The Top Things to Do and See in Príncipe Real, Lisbon

EGFGHC Lisbon, Portugal cityscape at the Alfama district at dawn.
EGFGHC Lisbon, Portugal cityscape at the Alfama district at dawn. | © Sean Pavone / Alamy
Nina Santos

Príncipe Real is like the older, sophisticated sister to the more famous, boho-chic Bairro Alto, filled with trendy restaurants, grand mansions, tiny antique shops, Moorish kiosks, and miniature gardens. This neighborhood is located between one of the best viewing platforms in the city, the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, and the charming neighborhood of São Bento, and it is known for its vibrant LGBT scene, sophisticated shopping areas and vintage art galleries where you can inhale the artistic spirit of Lisbon.

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Visit the historical Pavilhão Chines for a cocktail in a unique setting

At first glance, you may feel like you’ve walked into a museum after entering the Pavilhão Chinês, but this is actually one of the more unique bars in the city. All around the walls are shelves and cabinets filled with souvenirs and knick-knacks spanning three centuries worth of history, from figurines and dolls to airplanes and art pieces and plenty in between. It’s certainly a hodgepodge of mementos and memories on display around tables, armchairs, and billiards tables, a setting that has been described as confusing and delightful to visitors all at the same time, and the drinks make a positive impression as well.

View of Lisbon, Portugal

Technically located just south of Príncipe Real, the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara should be at the top of your must-see list since it offers plenty of stunning views, especially at sunset. From here you will be able to see the Castle of São Jorge, Sé Catedral, and the Tagus river, as well as all the ancient 18th century buildings of Avenida da Liberdade. The Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara is a picture-perfect viewing platform, which can be enjoyed directly after riding the Gloria tram up a narrow and cobbled side street.

Chill in the shade of Jardim Do Príncipe Real

The Jardim do Príncipe Real is a little romantic square and garden tucked away in the neighborhood’s main street. The principal attraction of this garden is its gigantic cedar tree, which offers a lovely shade for tired explorers and elderly locals who enjoy spending lots of time outside and observing passersby. There is a small café with outdoor seating, and two kiosks serving refreshments, one of which is an old restored pink Lisbon kiosk from the early 18th century, where Lisbon’s classic refreshments—such as horchata with almonds, mazagran made from coffee, spleenwort, and Port wine—are being served. The Jardim do Príncipe Real also becomes a popular spot on Saturdays when the local organic farmer’s market takes place.

Visit the 19th century Patriarchal Reservoir

One of Príncipe Real’s hidden landmarks is the underground, mid-19th century Patriarchal Reservoir, now part of the Water Museum system, located below the Jardim do Príncipe Real. It was the second water tank to be built in the city, after the Mãe d’Agua reservoir, and was once powered by the historical Águas Livres Aqueduct. These days it opens on Saturdays, with the exception of holidays, so visitors can see this hidden treasure, and entrance only costs €2.

Shop at Embaixada Mall

Embaixada is a luxurious shopping gallery housed in an 18th century neo-Moorish building revived with extensive Art Nouveau details. There are over a dozen shops with different themes and purposes but with one thing in common: they serve as ambassadors of preservation of tradition, creativity, and innovation in terms of design and fashion. The shops are dedicated mostly to Portuguese designers, and Embaixada also hosts unique temporary art exhibitions in a specifically dedicated space on the first floor. It won the prestigious Time Out ‘Idea of the Year Award’ in 2013 for its innovative retail concept. Even if you are not particularly keen on shopping, pay a visit to Embaixada to marvel at its Moorish architectural complex.

Or, visit the smaller, antique stores

Instead of visiting the shopping center, walk down the street and poke your head into the many antique shops lining the way. This may be an ideal time to buy keepsakes, souvenirs, or gifts for family and friends. From ceramics dishes to tiles, traditional textiles, and artwork, Príncipe Real is a neighborhood with a lot to offer shoppers.

Order a gin-based cocktail from Gin Lovers

If you do decide on spending the day shopping at the Embaixada center, press pause long enough to enjoy a drink at the Gin Lovers bar. Connected to a Michelin-starred restaurant called Less, gin is clearly the main focus, and the menu offers pages filled with different mixtures to please most palates, also offering a nice selection of wine and beer. Sit in the indoor courtyard and enjoy the breathtaking décor and furnishings inside the Ribeiro da Cunha Palace while sipping on a cool cocktail.

Bite into a sandwich masterpiece at O Prego da Peixaria

Prego” is a Portuguese word that represents a thin steak sandwich, and “peixaria” means fishery, meaning the sandwiches at O Prego da Peixaria twist up a traditional classic. This concept restaurant developed from a desire to deliver the best pregos in the city in the most unique way possible. Most of the sandwiches are served on Madeira Island’s Bolo do Caco bread, and diners can choose between different meat and fish burgers.

Visit the Natural History Museum and Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens, Lisbon

The Natural History Museum hosts exhibits on the history of chemistry and mathematics and presents collections of dinosaur fossils and geological excavations, including rocks and minerals from various sites across the world. The museum has some interesting interactive displays, such as the solar system room with scientific displays of Pangea, cells, and history of the Earth. The surrounding Botanical Garden is the oldest garden in Portugal, with an eerie but exciting atmosphere. It is a good place for botany lovers, and all those who look for a calm and chilled space in the sweltering summer heat. The garden never gets too crowded, and you can enjoy walking the paths and looking at the enormous variety of trees and plants.

Enjoy a great view while sipping a coffee or cocktail at Lost In

Finally, one of the coolest spots in Príncipe Real is the Lost In restaurant and bar, a hidden oasis of colors where guests can enjoy a spectacular view alongside a meal, snack, a coffee, or a drink. Inspired by Indian culture, the décor includes vibrant textiles in a rainbow of hues, paintings, and scented by incense. Not only is Lost In among the top bars in Príncipe Real, but it offers one of the best terrace views in the city.

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