If ever in Lisbon, go get lost in Alfama at some point – that’s what everyone says to do and it’s pretty easy to do the deeper you wander in. It has to be the most interesting neighborhood in the city. Not because there’s tons of stuff to do, but because it truly is the heart and soul of ol’ Lisboa.
Most people just pass through Alfama to have a look, but I was lucky enough to call it home for the four nights I spent in Lisbon this past September. I was staying with Wimdu during this part of my Blonde Gypsy Portugal trip and it was through their site I found Casinha Do Largo. I thought I was just booking a sexy apartment in a pretty good location, had no idea I was going to end up getting a full-blown Lisbon experience.
Alfama is where the OG Lisbonites live and where their families have lived for generations. It’s the oldest district in Lisbon and survived the 9.0 earthquake in 1755 that destroyed over 80% of the city so what you see and feel here is raw history. It looks pretty rough around the edges at first, but soon enough you start to realize that is all part of its charm.
Though Alfama isn’t where Fado music was born, it has been a source of inspiration for Portugal’s version of the blues for nearly two centuries. It’s also where you can find some of the most atmospheric (as well as touristy) Fado houses in the country.
It’s where you will order the worst cappuccino in your life yet do it over and over again because the old man who makes it is just too damn sweet.
It’s where you can watch a million trams roll by and jolly Alfamians attempt to direct traffic.
It’s where graffiti and items of clothing strewn every which way actually adds to a building’s character, not detracts from.
It’s where you order a shot of ginginha for 1 euro from the living room of a larger than life lady in a leopard moo moo after a long day exploring the city.
It’s where you should go with someone who you love as it’s here you can find some of the best miradouros and most romantic alleyways in all of Lisbon.
Ellen KeithNovember 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm
Love this! The Alfama doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of safety, but I loved my time wandering around in it. Just the kind of place that is great to get lost in for a few hours. There’s so much to see, and so many great photo opportunities!
ShaunNovember 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm
Good call on “graffiti and items of clothing strewn every which way actually adds to a building’s character, not detracts from” This isn’t easy to do but sometimes the oldest places in a city get away with it.
Great picture of the city at dusk.
RicardoDecember 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm
Hello. Once again a high quality text and photos. While reading about Alfama described here, I was sure that I’m not the only one who loves this part of town ….
In Alfama, now things have changed and everyone can walk and “lose themselves” in their corners without any problems, needing no aditional caution than the usual when staying in other big cities.
I completely agree and love your phrase:
“Alfama isn’t a neighborhood, it’s an experience ….”
Thanks Blonde Gypsy and we expect a quick return;)
LarissaDecember 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm
Really glad you liked the post and I agree! I’ve heard a few people say that it isn’t the safest neighborhood but I felt completely comfortable on my own the entire time, at all hours of the day and night.
Alfama is indeed an experience and I cannot wait to be there again someday. Kisses back and huge OBRIGADA! :)
David @ That Gay BackpackerJanuary 3, 2013 at 11:05 am
Oh man, I never made it here on my trip :( Something for the next jaunt to Lisbon f’sure.
LarissaJanuary 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm
It’s pretty much where I spent my entire trip and I am not bummed about it at all even though I know I missed out on some other stuff. I f’sure will be going back as well – maybe see you there!
Laura MartinMay 14, 2018 at 6:34 pm
Love your post Larissa
We have rented a place for a month in the Alfama district and looking forward to the experience.