Saldanha is a local neighbourhood located in central Lisbon. It’s considered as the Central Business District (CBD) and houses many large corporations as well, but it’s also a prominent residential area.
Saldanha is considered a one of the younger neighbourhoods of Lisbon, as it was established in the mid-19th century by the duke Joao Carlos and didn’t become well known until after his dead in 1922 where the statue of the Duke of Saldanha was raised.
The Duke of Saldanha statue created the main square in Saldanha that today forms the heart of the neighbourhood. In Saldanha the locals are spoiled with wide avenues and beautiful streets – both small and big. You even have a couple of nice big gardens spread all around the neighbourhood.
The Duke, Joao Carlos, had a great political interest and was, back in his time, considered to be the hero of liberalism. He played a big part in the city planning and was directly inspired by cities like Paris and London where he had spent a lot of time during his service in the Portuguese military.
Most of the beautiful buildings were built after World War One, but you will still find many buildings in Saldanha that was influenced by the duke.
Those old buildings add the charming atmosphere here in the neighbourhood and you will quickly get the Parisian feel by walking around the streets. You will find long avenues with big trees on each side of the lanes. You will feel relax and calm just by hanging out at the small kiosks where people are enjoying coffee, beer, and local pastry.
Some of the oldest and most remarkable buildings in Saldanha was unfortunately torn down to make way for big corporate buildings and shopping malls during both the 70s and the 90s when Saldanha went through periods of heavy construction.
Especially in the 90’s the government and private investors wanted to give the neighbourhood a modern and posh feel and that’s why they built, Atrium Saldanha, which is one of the biggest and best known buildings in the area today.
Luckily for us, aesthetic creatures, there are still many well-maintained old buildings here in Saldanha, that we look at while the body fills with satisfaction.
As already mentioned, Saldanha is the CBD of Lisbon and that is very visible. Especially during the weekdays where all the cafes and restaurants are filled with sharply dressed people. It creates a really nice atmosphere that makes you feel like you are where the magic happens.
But besides the business and corporate aspect of Saldanha it is also considered to be one of the finest and most expensive areas to live in Lisbon.
Saldanha is an upscale luxury neighbourhood where apartments have become very expensive.
However, as with anything in life you get what you pay for.
Here in this neighbourhood you are spoiled with many luxury flats that have been restored while keeping the original facades. It’s an area that is particularly popular among expats moving to the city. It’s not for nothing that Portugal is the most popular country for expats in Europe.
It is a fact that Saldanha attracts wealthy people, which explains the popularity. But why is Saldanha so popular? Because it simply is such a convenient area to live, as you quite literally have everything you need within a radius of 500 meters.
In Saldanha, you have a wide pallet of culinary experiences right at your doorstep.
Obviously, you can get a classic Portuguese dinner at many of the excellent tascas, but you also have the opportunity of dining wherever in the world you feel like eating whether it’s Mexico, India or somewhere in Asia.
Since we love eating out and we love spoiling ourselves with a gastronomic treat we have already a list of recommendations for you.
Passage to India
This Indian restaurant was the first place we went for dinner when we finally moved to Lisbon, and the food was magical. They serve high quality Indian food that actually tastes as if an Indian woman was preparing it for you in her Mumbai home.
Nómada is a spectacular restaurant, where they serve you with creative Asian Fusion – our favourite kitchen. The Chef makes the Asian menu with heavy inspiration from both the French and Portuguese kitchen, which creates some unique and tasteful servings at the restaurant.
If you are a meat lover like us, you are gonna love this steak house. BYF focuses on the quality and preparation of the meat. The sides are simple, but very tasty and well-prepared.
One thing that is especially interesting and quite unique about this restaurant, is that they serve a salt board along with your steak so that you can try different varieties of salt. This way every bite can taste differently.
They also let you pick your own steak knife since they are convinced that the knife plays an important role for the dinner experience. In general it is simply just a nice meal.
Here is another and less formal restaurant for all the extreme meat lovers out there. Boi Preto is a low-key Brazilian BBQ place. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with a Brazilian BBQ you are in for a treat!
