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A Self-Guided Lisbon Walking Tour in Alfama Old Town

This Lisbon Walking Tour begins at Praça Luís de Camões, a busy square in the Chiado district.  You can, however, jump into the walking tour at any of the points convenient to the location of your accommodation or starting point. If you do begin the tour in Chiado, then the best possible start would be to take breakfast, brunch or a late afternoon drink at the beautifully ornate cafe A Brasilieira do Chiado on Rua Garrett close to the Baixa-Chiado Metro station.

Please take a look at my other post on the fine city of Lisbon – you can access it here…

I walked the whole route and according to my iPhone covered 8.4 miles.  As you’ll see below there are options to catch a tram for part of the route so you can bring that down a little if walking long distances isn’t your thing.

Lisbon Walking Tour - Alfama

I’ve presented 3 options for this Lisbon Walking Tour, depending on how many miles you’re prepared to do and whether you want to explore more of the glorious architecture, streets and squares on foot or see some of it from the iconic tram.Famous Tram 28 in Alfama Lisbon

The first iption for thiis Lusbon Option 1 involves the least walking and avoids the steepest of the steps up to Alfama. It also includes a ride on the famous rickety, shabby-chic ancient Tram E28. Just jump on the tram at Baixa then skip to Step 4.

Option 3 of my Lisbon Walking Tour is slightly longer walking route and also uses the Tram 28 to take you up the hill.  For option 3 the tram can be caught at Largo Martim Moniz (see Step 3).

Finally, option 4 misses out the Tram completely (you can always do that another time) and covers the whole tour on foot. Don’t worry, you’ll still see the trams and can take some great photos of it with option 4. Just start at Step 1 and keep walking! Whichever option you choose you can always visit the sights missed another time during your visit.

If you don’t feel like walking the whole route, it’s worth buying a Lisbon Travel Card which also includes entrance to some of the attractions.

A Lisbon Walking Tour - The Start

StEP 1 - La Brasilia, Chiado

A Brasiliera Cafe Lisbon

After looking at the Brasileira statue and fuelling up on carbs at the Cafe A Brasileira (admiring the wonderful interior design), head East along the trendy shopping street of Rue Garret with its overhead decorations that change constantly to reflect the time of year and holiday seasons.

Here you’ll find a range of bars, cafes, ice cream parlours, art shops, trendy clothes stores and much more. There is also a selection of good restaurants, and the cafes become street bars from late afternoon, should you wish to call back later in the evening.  At the bottom of R. Garret, you’ll also find the Hotel Chiado, with its excellent roof bar with views of the Castle and Alfama (see the feature image at the top of the post).

Step 2 - Elevador De Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa LisbonThis intricate iron structure was build in 1902 to connect the lower and upper towns.  You can ride the elevator (for a rather steep €5.30 if you don’t have a 24h Lisbon transport ticket. If you’re taking Tram 28 later as this route suggests, then buy a 24hr ticket from one of the Metro stations which will cost you around €6.50. As well as the Metro and trams, this ticket will allow you to ride the 3 funiculars at Gloria, Bica and Lavra.  You can also buy multi-day and week or monthly tickets if that makes more sense for your Lisbon stay.  You can also take the steps if you don’t want to ride the elevator.

Optional Lisbon Walking Tour detour:

If you wish to, explore the wonderful museum at the Carmo Convent that sits at the top of the elevator. However, I’ve not included this in this particular tour as there’s already a lot to see and I spent almost half a day wandering around Carmo’s exhibits. See my main post on Lisbon for more information.

Museo do Carmo Convent Lisbon

Step 3 : Igreja de Sao Domingo

The Church of St Dominic. Head through the grand square of Praca Dom Pedro (there was a lot of construction work underway when we were here in late October 2021 but it may be finished by now), go past the National Theatre Di Maria II and pause to admire the wonderful architecture of the gothic Church of St Dominic. This is just a taster for the many grand and intricately ornate churches you’ll come across on this Lisbon Walking Tour.

If you’ve opted for Option 3 of this Lisbon Walking Tour then jump on Tram 28 at Martim Moniz being sure to catch the one heading East.

Step 4 : Largo de Graca / Miradouro da Graca

View from Miradouro da Graca Lisbon

For the tram riders, after winding its way up the narrow cobbled streets lined with stuccoed and tiled townhouses, boutique hotels and hidden cafes and restaurants, alight at Largo da Graca. Then head north and turn left behind the barracks on Rua Damasceno Monteiro (then jump to Step 5).

If walking, carry on heading East until you reach Rua dos Lagares, then head up the steep steps and narrow back streets of the Alfama Old Town, admiring the street art as you make your way.

After climbing the steps, enjoy a break and admire the views of Lisbon from the Miradouro da Graca viewpoint (there are public toilets here as well as a van selling refreshments). 

As you ascend, lonely lemon trees, laden with ripe fruit depending on the time of year, stand proudly in cobbled courtyards, surrounded by tall old apartment blocks. Cafes buzz with the poetic chatter of Portuguese as locals stop by for a coffee and some gossip. The buildings are often crumbling, stucco and ornate tiles cracked or missing, but this adds to the shabby-chic atmosphere. Every time you come across a stairway or alleyway that breaks up the buildings, you’re rewarded with a glimpse of the sun reflecting of a myriad of red roofs and the river shimmering as it snakes out towards the Atlantic.

