Named after the Jardim do Príncipe Real park, this neighbourhood of independent shops and small restaurants is centred upon the Rua da Escola Politécnica. Its heart is the park itself, anchored by a two charming kiosk-cafés. Its backyard is Lisbon’s Botanical Garden. Always humming, Príncipe Real kicks into high gear on weekends.
How to get there and move around
Built on seven hills, Lisbon needs you to be reasonably fit if you want to explore it by foot. From the narrow cobbled streets of Bairro Alto, Príncipe Real is an easy stroll, but from the designer shopping boulevard that is Avenida da Liberdade, it’s a bit of a hike.
The Rato metro station, the southern terminus of Lisbon’s Yellow Line, is at the far end of the neighbourhood. Lisbon’s metro is reliable, clean, and well used. The only downside is frequency of trains, which pales in comparison to, say, London. An all-purpose 24-hour pass covering metro, bus, and funicular is €6.30, while single metro rides cost about €1.45. Prepaid Viva viagem travel cards (sold for €3, €5, and then at increments of €5 up to €40) offer a modest per ride discount for prepaid travel cards.
Lisbon’s bus transit is operated by Carris. Two bus lines ply the neighbourhood: the 758, which connects to Cais Sodré and Rato, and the 773, which links Príncipe Real to Alcântara, Estrela, and Lapa.
The Ascensor da Glória funicular trundles up the hill from Avenida da Liberdade to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. A return journey is €3.60.
Taxis in Lisbon tend to be inexpensive and ubiquitous. Typically, taxi drivers accept street traffic as well as app-based traffic. The most useful local taxi app is Mytaxi.
Where to stay
Memmo Príncipe Real
From a small Portuguese hotel chain, Memmo Príncipe Real is a boutique hotel with views impressive even for Lisbon – and high nightly rates. Think streamlined modernist furnishings, contemporary Portuguese art on the walls and fireplaces on some balconies. Guided daily walking tours and a stylish terrace bar seal the deal.
Rua Dom Pedro V, 56, 1250-094
Eurostars das Letras
The four-star Spanish chain’s 107 rooms do the trick. There are floor-to-ceiling windows and a crisp modern look throughout. Staff are also extra helpful, and there is 24-hour room service for late arrivals. Down a (gentle) hill from the Rua da Escola Politécnica, Eurostars das Letras is around the corner from the Cinemateca Portuguesa, a film archive and exhibition centre.
Rua Castilho, 6, 1250-069
Casa Oliver Boutique B&B
Casa Oliver Boutique B&B has a homespun-yet-clean aesthetic of polished hardwood floors and whitewashed walls alongside fun retro objects. What better way to wake up than with the sound of fado on the old-fashioned Roberts radio on your bedside table and the traditional shuttered windows thrown wide open, so you can watch the breeze in the trees from your four-poster bed?
Praça da Príncipe Real, 125, 1250-184
The Independente Suites and Terrace
Arrive at Independente Suites and Terrace to a warm welcome and an eclectic mix of antique and contemporary, where high ceilings and exposed beams meet furniture from all periods to set an intriguing yet sophisticated tone. Head to the rooftop restaurant, Insólito’s, for incredible views and a good meal.
Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara, 81, 1250-238
1869 Príncipe Real
From the outside, it looks like a just another of the neighbourhood’s charming tiled buildings. Inside, 1869 Príncipe Real B&B turbocharges the Portuguese design template. Spacious rooms have traditional Portuguese azulejo tiles, a smattering of antiques, as well as elements that are suggestive of a clean Nordic style.
Travessa Abarracamento de Peniche, 14, 1200-002
What to see and do
Jardim do Príncipe Real
A local favourite, Jardim do Principe Real is glorious in fine weather with charming kiosk-cafés and shaded terraces. Check out the flora – including the park’s massive, glorious cedar tree – or order a glass of port from its 18th-century kiosk. Stop by on a Saturday to pick up something at the organic market, or visit its art and crafts market where you can pick up original and unique gifts.
