How do you decide on the best place to stay in Lisbon if you’re visiting for the first time? If you want to be based in the heart of the city and within walking distance of major sights, restaurants, transport and shops, Chiado, Baixa, Principe Real, Bairro Alto, Avenida da Liberdade and Alfama are the main options.
Each of these central Lisbon neighbourhoods has something different to offer so use this insider guide to help you choose the best area to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing according to your interests.
As well as giving you a run down of what each of these areas has to offer, I’ve picked out some of the best hotels, guesthouses and apartments in Lisbon city centre so you don’t have to waste hours trawling through unsuitable options. These are unique and boutique accommodations that offer style, comfort and excellent value for money.
Click to jump to specific sections in this expert guide to where to stay in Lisbon:
Chiado, the best neighbourhood to stay in Lisbon?
I’d say so. Chiado combines the best of all the things I want from a trip to Lisbon. I can walk to shops and sights in Chiado, Principe Real and Baixa and the restaurants and bars in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré. Served by the blue and green metro lines, a myriad of buses and tram #28, it’s about as convenient a location as they come.
As well as a hotchpotch of big name stores and independent shops that have withstood decades of change, there are other things to see here:
- Largo do Chiado with the iconic Café A Brasileira and the statue of beloved poet, Fernando Pessoa*
- The National Museum of Contemporary Art and several independent art galleries
- Largo de Camões, named after Portugal’s 16th century literary hero and a popular meeting spot
- Largo do Carmo, Convento do Carmo and the Archaeological Museum
- São Roque Church
- Filigree Museum
*My GPS activated Lisbon walking tour starts in Largo do Chiado and takes you to many of these places and onwards to Principe Real.
Best accommodation in Chiado, Lisbon city centre
Just down the road from this lovely square you’ll find the delightful Casa Balthazar, which has a rooftop hot tub with views of Lisbon and a small pool in the garden. The luxurious self-catering apartments are the kind of place you don’t want to leave and breakfasts are sourced from Confeitaria Nacional, one of Lisbon’s oldest bakeries. Click to check prices and rooms at Casa Balthazar
If they’re fully booked or your budget doesn’t stretch that far, try Apartments in Chiado. They have a lift and air-conditioning and some of the rooms have wonderful views. Click to see available apartments.
For a delightfully cute bed and breakfast in a side street near Largo de Camões and Largo do Chiado, try Casa do Barão. The garden and small plunge pool offer a little oasis of calm in the city centre while the book lined lounge is a cosy place to relax when the weather’s not so great. See how lovely it is and choose a room with garden views.
Why stay in Lisbon’s Baixa neighbourhood
You’ll often see Baixa and Chiado grouped together – they’re close enough to share a metro station, after all. The main difference is that Baixa, which means ‘low’ is just that, a flat grid of streets at the base of Lisbon’s city centre. The straight streets, named for the trade that each street was originally designated for, were designed by the Marquês do Pombal, the man responsible for rebuilding Lisbon after it was flattened by the 1755 earthquake.
The area has seen something of a revival in recent years with a crop of new hotels, shops, restaurants and museums and a revamped royal square. It can feel rather touristy and there’s a fair amount of traffic noise but it’s extremely convenient for walking around the centre and getting transport further afield.
Baixa sights and attractions
Aside from the shops and restaurants, you’ll find:
- Praça do Comércio, aka Terreiro do Paço, the former royal square overlooks the River Tagus and is lined with shops and restaurants
- MUDE fashion and design museum
- Rua Augusta archway and elevator, the entrance to and viewing platform over Praça do Comércio
- Lisbon Story Centre, an interactive museum about Lisbon’s history
- Rossio square with its wavy black and white paving and beautiful train station
- Santa Justa elevator, which goes up to Largo do Carmo
Best hotels and apartments in Lisbon’s Baixa district
As the name suggests, the 4-star Internacional Design Hotel is bright, modern and full of attractive design features. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it’s ideally located in Rossio square. Check photos and prices
The 4-star Figueira Beautique Hotel offers a truly original hotel design. Located in Fig Tree Square (Praça da Figueira), fig colours and shapes feature throughout the hotel. It can be a little dark for some tastes but is worth a look if you want something different. See photos and check availability
Of the 3-star boutique hotels in the Baixa district, Lisboa Prata Boutique Hotel is a good choice with lots of interesting features and welcoming touches to add to a comfortable stay. Check availability and current prices
For a quirky, colourful apartment with a rooftop terrace, check out Lisbon Short Stay Apartments.
This cute and cosy 1 bedroomed apartment is clean, comfortable and has air conditioning but no lift. The small balcony allows you to watch the world go by.
