Where’s the best place to stay in Lisbon if you’re visiting for the first time? The central neighbourhoods of Chiado, Baixa, Principe Real, Bairro Alto, Avenida da Liberdade, and possibly Alfama, are the best areas for accommodation if you want to be based in the heart of the city and within walking distance of major sights, restaurants, transport and shops.
Each of these central districts of Lisbon has something different to offer as a base so use my insider guide to help you choose the best area to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing according to your interests.
How do I know? Over the years since my first visit to Lisbon in 2006, I’ve spent countless nights there, staying in many different areas of Lisbon. I’ve witnessed how the city has changed, and know from personal experience which neighbourhoods are safe, fun, interesting, charming and worth staying in.
In this guide, I aim to help you understand the key characteristics and sights in each of the most interesting and central Lisbon neighbourhoods.
To give you specific accommodation suggestions in each area, I’ve drawn on my own experiences of staying in various Lisbon hotels and apartments, as well as those my clients have loved, and other options that we have personally visited or carefully vetted to make sure they meet my (very high) standards.
If you are keen to learn about what makes each neighbourhood special, and see my suggestions for accommodation in each of them, read on…
No time to read the full article? See my quick picks in the blue box below:
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.
If you’re looking specifically for apartments then take a look at 14 of the best holiday apartments in Lisbon.
If luxury homes are more your thing try Plum Guide. All of their homes must pass meticulous tests and be independently vetted before being accepted.
Note: I’ve written similar accommodation guides for other parts of Portugal so check these out if you’re planning to stay in other cities.
Is Chiado the best neighbourhood to stay in Lisbon?
In a word, yes! Chiado combines the best of all the things I want from a trip to Lisbon. You 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. It’s also attractive, with patterned pavements, beautiful old buildings and glimpses of the river from certain locations.
It is, however, a very busy part of the city so if you prefer to be away from the crowds, choose somewhere a bit quieter.
As well as a hotchpotch of big name stores and historical independent shops that have withstood decades of change, there are other things to see here, including:
- 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
Best accommodation in Chiado, Lisbon city centre
Wherever possible, I choose accommodations that follow sustainable practices, as indicated by the number of leaves (3 is the top score). No leaf simply means that I can’t verify their current efforts regarding sustainable travel but I love the property.
This 4-star hotel has pretty much all you need, i.e. underground parking, a rooftop bar and restaurant, small gym, spacious stylish rooms and pleasant public spaces. Named after Fernando Pessoa, they offer a free weekly walking tour so you can learn more about this beloved, bespectacled Portuguese poet. Check availability and current prices
This award winning 5-star hotel offers discreet luxury and even the chance to view the Fernandina Wall, built in 1373. Due to the 18th century Pombaline architecture of the building, all of the rooms are different and unique. It’s a gorgeous and convenient place to stay in Lisbon. Check available rooms.
For 100 years, Le Consulat was home of the Brazilian Consulate. Now, it’s a boutique hotel decorated in collaboration with the most important art galleries of Lisbon. Not only can you expect rooms and apartments thoughtfully furnished but you get an exhibit area on the 2nd floor where new Portuguese artists show their latest works. Check out these rooms.
Lisboa Carmo Hotel is a small luxury hotel in the very charming Largo do Carmo with great views from the upper floors. There are often buskers in the square so bear this in mind when you choose your room. Click to check prices.
Just down the road from this lovely square you’ll find this delightful hotel, 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 you’d prefer a well equipped apartment with natural light and spacious living areas then this could be for you. They have a lift and air-conditioning and some of the rooms have wonderful views. Click to see available apartments.
Choose from one of the spacious, elegantly decorated suites in this renovated 18th century palace, which is slightly off the main drag and therefore quieter. Try to book a room with river views if you can.
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. 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
Why stay in Lisbon’s Baixa neighbourhood
You’ll often see Baixa and Chiado grouped together on hotel booking platforms – these neighbourhoods are 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 next to the river.
