Nestled in the heart of Portugal’s vibrant capital, downtown Lisbon, commonly known as Baixa, is a bustling hub of historical charm and modern allure. A testament to the city’s resilience and architectural prowess, Baixa offers a unique blend of past and present.
With its grid-like layout filled with traditional shops, majestic plazas, historic cafes, and grand buildings, it stands as a living monument to the city’s rebirth after the devastating earthquake in 1755. Take a look at this 7-day Lisbon and Porto Itinerary if you need more help planning your trip to Portugal. Many people make the Lisbon to Porto drive, but you can also hop on a bus, plane, or fast-train!
After you explore downtown Lisbon, plan at least one of these day trips from Lisbon on your vacation!
How to Explore Historic Lisbon’s City Center
Lisbon’s historic centre is a magnificent area that takes you back to the city’s past. The area has been beautifully preserved with its vibrant streets lined with colorful buildings and historic monuments. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love wandering around the historic Lisbon city center.
There are so many different types of walking, food, Vespa, and tuk-tuk tours in Lisbon, you will need to look for yourself! Try book one when you first arrive, it will make the rest of your trip run smoothly!
Downtown Lisbon is brimming with historic monuments, vibrant street art, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Some of the main points to see include the historic Rossio Square the heart of the city, the Lisbon Cathedral, Elevador da Bica, and Commerce Square.
You have to jump on the famous Tram 28 metro lines to explore the neighborhoods in the area. It’s a fun way to get around downtown Lisbon and will save your legs from the many hills. This route winds its way around all Lisbon’s town centre, and all the key sites.
Tickets can be purchased onboard from the driver, or at the ampo pequeno and Cais do Sodré metro stations. Expect the tickets to cost about 3 euros, but if you grab the Lisbon pass, it covers the tram, bus, and metro!
There is also a pass where you can purchase a ticket for the hop-on and off-bus tours.
Although you do not need a car to explore downtown Lisbon, one of the best car rental services is Guerin Lisbon downtown.
Major Baixa Attractions
Baixa neighborhood Lisbon
The center of Lisbon is also called the baixa pombalina and is the beating heart of the city. With grand plazas, impressive neoclassical architecture, and intricate tilework Portugal is so well known.
This is one of the districts that was completely rebuilt after the horrible earthquake of 1755. You can thank Maquis de Pombal, for the design and hence the name, Pombalina.
Almost all of these sites are on the Lisbon Pass, read more about the discounts you will receive, it’s a steal yall!
Rossio Square (Placa do Rossio)
Officially known as Praca Dom Pedro IV is one of the most vibrant and historical squares in Lisbon. Locals have been meeting in this lively square since the middle ages.
Throughout the years there have been bullfights, festivals, military parades, and even executions. Today the square is dominated by the Dom Pedro monument and the two Baroque fountains. For a pick me up stop by the famous spots Cafe Nicola for coffee and Pastelaria Suica for a sweet pastry treat.
And last but not least is the Rossio Train Station, known as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world and one of the main attractions to see.
Rua Augusta is a pedestrian-only street lined with beautiful mosaic pavements, outdoor cafes, international stores, and street performers, creating a lively atmosphere perfect for a leisurely stroll.
At the south end of Rua da Augusta, you find the iconic Arco da Rua Augusta Arch. This is the triumphal arch that provides stunning views of the Tagus Riverside, it was built in 1755 to declare the city center rebuilt. Find entrance tickets here, they are very affordable.
Continue your walk about halfway down until you reach the equestrian statue of King John I. Along the way, you will pass street performers, living statue artists, and live music. Grab a cup of your favorite Joe, and enjoy people-watching in the Baixa district Lisbon.
- FAQ About Downtown Lisbon
Santa Justa Elevator
The Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the most distinctive landmarks in downtown Lisbon city space. Designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a student of the Eiffel Tower architect, designed this magnific elevator.
It was first built to connect the Baixa and Barrio Alt districts. (Because the hills of Lisbon are no joke). But today, the elevator serves as both a practical way to get around and also brings in many tourists for the views.
From the very top, you can see George’s castle, the beautiful Tagus River, and of course downtown Lisbon. Find tickets here, or grab them at the elevator. It is open from 7:30 am to 11 pm in the summer and around 9 pm in the winter.
Praca do Comercio ( Terreiro do Paço)
Also known as Commerce Square, this is one of the most impressive squares in Lisbon. Facing the Tagus it is a waterfront plaza and gateway for those arriving to Lisbon by sea.
This lovely square was built directly on what used to be the Royal Palace and today is surrounded by three sides of yellow-painted buildings with arcades all along.
On the west side of the square, you can find the remains of the Ribeira Palace. It was destroyed in the earthquake, but the rebuilt version hosts the Portugals Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cais das Colunas e as Docas
On the edge of Praca do Comercio, you can find the Cais das Colunas, also known as the docks. This pier gets its name from the two marble columns that rise from the water and creates a beautiful staircase to connect the Tagus River to the city center.