At this Brazilian BBQ restaurant, meat is the main key and it is also an all-you-can-eat concept. The waiters continuously bring a new type of grilled meat to the table.
They cut off pieces for you according to your needs and come back with a different type of meat when you are ready to eat more. With the meat comes a nice buffet with literally everything right from salat and potatoes to cake and fresh fruit.
One of the things that we are particularly big fans of, is the atmosphere at the restaurant. It feels like you are part of an old mafia movie while the bartender is making you a Caipirinha and the live music played by a man with a keyboard from the 80’s playing Brazilian tracks from the 60’s.
We love oriental food and that is something you will be served at Nepalesa. We have had dinner there quite a number of times and we love the fresh ingredients and the eye to details that this restaurant has. They serve the most traditional dishes from Nepal and there is no doubt that they stick to their gastronomical roots.
The food court at Atrium Saldanha
In the basement of Atrium Saldanha you might not be in awe of the surroundings nor atmosphere, however this is a great place to eat if you are looking for some quick, easy and tasty lunch. Its the go to place for most of the office workers in the area, which is why it’s can be quite busy.
We have had a delicious pizza from there, some decent Asian noodles and an absolutely delicious vegan burger – although we do prefer the real deal, haha!
The Green Affair
If you have joined the vegan wave there are also some restaurants for you. The Green Affair is in our opinion the best of them. It’s a posh restaurant that only serves vegan food and beverages. And it’s just super tasty! The Green Affair is a little upscale and quite pricey, but that is pretty normal for these kinds of restaurants in Lisbon.
Cafés & Bars
When it comes to cafés and bars it’s impossible to choose a favourite place here in Saldanha.
You can have a nice cup of coffee everywhere and you will never do any damage with a Pastel de Nata no matter which cafe you choose, because the Portuguese patisseries are the pride of Portugal and every café wants (and claims) to have the best one, however I will mention some of the places that we hang out from time to time.
Deja Vu near Atrium Saldanha
Due to the dynamic atmosphere and the beautiful location this place is one of the places we love the most sitting at for an afternoon coffee or evening (bottle) of wine.
You always meet new people here and while enjoying your time you can watch all the corporate people crowd up at the kiosk after work to drink a beer with their colleagues and friends.
Every afternoon is a party here and people are always having fun.
On some days there are even live music at the kiosk and that just adds to the already cozy atmosphere. Usually we feel like we are in Paris, as we sit there with our Vinho Verde listening to the smooth jazz.
A Padaria Portuguesa – LAB
This cafe is a part of a large chain here in Portugal, but it’s quite different from all the other ones. Its is super sterile and minimalistic, but it looks pretty cool and the coffee and pastries are amazing. Also it is incredibly cheap, so expect to meet a lot of the college students here.
The rooftop at Jupiter Hotel
If you wanna have a good view to the sunset while enjoying a glass of champagne to the sound of smooth music you’ll love this rooftop. As we show you in the video itøs a brilliant place to unwind after a long day and just enjoy the sunset.
Sometimes during summer they even host sunset parties for the public with a live music and – as always – delicious cocktails.
When it comes to grocery shopping, Saldanha is a true mekka. You have everything from fresh food markets and small specialty stores to the largest chains in Portugal.
Here’s where we usually shop our groceries.
Mercado 31 de Janeiro
The Mercado 31 de Janeiro is a big local fresh food market. It’s here all the restaurant owners get their supplies.
Every morning between 6 and 12 the market is open and running. The food is being brought directly from the farmers so if you want the freshest of the freshest this is where to get your groceries. Also you can sometimes get a good price. At least if you speak Portuguese.
This is one of the biggest chains in Lisbon when it comes to grocery shopping and you might find everything you need here.
The prices are decent and so is the quality of the products. One thing that is worth mentioning here is that this is by far the grocery shop with the longest lines and you are always behind at least five people.
Continente is also one of the big chains in Portugal and the main competitor to Pingo Doce. I find the two stores very similar both in service and the selection of foods and stuff.
