Noble, elegant, rooted in tradition, Estrela vibrates with a youthful innocence thanks to the many schools and colleges scattered through its tree-lined streets. Like its next-door neighbour Lapa, Estrela blossomed during the 18th and 19th century when it became one of the favored residences of Lisbon’s bourgeoisie. As a result, its wide streets are lined with neo-classical mansions that now house art-galleries and antique shops, while a handful of innovative developments hint at the property boom spreading through Lisbon’s historic centre.
Life in Estrela pivots around the Jardins de Estrela, 4.6 hectares of tree-filled park-land and playgrounds considered one of Lisbon’s loveliest corners. The gardens stretch along the only flat part of the neighborhood, while the surrounding streets slope down towards the river Tejo and the up-and-coming neighborhood of Alcantara and hip design district Santos. Spend an afternoon watching the world go by here, and you’ll get a snapshot of what makes Lisbon’s laid-back lifestyle so special. It’s here that parents bring kids to play football after school, while noble señores shuffle cards in the slanting afternoon sun under ancient trees and high-school students laze in shady spots pretending to study.
For locals, Estrela’s pervading air of romanticism carries a sweet nostalgia as the place they socialize as teenagers before graduating to the buzzing bars and hip cafes of Principe Real, just a 10 minute stroll by foot. If you are young in Lisbon, there are few places in town cooler to hang out than Estrela, and this ensures that this elegant, otherwise traditional neighborhood maintains a youthful edge. A key factor that makes Estrela so popular with families is the large number of good schools within walking distance. French expats gravitate here because of the Lycee Francais Charles Lepierre, one of the best French schools in Lisbon. Wake up in the morning and you’ll still see small kids with backpacks on holding hands in groups of 4 as they head to school.