Lisbon has countless quaint nooks and crannies to explore, and sometimes it’s difficult to know which ones you’ll like best. Naturally, a visit to the city isn’t complete without walking around the iconic Praça do Comércio or the Praça de D. Pedro IV (more commonly known as the Rossio – pronounced: roo-see-oo). But there’s another little square that combines convenience of location with photo-worthy sights: the Praça Luís de Camões.
The Praça Luís de Camões – often referred to as Largo do Camões – is named after Portugal’s most famous poet. This guy is so revered in Portugal (and also by world-class literary critics) that he not only has numerous streets across the country named after him, but the day of his death became our national day (his birthday is unknown). Due to its central location, and close access to a metro station, the square is often used as a meeting point for Lisbonites who are meeting downtown.
But apart from being a convenient location to meet, the square is a great opportunity for tourists to get a glimpse into Portuguese life. Firstly, it features two beautiful patterns of Portuguese pavement (calçada portuguesa): one throughout the majority of the square; the other one surrounding the statue in the middle. The 19th century bronze statue was sculpted by Victor Bastos and sits on a beautiful pedestal that features other historical and cultural figures. Unsurprisingly, it was built ahead of the 300-year-anniversary of Camões’ death (because anything Camões is worth celebrating).
In the square, you’ll find a typical Portuguese quiosque, where you can enjoy a refreshment and snack, and take in the sights (when in Lisbon, do as the Lisbonites do). As you admire your surroundings, you’ll be sure to see plenty of those gorgeous yellow trams – and almost certainly some red and green ones too.
The Praça Luís de Camões is in an ideal location for shopping, wining & dining, and sight-seeing. Without having to go far, you will find two huge churches facing each other on one end of the square. One of my favorite belvederes, the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, is just a 5-minute walk (uphill) from here. Also uphill from the square is the famous Bairro Alto, which is packed with small bars, restaurants, and unique little shops. This neighborhood has one of the best nightlife scenes in town! If you head in the direction of the metro station, you’ll find yourself in a popular shopping street. Insider tip: go off that main street into a side street and find the delightful A Vida Portuguesa shop for gorgeous souvenirs. Finally, if you head downhill, you’ll end up at Cais do Sodré, a key train station that will take you to Cascais and Estoril.
So next time you’re in Lisbon and you find yourself in the Largo do Camões, soak it all in, and know that whichever directly you choose to go from there, you’ll almost certainly stumble upon something you like.