DW8 A2671

Príncipe Real, Lisbon - Portugal

Visitors who ascend the hill to this leafy enclave are greeted by a zen quarter of art, pastel mansions and a farmers’ ma rket und er a ma jestic cedar. By Estella Shardlow

Travel Time 1hrs 10min

Why go?

In this city of seven hills, Príncipe Real perches atop São Roque, unfurling its pastel mansions and leafy squares alongside the tracks of the no 24 tram. This residential enclave somehow retains its genteel character despite its proximity to frenetic Bairro Alto and Chiado. Few tourists ascend those notoriously steep, capillarylike Lisbon streets to reach it. Perhaps that’s because, like a duchess guarding her jewellery collection, Príncipe Real declines to flaunt her gems – like the Botanical Garden and Natural History Museum hiding in plain sight along the main thoroughfare of Rua Dom Pedro V.

But this grand dame has found a new groove in recent years, as concept stores and galleries settle in former aristocratic homes, such as Embaixada, an emporium of indie designer labels, restaurants and gin bar in a neo-Moorish palace. With digital nomads, creatives and affluent old-timers calling this ‘hood home, you’ll find vegan gelateria UAO by Mú and hipster coffee shop Bettina & Niccolò Corallo rubbing shoulders with heritage apothecary Benamôr 1925 and Confeitaria Nacional, Lisbon’s oldest bakery.

The nerve centre of Príncipe Real is its eponymous garden in the main square. Under an exquisite candelabra of a cedar tree, Saturday stalls sell organic food and, sometimes, antiques, near a monument to the LGBTQ+ community, while on opposite corners a pair of quiosque – kiosks – offer bica (espresso) or chilled beer. Alfama may have its castle, Belem its famous tower and custard tarts; Príncipe Real is less about ticking off sights and more about living well.

One of Europe’s oldest cities, Lisbon was founded, it’s said, by the Phoenicians, ruled by Romans and occupied by the Moors, before becoming the seat of sea-faring superpower that stretched from Brazil to India. Príncipe Real (meaning ‘royal prince’) is a time-capsule for a later era, though – the 19th-century heyday of Portugal’s constitutional monarchy, when the king and queen renamed it to celebrate the birth of their heir in 1837. Ensuing decades saw the construction of landmarks, from the Patriarchal Reservoir, now part of the Water Museum, to the area’s longestrunning restaurant, Faz Frio, plus the planting of that cedar tree in Praça do Príncipe Real.

What to do

Where to stay

Príncipe Real’s boutique hotels give you the sense of being in on a secret. Take Palacio Príncipe Real: behind the rose-hued walls of this 1870s mansion lies one of the city’s prettiest gardens, where you breakfast among bougainvillea on plant-forward fare. Ornately tiled interiors have been restored by the British owners, who have added deep copper tubs and Smeg fridges to spacious suites. palaciopríncipereal.com

For epic urban views, Memmo Príncipe Real can rival any of Lisbon’s official miradouros (panoramic viewpoints). These sleek terraces of limestone and glass embedded in São Jorge’s hillside have a hint of the Bond villain’s lair about them, complete with indoor-outdoor bar and infinity pool. Free daily walking tours delve deeper into local history. memmohotels.com

Outlining the area’s western border, Avenida da Liberdade may be one of the city’s busiest shopping streets, yet Valverde Hotel again perfects the art of urban zen. Within this labyrinthine Relais & Chateaux-owned
townhouse, you’ll find moodily lit, art-filled lounges and Lisboetas conducting power lunches over a Cape Verde-inspired menu at courtyard restaurant Sítio Valverde. valverdehotel.com

Where to eat and drink

There’s more to Portuguese dining than sardines and pastel de nata, as the globehopping menus (and clientele) of Príncipe Real’s restaurants will attest. A Michelin star has justifiably been bestowed on 100 Maneiras, where Serbian-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic’s 17-course tasting menu narrates his journey from refugee to starred chef. Or head to his nearby bistro and be sure to order the spinach bureks. 100maneiras.com

At A Cevicheria, Fat Duck alumnus Kiko Martins gives market-fresh catch a South American slant like red mullet quinoa risotto and tuna tartare tacos. Steps away in Rua da Rosa, seafood-grill Rosamar excels in high-end comfort food like lobster rolls in pillowy brioche. Traditionalists can tuck into petiscos (Portuguese tapas) at Tapisco or the legendary steak sandwiches from O Prego da Peixaria. acevicheria.pt tapisco.pt opregodapeixaria.com

Weaving along the sloping backstreets south-east brings you to Praça das Flores, where bijou wine bars Black Sheep and Magnolia spill out on to the pavement. Or enjoy flamboyant cocktails at Imprensa, Cinco Lounge and speakeasy Pavilhão Chinês. A perfect spot for people-watching on Rua da Palmeira, Oyster & Margarita serves its eponymous specialities late into those sultry Lisbon nights. blacksheeplisboa.com cincolounge.com

Time running out?


Travel Information

Travel Information

Getting There


Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp
Max Temp

Get Premium access to all the latest content online

Subscribe and view full print editions online... Subscribe