The Top 8 Attractions in Lisbon's Baixa Neighborhood

Great Food, Roman Ruins, and Even the World's Oldest Bookstore

The heart of Lisbon's downtown commercial district, Baixa is the home of high-end shopping and fashionable boutiques, grand squares and imposing buildings.

There's plenty more to the area than that, though, with everything from world-class museums to Michelin-starred restaurants, Romain ruins to local food markets, and even the world's oldest bookstore thrown in for good measure.

You'll almost certainly find yourself in the area at some point during your stay in the city, so if you're wondering what to do while you're there, we've got you covered. Here are eight of the top things to do in Lisbon's Baixa neighborhood.

01 of 08

Stroll Through the City's Grandest Plaza

Praca do Comercio (Commerce Square) with Tejo (Tagus) river in the background - Baixa Pombalina district, Lisbon, Portugal
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Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), on the banks of the Tagus river, is Lisbon's meeting spot. Flanked by impressive buildings and a majestic triumphal arch, with a conspicuous statue of King Jose 1 on horseback in the center, it's the former site of a royal palace that was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.

These days, most of the buildings have become bars and restaurants, and although you'll pay more for the location, they're a great spot to enjoy a drink and a bit of people-watching. Lisbon's main tourism office is also found here. Once you're finished exploring the square, you're in the perfect place to start a walk along the waterfront.

02 of 08

Take an Elevator Ride With a Difference

Elevador de Santa Justa
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You know a city has steep streets when it builds an elevator to take people between them, and back in 1902, Lisbon did exactly that. The gorgeous cast-iron Elevador de Santa Justa was designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, and it shows.

The elevator climbs 150 feet to Carmo Square, linking Baixa (the "low town") with Bairro Alto (the "high town"). Popular with tourists, expect painfully-long lines in summer, and an expensive ticket if you don't already have a day pass or metro card.

If you're more interested in the view than the ride, save time and money by taking the free modern elevators nearby instead. You'll still need to pay a small fee to climb the stairs to the viewing platform at the very top, however.

03 of 08

Immerse Yourself in the World's Oldest Bookshop

Bertrand Chiado book store, Lisbon
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It's a little-known fact that the oldest bookstore in the world lies right in the heart of downtown Lisbon. Declared as such by the Guinness Book of Records, Bertrand first opened its doors in 1732, and other than a short hiatus after the 1755 earthquake caused major damage, it's been operating in Baixa ever since.

Divided into several sections, with both Portuguese and English books for sale, knowledgeable staff, a cafe, and small reading nooks, it's the perfect place for bookworms to lose themselves for an hour or two. 

Bertrand Chiado is on Rua Garrett, just down from the large shopping mall and Baixa-Chiado metro station.

04 of 08

Admire Rossio Station (and Maybe Even Take a Train)

Rossio Station
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Looking more like a palace than a transportation hub, Rossio Station is a destination in its own right, whether you're taking a train or not.

Formerly known as Central Station, even the Starbucks on the ground floor doesn't detract from its grand appearance.

Found on one edge of the large square of the same name, Rossio Station is now the jumping-off point for those taking the train to Sintra. If you do plan to head out to this popular destination, take note of the nearly two-mile tunnel you travel through immediately after leaving the station—it was one of the largest Portuguese engineering projects of the 19th century.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Enjoy a Meal at a Two Michelin Star Restaurant

Duck and asparagus
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Only five restaurants in Portugal have been awarded a second Michelin star, and chef José Avillez’s Belcanto is one of them.

The tasting menus take the diner on a cultural journey as they eat, with a wide range of small dishes focused on Portuguese cuisine. There's also an extensive wine list.

With a smart and lively staff, Belcanto's ambiance feels friendlier and less stuffy than many other high-end restaurants. With only ten tables, though, you'll typically need to book months in advance, or otherwise desperately hope for a cancelation.

06 of 08

Visit the Museum of Design and Fashion

MUDE Lisbon
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If your interests tend towards fashion and industrial design, you'll definitely want to head to Museu Do Design E Da Moda (MUDE). Housed in a multi-story former bank building, the museum opened in 2009, and has arguably the best collections of 20th-century fashion in Europe.

With over 2000 items in the collection, from clothing to typewriters, jewelry to furnishings and plenty more, the displays change on a very regular basis. Open Tuesday through Sunday, entry is free.

07 of 08

Explore Romain Ruins Dating Back 2000 Years

Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros
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When excavation work was happening under the head office of Portugal's Millennium bcp bank in the early 1990's, workers discovered archeological remains dating back to pre-Roman times.

The bank helped preserve these remains and present them for display, and it's now possible to take a tour of the underground ruins, renamed Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros, and view the artifacts that were uncovered.

The highly-rated tours are free, available Monday through Saturday except public holidays, and take around an hour. It's advisable to book one or two days in advance, since spaces are limited.

08 of 08

Dine Out at the Mercado da Baixa Food Court

Mercado Da Baixa
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Since 1885, on the last Sunday of every month, a small square in the Baixa district transforms itself into a hot foodie destination. Tents spring up, vendors set up their wares, and hungry visitors crowd in to try some of the best local food and drink options around.

Wine, cheese, cured meat, and other artisanal produce is everywhere, and whether you're after a smoky chourico sausage, creamy wedge of azeitão cheese, or a large glass of red or white sangria, you won't have to look far to find it.

Prices are very reasonable, so the best way to experience the Mercado da Baixa is to wander the stalls and try a small amount of whatever grabs your fancy. If you happen to be in town at the right time, it's a must-visit.