What to see in Alfama in Lisbon? Where is the Alfama distrcit? Can I listen to Fado in Alfama? You will find all you need to know about the Alfama district in Lisbon in this post.
The Alfama district represents the heart and soul of Lisbon! It is our favorite area to visit when traveling to the Portuguese capital.
The best way to discover Alfama district is by getting lost on foot. You will discover its cobbled streets full of charm! Alfama is actually the oldest district in Lisbon, the one that survived the terrible earthquake of 1755.
If you are visiting Lisbon, exploring Alfama district is a must. In this post we listed the best things to do in Alfama district, enjoy your exploration!
Where is the Alfama district located in Lisbon?
When talking about Alfama district, it inlcudes the São Jorge Castle on top of the hill, all the way down to the Tagus, the river that runs along the city. On the west of Alfama district there is Baixa district, to the north there is Martim Moniz Square, and Santa Apolonia Metro Station to the east.
Alfama is centrally located in Lisbon, and therefore easily accessible.
Location of Alfama district: here
How to get to Alfama district
One of the best way to visit Libson is on foot. Most of the city can easily be explored without taking any transportation. However, note that Lisbon is very hilly and so is Alfama distrcit. So pack some good shoes with you when visiting Lisbon.
Taking the tramway in Lisbon is actually a very fun experience. Take the legendary tram 28 to visit Alfama. This is one of the best things to do in Lisbon and a good way to visit Alfama district. The Tram 12E also goes through Alfama district. We recommend buying the Lisbon Pass when visiting Lisbon, as all transportation will be free and you have access to many museum for free or at discounted price. Check it out here.
Yes, you read that right, by Tuk-Tuk. In the recent years, many Tuk-Tuks with private driver/guide proposes tour of Lisbon in many different languages. Riding a Tuk-Tuk through Alfama district is also a fun way to discover the area. Your guide will most likely tell you many stories and anecdotes about Alfama. You can book your Tuk Tuk tour at discounted price here.
READ: 25 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN LISBON
So what are the best things to see in Alfama?
1. Visit the Castelo Sao Jorge
The Castelo of Sao Jorge (Castle of St. George), is one of the best things to see in Alfama! As it sits on top of one of the highest hills in the city, you can see the Castle from pretty much anywhere in Lisbon! Here you will discover one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the city.
This castle was built by the Visigoths in the 5th century, then was enlarged by the Moors in the 9th century, to finally be modified under the reign of Alphonse Henriques. Today, it is a masterpiece overlooking the city. Truly magnificent.
If you don’t mind walking uphill for a little while, you can easily access the castle on foot.
Information about the Castelo de São Jorge
Entrance: €10 / person (full price); reduced rates: €5/pers for students (13-25 years old) and €8.5/pers for over 65s and disabled people.
Opening hours: Open every day except May 1, December 24/25/31, and January 1. Visiting hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November 1 to February 28; and from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. between March 1 and October 31.
Duration of the visit: count at least 1h30 to visit the entire castle and walk around the top of the hill to admire the view of the city! The best time to visit the castle is actually during Sunset!
READ: FULL GUIDE FOR VISITING SÃO JORGE CASTLE IN LISBON
2. Discover the Cathedral of Lisbon: Santa Maria
Santa Maria Cathedral also called Sé Patriarchal de Lisboa. “Sé” being the acronym for “Sedes episcopalis”, Latin words meaning “episcopal see”. The Cathedral was built in 1147, which makes it the oldest religious building in the city. It became a cathedral in 1393. It was built following the reconquest of Lisbon from the Moors by the first king of Portugal: Alphonse Henriques, known as the founder.
Santa Maria Cathedral is one of the best things to see in Alfama.
Admission: Free (however access to the cloister and the treasure is €2.50/pers)
Opening hours: every day from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. . Address: Largo da Se
3. Enjoy the view at Miradouro de Santa Luzia
“Miradouro” is a term which you need to know in Portuguese. It simply means viewpoint. Wherever you go in Portugal you will see signs showing the direction of a “Miradouro”, which are usually stunning viewpoints.
In Alfama district either on you way to the castle or on your way back to the city, make sure you stop at Santa Luzia Miradouro. This is our favourite viewpoints and one of the best things to see in Lisbon!
This viewpoint is actually a cute little square next to the church of Santa Luzia. Many locals like to hang out there. Often local artist would play music, which adds even more charms to this place.
For the influencers out there, this is one of the most instragrammable spots in Lisbon. Make sure to check it out.
4. Visit Igreja Paroquial de São Miguel
This Baroque style church dating from the 12th century was completely rebuilt in the 17th century. It even survived the 1755 earthquake. Today it was one of the best things to see in Alfama
From the ornamental panels inside to the beautiful symmetry of its towers outside, this church is a great visit and one of the best things to see in Alfama district.
5. Be amazed at Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora
This amazing place is located in Alfama on the other side of the castle, towards Santa Apolonia station.
