All Articles 5 iconic Lisbon streets—and what to do on each

5 iconic Lisbon streets—and what to do on each

Organize your itinerary around Lisbon’s many lively—and historic—thoroughfares.

Sarah Kuta
By Sarah KutaMar 8, 2023 4 minutes read
Rua Augusta arch and yellow tram in Lisbon, Portugal
Rua Augusta in Lisbon, Portugal
Image: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world—and, if its many colorful streets could talk, they’d have centuries' worth of stories to tell. As such, hitting the pavement is one of the best ways to explore Portugal’s lively seaside capital, situated where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean. (Speaking of the river, be sure to book a sunset sailing tour on it for a fun way to wind down after a day of sightseeing.)

To immerse yourself in this hilly city’s colorful architecture, sample its decadent pastéis de nata, pick up some souvenirs, and take in the views of the river’s glimmering waters, make your way to these five iconic Lisbon streets.

Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo

Funicular on Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo
Funicular on Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo
Image: Luis Dafos/Getty Images

Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo is a must-visit street in Lisbon because of its vintage funicular, a type of cable car that transports people up and down the steep hill between Rua de São Paulo and Largo do Calhariz.

Photographers love the view from the top of the hill and often snap photos of one of the two funicular cars—one yellow, one white—that make their way up the narrow street, with colorful buildings on all sides and the bright blue surface of the Tagus in the background. The Ascensor da Bica, also known as the Elevador da Bica, is just one part of Lisbon’s broader tram and funicular network, which is not only charming but also makes it easy to get around the city.

Avenida da Liberdade

Pedestrian walkway on Avenida da Liberdade, Libson
Pedestrian walkway on Avenida da Liberdade
Image: Thomas Roche/Getty Images

No visit to Lisbon is complete without a trip to Avenida da Liberdade, a spacious boulevard inspired by Paris's Champs-Élysées. Shady trees, park benches, and pedestrian walkways featuring intricately patterned tile work make Avenida da Liberdade, or “Liberty Avenue,” one of the best places in Lisbon to take a stroll or just sit and soak up all this city has to offer.

You’ll find monuments at each end of the street. To the north, a statue and public square situated inside a roundabout honors Marques de Pombal, the prime minister who helped Lisbon rebuild following a devastating earthquake in the mid-1700s. On the south end, the Monumento dos Restauradores obelisk commemorates the victory of the Portuguese Restoration War.

Another historical landmark, called the Monumento aos Mortos da Grande Guerra, is located between the north and south ends of the street and honors the Portuguese soldiers who died in World War I.

Informative and moving monuments aside, Avenida da Liberdade is also lined with restaurants and designer shops—from Gucci to Louis Vuitton—so plan to spend several hours here. Food-wise, our votes are Cervejaria Liberdade (attached to the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa) or JNcQUOI Avenida for “reined Portuguese food in a beautiful setting” per one of our community members. And if you want to stay close to all the action, book into one of the many stylish properties on this street. Along with Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa, other top choices include Valverde Hotel and Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade.

Rua Nova do Carvalho

Rua Nova do Carvalho, Lisbon
Rua Nova do Carvalho
Image: José Araújo/Getty Images

Lisbon’s “Pink Street”—officially named Rua Nova do Carvalho—has become one of the most popular spots for a photo op in the city, thanks to its signature bubblegum-pink hue. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare is located in Cais do Sodré, which was once Lisbon’s red-light district but has since evolved into a trendy neighborhood brimming with bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

This street, which also goes by the nickname Rua Cor de Rosa, got its rosy makeover between 2011 and 2013 amid broader efforts to revitalize the area. These days, it's often buzzing with travelers and Lisbon residents late into the night. Take it all in while staying nearby at LX Boutique Hotel.

Rua Augusta

Aerial view of the Baixa District and Rua Augus ta in Lisbon, Portugal
Aerial view of the Baixa District and Rua Augusta in Lisbon
Image: LordRunar/Getty Images

For people-watching, shopping, al fresco dining, and history, head to Lisbon’s Rua Augusta. This bustling pedestrian mall also offers an up-close view of calçada, or the traditional style of Portuguese pavement made up of limestone and black basalt tiles laid out in decorative patterns that you also see on Avendia da Liberdade.

Rua Augusta also leads to the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best–winning Praça do Comércio, a large, open plaza facing the Tagus. Before the aforementioned 1755 earthquake struck Lisbon, this was the site of the royal palace, or paço, and many people call it Terreiro do Paço as a nod to its former use. Today, the plaza is home to a large statue of King José I, who ruled Portugal at the time of the earthquake, as well as the Arco da Rua Augusta, an impressive arch meant to represent the city’s resilience in the wake of the disaster. Tripadvisor travelers particularly recommend visiting at sunset for stellar views across the river. Be sure to stop to admire the Cais das Colunas, a pair of columns at the water’s edge. You can stay nearby at hotels like Pousada de Lisboa or Pestana CR7 Lisboa to be close to this bustling street.

Rua Garrett

Shopping on Rua Garrett in Lisbon
Shopping on Rua Garrett in Lisbon
Image: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

Shopping is the big draw to Rua Garrett, located in Lisbon’s Chiado district. Here, you’ll find international brands like United Colors of Benetton, Desigual, Swarovski, Zara, and Nike—plus only-in-Lisbon shops like Bertrand, the oldest operating bookshop in the world.

Named after 19th-century writer João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, the street is home to several notable cultural and historic sites. The coffee shop A Brasileira, which dates back to 1905, has long been a meeting spot for writers, artists, and intellectuals, including Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. A bronze statue depicting Pessoa seated at a table sits on the café’s patio. Nearby, there’s also a monument to 16th-century Portuguese poet Antonio Ribeiro and a historic Catholic Church, the Basílica dos Mártires. After a day of exploring, rest up at the nearby Hotel Borges Chiado.

Sarah Kuta
Sarah Kuta is a writer and editor based in Colorado who specializes in travel, food and drink, science, history, and more. Her work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Robb Report, Food & Wine, NBC News, Lonely Planet, Smithsonian Magazine, the Denver Post, 5280 Magazine, the Toronto Star, and many other publications. When she's not writing, she's probably skiing, birdwatching, road tripping in her converted camper van, hiking with her dog Daisy, mountain biking, or checking out craft breweries.