Where to Stay in Lisbon

Great, you are planning a trip to the Portuguese capital but wondering where to stay in Lisbon. 

I lived in Lisbon for a whole year before moving back to my home country, and when the time comes for a vacation, I always visit this magical place.

Here, I have crafted an extensive guide to present you with several of my preferred options, allowing you to explore each district suitable based on your preferences.  

The guide on selecting the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon is tailored to your style and budget. Together, we will explore these favored neighborhoods. 

Additionally, I will outline the advantages and disadvantages of each location and highlight noteworthy attractions you shouldn’t miss regardless of your choice of accommodation.

Exploring Lisbon’s Landscape: A Brief Overview

25 de Abril Bridge

When delving into the geography of Lisbon, the Tagus River stands out as a pivotal point. While it resembles and is near the ocean, it is distinct from the actual ocean. Typically, areas closer to the river attract more tourists.

Another noteworthy aspect of Lisbon’s layout is its hills. Compared to San Francisco, a city known for its hills, Lisbon might surpass it in elevation changes. During your visit to Lisbon, be prepared to navigate some hilly terrain.

The truth is it is an inevitable part of the experience. Moving from the river, the city ascends the hills to the north.

Here is where vibrant neighborhoods like Chiado, Alfama, and Bairro Alto offer excellent luxury hotels. 

The accommodation teems with bars, restaurants, shops, and concealed and apparent treasures.

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Where to Stay in Lisbon: The Top 4 Accommodation Destinations

Now that you have understood Lisbon’s layout let’s delve into specific places I recommend for your stay. It’s important to note that the answer to the question, “Where should I stay in Lisbon?” varies based on your individual preferences.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so I will discuss each area’s pros and cons to help you determine if it aligns with your preferences. This section caters to you if you have limited time and seek prompt guidance on the perfect stay in Lisbon.

Yet, I strongly advise reading the detailed information below about the chosen neighborhood, encompassing pros and cons, neighborhood highlights, and specific hotels and apartments I endorse.

  • If it’s your first visit to Lisbon, consider staying in Baixa or Chiado. Baixa provides a fantastic and centrally located home base for exploring the city. I can recommend the Porto do Mar Apartments in Baixa.
  • For a more romantic and charming experience, Alfama is an excellent choice, with its narrow cobblestone streets offering a delightful maze to explore. Remember the tradeoff – it’s situated atop a hill, with limited non-walking routes up and down. Or check out some of the best hotels in Alfama to stay. 
  • If vibrant nightlife and being amid post-dark activities are your priorities, Bairro Alto, situated adjacent to Chiado atop the hill, is an ideal option.

Hot Tip🔥: The Anjos Neighborhood is also a worthy district to check out if you prefer something different. Here, you can also find some of the best hostels in Lisbon.

Best Neighborhood to Stay in Lisbon

Commencing this guide with my firsthand encounters, I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon often, opting for slightly different areas on each occasion.

While you can find many Airbnb, personally, I would not recommend them as they altered the city’s fabric over the past few decades and pushed residents farther away from the city center to convert them into apartments with short-term rentals made for tourists. 

For me, this has a negative implication for the city. But if you would like to stay as a solo traveler in an Airbnb, I have some recommendations you can look at. 

Great, now that I have that out of the way, my guide shifts more towards hotels and apartments or serviced apartments that offer a blend of features. I enjoy staying on the border of Baixai and Chiado, a block away from Rossio Station. 

It is a prime area to stay in Lisbon, especially on the Chaido side uphill. Great, but where to stay in Lisbon is not my choice but yours to make. So, let’s look at some of the best neighborhoods in Lisbon to stay. 

Chiado Distric: A Central Hub

Chiado

Chiado stands at the heart of Lisbon’s vibrancy atop a hill. Unlike many neighborhoods, you won’t constantly walk uphill to reach your destination (although the reverse is true – descending requires an eventual ascent in Lisbon).

The bustling area is a fusion of shopping, dining, and historical marvels like the Convento do Carmo, a former convent-turned-museum devastated during the 1755 earthquake that was pivotal in shaping modern Lisbon.

The earthquake and the Carnation Revolution in 1974, ending Portugal’s dictatorship, unfolded in Chiado. The architecture showcases a blend of old and new due to the 1988 fire that swept through the main shopping area.

While the facades endured, the interiors underwent a complete transformation. Navigating between Chiado and places like Baixa or Rossio Station, a gateway to Sintra day trips, offers various options: walking, taking the metro, or opting for the Elevador de Santa Justa, a 1900s structure connecting Chiado to Baixa.

