Portugal

Alternative Lisbon guide

(Last Updated On: 04/09/2019)

I always somehow knew that Lisbon is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Europe but also a place where the alternative culture is doing really well.

I don’t know where I got this impression but as it turned out during my last trip there I was right!

The city has so much to offer and everyone will find something for themselves there.

I truly enjoyed visiting all the main attractions but even more, I loved discovering some alternative spots.

I just wish I had more time for that as my itinerary in Lisbon was pretty busy and 2.5 days are definitely not enough there! But anyway, here’s my mini alternative Lisbon guide!

Lisbon Destination Hostel

It took me a while to admit it (as I’m always very careful with such statements) but this was the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in! (I don’t count Cieszyn here as it’s more like a home)

Lisbon Destination Hostel is such a special and unique place!

First of all – it’s located at the train station, really!

You should have seen my friend Agata’s face when she realized I wasn’t joking and we really went inside the Rossio train station to find out accommodation! For the railway geek like me, there couldn’t be a better place!

Lisbon Destination Hostel

But the best was still to come.

The interior was so beautiful! The common area was huge, bright and with lots of plants that gave the place much cozier look.

There were lots of possibilities to kill the time in the hostel (including the table tennis that I really enjoyed playing) but my favorite must have been just lying on the bean bags and looking up to the sky – yes, there’s a glass ceiling in the hostel!

Rooms were pretty spacious too and with an amazing view over Rossio Square and Castelo Sao Jorge.

I seriously loved everything about this hostel!

->Check out the latest prices and more details about Lisbon Destination Hostel! (click!)<-

But Lisbon Destination was more than just the hostel, it’s an institution!

Together with two sister hostels in Alfama (with another lovely view) and Sunset (at another train station – Cais do Sodre and with the swimming pool on top) they offer probably the best accommodation you can get in Lisbon.

The wristband you get at the check-in allows you to visit all the hostels anytime and they all are surely worth checking out, even if just for breakfast or a party.

They also organize some pretty cool tours – I went to two: Sintra+Cabo da Roca and street art tour and enjoyed both full time!

Lisbon Destination Hostel

Lisbon Destination Hostel

Bairro Alto

An adorable neighborhood located on the hills opposite Castelo Sao Jorge and just above Lisbon Destination Hostel.

While the center was packed with tourists, when I visited this area on Sunday afternoon it was empty and only a few local people were hanging around.

Bairro Alto was just the prettiest, with narrow pedestrian streets, where balconies of opposite buildings almost touch each other and with charming, picturesque corners. That’s exactly the type of place I enjoy!

The area was known in past as a dangerous place, with thieves and prostitutes occupying the streets but it is different now and Bairro Alto is home to designers and intellectuals.

I recommend visiting Bairro Alto with a guide to give you a local perspective on the place. There are couple of highly rated tours you might be interested in (click on each link to see details and availability!):

bairro alto lisbon

bairro alto lisbon

bairro alto lisbon

bairro alto lisbon

Best vegetarian restaurant in Lisbon

In a quiet street of Bairro Alto an amazing vegetarian restaurant – Terra – can be found!

It’s not the cheapest option (16€ for the buffet over the weekend, if I remember correctly) and it can be really busy but the food is definitely worth it!

The choice is enormous and even if you don’t eat meat you can enjoy the Portuguese specialties here.

Everything was so good that I just kept going back to the buffet table to get some more things to try until finally I was literally just rolling, not walking down the street.

Pink Street

Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as “the Pink Street”, is the major nightlife hotspot in Lisbon, even if with a somehow dubious reputation.

Like Bairro Alto, this place used to be known for questionable people hanging around and it’s still a little bit like that but Pink Street got a new life in recent years.

While most of the places around close earlier, nightlife spots in this small lane few steps away from Cais do Sodre station remain open until early morning hours.

It’s always crowded here, even in the weekdays, but in the afternoon it looks like the calmest place ever!

pink street lisbon

pink street lisbon

pink street lisbon

Alfama flea market

Every Tuesday and Saturday from early morning till afternoon a famous Alfama flea market – Feira da Ladra – takes place in the heart of the district, at Campo de Santa Clara and surrounding streets.

This kind of market is known to be part of Lisbon’s scenery since the 12th century but the name was used for the first time in the 17th century.

You can buy just about everything here, from second-hand things of all kind to fake bags and antiques.

Just be careful, Feira da Ladra means Thief Fair and there’s, unfortunately, some truth in it.

flea market alfama

flea market alfama

flea market alfama

Backstreets of Alfama

While this is one of the most touristic districts of Lisbon, crowds can be seen only following the route of the famous tram no 28.

