Melting into the Tourist Crowds at Alfama

Our first day in Lisbon, Portugal, we figured we’d head to Alfama. Aflama is the oldest district in Lisbon, known for its gorgeous slopes and great markets. It’s a maze of laneways and cobbled streets – you best bring your hiking shoes because most of it is an up hill walk. Going into Alfama we had views of a sweet romantic town, which it was, but coupled with Tourist havoc and mayhem.

Lisbon Alfama Tram No. 12

Getting to Alfama most people will recommend you take the no. 28 tram. However we were advised to try the no. 12 – as “it had less people”. Now, I don’t know how many people the no. 28 tram had – but let me tell you in the no.12 we were packed in like sardines. I wasn’t sure I would see daylight again. The tram ride from the central square up to Alfama was only about 10 minutes – but it wasn’t quite pleasant. That being said, I do recommend people take the tram up, it is an iconic part of Lisbon, and it costs about 4 euros.

Once we got to Alfama we were greeted but the site of hundreds of tourists. I was starving so we quickly headed to a restaurant to eat. After that we went to soak up the views. There was a guy sitting near some of the trees playing a traditional guitar, it was such a gorgeous sight! There are two cafes near the main viewing platforms – there’s one on it, and there’s one on top. We went to the cafe on top, and the view was breathtaking, make sure you actually buy something when you get up there. We got some nasty looks from waiters when they thought we were only there to take pictures – we bought some coffee and tea.


After soaking up the views, we decided to check out some of the laneways. The best thing you can do in Alfama is literally get lost, try to get off the tourist path. We first followed some of the tourists through a shopping area- the whole place was filled with Tourist gift shops. We then went into a narrow alleyway and as we walked we came across an entire area of semi-demolished buildings with graffiti. Some of the artworks were part of a project, one was about an individual’s connection back to their ancestry – but it looked like it had been taken down, only the plaque was left.

Alfama Graffiti.JPG

We then went back on the main road and walked for a bit longer, further down was the handmade goods section. I managed to buy a few interesting souvenirs. One store that i liked in particular was called Chi Coração, which had handmade wool items. The items were so unique, I wish I had a kid just so I could buy him/her one of these dolls! There were also some really interesting fashion items like hats and coats.

coracao gifts.JPG

On the way back down we took a Tuk Tuk ride, I absolutely loved it! I was sticking my head out of the window, loving the feel of the wind in my hair. From Alfama back to our hostel was only 15 euros for two people. Overall Alfama is a really great place to check out – if you can get off the beaten track. Be aware of pick pockets, ESPECIALLY on the trams, and make sure to charge your camera batteries up!


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