Praça Príncipe Real, 1250-184
A shopping centre and concept store occupying a well-restored Moorish-style building, Embaixada is that rare gem of a shopping mall, architecturally entertaining enough to attract visitors with little interest in shopping itself. Comb through to admire the building or peruse the lovely goods. Embaixada prides itself on showcasing Portuguese brands that haven’t yet caught on with an international following. One retail highlight among many is Boa Safra, a Portuguese sustainable home furnishings company. Stop by Gin Lovers & Less for a cocktail from a dizzying lengthy gin menu and a bite to eat – their risottos are particularly good.
Praça do Príncipe Real, 26, 1250-184
Open daily 1000–2000
Museum of Natural History and Science and Botanical Garden
Children will love Lisbon’s natural history museum, which is stuffed to the rafters with its inventory of birds, insects, and reptiles. Adjacent to it is Lisbon’s Botanical Garden, reopened in April 2018 after a lengthy renovation. It has a particularly impressive collection of tropical plants from Asia, the Americas, and Oceania. Stroll its paths to admire the semi-tropical and tropical flora or settle on a bench to enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by nature in the middle of a city.
Rua da Escola Politecnica, 56-58, 1250-102
Opening times vary
Príncipe Real is a trove of small, independent shops, curated with personality by their proprietors. The quality of the shops picks up west of the park. Try Vintage Department for unusual home furnishings with a modernist bent; pick up carefully curated home décor objects and children’s toys at Loja Quer; or find yourself tempted by lovingly restored vintage gems at ArtNow Lisboa and YOYO objects.
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
There might be no better place in Lisbon to watch the sunset than Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, with views across Avenida da Liberdade to the castle. Pull up a bench at the outdoor bar and order a beer or bottle of wine and wait for the sun to turn the city gold.
Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara, 1200-140
Where to eat and drink
Banca de Pau
Lovely Banca de Pau focuses on the cuisine of Trás-os-Montes, a mountainous, historically isolated northern region of Portugal. Everything on offer is delicious: hearty pork sausages, grilled chillies and the best toasts imaginable – try the tomato, ginger and almond – all paired with regional wines. Pride of place is given to Thyro Wines, a Trás-os-Montes wine company run by one of the restaurant’s owners.
Rua Nova São Mamede, 38, 1250-093
Open daily 1200–0000
Seafood in Lisbon can be counted on to be great. Pesca, though, takes sustainable seafood to another level. This is truly mouth-to-tail fin dining, and the presence of cocktail artist Wunderkind Fernão Gonçalves behind the bar is icing on the cake.
Rua da Escola Politécnica, 27, 1200-244
Open Tuesday–Sunday 1200–1500 and 1900–2400
Mix ‘tapas’ and ‘petisco’ – Portuguese tapas – and you’ve got Tapisco. The restaurant celebrates all things pan-Iberian, with an open-plan kitchen that creates an exciting, buzzing atmosphere. Order up a table of petisco, and wash it down with a vermouth cocktail – this is the only place in Lisbon with a vermouth bar, after all.
Rua Dom Pedro V, 81, 1250-096
Open daily 1200–2400
Bettina & Niccolò Corallo
A little shop with a big reputation for gorgeous chocolates from the former Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe. With coffee roasted on the premises and some lovely pastries on offer as well, you’d be hard pushed to walk past this little café. Try the decadent hot chocolate – literally just melted hot chocolate with no milk in sight.
Rua da Escola Politécnica, 4, 1250-102
Open Monday–Saturday, 1000–2000
Comida de Santo
Comida de Santo is a tried-and-true favourite serving up fantastic Bahian (north-eastern Brazilian) food. Come for hearty fish soups, heart of palm salads and a long list of delicious vegetarian moqueca stews.
Calçada Engenheiro Miguel Pais, 39, 1200-257
Open Wednesday–Monday 1230–1530 and 1930–2400 (only open for dinner in August)