It can feel rather touristy and there’s a fair amount of traffic noise so try to get a room facing away from busy streets or with good soundproofing (or pack earplugs!). On the plus side, 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 Lisbon hotels and apartments in the Baixa district
An ideally located 4-star hotel offering stylish, soothing decor in spacious rooms in the very heart of the Baixa’s grid-like streets. Choose between city views or quiet interior rooms
Choose from a spacious and modern suite or room – some with ornate 19th century ceilings – or even the Royal suite at this superb boutique hotel. Decor throughout is first class and breakfasts are excellent. Select your dates now.
Of the 3-star boutique hotels in the Baixa district, this one is a good choice with lots of interesting features and welcoming touches to add to a comfortable stay. Check availability and current prices
This delightfully stylish and comfortable 3-star hotel in the Baixa has clean and comfortable rooms albeit a little on the small side. Location is excellent and breakfasts are good. See photos and current prices
Just one minute walk away is its sister hotel with a focus on a themed décor based on Portuguese tiles. From each room you get a view of some aspect of the surrounding streets. See current prices and room options.
For quirky, colourful apartments with a rooftop terrace, check out this option. You can choose from a range of accommodation with some apartments sleeping up to 6 guests. The elevator can certainly save on the legs. See photos.
Principe Real – Lisbon’s prettiest neighbourhood?
If you walk up Rua da Misericordia from Chiado or head west up the hill from Avenida da Liberdade, you will find yourself in Principe Real, one of Lisbon’s trendiest and LGBTQ-friendliest neighbourhoods and a great place to live in Lisbon, too.
Not only does it boast fabulous urban designer and concept shops and small attractive parks, it is also packed with restaurants and cafés. I absolutley 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.
Principe Real is 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 if you want to save your legs.
What to see and do in Principe Real, Lisbon
- Shoppers will find plenty of temptations in independent shops and the beautiful Embaixada mall
- Principe Real gardens are a delightful 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 and a decidedly local feel
Where to stay in Lisbon’s Principe Real neighbourhood
For luxury, design, service and location, this 5-star hotel is hard to beat and is off the main road so feels quiet and exclusive. The pool with a view is a particularly welcome feature. See photos and room options.
It may only be 3-star but following its recent renovation it’s a truly lovely hotel. This yellow building on the pretty Alegria Square has bright rooms thoughtfully decorated with a nice touch of Portuguese antiques. The staff are very friendly and the breakfast is excellent. Check out the photos.
The Prince’s House is right next door to Embaixada mall 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 bedrooms, air conditioning and excellent customer service. Check current prices.
This minimalistic-styled boutique hotel is a calming spot in a busy city. All rooms are quite luxurious and breakfasts are delicious, served either at the breakfast bar after watching the chef prepare it or in a quitier area. Choose a room with a lovely balcony.
This cute guesthouse with some family rooms is in a quiet street just behind the pretty Principe Real Park. Rooms are spacious and comfy. Try to get one with a balcony so you can see the world go by. Check prices.
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 they are mostly unique, historical and/or boutique, even if they belong to a chain.
The avenue’s 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 Avenida da Liberdade 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. Hotels around here tend to be the larger chain hotels.
Transport connections are easy, especially from Marquês do Pombal, which is about a 30-minute walk or 5-minute Metro ride from the downtown Baixa district.
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
This stunning 5-star hotel is situated just off the Avenida. It has both indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant, a spa and the most wonderful ceilings! The staff are very friendly and helpful. Book a room while you can.
This 4-star boutique hotel 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.
If you prefer a little independance these centrally located apartments, decorated by leading Portuguese designers, offer all mod cons and even a quiet reading room. The areas are bright and kitchens come with all you need. Check latest prices.
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. The World Travel Awards have voted it Europe’s Leading Luxury Boutique Hotel for 2023 and I’m not surprised. It has a patio area and outdoor pool, too, perfect for a dip after a day of sightseeing. Check latest prices.
Just around the corner from Liberty Avenue, this 4-star family-run hotel has rooms that have nicely blended traditional Portuguese decor with a chic style. There’s a lovely terrace with views of Lisbon and the staff are very helpful. Book your room.
