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Favorite Area to "Base Camp" in Lisbon

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
I plan to spend 3-4 days in Lisbon before undertaking CdP with my 16 year old son. We plan to visit a number of different attractions (itinerary still being developed) in the city and its surroundings.

For those of you who know Lisbon, what area(s) of the city would you set up a "base camp" (Alfama? Baixa? etc.) and why (proximity to some attraction? food? transportation? culture? view? etc.)?

As a secondary point, if there's a particular lodging there that you highly recommend, please share.
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
If being in a convenient location is your main concern, I would chose the Baixa. It is centrally located within old Lisbon as a bowl in the lower part of the city (baixar = to lower), with the two main hills of the city easy walking distance on either side (Alfama/Graça to the east, Chiado and the Bairro Alto to the west). There are lots of shops, restaurants and other facilities there. The Baixa also has the best transport connections from the airport and to places in Lisbon that are too far to walk (e.g. Belém). Although I love the hills of Lisbon and they're good training for the camino, the Baixa is also a flat area, which might appeal. It's also close to the start of the camino if you're starting at the cathedral.

If you prefer to be on one of the hills and have a more atmospheric but slightly less convenient stay transport-wise, I would chose Chiado over Alfama, personally. Chiado is (for me) the most elegant of the historical neighbourhoods of Lisbon, and it has more shops, restaurants etc than Alfama and has better transport connections. Alfama is a wonderful area full of narrow lanes, staircases and views but it doesn't have as many facilities as Baixa or Chiado, and you might find that apart from exploring Alfama itself, it'll take a bit longer to get to everywhere else you're going to want to visit in town. That said, if you stay in Alfama you can be at the cathedral to start the camino in no time.

Both Chiado and Alfama are heavily touristed. If you want to still be in a historical neighbourhood but away from the main tourist crowds, other historical neighbourhoods to consider include the Mouraria and Graça (near Alfama) or Santa Catarina and São Bento (near Chiado). I have an apartment for short-term rental in the Mouraria and another one sometimes in São Bento - you can PM me for details if you're interested.

Basically, if you stay in any of the historical neighbourhoods, you can't really go wrong but some are more suitable than others depending on exactly what you want as I hope I've detailed above. No matter what, I'm sure you'll love Lisbon!
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
One area that I've enjoyed, and is slightly less touristy and considerably calmer than "downtown" Lisbon, is Arroios. We ended up here accidentally the first time we stayed in Lisbon, and have been there probably 7 or 8 times since.

It's an easy taxi ride to/from the airport. Its Metro station is unfortunately in the middle of being rebuilt, but there are two others an easy walk up or down the main street, Avenida Almirante Reis.

You're in a good, quite flat walking area. There are lots of interesting restaurants nearby. Good bus service, too!


If you want to stay in a hotel rather than a rental apartment, I highly recommend the Hotel Chile, just off Almirante Reis. Not as inexpensive as it used to be, but few things in Lisbon are!
 
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koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
@jungleboy, I started mapping these out on Google Maps, and I was amazed to realize everything you're describing is 2km or less from each other. Not that this means anything, but I was simply surprised that the core areas were so compact. I assume this is because "old Lisbon" is, like most historic "old town" areas, fairly small by comparison to the modern sprawl that comes with modern transportation.
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Chiado/Baixa/Alfama are all very close to each other as the most central of the historical neighbourhoods, yes. But if you take two of the outer historical neighbourhoods, say Estrela to the west and São Vicente to the east, you can see that they're obviously not nearly as close even though they'd still both be considered central Lisbon.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & to Finisterre (2009), Camino Podiensis (2011), Aussie Camino (2018)
Don't miss the Tile Museum (The Museu Nacional do Azulejo) and the Fado Museum ( Museu do Fado ) - both excellent.
And do have a Portuguese Tart in Belem.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Lots of good suggestions here, I agree with all of them! My first reaction was the same as Nick’s — the most central location for all the places you want to go is Baixa.

My favorite residential section of Lisboa is Campo de Ourique, a grid street neighborhood with a really comfortable feeling. Lots of good little restaurants, supermarkets, etc. The end of the Tram 28 line is there, so it is well communicated via public transportation, but last year I saw for the first time ever that there was a long line outside the Prazeres cemetery waiting to get on the Tram to head back down to Baixa. So it might not be too convenient for daily touring. I would recommend a visit up here, though, especially since the Mercado Campo Ourique has been renovated and turned into an attraction along the lines of the San Miguel in Madrid.

