As the capital and largest city in Portugal, Lisbon is an always-popular destination for both city breaks and longer holidays. With Roman and Moorish ruins among its grand architecture and the hustle and bustle of a vibrant atmosphere, Lisbon really is a perfect blend of the ancient and modern.
It’s also a city of very distinct regions, each with its own character and atmosphere – none more fascinating than the Bairro Alto.
The area first sprang up in the late 15th century as a result of the city’s prosperity and the rapidly expanding population. Originally outside the old city walls, the district used a formal grid network of streets that’s still apparent today. If you’re planning to hire a car in Lisbon, you'll find there are many fascinating places to discover.
Bairro Alto is one of the city’s most vibrant areas for nightlife and entertainment, and nowhere is this better exemplified than at The Insólito. The word means “unusual” in Portuguese and you’ll find that it’s very aptly named. Ascend to the rooftop terrace in this grand 19th century building and not only will you get one of the finest views of this part of the city, but you’ll also be able to enjoy Portuguese dishes with a distinctly traditional twist.
You’ll reach another fantastic viewpoint when you head up to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. You can choose to do it the hard way by tackling the Calçada da Glória by foot or go easy on yourself by hitching a ride on the Elevador da Gloria. The reward at the top is a stunning vista further enhanced by the surrounding fountains.
Adjoining Bairro Alto you’ll find Principe Real, an area that’s arranged around a grand square whose centrepiece is a huge and spreading cedar tree over a hundred years old. There’s a café in the square too, making it the perfect place to relax and savour the impressive surroundings.
Sao Roque Church may have a plain exterior, but this belies what awaits you inside - the fourth of its chapels is a stunning display of Baroque art. It was designed and made in Rome in the late 18th century using precious materials including ivory, lapis lazuli, gold and silver before being blessed by the Pope and shipped to Lisbon. Next to the church is the Museum of Sacred Art which contains many religious masterpieces, as well as a pair of ornate church torch holders in bronze and silver and weighing over 840 pounds.
So with this heady mix of the old and the new it’s easy to see why Bairro Alto brings so many visitors, whatever the time of year.