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

Where To Stay In Lisbon: Insider Guide To The Best Areas And Accommodation

How do you decide on the best place to stay in Lisbon if you’re visiting for the first time? Each of the most central Lisbon neighbourhoods has something different to offer so use my insider guide to help you choose the best area to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing according to your interests.

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 and Alfama are the main options.

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 and apartments in Lisbon city centre so you don’t have to waste hours trawling through unsuitable options. These are unique, boutique accommodations that offer style, comfort and excellent value for money.

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

Click to jump to specific sections in this guide:

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

Avenida da Liberdade and Marquês do Pombal

Best Lisbon hotels around Avenida da Liberdade

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

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

*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.

Another, reasonably priced, 4-star hotel option in Chiado is the Mercy Hotel, which has the bonus of a fabulous rooftop bar. Check prices and availability.

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 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, 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

Feel like royalty in the luxurious old-world surroundings of the recently renovated Pousada de Lisboa in Praça do Comércio. Check availability and prices

For a cheaper stay in 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

Click to search other Baixa hotels and apartments

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.

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.

Magnolia Guesthouse is a charming find just off Marques do Pombal roundabout so close to the metro and the park with antique tile panels in the entrance hall. Interior design lovers will appreciate the care and attention to details that Raquel has put into creating a unique, welcoming place to stay in the heart of Lisbon.

On the other side of the park is The Sky Lofts Lisbon, a good budget guesthouse. If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom, this well-decorated, clean and comfortable bed and breakfast is great value, has a lift and is directly opposite Parque metro station.

Find other hotels near Avenida da Liberdade


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, Principe Real’s latest hotel, the 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.

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 azulejo 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

It’s no surprise that the Memmo Alfama Design Hotel has won several awards. It has outstanding views and impeccable facilities including iPod docking stations in the rooms. See more photos and check availability.

Where to stay in Lisbon. View of River Tagus from Memmo Alfama rooftop bar, Lisbon
View of River Tagus from Memmo Alfama rooftop bar, Lisbon

Once a religious building, 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.

The 4-star Solar do Castelo is another charming boutique hotel in a historical building near the castle. If the hill doesn’t faze you, choose a room to suit.

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.

If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom, Largo da Sé Guesthouse is very well located near the cathedral and a pretty good budget option. Check availability.

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.

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Best places to stay in Lisbon city centre. Best Lisbon areas, hotels, apartments and guesthouses
Best places to stay in Lisbon

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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/

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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

  12. 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…

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

  15. 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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