Situated between trendy Alcântara and touristy Belém, Ajuda is a traditional, working-class neighbourhood that tends to get overlooked by both tourists and those living in Lisbon. And, it’s not surprising: Ajuda doesn’t have the attractions that Belém or the hipster amenities or hipster amenities that Alcântara has. It also isn’t particualrly amazing when it comes to public transport.
What Ajuda offers is a chance to live in a typical Portuguese neighbourhood with fewer short-term holiday rentals or places offering flat whites and avocado on toast — and that’s rare in Lisbon these days. Traditional has both its pros and cons of course, and parts of Ajuda look very run down and unappealing as places to live in or stay.
For those that aren’t looking for the typical Lisbon, Ajuda offers something else: it’s one of the more affordable neighbourhoods to live in, and it’s within walking distance of both Alcântara and Belém.
It’s also possible to easily walk to Monsanto from most parts of Ajuda (admittedly up a steep hill), which brings you into Lisbon’s largest green area. This is a great destination for short walks, running, keeping fit, or just relaxing and enjoying the various viewpoints and BBQ areas.
Ajuda is also a popular neighbourhood for students as its home to faculties from the University of Lisbon, Lusíada University, and Escola Superior de Tecnologias e Artes de Lisboa (ESTAL).
It can actually be quite hard to find short-term accommodation in Ajuda, and most hotel websites show nearby properties from Belém or Alcântara rather than Ajuda but there are a few properties here, particularly on Airbnb.
See & Do
- Palacio Nacional da Ajuda – Ajuda’s most popular attraction, the 19th Century Palacio Nacional da Ajuda is a great example of a royal residence from the period.
- Ajuda Botanical Gardens – A beautiful, medium-sized botanical gardens that’s relatively unspoiled by tourism.
- Monsanto – Everyone should visit Monsanto at least once. Most people end up coming back time and time again.
Pros & Cons
Like everywhere, Ajuda has its pros and its cons.
- Non-touristy: If you’re looking for someone that’s still typically Portuguese and has practically no tourists or expats, Ajuda could be perfect for you.
- Access to Monsanto: Having a nearby green area is always a plus, and in Ajuda you have access to the largest green area in Lisbon.
- Affordability: This is one of the more affordable neighbourhoods, particularly on the Western side of the city.
- Distance from city centre: Ajuda is quite far from the city centre, particularly for walking. This means that you have to constantly rely on public transport or taxis.
- Run-down feeling: Ajuda is home to some very run-down buildings, particularly some of the older apartment blocks.
From either Belém or Alcântara (Alcântara-Mar station), it’s possible to get the train to nearby beaches like Carcavelos, Estoril, and Cascais as well as Cais do Sodré in the other direction. Alcântara-Terra, Alcântara’s other station, takes you to Oriente which is perfect for visiting Parque das Nações.
Monsanto, which is right next to Ajuda, is a fantastic area for jogging and walking, and there are also some outdoor calisthenics equipment like pull-up bars located in the park.
South of Ajuda, in Belém, there’s a fantastic riverside area that connects to Alcântara and then to Cais do Sodré which is great for running and cycling.