From here you can see views of the 25 de Abril Bridge. Plan to be here at sunset, when the sun gradually falls into the water. The marina, LX Factory, and Museum of Art & Architecture are nearby the docks as well.
Praca da Figueira
This lovely square is also known as the square of the Fig Tree. It is a large open square in the heart of downtown. Make a pit stop at Confeitaria Nacional, one of the oldest pastry shops in Lisbon. It is best known for its yummy pastel de natas and for being the official confectioner of the royal family.
There are always temporary markets and book shops set up, and you can see the unobstructed views of Sao Jorge Castle!
MUDE- Design & Fashion Museum
one of the many museums to check out in downtown Lisbon city center. But this one is my favorite. Admission is always free, and you can walk around and admire the collection of clothing, furniture, and household products. They also put on workshops and education programs.
Avenida da Liberdade
Avenida da Liberdade also known as the Avenue of Liberty, is one of the grandest and most prestigious boulevards in the Lisbon city center area. This is where you go if you are looking to do some luxury shopping. Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Armani all have set up shop here.
The design of the street was inspired by the Champs-Elysees in Paris with pedestrian streets, lots of gf, and luxury hotels.
Tivoli Theatre and the Cinema Sao Jorge are also located along Avenida da Liberdade. Rounding out the perfect blend of historical charm and modern luxury.
Marquis de Pombal Square
Up next is the beautiful Marquis of Pombal Square. This is another significant landmark for downtown Lisbon. You can find it on the top of Avenida da Liberdade, where the modern city meets the old town.
You cannot miss the roundabout statue of the Marquis of Pombal. He stands on a pedestal with a lion by his side looking at his beautiful masterpiece (downtown Lisbon).
Eduardo VII Park is adjacent to the square and is the largest park in the center of Lisbon and makes the perfect place for a shady picnic or to take in the views.
Praça dos Restauradores
Next up is the Restorers Square on the south end of Avenida da Liberdade. The Restauradores metro station is underneath and makes this one of the best starting points to explore downtown.
Check out the Obelisk Monument, it is the focal point and dates back to 1886. Towards the base of the obelisk, there are two statues representing Victory & Freedom in Portugal’s independence from Spain.
Two buildings worth pointing out are the Foz Place which is a beautiful neoclassical design, and the Eden Theatre a beautiful Art Deco design.
You can find the Baixa Chiado in between the two neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina. This area of the city centre Lisbon is often referred to as the literary quarter due to its long history of being a meeting place for writers and artists.
The very first bookstore to open in the Portugal area was here in Baixa Chiado, and Livraria Bertrand is still open today. Cafe A Brasileira is located here where the famous Fernando Pessoa used to hang out. And in the heart of Chiado is the statue of Luis de Camoes, honoring the famous Portuguese poet.
Address to Baixa Chiado in downton Lisbon
Shopping in Downtown Lisbon- Rua Garrett
Downtown Lisbon of Rua Garrett is the perfect neighborhood to visit if you’re a shopaholic. For modern everyday shops check out the Armazens do Chiado. There is a grocery store, restaurants, and retail stores.
For jewelry and accessories, Tous is a go-to. Zadig & Voltaire is a high-end retailer with edgy rock and roll-inspired clothing.
Luvaria Ulisses is one of Lisbon’s city center’s most beloved shops. Find handmade gloves that date back to 1925!
Paris em Lisboa, sells high-quality linens and textiles, a must-visit to purchase Portuguese fabrics to bring home.
And last but not least A Vida Portuguesa, a boutique that sells any and everything Portuguese. Including soaps, tiles, cork, and more!
Find all your favorite shopping here at Rua Garrett.
The Alfama district is the oldest district of Lisbon. There are narrow winding streets and traditional homes that offer a glimpse into the past. It is a delightful maze that takes you to the Sao Jorge Castle, and down to the riverfront.
Known for Fado music, and a fun nightlife scene the Alfama district is the perfect place to explore the old town Lisbon district.
Thinking about traveling from Lisbon to Nazare, we can help with that too!
Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral- Sé de Lisboa
One of the most visited religious attractions is the Lisbon Cathedral. The views from the upper level make the trip alone. Inside there is a small treasury and museum with artifacts and religious art filling the walls.
Built back in 1147 this beautiful Cathedral has witnessed many transformations. It is a mix of Roman, Goth, and Baroque periods. Inside check out the rose window where Anthony of Padua was baptized back in 1195.
Castelo Sao Jorge
Also known as George’s Castle is one of the best castles in Portugal. You can find it perched on a hill overlooking downtown Lisboa. This beautiful castle dates back to the 2nd century and has been occupied by Romans, Visigoths, and the Moors.
