Things to do in Alfama, Lisbon’s historical Old Town
Portugal may be a small country but it has a big history, reaching many corners of the world. Lisbon is a smart place to start when exploring the diverse country, but within the city, the historical district of Alfama is definitely the place to be. As Lisbon and Portuguese culture becomes more popular with tourists, the Old Town of Alfama may be skipped for the newer and trendier areas of Lisbon.

View of the Alfama District, Lisbon
View of the Alfama District, Lisbon

Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon, stretches along the Tejo river and is home to many Fado music venues, winding alleys and cobblestoned streets. A maze of churches, apartments and old Moorish architecture, the Alfama district is full of life and color—especially during the evenings.
Old building in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Characterful old buildings in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon’s acclaimed nightlife brings in many tourists. While most of the Lisbon nightlife hotspots are in the ultra-hip Bairro Alto neighborhood, wandering through the winding streets of Alfama really makes the old city feel alive. Fado music, a traditional Portuguese style of folk music from the 19th century, fills the air. There are plenty of stunning observation points scattered across the Alfama hillside, perfect for emmersing yourself in daily Alfama life  (watch this video of authentic Fado music on YouTube). If you’re looking to experience a bit of Portuguese culture, the Alfama district of Lisbon is the place to be.
With the “old town” feel and winding streets along the hillside, it’s a cozy environment. The buildings are all very close to each other with small squares and narrow alleyways. Traditionally the home of fisherman and poor Portuguese, the area has seen more development in recent years. Popular tourist sites such as the medieval Castle of Sao Jorge and the Lisbon Cathedral attract new tourists while cheap restaurants and a plethora of coffee shops dot the many streets.
Alfama may not be as popular with the backpackers as the trendy Bairro Alto neighborhood, but with its history and unique style, Alfama is a great place to stay in Lisbon. With hundreds of available apartments to rent, finding a place to stay in Lisbon won’t be hard. But if you want a unique vacation in Portugal, choose to stay in Alfama rather than the trendier and more commercial neighborhoods of Lisbon.