Where to stay in Lisbon. Best neighbourhoods and hotels in Lisbon city centre

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.

Note: I’ve written similar accommodation guides for the AlgarvePorto, Coimbra, Sintra and Óbidos.

See my suggestions for what to do in Lisbon in this article

Click to jump to specific sections in this expert guide to where to stay in Lisbon:

Is Chiado the best part of Lisbon to stay in?

Best accommodation in Chiado, Lisbon city centre

Why stay in Lisbon’s Baixa neighbourhood

Best hotels and apartments in Lisbon’s Baixa district

What’s so special about Principe Real?

Best accommodation in Lisbon’s Principe Real neighbourhood

An overview of Bairro Alto, Lisbon

Best place to stay in Bairro Alto

Atomspheric Alfama

Best places to stay in Lisbon’s Alfama neighbourhood

Avenida da Liberdade and Marquês do Pombal

Best Lisbon hotels around Avenida da Liberdade

Lisbon airport hotels

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.

A Brasileira café, Largo do Chiado, Lisbon
A Brasileira café, Largo do Chiado, Lisbon

Chiado sights

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

Lisboa Carmo Hotel is a small luxury hotel in the very charming Largo do Carmo with great views from the upper floors. Click to check prices.

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.

Teatro Bed and Breakfast is modern, unique and chic, and more affordable than the previous options. Check photos and prices

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.

View from Santa Justa lift, Lisbon. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox
View of Baixa and St. George’s castle from Santa Justa lift, Lisbon. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox

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

You could also try My Story Ouro for a delightfully stylish and comfortable 3-star hotel in the Baixa. See photos and reviews

For a quirky, colourful apartment with a rooftop terrace, check out Lisbon Short Stay Apartments.

If that’s too garish for your tastes, the soothing, stylish decor of Casas da Baixa by Jules and Madeleine might be a better, albeit slightly more expensive, option. Check options and prices

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.

Embaixada shopping mall, Principe Real, Lisbon
Embaixada shopping mall, Principe Real, Lisbon

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

For luxury, design, service and location, the 5-star Memmo Princípe Real looks hard to beat. The rooftop pool with a view is a particularly welcome feature. See photos and room options.

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.

Bairro Alto at night
Bairro Alto at night

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

Atomspheric Alfama

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.

Street restaurants and decorations in Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon
Street restaurants and decorations in Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon

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.

For self-catering options, choose from apartments or suites at Lisbon Lounge Suites, some of which have river views. Get a room with a view.

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.

Marques do Pombal presiding over Avenida da Liberdade and Parque Eduardo VII in Lisbon
Marques do Pombal presiding over Avenida da Liberdade and Parque Eduardo VII

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.

inspira-santa-marta-lisbon
Public lounge, Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

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?

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Lisbon neighbourhood and accommodation guide
Lisbon neighbourhood and accommodation guide

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.

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37 Comments

  1. Great info – I’m 52 and will be traveling to Lisbon 3 days in Feb with my 2o year old daughter. Looking to shop in local stores, see sights and good restaurants any info that would be helpful I’d appreciate.

  2. Which hotel would you think is better – Sofitel or Corpo Santo. We will ben Lisbon for two days – sightseeing, shopping, dining

    1. Both are in good locations. If you’re into high end shops like Gucci and Chanel, the Sofitel is on the same street. Corpo Santo is in a great location for restaurants and bars as well as not far from interesting independent shops. I’d probably go for this if the decision is on location but it depends on your tastes/interests.

  3. Great information, Julie. I just wanted to chime in and say that my husband and I spent 10 days in Lisbon this past June. By dumb luck we got an Airbnb in a neighborhood we absolutely adored, and that’s not mentioned here: Campo de Ourique. It’s not overrun by tourists and has a wonderful Mercado, which is similar to, but less intimitating than, the Time Out market. A park, a tree-lined avenue, lots of cafe’s and restaurants etc. The 28 tram goes there plus a bus or two, but the subway is a little bit of a walk. We liked having access to the tourist areas yet feeling like a local.

    1. I really like the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood and the only reason I didn’t include it in the article is because it’s not really walking distance from most sights even though it has reasonable public transport. That, and part of me wanted to keep it a secret 😉

  4. Hi Julie,
    Please clarify: It seems Alfama is the place to walk and explore, but better to stay at a hotel in Baixa or Chiado. Since Baixa is closer to Alfama do you recommend we stay there? should we select among the hotels you pin on your map?
    Thank you
    Steve

  5. Hello Again – I just asked you to compare 4 hotels but realized one of the other Memmo hotels has a higher rating – The Memmo Alfama seems to be even better than the Principe Real. We are looking for the best hotel – 5 star – but one that will also offer us a good location for one day of sightseeing.
    Thank you so much for such valuable information!

