Ajuda Guide: What It’s Like to Live in Ajuda, Lisbon

Ajuda, a traditional working-class neighbourhood nestled between the trendy Alcântara and the touristy Belém, often goes unnoticed by both tourists and Lisbon residents. While it may lack the hip amenities of Alcântara or the famous attractions of Belém, Ajuda offers a unique opportunity to experience authentic Portuguese living with fewer short-term holiday rentals and trendy cafes.

Living in Ajuda comes with its pros and cons. Some areas may appear run-down and unappealing, but the neighbourhood remains one of the most affordable and authentic places to live in Lisbon. Its proximity to Alcântara and Belém allows residents to easily walk to these popular areas while enjoying the local charm of Ajuda.

Residents appreciate the neighbourhood’s quiet and peaceful atmosphere, describing it as a village within the city. The lower part of Ajuda, particularly near Belém or Restelo, is preferred by some due to its distance from the Casalinho da Ajuda social housing complex. The area around Rua Bica do Marques is especially favoured for its calm and safe environment.

Ajuda boasts a good selection of public transportation options, including buses, trams, and night buses. While the neighbourhood lacks a metro station, one is planned for nearby Alcântara in the near future. Residents can walk to the train station in Belém, which connects to Cascais and Cais do Sodré, or take a ferry to Costa de Caparica. Buses to the city centre take around 20 minutes. For those that enjoy walking, this is slightly too far to consistently walk to and from the city centre.  

The neighbourhood’s proximity to Monsanto Park is a significant advantage, providing residents with easy access to Lisbon’s largest green space. The park is perfect for exercising, jogging, and enjoying beautiful views and BBQ areas. Ajuda also offers a mix of modern culture and old traditions, with a growing restaurant scene and plenty of small shops.

Students are drawn to Ajuda due to the presence of faculties from the University of Lisbon, Lusíada University, and Escola Superior de Tecnologias e Artes de Lisboa (ESTAL). The neighbourhood’s affordability and local vibe make it an attractive option for those seeking a more authentic living experience.

However, those who prefer a more vibrant social life or easy access to nightlife may find Ajuda a bit boring. The neighbourhood’s traditional character means that residents may need to be mindful of noise levels to maintain good relations with their neighbours.

What’s in the neighbourhood

Ajuda Market

Ajuda is a neighborhood that offers a mix of local charm, historical attractions, and green spaces. Some of the notable places in Ajuda include:

  1. Ajuda Market (Mercado de Ajuda): This traditional market is a hub for fresh produce, fish, meat, and other local goods. It’s a great place to experience the authentic daily life of Ajuda’s residents and sample some local delicacies.
  2. Ajuda National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Ajuda): This grand 19th-century palace was once the official residence of the Portuguese royal family. Today, it serves as a museum showcasing the opulent lifestyle of the monarchy, with an impressive collection of decorative arts, furniture, and paintings.
  3. Ajuda Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico da Ajuda): Established in the 18th century, this historic botanical garden is one of the oldest in Portugal. It features a diverse collection of plants from around the world, including rare and exotic species, as well as a beautiful Baroque-style fountain and several sculptures.
  4. Ajuda Library (Biblioteca da Ajuda): Housed in a former royal palace, this library holds an extensive collection of manuscripts, rare books, and historical documents dating back to the 15th century.
  5. Igreja da Memória: This unique church was built in the 18th century to commemorate King José I’s survival of an assassination attempt. Its striking Baroque facade and ornate interior make it a notable landmark in the neighbourhood.
  6. Monsanto Forest Park: Although not strictly within Ajuda’s boundaries, the nearby Monsanto Forest Park is easily accessible from the neighbourhood. It offers a vast green space perfect for outdoor activities, picnics, and enjoying panoramic views of the city.

These attractions, combined with the neighbourhood’s local shops, cafes, and restaurants, make Ajuda a fascinating area to explore and experience a more authentic side of Lisbon.

monsanto park

Public Transport

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. 

Keep Fit

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. 

This article refers to Ajuda, a neighbourhood in Lisbon. For more places in Lisbon, check out the guide to neighbourhoods in Lisbon.

 

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Comments

  1. Hello,

    i just rent a nice room in ajuda; and thats exactly how i want to live this time in lisbon.

    Have the city nearby and also take rest at home, as you feel you live in a small village.

    Cool, i think i’ll look to a vespa or quart to be more mobil.

    Thanks for these article..

    Reply

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