Once you step off this path you will be transformed back in time into a completely different world.

This is the oldest of all Lisbon’s district, the one that wasn’t destroyed in the tragic earthquake in 1775 and therefore it is probably the most real one.

The maze of narrow lanes of all shapes, neighbors chatting, children running around and hardly any tourists around – that’s how Alfama really is.

Best way to discover it is to climb up from Santa Apolonia station, without a map (you will get lost anyway), just wander around and enjoy the place, eventually, you will miraculously find your way out.

Alfama is another district that should be visited with the guide to tell you the story and background of the place.

Here are some of the best Alfama tours (click on each link to see the details and availability!):

alfama lisbon

alfama lisbon

alfama lisbon

Street art

Lisbon is known as one of the best street art cities in Europe and it surely deserves its position.

There’re numerous murals around, some made by the best artists in the world (like Blu, Vhils, Etam Cru or Mr. Chat).

I explored the local scene during the street art tour and it was a really great way to see lots of great works spread all over the city in a short time, and to hear more of the background stories!

Click here for the details and availability of the tour!

Some of the best places to check are the underground passage and the nearby wall next to Alcantara-Mar train station, a wall surrounding the mental hospital and the other one around the prison, abandoned buildings along Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo and the parking lot at the footsteps of Castelo Sao Jorge.

lisbon street art

lisbon street art

lisbon street art

lisbon street art

lisbon street art

LX Factory

I love the trend where the former factories are turned into creative spaces. And that’s also the story with LX Factory.

Since 1846 the area halfway between the downtown and Belem has been home to threads and fabrics industry.

In 2008, together with the start of LX Factory, this place got a new life.

Now it’s Lisbon’s center of creativity with numerous galleries and all kinds of art, start-ups, hipster shops or trendy restaurants and everything is decorated with really good street art.

You can easily spend the whole day there and still not experience everything LX Factory has to offer! Definitely my kind of place!

lx factory lisbon

lx factory lisbon

lx factory lisbon

Village Underground

Next door from LX Factory, yet hidden a little bit in the public transport museum, another cool spot can be found.

It’s Village Underground, a co-working space and a venue for cultural events.

The installation is made of two old buses and 14 shipping containers and can host up to 60 people who want to work together in this creative environment.

The rent varies between 150-200€ per month but if you just stop by in Lisbon and look for a cool spot to work in you can also pay per hour.

I actually secretly dream of working for a while in such a co-working space and Village Underground seems like a perfect opportunity for that! Oh well, next time!

village underground lisbon

village underground lisbon

village underground lisbon

Miraduoro de Santa Catarina

Probably least known lookout point in Lisbon yet still offering amazing views.

Miraduoro de Santa Canatrina is located just a few steps away from the upper station of famous Bica tram yet not many tourists seem to get there.

The view over Tagus river, Bridge of 25th April and surrounding neighborhoods are pretty spectacular and this is a great spot to relax after exploring the nearby Bairro Alto.

Miraduoro de Santa Catarina Lisbon

Miraduoro de Santa Catarina Lisbon

Here’s the map with all the spots of this alternative Lisbon guide:


Travel resources

With over 15 years of independent traveling, I’ve learned which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust the following websites:

Money – My number one tip for everyone is to start using Revolut bank card to save money when traveling.

You get the card by mail within a few days and you can use it all over the world. You top up the card in the app on the phone, where you can also have accounts in different currencies and exchange money between them, for no extra fee and at very favorable rates. Everything is super easy and fast, you only need an internet connection to manage your accounts in the app.

Revolut supports over 140 currencies and offers free withdrawal from ATMs all over the world. In the first 6 months I’ve used Revolut card in 12 countries in 3 continents and had no issues at all. And I saved a lot of money in the exchange rates!

Click here to learn more about the service and order your own Revolut card!

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation through Booking.com.

They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if your plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs.

I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use a few times.

Check the best deals on accommodation in Lisbon here!

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road and better safe than sorry (I’ve learnt my lesson).

I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me.

Click here to get the insurance policy for Portugal here.

Day tours – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that saves you time and money.

I most often use Get Your Guide that offers a variety of tours all over the world. Click here to check all the best tours you can take during your travels!

Offline maps – For years I’ve been using MAPS.ME app and I can’t recommend it enough!

It’s free, works offline perfectly fine and saved me many times. You can easily transfer Google Maps with all the bookmarks to maps.me and use them offline wherever you are.