  6. Thank you for such great information!!! Would you give your opinion of the differences among these hotels, please? Olissippo Lapa Palace, Verride Palacio Santa Catarina, Memmo Principe Real and Santiago de Alfama?
    We are only in Lisbon for one night. We’d like a 5 star hotel, and feel it is so important to be in a good location for both authentic Lisbon feel and sightseeing.

    1. I’d be inclined to go with the Verride for location.

  7. This is a great resource. My sister and I both mid 50s planning a trip for this Dec -first time to Portugal. Found a lovely loft in “old Lisbon” – curious where that lands on the towns you mentioned. We like to walk to eat –safe neighborhood– good public transport close by, and be able to take some day trips from our base. My sister tends to be more on pretty asthetics–design major! 🙂 I just want a nice bar close by! Any input would be great. Thanks! Jamie

  8. Lots of great information here! We are a family group of 6, 3 of us in our sixties, 3 in the thirties, all active and enthusiastic walkers. We are looking for a relatively quiet yet accessible neighborhood/area to city sights in Lisbon, and are planning to rent an apartment for two different stays of 3 nights each in June. Where would you recommend we focus our search?

    1. Hi Janet, if the areas above don’t appeal, try Madragoa, Campo de Ourique or Alcântara.

  9. Hi, Thanks for such detailed info! My husband and I are heading to Portugal next month and will spend 3 days in Lisbon. I was thinking of staying in Alfama but you make a compelling case for Chiado… How easy is it to move between the two? We’re in our late 30s/early 40s, in good shape and, with only 3 days, accessibility to different areas and sites is key. But I love the sound of Alfama. Any advice?

    1. Hi Claire, The two areas are not that far from each other, maybe a 20-30 minute walk depending on where exactly in each neighbourhood you are. If you don’t mind hills, the possibility that taxi drivers won’t be able to drive on your street and quite a lot of tourists in some streets, Alfama would be okay. I still prefer Chiado because it’s more convenient for public transport among other things but if you have your heart set on Alfama, don’t let me stop you!

  10. This is very useful and informative, thank you, Julie! I was wondering, I am traveling with my 2 year old, would you recommend Baixa or Chiado? We would also like to do a day trip to Sintra. Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Ben, Either would be fine, although Baixa is flatter so that might make things slightly easier. They’re really close to each other so there’s not much in it really. As for Sintra, this article should help: https://juliedawnfox.com/sintra/

  11. This is great, we are considering Lisbon for a New Year’s Eve getaway for 4 days this year….8 of us all togehter. What will the weather be like (historically of course, I know you can’t predict!)

    1. Hi Kim, As you say, it’s impossible to predict but daytime temperatures in Lisbon are usually mild compared to more inland European destinations http://www.holiday-weather.com/lisbon/averages/december/. It can feel quite bitter if the wind picks up but generally speaking, if you have a warm coat, hat scarf and gloves with you, you are only likely to need all of them on especially cold nights. You’ll want heating in your accommodation.

  12. Hey Julie. Great insider info for Lisbon thank you. What about rooms with a view of the sea – can you recommend an area to think about?

    1. Hi Neville, You can’t really see the sea from Lisbon city centre but if you’re high up, or close to it, you might get a view of the Tagus River. Try Chiado, Baixa, Alfama, Lapa or Belem.

  13. Marvelous info, Julie! I’ve taken a couple of your recommendations before, and found them to be spot on 🙂 . The list of neighborhood highlights is also very handy, for deciding where in town to look for a hotel.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Anita. Glad my recommendations have worked out so far!

    1. Author

      Thanks – I tried to cover the most central areas.

    1. Author

      Just trying to make it easier for people to decide where to stay 🙂

  14. Thanks for this useful post! We’re thinking of going to Lisbon and elsewhere in Portugal next summer, so this will come in handy!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear that, Rachel

  15. Thx for this amazing post, Julie. I’ve never been to Lisbon, so will pin this post for future reference.

    1. Author

      Hope you make it here soon. There’s chocolate…

  16. Very useful post and informative. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been to Porto and enjoyed my time there, never (yet) made it to Lisbon.

    1. Author

      Next time, Rebecca…

  17. Thanks Julie, for the great information on Lisbon accommodations . I will definitely book one of these for my initial arrival in Lisbon in January!

    1. Author

      Happy to help, Rita.

  18. It’s a very complete article about Lisbon, for all tastes and budgets!!! Waiting for receiving your feedback in my mailbox 😉

    1. Author

      Thanks, Sandra. I’ve seen your email but haven’t had chance to respond properly yet. Sorry about that – I’ll get back to you soon, I promise.

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