I lived in Lisbon for way too many years to not have a soft spot about Santos Populares

I don't really like crowded places in general, and in June in Lisbon I do try to avoid them as much as I can, but yesterday - since "the big night" had already passed - I decided to try Alfama with some friends and it was so nothing but fun.

My friend Mariana (who's a pro when it comes to enjoying "Santo António") shares with you guys some personal tips for a more "local" experience:

  • Dining in proper restaurants in June is a no-go. Eating in full 'plastic' mode (chairs, tables, plates - all in, except the food itself!), seating outside in one of the many 'arraiais' is THE thing.
  • You have to dance the night away listening to live Pimba music. It's the only month in the year when no one will judge you for doing so. The Pimba masters usually play somewhere in the city throughout June - check out the agenda.
  • There are many 'arraiais' spread around the city - my top 3 would be Santa Catarina (Calçada do Combro), Mouraria (Largo da Severa) and Alfama (Largo/Escadinhas de São Miguel). Check out other options in the official program here.
  • Sardines, Bifanas and Chorizo should be in any menu - if not, I would walk away. Snales, Caldo Verde and green pepper salad will be good options for sides and/or starters.
  • You better like beer and cheap wine, because that's all what you will surely get. If you don't, tough luck!
  • It will always be crowded - let's face it. So, if you want to escape the biggest crowds, just avoid the most famous 'arraiais'  (e.g. Alfama, Bica) on June 12 itself, and potentially on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Parking is limited, and so will be the number of drinks you'll have if you plan to drive. So, leave the car home - you'll most likely walk around the different 'arraiais' anyways.
  • The 'Marchas Populares' is the typical neighborhoods' parade in Av. da Liberdade, on June 12. Most people don't relate anymore, but for those born, raised and living in Lisbon it still is a big thing. I personally love it, and was lucky enough to see it live with a proper seat, for the first time this year. So, I would obviously recommend you try to pass by next year - and shout out loud 'A Ajuda é linda!'.