Click here to download it to your phone before your next trip!


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Lisbon too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

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Disclaimer: I was a guest of Lisbon Destination Hostel but all of the opinions are my own, like always, and I totally recommend you the place, it’s really the best!


love, kami 2

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47 Comments

  • Reply
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    12/07/2015 at 08:36

    I’ve just started planning my second trip to Lisbon and it will be fun to check out some of these alternative sights. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:17

      Glad I could help! Enjoy Lisbon!!

  • Reply
    Sam
    12/07/2015 at 10:13

    Fantastic! I’m continually impressed by how much street art you were able to find in Lisbon – I somehow missed most of it! And thanks for the mention of my vegan guide. Terra was definitely one of our favourites too, but there were also loads of other great vegan/vegetarian places to eat too!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:19

      I’m always surprised how much street art I keep finding everywhere, it jus pops up on my way! :) I really should have checked more vegetarian options in Lisbon but with Terra and your dinner I couldn’t eat any more ;)

  • Reply
    PatTravel
    12/07/2015 at 12:35

    Uwielbiam Lizbonę. W tradycyjny sposób juz ją miałam okazję zwiedzić, ale jako że przymierzam się do ponownego wyjazdu, to na pewno skorzystam z Twoich sugestii.

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:20

      cieszę się, że mogę pomóc :) Lizbona zawsze fantastyczna!

  • Reply
    Ania Moch
    12/07/2015 at 18:11

    Nice guide! Lisbon is such a great city to get lost in! Shame we didn’t know about Village Underground before we went there!

    • Reply
      Darek Jedzok
      13/07/2015 at 07:38

      Exactly – I deliberately try to get lost there every time I am lucky enough to visit it again. One of my TOP5 cities in the world.

  • Reply
    Tati Belenkova
    12/07/2015 at 19:14

    sooon!

  • Reply
    Tatiana
    12/07/2015 at 20:47

    Aaaaa can’t wait – to see it by myself! only 4 months left.

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:22

      You’ll love it, I’m sure of that!

  • Reply
    Kinga Madro
    13/07/2015 at 07:45

    przyda sie :)

  • Reply
    Marcin Wesołowski
    13/07/2015 at 08:03

    This is definitely kind of a different face of that city! I haven’t seen it at all when I was there.

  • Reply
    Qmoh w Podróży
    13/07/2015 at 09:04

    Na Lizbonę choruję od obejrzenia “Lisbon story”. I ciągle nie mogę tam dojść. Może w 2017 uda mi się wreszcie dotrzeć na najdalszy zachód Europy :)
    Tymczasem pozostają mi marzenia i oglądanie Twoich zdjęć :)
    Pozdrawiam

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:23

      Moja fascynacja Lizboną tez własnie od tego filmu się wzięła :) a miasto jest fantastyczne, wiec trzymam kciuki, żebyś jak najszybciej tam zawędrował!

  • Reply
    Tomek Luks
    13/07/2015 at 08:06

    Coś dla mnie. W końcu muszę się tam wybrać :)

  • Reply
    Marta Tatarynowicz
    13/07/2015 at 10:24

    The hostel looks nice indeed!

  • Reply
    megsy
    13/07/2015 at 16:49

    I have only spent 1 day in Lisbon and I had no idea that there was so much awesome alternative stuff to see. Thanks for adding the map with locations – that’s really helpful :-)

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:23

      Then you definitely should go back! There’re just too many great things to see and do in Lisbon!

  • Reply
    Izabela
    13/07/2015 at 20:45

    This yellow cat! I’ve seen it somewhere on your blog. Wasn’t it Balkans? (I don’t remember and can’t find it….)
    I’m thinking of Lisbon since we met Mark from Agua de Coco, I really need to visit them in the future :) Now, when I know that they have a flea market every Tuesday and Saturday… I’m kind of addicted to flea markets. I may be a trash diver in a future I’m affraid… ;) ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:25

      yes, Prishtina and Sarajevo :) but it can be seen all over the world :)

      haha, I can’t imagine you as a trash diver but you never know ;)

  • Reply
    Mr_Szpak
    13/07/2015 at 21:46

    Byłem w Portugalii w Porto, znajomi mnie nakrecali na Lisbone, ale powiedziałem że na jeden dzień bez sensu bo na to miasto zasługuje na dłuższy pobyt… więc mam do zaliczenia

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:26

      zdecydowanie jeden dzień to za mało, minimum 3, a i na więcej znajdzie się coś do roboty!

