High above the central city, to the west of the Baixa, the Bairro Alto – meaning upper town – has a sleepy, residential feel during the day, its maze of narrow streets enlivened by a few bohemian boutiques. At night, however, it comes to life as many of the city’s best bars, restaurants and fado clubs open for business. Many of the Bairro Alto’s most interesting thoroughfares lie west of Rua da Misericórdia, a confusing grid of streets, whose buildings are often liberally defaced with graffiti. Traffic is restricted to residents only, and though dodgy characters offering hash still lurk on the corners round the market building on Rua da Atalaia, it’s essentially safe at any time if you keep valuables out of sight.
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Transport to the Bairro Alto
To reach the Bairro Alto, you can simply climb the steep Calçada de Glória, but it’s more fun to approach via one of the quirky funiculars, which were originally powered by water displacement, and then by steam, until electricity was introduced. Most conveniently, the Elevador da Glória built in 1885, trundles up from the Praça dos Restauradores, dropping you at the top of the hill on Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara: the adjacent gardens here provide a superb view across the city to the castle. The Elevador da Bica drops you on Rua Loreto at the foot of the Bairro Alto, while the Elevador de Santa Justa, brings you out beside the Convento do Carmo.