)
1. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Arriving via the funicular Ascensor da Glória, start your itinerary at Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon overlooking the Castle, as well as the historic areas of Martim Moniz, Mouraria, Baixa and Alfama. Spend some time enjoying a great view of Lisbon, accompanied by a nice garden and an outdoor café.
2. São Roque Church & Museum
Walk about 3 minutes south on the main road, Rua São Pedro de Alcântara, till you reach Largo de São Roque, a square with a church. While the Renaissance façade may be plain, the São Roque Church hides a surprising and exuberant interior of gold, marble and azulejos (Portuguese hand-painted tile panels). Read More
3. Bairro Alto
The Bairro Alto area begins to the west of Rua São Pedro de Alcântara. A quiet residential neighbourhood, the Bairro Alto is the epicentre of Lisbon’s nightlife. Explore its quiet cobblestone streets during the day, and come back at night for a fado night or to bar crawl like a local.
4. Praça Luís de Camões
Continue south till you get to a square with a statue at the centre. Dated from 1867, it depicts the 16th century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, who also gives his name to the square – Praça Luís de Camões. The statue faces the Chiado neighbourhood, famous for its range of antique cafés and bookshops, elegant boutiques, historic theatres and buildings.
5. Statue of Fernando Pessoa
Head to Rua Garrett, one of the best shopping streets in Lisbon. En route, don’t miss the bronze statue of Fernando Pessoa, one of Portugal’s most important writers, set in front of the famous coffee shop, A Brasileira. Seat next to it on the terrace, and watch the street entertainers and Chiado’s hustle and bustle. The statue of Pessoa by the sculptor Lagoa Henriques was placed outside in 1988, but A Brasileira has been serving the bica, an espresso that the locals drink all the time, since 1905.
6. Basílica dos Mártires
Just across the street from A Brasileira, find a few notable buildings, namely the Basilica of the Martyrs, completely rebuilt, after the earthquake of 1755, in the Baroque style. Drop in for a bit of peace and enjoy the unusual ornate green ceiling.
7. Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Encarnação
Facing Largo do Camões, you may have noticed two Baroque churches standing on opposite sides of the square Largo do Chiado: Igreja do Loreto and Igreja da Encarnação. Go inside the Igreja da Encarnação, and peek at the magnificent ceiling. The church was built in 1708, destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755, and finally rebuilt in 1873.
8. Teatro Nacional de São Carlos
Take the side street Rua Paiva de Andrade opposite the Baixa-Chiado metro entrance, and walk about two minutes till you reach a grand theatre building on a lovely square. Admire the only Portuguese theatre especially dedicated to opera and ballet performances, opened more than two centuries ago, in 1793. The Neoclassical building with Rococo features is a National Monument. To recharge, there’s the next door Café Lisboa, which serves lunches, dinners and snacks, but you may also check this list of top restaurants in Chiado and Bairro Alto.
9. Museu do Chiado
From São Carlos Theatre, walk two minutes south on Rua Serpa Pinto to reach the Chiado Museum founded in 1911. Also known as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, it has works from the mid 19th century to the present day, providing a comprehensive overview of Portuguese Romanticism, Naturalism, Modernism and other contemporary trends.
The museum is housed in the Convento de São Francisco, an interesting, old monastery. The building was entirely renovated in 1994 by the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte who redefined the space in a Neomodern architectural style.
10. Cais do Sodré
Go south on Rua Serpa Pinto, then turn left to Rua Ferragal on your way to Rua do Alecrim which you’ll take you down to the Cais do Sodré, and the end of this walk. Connected to the River Tejo, Cais do Sodré is both a square and a red-light district turned hipster. Historically, Cais do Sodré was an area of ill repute that many sailors used to visit on shore.
Nowadays, the square and riverside area were restored and given back to the city. Explore the riverside, and come back at night for some tapas and to experience the lively Rua Nova do Carvalho, aka Pink Street, painted a bright shade of pink as part of a urban regeneration project.