Though lines for the elevator can be long and involve a cost, walking through the mall is a recommended alternative (with a visit to the viewing platform on top for the stunning view).

Chiado Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Central location, sandwiched between Bairro Alto and Principe Real to the west, Alfama and Mouraria to the east, and Baixa towards the river.
  • Baixa-Chiado metro station in the heart of the neighborhood facilitates easy access to other parts of the city.
  • Charming ambiance with narrow alleys and winding streets, a contrast to the grid layout of adjacent Baixa.

Cons:

  • The unavoidable hills for walking and the relatively higher prices due to the central and desirable location.

Chiado Highlights

Santa-Justa-Lift-Lisbon
  1. Grom Gelato: A standout gelato shop offering gluten-free options, acclaimed as possibly the best in Lisbon.
  2. Convento do Carmo: A historical convent turned museum, its towering façade remains prominent.
  3. Santa Justa Elevator Platform View: Skip the expensive elevator ride and walk down the hill to enjoy the stellar view.
  4. Fábrica Coffee Roasters: Among the best coffee spots in Lisbon, offering a splendid selection of espresso drinks and house-roasted beans.
  5. Pastéis de Nata: Chiado hosts two of the top three places to savor a pastel de nata, namely Aloma and Manteigaria, offering a delectable custard tart experience.

Best Stays in Chiado

Discovering the ideal place to stay in Chiado, whether inclined toward a charming boutique hotel or a more spacious apartment, can be a delight. I have curated a list based on style, reviews, and prime locations to simplify your decision-making process. Choose one, and you’re set for an enchanting stay in Lisbon!

Feeling Chiado 15: A Boutique Hotel in Prime Location

  • Located on the square near Convento do Carmo in the city center.
  • It is within a block from the heart of Chiado, with proximity to Barrio Alto, Principe Real, and Baixa.
  • Comfortable, spacious rooms with deluxe suites offering fantastic views.

Check Prices and Availability

Chiado 44: A Mid-Range Guesthouse

  • A few blocks from Baixa-Chiado metro station for convenient city-wide access.
  • A 19th-century building fully renovated with stylish rooms.
  • Intimate guesthouse with only 12 rooms, ensuring personalized service.
  • Some rooms have river views and balconies, while others face the garden.

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Lost Lisbon – Chiado House: Budget-Friendly Gem

  • It is an intimate guesthouse with friendly service and a beautifully decorated interior.
  • Offers continental breakfast and access to a shared kitchen.
  • A cross between a hostel and a hotel, providing smaller and larger room options.
  • Impeccably stylish decor, with some rooms featuring private external bathrooms.

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Baixa: A Central Haven in Lisbon

Baixa

Nestled between Alfama and Chiado up the hill, with the vibrant nightlife hub of Cais de Sodre further north, Baixa emerges along the Tagus River. As one of Lisbon’s most central and, consequently, touristy areas, it holds a unique charm.

After the 1755 earthquake significantly shaped modern Lisbon, Baixa underwent reconstruction by Marquês de Pombal, who envisioned a downtown Lisbon grid layout.

The grid pattern extends from Praça do Comércio to Rossio Train Station at its northern edge, setting it apart from the narrow, winding streets typical of other Lisbon neighborhoods.

During one of my stays in Lisbon, I chose Baixa as the base, and it proved to be an ideal location for city exploration. Well-connected to public transportation, with Tram 28 providing access to 95% of central Lisbon’s attractions and metro stations along the river.

Baixa also boasts proximity to Rossio Station and Santa Apolónia Station – Lisbon’s main train stations. Offers an array of dining options, including the home of the best pastel de nata in Lisbon, according to many.

I still prefer the one from Manteigaria. While Baixa is an excellent place to stay, I suggest allocating most of your day to exploring Lisbon’s less touristy yet more captivating parts.

Baixa Pros and Cons

 Pros:

  • Central Location: It’s one of the most central areas in Lisbon.
  • Public Transportation: Well-connected to public transportation, including Tram 28 and metro stations.
  • Flat Terrain: The area is relatively flat, making it easy to navigate.
  • Train Station Access: Conveniently close to the train station for trips to Porto or other parts of Portugal and day trips to Sintra.

Cons:

  1. Authenticity: It is not the most authentic area, but it compensates by providing access to more exciting parts of Lisbon.
  2. Cost: Being a prime location makes it relatively expensive compared to less central neighborhoods.
  3. Elevation: Positioned at the bottom of the hill, requiring uphill walks to reach other parts of Lisbon.
  4. Tourist Trap Restaurants: Some restaurants may fall into classic tourist traps, especially on Praça do Comércio.