For 4 people, try this 2-bed duplex loft apartment in the heart of the Baixa with a small but attractive terrace. Note that there are 5 flights of stairs so you need to be reasonably fit and mobile.
What’s so special about Principe Real?
If you walk up Rua da Misericordia from Chiado or head west of Avenida da Liberdade, you will find yourself in Principe Real, one of Lisbon’s trendiest and gay-friendliest neighbourhoods. Not only does it boast fabulous urban designer and concept shops and small attractive parks, it is also packed with restaurants and cafés. I love this area, which is why it’s also part of my Lisbon walking tour.
It’s also on the doorstep of Bairro Alto, one of Lisbon’s most famous nightlife spots, but not so close that you’ll have revellers under your bedroom window until the wee hours. For all of these reasons, it’s one of the best places to stay in Lisbon if you want to balance day and nighttime activities with ease.
It’s about 7 minutes walk from two metro stations – Rato on the yellow line and Baixa/Chiado on the blue and green lines. Buses run through the centre to connect you with Cais do Sodre and other parts of the city.
What to see and do in Principe Real, Lisbon
- Shoppers will find plenty of temptations in independent shops and the Embaixada or EntreTanto shopping centres
- Principe Real gardens are a pleasant place to hang out with local residents in a kiosk bar
- São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint offers spectacular views of Lisbon
- Jardim Botanico is next to the Science and Natural History Museum
- Praça das Flores is a little square with a fresh crop of trendy food shops, cafés and restaurants
Best accommodation in Lisbon’s Principe Real neighbourhood
Casa do Principe (The Prince’s House) is right next door to Embaixada and overlooks Principe Real gardens. It’s a cosy bed and breakfast that will treat you like royalty. The ceilings in the Dom Pedro suite are a sight to behold and the whole place is beautifully and tastefully decorated. Choose the best room.
Another charming bed and breakfast near the gardens is the recently opened 1869 Principe Real, which has original painted tiles in some of the bed rooms, air conditioning and excellent customer service.
For a more residential location and the possibility of self-catering you have Flores Guest House, just off Praça das Flores. Beautifully renovated and stylishly decorated, the accommodation comes in the form of apartments, rooms and studios.
An overview of Bairro Alto, Lisbon
Bairro Alto is one of Lisbon’s liveliest districts for nightlife. During the day, it looks nothing special but at night, ground floor doors are thrown open to reveal numerous bars and restaurants although most people hang out in the streets. There are some quirky shops around here, too.
There are several quiet streets within this neighbourhood so I wouldn’t rule it out as a place to stay although it wouldn’t be my first choice. If you’re young(ish) and want to party all night, you might want to stay in the thick of it but pick wisely and read reviews carefully. It is up a hill and although there are buses to nearby Principe Real, you’ll either have to walk or take a taxi into the labyrinth of narrow streets.
Best place to stay in Bairro Alto
A Casa Das Janelas Com Vista (The House Of The Windows With Views) is not just views, although they are fabulous. The quirky decor and repurposed furniture sit well within a restored building in a quiet side street in the heart of Bairro Alto. Breakfast is fabulous! See photos and check availability.
Another beautiful option, this time on the quieter side of the road that runs below the nightlife district, is Palácio das Especiarias Guesthouse. A restored 400-year old building filled with gorgeous historical details and decor. Unfortunately, there’s no air conditioning but the rooms have fans. There is a cute little garden and some rooms have Juliette balconies. Avoid the smallest rooms as they can feel a bit stuffy and cramped. Find out more about this historical guesthouse
A new addition to Lisbon’s collection of 5-star boutique hotels is Veride Palácio Santa Catarina, again downhill from the nightlife. The painted tile panels alone are enough to make you fall in love with the place but there’s much more to it, including a rooftop pool and restaurant with stunning river and city views. Choose a unique room
Lisbon’s oldest district spreads down the hill from St. George’s castle and encompasses the 12th century cathedral. I really like Alfama’s narrow cobbled streets and tightly packed houses. It’s like a village within the city and there is still a close-knit community living here despite the ever-increasing volume of tourists. Don’t be surprised to see remnants of street decorations or see people barbecuing sardines in the street.
Tram #28 trundles through this neighbourhood. There are also some free public elevators that make it easier to cope with the hill during working hours. Other than that, you’ll have to walk or take a cab. Don’t even think of driving in this part of Lisbon – it’s not even possible to get a car down some of the narrow cobbled lanes.
While atmospheric and definitely a place to get lost in during the day, you might find Alfama more frustrating when the taxi driver can’t find your accommodation or you’re trying to make your way back at night.