With an impressive external appearance and very interesting from an architectural point of view, this building dates from the 16th century.
From the garden through the basement, the courtyard arcades and corridors all the way to the roof, countless beauties will unfold to your eyes. Both the decorations of the building, the walls and the stairs, as well as the works of art and tombstones have been masterfully crafted. From the roof, there is a breathtaking view of the city in all directions. An unmissable attraction in Lisbon.
Undoubtedly one of the best things to see in Alfama.
6. Another beautiful church at Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha
At Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha only the facade survived the earthquake of 1755, the interior was completely rebuilt afterwards.
But what a facade! Take the time to admire the Manuelian sculptures.
The interior consists of a single nave, which is surrounded by chapels; You can see various elements of rich decoration as well as some azulejos.
7. Learn more about José Saramago at Casa dos Bicos
Casa de Bicos is beautiful historical building in Alfama district.
The ground floor, which is free to enter, is completely dedicated to an archaeological site, which is a must see. The upper floors are a paid area dedicated to a Portuguese writer, José Saramago, Nobel Prize for Literature.
The ashes of the writer are actually in front of the foundation.
8. Learn more about Fado at the Fado Museum in Alfama
Fado is a popular Portuguese kind of music with a melancholy theme. It is filled with emotions, speaking of nostalgia, sadness, lost love, exile… and is accompanied by plucked string guitars. This kind of music is unique to Portugal and apparently invented in Alfama.
You can listen to live band playing fado in many restaurants around Lisbon. The atmosphere is usually very romantic. We recommend Sr. Fado restaurant in the Alfama district, one of the best places to eat and listen Fado (location: here)
Fado has been classified as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Hence, it would be a shame not to listen to Fado during your stay in Lisbon!
In Alfama you can also visit the Fado Museum which go through a rather playful way to immerse yourself in the universe of fado.
This is a visit not to be missed when visiting the Alfama district in Lisbon!
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9. SHOP AT THE FLEA MARKET AT FEIRA DA LADRA
The Feira da ladra – literally the Thief’s Market – is an event that takes place every week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Campo de Santa Clara in Lisbon not far from the National Pantheon. This is one of the best things to see in Lisbon!
Feira da ladra is one of the most amazing flea market we’ve ever seen. There are objects of all kinds: azulejos, clothes, decorative objects, books, toys etc.
The origin of this flea market dates back to the 13th century, and it has changed location several times in Lisbon. It wasn’t until 1903 that it found its present place and that’s a good thing: the view of the Tagus is superb, and you can admire the Church of São Vicente de Fora in the background.
10. Check out the Panteão Nacional
From Feira da Ladra you can’t miss the the colossal Panteão Nacional overlooking Alfama district.
Although planned as a church originally, it became the final resting place of many important Portuguese figures such as former presidents, Fado singer or footbal player.
It is one of the best things to see in Alfama distrcit.
Where to stay in Alfama?
Alfama is one of the best places to stay during your visit of Lisbon, as it is centrally located and one of the best areas to visit in the city.
Lisbon Best Choice Apartments Alfama
This hotel offers comfortable and well-equipped apartment right in the heart of the city’s oldest district. The apartment is fully equipped in is perfectly located. Book here.
Hotel Convento Salvador
Hotel Convento do Salvador is a 3-star establishment in the heart of the Alfama district, less than a 10-minute walk from Lisbon train station and the city’s main tourist attractions. This hotel, which takes place in a converted former convent, offers beautiful rooms for two from around €110 per night. Check the availability here.
Best time to visit Lisbon?
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is blessed with pleasant climate almost all year round. Thus, there is not really a period to avoid when planning your trip.
However, the best time to go to Lisbon is from May to October. This is where the climate is most favorable with sunny weather. There is almost no rain during that time.
Due to the summer holidays, the period from mid-June to September is the busiest period for tourists and prices tend to be much higher. To save money during the summer months, make sure you book your hotel and flight in advance.
In conclusion about Alfama district
Old, typical, authentic, charming and charismatic! The Alfama district is all this and much more! This is simply one of the best things to see in Lisbon!
Lisbon is a small city but has many different neighborhoods reflecting the history of the city.
If you come to visit Lisbon for a long weekend, we recommend to spend at least half day to a full day exploring Alfama. To save time you can take the Tram 28 or a Tuk Tuk with private guide, however we recommend to wander through Alfama on foot for the best experience.
If you want to know more about the best things to do in Lisbon, check out the list of 25 best things to see in the city here.
Enjoy your visit!
25 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN LISBON: here
FULL GUIDE FOR VISITING SÃO JORGE CASTLE IN LISBON: here
10 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN BELÉM: here
DISCOVER ERICEIRA NEAR LISBON: here
30 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN MADEIRA: here
25 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN LANZAROTE: here
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN FUERTEVENTURA: here