Graça is a neighborhood in Lisbon that is often overlooked by tourists. But, it’s gaining in popularity and there is plenty to recommend it, including an interesting street art installation.
Where is Graça?
Graça is a neighborhood in the São Vicente parish of Lisbon. It’s north of the charming Alfama neighborhood and is said to occupy the highest point in Lisbon. Until recently, Graça’s perch has kept it a secret from tourists. Today, that’s changing and you’ll often see tourists and locals alike at some of the best spots in Graça.
What do in Graça
Miradouros are viewpoints in Portugal and Graça has one of the best, the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, commonly known as Miradouro da Graça. This is one of the best places to hang out in Graça.
Here, there is the Igreja da Graça (Church of Our Lady of Grace). Just outside the church is the Miradouro da Graça and a nice terrace with tables and chairs and a kiosk where you can order drinks and snacks. The church bells ringing every hour add to the charm as you look over the terra cotta rooftops of Lisbon, past the Tagus River, and all the way to the Setubal Peninsula on the other side.
The Igreja da Graça itself is worth a look. It was built in the 13th century and rebuilt after being destroyed (along with most of Lisbon) during the 1755 earthquake. Inside are some very nice azulejos tile murals.
There’s a green space called Jardim da Cerca da Graça a short walk away. This is a nice place to sit on the grass or have a picnic.
For me, I prefer the Augusto Gil Garden aka Jardim da Graça. It’s just a small square with a fountain in the middle surrounded by benches. Quiet and tranquil.
If you want to hike further up the hill, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte offers even more dramatic vistas.
And, if you’re thirsty after all that walking, there’s a very nice craft beer taproom nearby called Oitava Colina.
Street Art in Graça
There is lots of gorgeous street art in Lisbon and the Graça neighborhood is no exception. Formal works, sanctioned by the city, have been painted on the sides of buildings.
But, my favorite artwork is at the Caracol da Graça steps. Several staircases lead from a lower part of the neighborhood to the Augusto Gil Garden and the Miradouro da Graça.
The walls along the steps are decorated with dozens and dozens of works of art. Originally created by Yes You Can Spray, a collective of Lisbon artists and educators, the murals have changed and continue to change as new art is created. BTW, I love the idea behind Yes You Can Spray who say “We desire to interrupt and awaken the senses of people passing by a particular created spot.”
It seems that Lisbon is constantly under construction and the Graça neighborhood is currently building a funicular that would take people from the lower part up to the Miradouro da Graça. While this will offer more access for people with disabilities and certainly take the strain off of people’s knees and calves, the spot for the project is directly adjacent to the Caracol da Graça steps and its artwork. I worry that the building project could disrupt or damage the art. At the very least, fewer people will see these pieces since they will take the funicular to the viewpoint rather than climbing the stairs.
How to get to Graça
Walking to Graça is certainly an option. It’s about 25 minutes from the Lisbon Cathedral to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Or, less than 20 minutes if you’re already at the Castelo de S. Jorge. But remember, hills. Lots of hills.
An easier way would be to take the #28 tram, It runs from Alfama right into the heart of Graça. Of course, Uber is a less charming option as well.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Monsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.