Alfama’s sights and attractions
- Beneath the 12th century Romanesque cathedral lies excavated Roman ruins and Islamic baths
- São Vicente da Fora Monastery is an interesting museum with fabulous views
- The National Pantheon also offers spectacular views from the domed rooftop
- St. George’s Castle is well worth a visit, again for the views from the battlements
- Alfama’s most popular viewing spots are Santa Luzia and Portas do Sol
- The Museum of Decorative Arts is inside an aristocratic house with period decor
Best places to stay in Lisbon’s Alfama neighbourhood
Once a religious building, the 3-star Hotel Convento do Salvador has been thoroughly modernised and as well as comfy, bright rooms, you’ll find some stunning works by contemporary Portuguese artists dotted around the building. The inner courtyard is a great spot for relaxing or sunbathing. Check current prices.
You can avoid the hills by staying in the 3-star Hotel Riverside Alfama. Simply head uphill if you want to be in the old neighbourhood or stay on the flat to walk into the Baixa. See photos of the bright, modern rooms
Avenida da Liberdade and Marquês do Pombal
The wide leafy avenue that runs through Lisbon city centre and connects the Baixa with Parque Eduardo VII is lined with classy hotels and internationally renowned designer stores. Many of the 5-star hotels in Lisbon city centre are in this area and are mostly unique, historical and/or boutique.
The central strip of cobbled park offers patches of greenery and a few kiosk bars that can be quite lively in the early evening thanks to busking bands.
Once you get to the top of the avenue and past the statue of the Marquês do Pombal, you’re in a more business-oriented district with big banks and companies and busy main roads. Off these arterial roads there are smaller residential streets with all the amenities you’d expect to find, such as supermarkets and cafés.
Transport connections are easy, especially from Marquês do Pombal, which is about a 30-minute walk or 5-minute Metro ride from the Baixa.
Sights on and around Avenida da Liberdade
- The next big square after Rossio is Restauradores, with its massive obelisk commemorating liberation from Spain
- The 18th century Palácio Foz houses the tourist information centre
- Casa do Alentejo, one of my favourite spots in Lisbon, lies just off the central avenue
- Elevador da Glória, the antique wooden tram, leaves from here to go up the hill to Principe Real
- Parque Eduardo VII offers amazing views from the top and contains the cool greenhouse, Estufa Fria
Best Lisbon hotels around Avenida da Liberdade
My top hotel choice would be the 4-star Inspira Santa Marta Hotel and Spa as it offers excellent value for money for gorgeous, eco-friendly upmarket accommodation. If you enjoy spending time in hotels and making use of their spa facilities, wine tasting and other activities, this is the place to come. Their Mediterranean restaurant caters well to vegetarians and a range of food intolerances. Check availability and prices.
For a more classical environment with historical touches and full modern comforts, you might prefer the Heritage Avenida Liberdade, a 4-star boutique hotel in an 18th century building that has an indoor pool. Choose a room to suit.
Of the 5-star hotels on Avenida Liberdade, I particularly like Valverde Hotel for its Art Deco style and beautiful architectural features and wooden floors. It has a patio area and outdoor pool, too, perfect for a dip after a day of sightseeing. Check latest prices.
There are, of course, other places to stay but these Lisbon areas are the most centrally located and allow you to do a great deal of sightseeing and exploring on foot.
Lisbon airport hotels
If you have a very early morning flight or are arriving late, you may prefer to spend a night within walking distance of the airport terminal.
The 4-star TRYP Lisboa Aeroporto Hotel has twice been selected as the best TRYP hotel worldwide! With onsite restaurant, pool and spa facilities, you can enjoy the first or last hours of your Lisbon stay in a bright, modern hotel, just 100 metres from the terminal building. Book your stay
The 3-star Star Inn Lisbon Airport Hotel has everything you need for a peaceful night’s sleep in a modern hotel. It offers a free shuttle service but is only 300 metres on foot to the airport. Check availability and read reviews
Lisbon guide books
If you’re staying for an extended period in Lisbon, you may want to grab a guidebook to help you explore its nooks and crannies better. A proper map will come in handy, too.
Check these out via Amazon:
Not quite ready to book your Lisbon accommodation yet?
Bookmark or Pin this for later!
Disclosure: The links on this page to Lisbon accommodation are mostly to my hotel partner, Booking.com. At no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you book via these links, which would go towards the cost of maintaining this blog.
Printable packing list
Subscribe to download my free handy checklist to help you pack wisely for your Portugal trip, whatever the season.
You'll also receive email newsletters containing free insider travel tips, blog updates and information about relevant products, services and special offers.