Baixa Highlights

Manteigaria pasteis de nata
  • Pastel de Nata at Manteigaria: Considered by many, including me, as the best pastel de nata in Lisbon. Its crispy crust and perfect custard flavor stand out.
  • Zarzuela: Offering gluten-free pastel de nata, Zarzuela in Baixa caters to those with dietary restrictions.
  • Time Out Market: Located on the border of Baixa, it’s a classy food court featuring some of Lisbon’s best food options. It is ideal for groups to explore diverse dishes.
  • Rossio Square: A beautiful square with tile waves and fountains. Rossio Train Station at the far end is the gateway to day trips to Sintra.

Baixa District

Bica Funicular

When thinking of where to stay in Lisbon, Baixa is at the heart of it all. Here, you can find various stay options, including hotels, apartments, and hostels catering to different preferences and budgets. After thorough consideration, I have selected these for you to look at:

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My Story Hotel Figueira: Stylish Boutique 

  • Situated on Figueira Square, adjacent to Rossio Square in the heart of Baixa.
  • Colorful and spacious rooms (over 200 sq ft) with comfortable beds.
  • 24-hour reception, an Italian restaurant on the ground floor, and convenient breakfast options.

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Be Poet Baixa: Modern Hotel

  • Perfect location between Alfama, Rossio Train Station, and Praça do Comércio.
  • Modern decor with comfortable rooms and an affordable option. 
  • They are equipped with coffee makers, offering a convenient and relaxing base for exploration.

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Porta Do Mar: Cozy Apartments 

  • Cozy apartments are walkable to the metro, Rossio train station, and tram to Belém.
  • Well-located for a city introduction and day trips.
  • Varied natural light in different units, with functional kitchens.

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These accommodations contribute to Baixa’s vibrant and diverse lodging scene, ensuring a memorable stay in Lisbon.

Alfama: A Romantic Haven

Alfama Sunset

Exploring Alfama feels like wandering through the most alluring corners of Lisbon.

Nestled beneath Castelo de São Jorge, its winding streets exude charm and romance, reminiscent of my favorite neighborhoods like Trastevere in Rome and Montmartre in Paris.

While in Lisbon, I frequented Alfama, immersing myself in its enchanting atmosphere.

Hot Tip🔥: To learn more about this amazing neighborhood, please check out my Alfama full guide for 2024.

Whether you stay in Alfama or not, an evening stroll through its cobbled lanes, possibly accompanied by a delightful dinner and soulful fado tunes, should be part of your Lisbon itinerary.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Alfama as Your Stay

Pros:

  • Romantic Atmosphere: Alfama’s narrow alleyways and cobbled streets create a romantic ambiance.
  • Breathtaking Views: Several fantastic viewpoints offer mesmerizing vistas of Lisbon, especially enchanting in the evening.
  • Vibrant Nightlife: The castle’s northeast side boasts many fantastic bars and restaurants.

Cons:

  • Accessibility Challenges: Alfama is one of the most challenging areas to access in Lisbon. Navigating the hilly terrain involves walking or taking Tram 28, which is often crowded with tourists.
  • Transportation Difficulty: Taxis and Ubers may struggle to navigate the narrow streets, making walking the primary mode of transportation.
  • Higher Costs: Being a sought-after location, accommodations in Alfama tend to be relatively expensive, with limited options.
  • Upscaling Concerns: The increasing tourist presence has led to upscaling, with historic buildings converted into tourist-focused establishments. This trend raises concerns about housing inventory for locals and escalating prices, particularly pronounced in Alfama.

Alfama: Must-Visit Spots

Alfama-District

Exploring Alfama goes beyond its charming streets; it’s about discovering hidden gems that define its character.

Miss Can: A Seafood Haven

  • Recommendation: Try canned fish at Miss Can, a humble yet quality-focused establishment founded by a woman from a long line of fishermen.
  • Specialties: Opt for their bacalhau (cod) in garlic olive oil, a delightful choice for those not keen on overly fishy flavors.
  • Atmosphere: Located on a quiet residential street near the castle, Miss Can offers a cozy storefront to enjoy canned treats with a glass of vinho verde.

Castelo de São Jorge: A Historic Gem

  • Insight: While the castle is a 20th-century replica, it holds historical significance as a symbol of Lisbon’s conquest in the 12th Century.
  • Highlight: Climb the castle walls for breathtaking views of the city, including the iconic bridge, gaining insights into Lisbon’s rich history.
  • Evolution: Originally a royal palace and later a prison, the castle underwent renovation in the 1930s under the directive of Salazar, the long-ruling dictator.