One thing that I love about the Continente stores is that they have self-service registers, which is five times faster than the human registers. Literally!
El Corte Inglés
In the basement of this big luxury mall, El Corte Inglés, you’ll find their amazing supermarket, which I prefer the most.
They have a monster selection of specialities as well as a big section of bio products.
You can find everything you desire here and it’s the best place to go if you with certainty wanna get everything on your list. I have even found Danish products here!
Organic grocery stores
For health fanatics and people who prefer quality foods, Saldanha has it all. There are three main stores in the neighbourhood for organic and healthy grocery shopping.
I love shopping in Go natural. It’s alway very nice and clean in their stores and also it it super easy to find what you are looking for. They even have a cafe where you can sit for a healthy orbing lunch or coffee.
This is another great organic store that have everything a organic foodie might desire. I like to go there for fish as they have a lot of different wild couch fish compared to other organic stores. However I find Go natural to have fresher fruits and vegetables.
This is much more than a store with organic goods, as Celleio also has a giant range of supplements, natural medication and herbs. They also have a large selection of sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan products where the selection of such product are more limited in the other two stores.
In big plus is that they usually have experts to assist you, if you aren’t entirely sure if a given supplement is the right one for you. We have bene nudged in the right direction several times.
In Saldanha you have many different stores. Both small local boutiques and big chains such as Zara or Massimo Dutti. You will also find jewellery stores, local tobacco shops and even malls with all the mainstream brands.
If you wanna shop the cream of the crop you should however take the 10-15 minute walk to Avenida da Liberdade as this is where you will find all the luxury stores such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton – if that is what you are into.
There are several interior stores in Saldanha too. The cheaper ones are Casa Shop and Viva, but if you are looking for higher-end furniture you should make a stop at Arboretto or Spic. Very important to note, however, is that you certainly shouldn’t limit yourself to Saldanha when it comes to finding furnitures and decoration for your home.
In Saldanha you have plenty of doctors, dentists and basically any other service you’ll. You’ll even find laundromats here.
For beauty treatment there are both spas, beauty salons and many hairdressers and barbers. Finding the right one for you is all about preferences and since we haven’t used many of these services we won’t be able to give any recommendation on this area.
However it is nice to know that you have everything just around the corner when you live here.
Here in Saldanha you are spoiled with a very good public transportation system. You can connect to the entire city of Lisbon from Saldanha with either bus, metro or Uber.
You have three different metro stations Saldanha, which is quite a lot considering the size of the neighbourhood. That means that you are never really far away from a metro station.
You have three metro lines running through Saldanha. The red one that, for example, will take you to the airport, the yellow one takes you to Rato in Principe Real. And then you have the blue line that brings you to the zoo, the giant Colombo shopping mall or even Benfica and Sportings football stadiums.
There are too many busses to mention from Saldanh, but the important thing is that the busses here connect you to the rest of the city.
A bus or a metro ride is 1.45 EUR and you buy it by purchasing a reusable metro card.
Even though the bus and metro system in Lisbon is super convenient it’s usually easier, cheaper and faster to grab an Uber. They are very affordable here in Portugal and if you are more than one person you might even save money.
Saldanha is the best place to live in Lisbon
All of the big plusses stated above forms the conclusion that Saldanha truly is an amazing place to live and, in our opinion, the best in Lisbon.
Especially if you, as an expat, can afford to pay more for accommodation and the general convenience of having EVERYTHING you need right at your foot tip.
What we appreciate the most about Saldanha is that we feel like we are a part of the local community, because the local spirit is so strong and because you barely see any tourists here, which also means no stupid souvenir shops!
It is simply a lovely gem in the heart of Lisbon, that has maintained its authenticity despite the big architectural changes the neighbourhood has been through the past fifty years.
Other nice areas to live
Even though we love living in Saldanha there are other amazing areas in Lisbon. When we one day want to settle down (maybe with kids) we will be looking for accommodation in Lapa, Estrela or Belem.
If you don’t care about living among many tourists and walking up and down steep hills Principe Real and Chiado are excellent neighbourhoods.
Thank you for reading our Saldanha guide
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