Step 5 : Miradouro da Senhora de Monte

Head back on yourself a little, then take a right through the Jardim de Cerca da Graca, a park with panoramic views and a cafe.  When you cross R, Damasceno Monteiro, be sure to check out the street art on the side of the building at Mario Belem.

Lisbon Street Art Tiles

Also, look for the tiling on the wall across the road.

Head up the slope to another stunning viewpoint at Miradouro da Senhora do Monte when you’ve done admiring the art.

Step 6 : Palácio de São Vicente & Monsterio da Sao Vicente de Fora

Monsterio da Sao Vicente de Fora LisbonHead back down the slope, then take a left East and then right South along R. de Voz do Operario taking in the walled garden and ornate carvings inside (free entry). Along the road to the side is a wonderful archway that provides some excellent Instagram opportunities.

The next grand church, next door, is that of Sao Vicente de Fora and is bristling with art and is the burial place of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

STEP 7 : Panteao Nacional

The National Pantheon. You can continue down the hill then head East to the Panteao Nacional (a 17th-century baroque mausoleum brimming with the tombs of national heroes) or you can head through the aforementioned archway and do Step 8 first.

Step 8 - Faira de Ladra

The Faira de Ladra (The Thieves Market) is a common recommendation in most of the “Top 10 Things to Do in Lisbon” guides.

It’s an eclectic collection of stalls selling contemporary arts and crafts with a smattering of food and wine stalls. It’s worth visiting but note it only opens Saturdays and Tuesdays – check online first. There is also very peaceful park nearby, with plenty of shady benches where you can rest those aching feet.

Step 9 : Largo de Rodrigues de Freitas

We now need to double-back on ourselves for a bit. Don’t worry there are lots of great cafes and restaurants on this part of the route and at the locations of the next two steps. It’s a perfect opportunity to stop for lunch and refuel. The area around Largo de Rodrigues de Freitas also provides some great perspectives for those Instagram photos, with trams trundling along cobbled streets and the city and river stretching out across the background.

Step 10 : Castel de Sao Jorge

On this walking tour we skirt around the castle, calling in at its viewpoint to view the city panorama, but we don’t visit the castle itself. When I was there it was possible (the Timeout Food Market aside) it was the only place in Lisbon that was excessively busy. For me it was also a little too ‘touristy’ with plastic souveneir stalls and such like.

You will also need a fair amount of time to explore within the castle walls, especially to ensure the hefty entrance fee is value for money. As such, I recommend coming back to visit the castle on another day.

For now, we’ll continue our walking tour. Loop around the castle along the Costa do Castelo street. Admire the castle’s walls and turrets towering above the pretty houses and cobbled pavements, then head up to the Miradouro viewpoint with its broad Atlantic Ocean panorama.

Step 11 : Miradouro de Santa Luzia

Yet another of these stunning viewpoints can be found at Santa Luiza.  This one isn’t quite so high as the others, but instead provides a clear view of the blue Atlantic Ocean beyond the rusty red coloured rooftops of the town. 

Step 12 : IgrEja De Santo Antonio

We’re on the home stretch now and the Church of St Antony provides a penultimate opportunity to explore one of Lisbon’s many grand baroque churches. This is apparently where St Antony was born. He’s renown for his skills at conjuring up miracles, especially finding lost items.  Kind of like the Apple AirTag of his time.

Step 13 : Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha

Our final church as we arrive back in the lower town.

This 16th Century church has ornately carved facades and interiors that make it a worthy stop as you come towards the end of this walking tour. Many of Lisbon’s churches were destroyed or badly damaged during the 1755 earthquake, but this one survived almost intact. Hence its nickname of “Velha” meaning ancient. The earthquake was followed by a raging fire that was only extinguished when the tsunami came ashore and flooded the lower town. Considering this triad of disasters it’s little wonder the church wasn’t nicknamed “lucky” or “blessed” rather than “old”. 

It was built at a time when Portugal’s global discovery was at its peak, and the many statues, decorative decals and paintings reflect Portugal’s impressive geographical discoveries.

Step 14 : Praca do Comercio

Praca do Comercio Lisbon

This self-guided Lisbon walking tour of Alfama concludes somewhere special. You arrive at the vast panorama of Europe’s largest public square. It’s flanked by grand palaces on three sides, and the sparkling river to the South. Reward yourself with a well earned cocktail or two at one of the bars lining this impressively huge space.  There’s a Metro station close by and tram stops just to the north, in case you have little energy remaining in order to trek back to your accommodation.

Lisbon Walking Tour Overview

I hope you find this Lisbon Walking Tour itinerary useful. Please leave your comments below, including anything you discover on the route that I may have missed.

 Enjoy Lisbon and please do check out some of my other posts on this wonderful city and other destinations.

Where to Sleep, Eat & Drink in Lisbon

Please check out my other post on the fine city of Lisbon for more places to see and visit, where to eat and a recommendation for a wonderful centrally located apartment.

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