Sé de Lisboa: Architectural Marvel

  • Location: Marks the base of Alfama, signifying the border with Baixa and the beginning of the ascent to the castle through narrow alleyways.
  • History: Built-in 1147, Sé de Lisboa has undergone multiple renovations, offering a glimpse into Lisbon’s architectural evolution.
  • Scenic View: Capture a picturesque view of the cathedral from the street, with Tram 28 passing by, adding to the city’s nostalgic charm.

Miradouros: Alfama’s Panoramic Vistas

  • Miradouro das Portas do Sol: Ideal for a sunset drink on the patio, offering views northeast along the coast. Spot the National Pantheon and the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora.
  • Miradouro de Santa Luzia: A short walk away, this viewpoint showcases the northern end of Lisbon, providing a similar captivating vista.
  • Symbolism: Both viewpoints feature St. Vincent’s statue, Lisbon’s patron saint, holding the city’s symbol—a ship with two ravens.

Hot Tip🔥: Explore some other Lisbon miradouros for spectacular views.

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Where to Stay in Lisbon: Top Picks for Alfama

Discovering the perfect place to stay in Alfama can enhance your Lisbon experience. I have sifted through options, focusing on comfort and atmosphere. Here are noteworthy recommendations:

Hotel Convento Do Salvador

  • Location: Around the corner from Miradouro das Portas do Sol, offering excellent views.
  • Atmosphere: It is one of many luxurious yet surprisingly affordable hotels housed in a former convent with outdoor pools.
  • Eco-Friendly Hotel: Bottles tap water to reduce plastic usage, promoting sustainability.
  • Rooms: Compact but modern, with an option to upgrade for a view of the river Tejo.

Hot Tip🔥:  Don’t miss the terrace for a spectacular view.

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Casas Do Bairro Conqvistador: Modern Apartments

  • Preference: Ideal for those seeking apartments with more space and kitchen facilities.
  • Variety: One-bedroom apartments, some with balconies, equipped with modern amenities.
  • Unique Feature: Part of a family-owned complex, offering 20% off at associated businesses.

Note 🗒️: Perfect for smaller groups due to the consistent apartment size.

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Bairro Alto: A Culinary and Nightlife Extravaganza

Best-Neighborhood-to-Stay-in-Lisbon

Before delving into the vibrant tapestry of Bairro Alto, let’s get the name right—it’s “Bairro,” not “Barrio.” Rooted in Lisbon’s 16th-century history, this district endured the seismic shifts of time, emerging as a resilient nightlife haven adjacent to Chiado.

While the earthquake spared Bairro Alto, it became a canvas for modernization under Pombal’s watchful eye. Fast forward to today, and Bairro Alto pulsates with life, transforming from a serene morning stroll to a nocturnal spectacle after sundown.

As the sun sets, Bairro Alto awakens, beckoning with an eclectic array of bars, clubs, and restaurants. This district hosts the city’s most dynamic nightlife, from wine bars to hidden speakeasies and nightclubs that defy dawn.

Of course, being in the epicenter of this excitement has its tradeoffs. It’s loud—expect your 9:00 pm bedtime to be a casualty.

Bairro Alto Pros and Cons 

Pros of Bairro Alto:

  • Diverse Nightlife: Whether you seek a cozy pub, chic bar, or pulsating club, Bairro Alto delivers.
  • Central Location: Perfect for those who want to stumble home after a night out.
  • Safe Atmosphere: Compared to other nightlife hubs, it’s less sketchy.

Cons of Bairro Alto:

  • Loud and Lively: Boisterous and debaucherous, not ideal for those craving serene slumber.

Bairro Alto Highlights:

  1. Igreja de São Roque: Explore this opulent Jesuit church with intricate dioramas and stunning stone and gold accents.
  2. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara: Enjoy one of the city’s best panoramic views.
  3. Garrafeira Alfaia: Immerse yourself in Portuguese wines, including delightful ports, accompanied by traditional snacks.
  4. Vegan Nata: Even if you’re vegan, savor a pastel de nata at this spot.
  5. A Nossa Casa: Highly recommended for an exceptional food experience—venture in for a culinary delight.

Top-Tier Stays in Bairro Alto

In the heart of Bairro Alto, I present you with a curated list of highly rated accommodations catering to diverse budgets and travel preferences. 

Stylish Hotel: Casa das Janelas com Vista

Immerse yourself in sophistication at this stylish haven, Casa das Janelas com Vista. Enjoy a perfect blend of comfort and charm, promising a memorable stay in the heart of Bairro Alto. It is one of many luxury hotels in Lisbon with outdoor pools.