You can walk along the remaining walls and climb the Ulysses Tower with a 360-degree view of the city center. There is also an archaeological site within the castle that reveals the layers down to the 18th century AD. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful peacocks roaming free.
Another area to check out in the Lisbon Portugal city centre is the Príncipe Real area. In the heart of the neighborhood is the leafy Principe Gardens with its large cedar trees. Every Saturday shop at the Biological Market with locals selling their homegrown fruits and veggies.
The Embaixada Concept Store is also in Principe Real and is housed in a 19th-century Moorish-style palace! It is a large shopping center with Portuguese brands and designer shops.
The hilltop location of Principe Real offers stunning views, of the other districts and it is a great place to stop and take in the beautiful views.
Experiencing Culture in Downtown Lisbon
The city’s downtown belem district is filled with culture and artistic expressions.
Tower of Belem UNESCO Site
Also known as the Tower of Saint Vincent is a symbolic and historic landmark in Lisbon’s city center. Built back in the 16th century the beautiful tower is strategically placed on a small island near the banks of the Tagus River. However, over the years, the grounds have shifted and the tower is right by the shore. You can climb to the top terrace and take in the views.
Monument of Discoveries
Back in the 15 and 16th centuries, Portugal played a huge role in the Age of Discovery. This monument stands as a tribute 52 meters (170 feet) tall with a ship and Henry the Navigator standing tall. Behind him, there are 32 other important figures.
Take the elevator or climb the stairs to the top, and don’t forget to wander around the small museum for further insight.
Jeronimos Monastery UNESCO Site
Also known as the Hieronymites is one of the most significant attractions located in Lisbon. It was built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.
There are tombs of many notable figures including Luis de Camoes and Vasco da Gama himself. You can tour the church, cloisters, Maritime, and National Archaeology Museums.
Pastel de Belem
Back in 1827 in the bakery inside the Jeronimos Monastery, delicious pastries were born. At the Pastel de Belem, they use the same recipe, and the tarts are handmade. You will love these flaky, crispy crust-filled pastries with a creamy custard center.
Top it with sugar and cinnamon and dig in. Enjoy them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a quick snack with a coffee!
Pastel de Belem address in Downtown Lisbon!
Downtown Lisbon Restaurants
You can find a full list of the best restaurants in Lisbon with a view here!
STO Mercearia: highly praised for authentic local cuisine.
Re’Tasco: Cosy atmosphere and tasty dishes.
Cervejaria Ramiro: Iconic Lisbon restaurant for seafood.
Do sodré is a hot spot for Lisbon’s foodies. You can find travelers enjoying traditional dishes with fusion cuisine.
Traveling to Porto too ? check out the best restaurants in Porto with a view!
Vibrant Nightlife in Lisbon Portugal City Center
Where to go in Lisbon city center for nightlife:
Campo Pequeno– for a different type of night life, check out this famous bullfighting ring. Although outside the main districts of downtown Lisbon, it is still very easy to reach Campo Pequeno at the train station.
Pensao Amor: Cocktail bar in Lisbon that hosts events like burlesque shows and live music.
Music Box: Under Cais do Sodre, this night club hosts live music and DJ sets in cave like rooms.
Clube da Esquina– Laid back bar in Bairro Alto is a great place to pregame.
Park Bar: Rooftop bar known for its famous summer parties and pretty sunsets.
We also have guides for Lagos nightlife, if you are thinking of traveling to the Algarve!
Best Hotels in Downtown Lisbon Portugal
If you are looking to stay in Lisbon hotels downtown these next few are your best bet. For a more in-depth list take a look at our recommended best hotels in Lisbon.
Montebelo Lisbon downtown apartments– Beautiful and private apartments in the heart of downtown Lisbon. Excellent wifi and all the amenities you need to feel right at home. Check rates here: Agoda.com
What is considered Lisbon Downtown?
The Baixa neighborhood is considered the downtown district of Lisbon. It is considered the heart of the city. This area is a bustling hub that stretches from the riverfront to the main avenue, serving as the primary shopping and banking district.
What is the city Centre of Lisbon called?
The centre of Lisbon is called Baxia, which translates to “lower town”, also known as Baxia Pombalina. It was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755 and is a bustling hub of restaurants, shopping, cafes, and a stroll down the cobbled streets.
What is the best area of Lisbon to stay in?
The best area of Lisbon to stay in is Baxia if you are looking to stay in Lisbon downtown. This way you will be within walking distance of the major attractions, and restaurants, and won’t even need a car! Alternatives to the Baixa district are Bairro Alto, or Rua Augusta is the pedestrian only street.
Is Lisbon a Walkable City?
Lisbon is a walkable city, but there are a few things to keep in mind! Although the grid-like layout makes it easy to navigate, Lisbon is famously built on seven steep hills. Making walking a bit of a challenge even for the fittest travelers. Use public transport, your feet will thank you.