As far as pasteis de nata go, there is a big debate about whether they are better hot or cold. My advice would be to try both, though the lines for the hot ones in Belem are frequently ridiculous.

Two more things to add. I put together a walking tour years ago. I think it still gives a good introduction to the city. And if you are into modern history, the Museum of the Resistance, near the cathedral, is housed in an old political prison and explores Portugal’s years of dictatorship and repression. Such a museum would still be unthinkable in Spain, IMO.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJPP April 2016,
August 2017, May 2018
Camino Portuguese
2019, May Porto, Sept Lisbo
I plan to spend 3-4 days in Lisbon before undertaking CdP with my 16 year old son. We plan to visit a number of different attractions (itinerary still being developed) in the city and its surroundings.

For those of you who know Lisbon, what area(s) of the city would you set up a "base camp" (Alfama? Baixa? etc.) and why (proximity to some attraction? food? transportation? culture? view? etc.)?

As a secondary point, if there's a particular lodging there that you highly recommend, please share.
I do agree with central, flat Baixa too, and I stay at the "Yes" hostel. They give a very warm welcome and have a breakfast included. I also stay at the "Yes" hostel in Porto. The prices are reasonable, it's very clean, have sheets and curtained bunks. Other pilgrims stay there too.
Love
 

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koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
@peregrina2000, funny you should mention your walking tour. Yesterday, I browsed all 26 pages of CdP threads for those related to Lisbon. In that, I came across your tour. This morning I traced your entire tour in Google maps and marked everything that I could find (for instance, did you know that Pastelaria Suica is closed permanently?). I'm still adding recommendations from other threads, and then I'll sort through it all to figure out how to stuff the 50 kilos of Lisbon into the 22 litre backpack of four days. Just exploring all the restaurants would take a month and a new, larger set of clothes!

As to the pasteis de nata . . . we've walked together. Do you really think I won't research those to the extreme?! 🥧🥧🥧😏

At first glance, The Museum of the Resistance seems intriguing, although I know nothing of that period of history in Portugal, and I have not yet reached it in Hatton's text. The more I study history, the more I realize that history written in the immediate aftermath of the event struggles most with objectivity because it is unavoidably reactionary. Then there is---possibly, but not guaranteed to be---a time sufficiently distant from the event that the worst of interpreter bias subsides. I'll be curious to see how the museum navigates those waters.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@peregrina2000, funny you should mention your walking tour. Yesterday, I browsed all 26 pages of CdP threads for those related to Lisbon. In that, I came across your tour. This morning I traced your entire tour in Google maps and marked everything that I could find (for instance, did you know that Pastelaria Suica is closed permanently?). I'm still adding recommendations from other threads, and then I'll sort through it all to figure out how to stuff the 50 kilos of Lisbon into the 22 litre backpack of four days. Just exploring all the restaurants would take a month and a new, larger set of clothes!

As to the pasteis de nata . . . we've walked together. Do you really think I won't research those to the extreme?! 🥧🥧🥧😏

At first glance, The Museum of the Resistance seems intriguing, although I know nothing of that period of history in Portugal, and I have not yet reached it in Hatton's text. The more I study history, the more I realize that history written in the immediate aftermath of the event struggles most with objectivity because it is unavoidably reactionary. Then there is---possibly, but not guaranteed to be---a time sufficiently distant from the event that the worst of interpreter bias subsides. I'll be curious to see how the museum navigates those waters.
Hi, @koilife, Thanks, I had noticed that Pastelaria Suiça had closed last time I was in Lisbon, but hadn’t changed the document. I have done that now. Looks to me like a big hotel will be opening there. There is another good pastelaria option right around the corner, however — Pastelaria Nacional
It has an upstairs room for sitting, so even if it looks mobbed, sitting upstairs is usually not a problem. And I should add that the restaurat I liked so much in Terreiro do Paço has also closed, but there are lots of options there.

And as a person with an extreme culinary bent, you probably also have Lisbon’s excellent canning industry on your lists. The Conserveira de Lisboa is a family run place more or less between Praça do Comercio and the Cathedral. There is a small chain store that is very cutesy that is popping up around Lisbon with similar products, but I think (@jungleboy can correct me) that this is the place that has been there forever.
 
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koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
And as a person with an extreme culinary bent, you probably also have Lisbon’s excellent canning industry on your lists. The Conserveira de Lisboa is a family run place more or less between Praça do Comercio and the Cathedral.
I didn't, but I do now. And, if I read the US customs website correctly, I am able to bring some back to the states.

Keeping your guide doc up to date over a decade is a labor of love. Thank you!😘
 

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