Style on a Budget (Boutique Hostel): The Independente Hostel and Suites

Embrace the fusion of affordability and style at The Independente Hostel and Suites. This boutique hostel offers a budget-friendly yet trendy accommodation option, ensuring a unique experience in Bairro Alto.

Spacious Apartments: Bairro Alto Bronze of Art Apartments

Experience the allure of spacious living at Bairro Alto Bronze of Art Apartments. These well-appointed apartments provide the perfect retreat, combining convenience and roominess for an unforgettable stay.

Bed & Breakfast: Dear Lisbon – Charming House

Indulge in the cozy ambiance of Dear Lisbon – Charming House, a delightful bed & breakfast. Experience warm hospitality and a charming atmosphere, creating a home away from home in Bairro Alto.

Where Not to Stay in Lisbon 

To optimize your Lisbon experience, I suggest focusing on the city center, especially for shorter stays (4 days or less). Being centrally located allows easy access to most main attractions, whether on foot or by efficient public transportation in this pedestrian-friendly city.

Here’s a breakdown of areas to consider and those to avoid:

Optimal Zones

  • City Center: Ideal for proximity to attractions, ensuring convenience in exploration.
  • Principe Real (up to Rua do Salitre): Offers a mix of tranquility and accessibility.

Areas to Skip

  • North of Rua do Salitre: Beyond this point, consider options closer to the city center.
  • East of Alfama: While charming, short visits might be less convenient.
  • West of Principe Real: Opt for locations closer to the city’s heart.

Cautions About Specific Area

  • Cais de Sodre: Although vibrant with dining options, this area, especially around the Time Out Market, might have a higher frequency of street solicitations. Consider alternative neighborhoods for a more relaxed stay.

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Wrap-Up: Best Neighborhood to Stay in Lisbon 

Deciding where to stay in Lisbon depends on your preferences and travel style. Still, each neighborhood has its unique appeal, catering to different interests.

Consider your priorities – historical charm, central convenience, or vibrant nightlife – and choose the neighborhood that aligns with your preferences.

Lisbon welcomes you with its diverse districts, ensuring an unforgettable experience tailored to your liking. Safe travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

Lisbon is a beautiful city with numerous neighborhoods to choose from, but some of the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon are Baixa, Chiado, Alfama, and Bairro Alto.

Baixa is located in the heart of Lisbon and is known for its beautiful architecture, stunning plazas, and charming streets. Chiado is a popular tourist destination with its upscale shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and is famous for its narrow streets, Fado music, and stunning views of the Tagus River. Bairro Alto is a vibrant neighborhood known for its lively nightlife, trendy bars, and music venues.

These neighborhoods offer something unique and great options for Lisbon travelers.

Lisbon is a fantastic city that offers a lot to explore for first-time visitors. Yet, some neighborhoods might be more appealing than others. Based on my research, I would say that Baixa and Chiado are great neighborhoods for first-time visitors.

Baixa is the heart of Lisbon, and it’s located right in the center of the city, making it easy to explore the rest of the town from there. Chiado is a trendy neighborhood with many cafes, restaurants, and shops, and it’s located right next to Baixa.

Both neighborhoods offer a mix of historic and modern attractions to taste Portugal’s past and present.

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is known for its picturesque streets, charming architecture, and stunning views. When it comes to romance, Lisbon has a lot to offer.

Yet, if you’re looking for the most romantic neighborhood in the city, Alfama is the place to be. It’s a historic district with narrow streets, colorful houses, and beautiful views of the Tagus River.

You can stroll through the maze-like streets, enjoy the traditional Fado music, and indulge in delicious seafood and wine in one of the many restaurants and bars.

The sunset from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia is breathtaking, and the Castelo de São Jorge offers panoramic city views. All in all, Alfama is a perfect spot for a romantic getaway in Lisbon.

Getting around Lisbon is relatively easy and convenient. The city has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, trams, and a metro network. The metro is the fastest way to travel around the city, and it has four lines that cover most of the essential areas.

The buses and trams are also reliable and affordable, providing a more scenic way to explore the city. Additionally, plenty of taxis and ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Bolt, are available in Lisbon, which are safe and efficient.

You can also rent a bike or a scooter, a fun and eco-friendly way to get around the city, especially during the warmer months.

Notable attractions in Lisbon include the Convento do Carmo, a former convent-turned-museum devastated during the 1755 earthquake that was pivotal in shaping modern Lisbon, and Rossio Station, a gateway to Sintra day trips.

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