the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

Lisbon, Portugal currently sees 9 tourists for every 1 resident in the city, and this number is only predicted to increase as time goes by thanks to the love this capital city is seeing on travel blogs {like this one}, Instagram {like mine}, and through the general word-of-mouth recommendation.

One of my favourite things to do in a city that is frequented by fellow travelers is to get off the beaten path and find something {or, in this case, six somethings} that is off the beaten path or hidden, even if it is in plain sight.


read on for 6 HIDDEN GEMS in lisbon


5 of the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

ride up the escalator in alfama

Tired of walking up all the hills in Lisbon? While I’m all for walking on an incline {think of how good your calves and bum are gonna look?!}, there’s no shame in grabbing the escalator in the Alfama neighbourhood that carries you up to a miraduoro {viewpoint}. Located right near one of the main stops for Tram 28, this forgotten about escalator will save you some leg work and time getting to the top.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING TIMES: always

5 of the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

spot the stone ear statue

I love trying to spot strange objects hidden-in-plain sight. Like the noses of Seven Dials in London, the stone ear in Lisbon is an obscure statue of, you guessed it, an ear. Why is it there? I really don’t know. I couldn’t find anything online about it. I’m now obsessed with solving the riddle of the odd stone ear in Lisbon, attached to a concrete bench on a random hill. See if you can spot it using the map at the bottom of this post. And, hey, let me know in the comments if you know what it’s all about!

ADMISSION: free

OPENING TIMES: always

5 of the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

eat in a hidden moorish palace

Casa do Alentejo lies in a building marked by a Western Union board and neon signage that makes it blend into the popular tourist street it sits on, near Rossio Square. However, walk up the stairs through the door and you are transported back to the 17th Century into what once served as a Moorish palace. Alterations to the place were carried out in 1918 to make necessary repairs after a terrible earthquake. For the most part though, the palace is as gorgeous as ever and remains connected to the history of Lisbon.

ADMISSION: free to see the Moorish entry way, you have to pay for what you eat if you grab food there {obviously}

OPENING TIMES: 12 PM- 11 PM daily

5 of the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

visit the doll hospital

The consensus on my Instagram stories was that this crossed into “creepy” territory. Something about dolls seem to really freak people out. Whether you’re intrigued, terrified, or just trying to go everywhere Richard Ayoade goes {*cough, me, cough*}, the Doll Hospital is a truly unique spot that most tourists miss out on.

Started in 1830, the Doll Hospital’s conception was humble. It consisted of a woman, Miss Carolta, who made cloth dolls near the local market. Children accompanying their parents to the market always begged to get one of Miss Carolta’s colourful dolls. As the children grew up and their toys began to break, parents would go to Miss Carolta and ask if she could fix them. Thus, the Doll Hospital was born. It’s become a tradition for children in Lisbon to bring their dolls, be it a Barbie with a broken leg or a teddy bear that’s losing hair, to the emergency room for urgent care from a doll surgeon.

ADMISSION: €2

OPENING TIMES: Monday through Saturday from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM and 3:30 - 5 PM

5 of the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

keep your eyes peeled for famous street art

It’s extremely easy to find street art in Lisbon. It’s just about everywhere. However, while the Insta-famous “eye wall” itself may not be a secret, it’s location seemingly is. When looking for street art spots on Instagram, so many came up without geo-tags. Most tagged “Alfama”, a trendy neighbourhood all the tourists love. The problem? Alfama is a lpretty large area, especially if you have your heart set on checking out specific murals.

There were a few pieces I really wanted to make it to across Lisbon, and so the general area being listed as the location meant I had to stumble upon the pieces I wanted to. Thankfully, I had ample time to wander the back alleys and side streets all over the city. But, what if you don’t? Luckily for you, I’ve gone ahead and pinned this specific spot on the map below. Don’t stop at just this one mural though! There are so many beautiful pieces throughout the city you won’t want to miss out on.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING TIMES: always

the best kept secrets in Lisbon: an off-the-beaten-path guide to the Portuguese capital

spot the church with a constant shadow

The Portuguese pride themselves on their tiled streets. Well, technically they pride themselves on their paving stones. In Lisbon, the paving stones are often placed to create a design or pattern that symbolizes the area they are in. For instance, near the water, the paving stones are organized to look like fish as a nod to the booming seafood industry. There is a little white church near the Moorish Quarter of town that has a constant shadow thanks to the placement of the paving stones in front of it. See if you can spot it while walking around Mouraria.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING TIMES: always


map

NEED HELP NAVIGATING THIS HIDDEN TREASURES? Don’t fret! I’ve made you a map!


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One of my favourite things to do in a city that is frequented by fellow travelers is to get off the beaten path and find something {or, in this case, six somethings} that is off the beaten path or hidden, even if it is in plain sight.
the best kept secrets in Lisbon, Portugal and a map to help you find them!