A walk in Alfama
A walk in Alfama is a must-do if you happen to come to Lisbon. You will love walking this area for many different reasons. Today, I’m sharing with you why is Alfama so dear to my heart. I will tell you a bit about Alfama! This neighborhood is so interesting and full of surprises at every corner. It’s very enjoyable to have a walk in Alfama because there’s no other place like this anywhere else on earth. Everytime I bring people with me to this neighborhood, they love it and are so into all the details and all the stories! Sometimes it can even bring tears to the eyes, because a walk in Alfama can restore faith in humanity!
Walking in Alfama
Alfama is actually a small district, so it’s pretty easy to get around and see it all! Nevertheless, Alfama is located upon an hill. Just like Montmartre in Paris! So you will prefer to start at the top and walk down the neighborhood. If you go up, you will get tired very quickly!
What I suggest is for you to start at Castelo São Jorge. You can take one of the trams to get uphill and start a walk in Alfama! Back in time, this monument was to defend and protect the city. It offers a great view over Lisbon. In my opinion, it’s the perfect place to start your visit of Alfama.
A walk in Alfama requires a lot of walking and endurance. You absolutely need comfortable shoes and clothes. A bottle of water is also advised. And if you’re coming with a baby, prefer a baby carrier rather than a stroller. It’s much more practical!
I consider Alfama to be the soul of Lisbon. It is the oldest and safest neighborhood of Lisbon. In Alfama, there are a lot of narrow alleys, a lot of staircases and dead ends. The structure of the area is very peculiar, unique and one-of-a-kind! But you should know that you don’t need to worry, because despite the fact that there are a lot of narrow lanes going up and down, there’s no way you can really get lost as long as you walk down Alfama. If you keep walking down the neighborhood from the Castelo São Jorge, you will get out at the bottom. In fact, I highly recommend you to stroll around Alfama. Freely explore and “try to get lost“, because it’s actually the best way to discover the area and meet its people!
Alfama is very lively and dynamic. It is rich in emotions, history and culture! Many generations have lived there and still do. It’s a small residential working class neighborhood. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows everythings about everyone. And this is so typical of small Portuguese villages. Alfama stands out from the rest of Lisbon.
So, a walk in Alfama turns out to be kind of mandatory! Most people that live there are people who have lived there all their lives. People are out, talking to each other. They chat, do laundry together. You will see many generations hang out together on the streets. It’s like a huge family! People are extremely friendly and they look out for each other. Kids are out playing on the small squares. Children learned how to make the most of their neighborhood, so staircases often turn into soccer fields.
There are plenty of local bars and restaurants. There are also many outdoor places where you can enjoy nice traditional Portuguese food and the company of the locals.
Alfama is also the place where Fado was born! At night, you will have the chance to assist Fado singers perfomances! If you happen to go inside a bar or a snack bar, say “bom dia” if it’s during the morning, “boa tarde” if it’s in the afternoon, and “boa noite” on the evening. Try to use some portuguese words to express yourself, because people don’t speak much English in Alfama.
What to see in Alfama
A walk in Alfama is very rich in culture. You will love every bit of the walk through the neighborhood! There is so much to discover, explore and learn about! And do you know who are the best persons to introduce you to Lisbon lifestyle and history? The locals are! Apart for the unique Alfama atmosphere you will be able to witness, there are plenty more highlights that the Lisbon inhabitants will be more than glad to show you!
I’ve gathered some of the landmarks and highlights I consider important to see in Alfama.
If you’re looking for what to see in Alfama during your walk in Alfama. You should begin the walk, starting by visiting the Castelo São Jorge, the St George’s Castle. Back in time, this monument was to defend and protect the city. It is a very well preserved castle as it was recovered in the late twentieth century, so you can actually see how the walls were built. It is an extremely fun place for kids (and grown-ups) as you get to discover the old castle and let imagination take over! The São Jorge Castle stands on the highest hill of Lisbon, so it offers one of the greatest view ever over the city!
Take some time to visit the Museu do Fado, the Fado Museum. Listening to Fado is listening to the Portuguese soul. Born from the hearts of sailors and families who stayed in land. Fado was born out of “Saudade”, a word that only exists in Portuguese language. What is “Saudade”? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia“ and the Portuguese are the only ones who have such a word to express this kind of feeling. We wish we had this term in English language! “Saudade” is charged with meaning and emotion, because it comes right from the heart, right from the the sorrow people feel when they have to bid farewell to their loved ones. And Fado perfectly illustrates this term.
Fado was considerate by UNESCO as World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. In the Fado Museum, you can discover its story, what it means and you can listen to the greatest singers of Fado singing the most popular Fado songs. At the bottom of the quirky neighborhood of Alfama, the museum is our last stop in our Alfama tour. So you really have no excuses not to visit it!
But there are still so many other things to see and visit! You should simply aimlessly wander in Alfama or get to know the locals and hear what they suggest!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my article about a walk in Alfama! And I hope I’ll see you very soon in Alfama! If you want to read a little more about this charming neighborhood, check my top 5 fun facts about Alfama!