  • Reply
    Katie Featherstone
    13/07/2015 at 22:11

    Lisbon really has some of the most amazing street-art I’ve ever found. Thanks for the advice on alternative spots- I’ll bear them in mind if I manage to get back there!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:27

      yes, all I heard about Lisbon street art was so true! Such a great city for some urban art! Fingers crossed you will return to Lisbon soon!

  • Reply
    Piotr Goroh
    14/07/2015 at 05:44

    Każdy szanujący sie hostel musi mieć stół do bilarda i…koty;) stół widzena zdjęciach….

  • Reply
    Justyna | wAfryce.pl
    14/07/2015 at 08:53

    Bairro Alto – I heard about it before but never actually saw a single picture. It looks like a place I would love to spend time at. What about prices in Lisbon? Is it very expensive?

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:29

      no, it’s pretty decent. Slightly more expensive than Poland but still acceptable! Lisbon is definitely a place to visit!

  • Reply
    Kinga
    14/07/2015 at 10:32

    Lizbona i schody – niezawodny duet. :-D
    Bairro Alto jest urocze. Bylismy tam w zimie, odwiedzic znajomych na Erasmusie i ta dzielnica az kipiala (nocnym) zyciem!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:31

      no daje radę ta Lizbona tak bardzo!! szkoda tylko, że tak daleko ;)

  • Reply
    BEATA REDZIMSKA
    14/07/2015 at 14:54

    Urokliwe uliczki Lisbony, jak to sie fajnie komponuje alternatywan sztuka (graffiti) i stare uliczki, tradycja z nowym, mieszaja sie razem i wzajemnie dodaja uroku. Pozdrawiam serdecznie Beata

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:31

      street art, jeśli zrobiony z głową, naprawdę może bardzo na plus dla miasta zadziałać!

  • Reply
    Dorothea
    20/07/2015 at 11:01

    Lovely photos, they bring back so many memories! You managed quite a lot in 2.5 days, I spent there one whole week and felt like it was barely enough. Will have to come back next year… for a month! :)

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 21:32

      yeah, that’s the thing with Lisbon, no matter how much time you spend there it’s never enough!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    24/09/2015 at 04:24

    What a fun post! I hate to admit that I haven’t made it to Lisbon yet. Shame on me, I know!

    • Reply
      kami
      21/06/2016 at 21:29

      time to change that!

  • Reply
    Photo journal - Lisbon, Portugal - Untold Morsels
    15/04/2016 at 17:39

    […] alternative guide to Lisbon featuring street art, food tips, neighbourhood guides and more here – via Kami’s blog Great tips on how to make the most of a family trip to Lisbon […]

  • Reply
    Paula
    08/06/2016 at 05:51

    Thanks for writing such a useful informative post! I plan to hunt down most of these spots when I visit later this year.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/06/2016 at 21:30

      great! you will love Lisbon for sure!

  • Reply
    Anna
    28/10/2016 at 14:39

    Great post! Really enjoyed reading! I´m heading to Lisbon this weekend and can´t wait to see it for myself! Your post got me inspired, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      kami
      01/11/2016 at 21:52

      Thank you! Hope you enjoyed Lisbon as much as I did!

  • Reply
    Lee Hamilton
    20/12/2016 at 22:53

    Me and my wife are off to Lisbon in april 2017 thanks for all the tips and pics we are so looking forward to it I have heard so many good things about Lisbon.

    • Reply
      kami
      25/12/2016 at 22:25

      Lisbon is amazing, one of the greatest cities in Europe! You will enjoy it for sure!

  • Reply
    Yasemin
    12/02/2017 at 16:09

    Hello! was the flight from porto to lisbon only 3 euros? thats amazing! how did you get it so cheap?

    • Reply
      kami
      21/02/2017 at 22:02

      yes, it was! Ryanair has this cheap offers from time to time and I was lucky to score one :)

  • Reply
    ian macfarlaine
    20/04/2018 at 14:13

    Thank you for such an interesting post. I lived in Portugal for 2 years while working internationally and travelled through Lisbon every 2 or 3 weeks, but there is so much I missed. Another good tip for vegetarians and vegans is Costa Do Malabar, a South Indian place near Alameda metro. Safe travels and if you ever plan to visit Malta, I can point you to some quirky stuff here as well.

    • Reply
      kami
      07/05/2018 at 15:21

      Thank you for your comment and the recommendation! I will definitely get in touch when I decide to visit Malta again, there are still so many places I’d like to see there! Thanks!

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