Príncipe Real: A Neighborhood Guide

Our resident's guide to getting to know Príncipe Real, Lisbon

May 27, 2024
view of the principe real neighborhoodview of the principe real neighborhood

Lisbon is such a popular city these days. Its weather, food and prices are just of a few of the things that attract people from all over the world. Some visit on vacation, some move here for a while, and some never leave. If you’re thinking about joining us, you’ll need to decide which area to stay in. First timers in Portugal often stay downtown- in Baixa, Chiado, or Barrio Alto. Those planning to start a family might want a more residential, leafy neighborhood like Avenidas Novas. Príncipe Real, which translates to “Royal Prince”, is the middle ground.

It sits between Barrio alto- the top spot for nightlife, Avenida Liberdade- the Champs Elysées of Lisbon, and Amoreiras- a modern district of shopping malls and offices. The area has the shops, bars and restaurants to make it a really interesting place for young people. It also has some lovely gardens and a slightly more tranquil feel than the city center.

It wasn’t always this way. 20 years ago the area was fairly run down, and had little going for it. Enter Anthony Lanier- the entrepreneur who masterminded the renovation of Georgetown, Washington D.C. His company bought up large amounts of real estate and turned them into artisan shops, trendy bars and restaurants. Nowadays, Príncipe Real is considered the most fashionable part of Lisbon, and the best place to live for young professionals looking for a balanced lifestyle. We’ve created this residents' guide to make life easier for any newcomers.

What to do in Príncipe Real

As with most southern-European neighborhoods, at the centre there’s a plaza- Praça do Príncipe Real. This is a good place to start, its helps you get your bearings, and has some nice places to sit and have a drink while you plan your next move. Within the plaza is the Jardim do Príncipe Real. The centerpiece of this beautiful garden is the “tree of life”, a 150-year-old, umbrella shaped cedar tree, with a 20-meter canopy. There is also a memorial to the victims of homophobia, demonstrating Príncipe Real’s status as the most gay-friendly neighborhood in Lisbon.

Across the street is the Jardim Botânico de Lisboa, a botanical garden with a butterfly greenhouse. One of the grandiose buildings surrounding the plaza is the Ribeiro da Cunha Palace, which was in a desperate state before Lanier got old of it. Now it boasts restaurants, a gin bar, and some luxury shops- definitely worth a look.

On the border with Barrio Alto you can find the Convento dos Cardaes- one of the few examples of Baroque architecture to survive the great earthquake of 1755. Nearby is the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara, one of the city’s best viewpoints, and especially delightful at sunset.

Where to eat and drink in Príncipe Real

Trendy neighborhoods normally mean great restaurants, and Príncipe Real is no exception. Jamie Oliver picked this area to open his restaurant- Jamie’s Italian Lisboa, in the central plaza. Our residents have several other recommendations for you. A Cevicheria is an homage to Peruvian food which makes the most of Lisbon’s delicious seafood. Atalho Real is the place to go for the serious carnivores. For great pizzas, and a lovely, sunny terrace- check out ZeroZero. For more typical Portuguese cuisine- Zazah, by the botanical garden, was voted the best in the area.

Scattered throughout Príncipe Real are some great places to enjoy a drink. We’ve already mentioned the gin bar at Ribeiro da Cunha, but there are some others you should definitely take a look at. Pavilhão Chines looks more like a museum than a cocktail bar when you first enter, but the quirky exhibits are not the only things that attract the customers. Cinco Lounge is maybe the coolest cocktail bar in the area. There are LGBT options aplenty- Trumps is probably the most popular, and you can see drag shows at Finalmente.

Where to shop in Príncipe Real

There is a great variety of options here when it comes to shopping. Embaixada (embassy) is the high-end shopping mall within Ribeiro da Cunha, and holds some fascinatingly original stores from Portugal and abroad. Real Slow Retail Concept Store is a highlight of several artisan clothes and antique stores in the center that really embody the trendy nature of Príncipe Real.

On Saturdays, don’t miss the organic fair at Jardim do Príncipe Real. A lovely little market to walk around even if you’re not buying, but the produce on offer is really top quality. Not ideal for tourists without a kitchen, but an absolute must if you’re living here.

Where to stay in Príncipe Real

There are hotels and other types of holiday accommodation here, but it’s actually one thing that the neighborhood lacks a little. Most vacationers stay more centrally, and this is reflected in the choices available. If you’re staying here for a little longer though, it’s easy to find serviced apartments to rent monthly, as so many choose Príncipe Real to live in for a while.

Whatever accommodation you end up in, and however long you’re here, there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time in Príncipe Real- one of the best neighborhoods in one of Europe’s most popular cities.