If you want to be in a quieter spot, this 5-star hotel is a short elevator ride from the Avenida da Liberdade and a world apart, with stunning views. Accommodation is spread across 2 traditional 19th century mansions, surrounded by a lovely garden including a
An overview of Bairro Alto, Lisbons nightlife neighbourhood
Bairro Alto is one of Lisbon’s liveliest districts for nightlife. During the day, it looks quiet and workaday 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 and there’s some decent street art (and a lot of ugly graffiti).
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. The neighbourhood spreads up a hill and although there are buses to nearby Principe Real, you’ll either have to walk into the labyrinth of narrow streets or take a taxi straight to your chosen venue.
Best place to stay in Bairro Alto
(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 great! See photos and check availability.
If you’re looking for a place with a little peace and quiet in this busy city, this new guesthouse hits the spot. There’s a lush green patio area to relax in and great views from the terrace. The rooms are comfortable and very stylish. Book your stay.
This 5-star hotel has recently been awarded Europe’s Leading Landmark Hotel for 2023 at the World Travel Awards and it’s easy to see why. A beautifully renovated boutique hotel, set in an historical building from the 18th century overlooking Praça Luís de Camões, is away from the noisy bars and clubs and has a fantastic rooftop bar and restaurant of its own. Select your dates.
This 3-star hotel offers stylish and airy rooms some featuring river views. There is a lovely rooftop restaurant to take in the views. Choose your room.
Is Alfama a good place to stay in Lisbon?
Lisbon’s oldest district spreads down the hill from St. George’s castle and encompasses the 12th century cathedral. Alfama’s narrow cobbled streets and tightly packed houses make it feel 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, especially in June when there’s basically a month-long street party going on.
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.
The crowded tram #28 trundles through this neighbourhood but otherwise, it’s not the most convenient of neighbourhoods in Lisbon in terms of public transport. There are 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.
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
This charming 4-star hotel is on a quiet backstreet with stunning views from its rooftop terrace and lovely indoor seating areas, often using original features from the 19th century building. Staff are super-friendly. See photos and check availability
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.
These suites and apartments are spacious and modern and come with very comfy beds. There’s also a garden with a lovely view and you can de-stress in the outdoor pool. The service is great and the hotel excells with its sustainability commitments. Book your dates now.
These modern apartments spread over 4 buildings includes a fully-equipped kitchenette with washing machine and sleek modern decor. Some apartments offer views over the rooftops towards the Tagus River. There are some steps to the accommodation but this is part of the charm of this part of the city. See availability.
There are LOTS of AirBnB apartments in Alfama, and neighbouring Mouraria, but bear in mind that the buildings are old and the standard of renovation may be questionable in some cases so read reviews VERY carefully before choosing one. That’s why I’ve suggested the managed apartments above, which have a receptionist.
You can avoid Alfama’s 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. Check availability and choose a room with a river view
Belém – a good area for families and escaping hustle and bustle
Although Belém gets busy in the daytime, especially around the monastery, it’s actually a great location if you want to be out of the city centre.
This relatively flat, riverside neighbourhood has plenty of cafés and restaurants within walking distance from most accommodations and is served by trains, trams and buses to connect you with Lisbon city centre (30-45 minutes) and the nearby town of Cascais (approx 45 minutes).
Key Belém sights include:
- Jerónimos Monastery
- Belém Tower
- Discoveries Monument
- Imperial Square
- Tropical Botanical Gardens
- Museum of Art, Architechture and Technology (MAAT)
- Berardo Museum for contemporary art
Where to stay in Belém
Besides an outdoor year-round pool and private parking, this 5-star hotel really is on the doorstep to some major landmarks. The rooms are spacious and nicely decorated and there’s an onsite spa. See photos.
Choose from a range of suites at this bright and colourful guesthouse. There’s a good sized garden (with hot-tub) and the rooms are clean and full of character. The hosts are very responsive and friendly. Choose your suite.
These modern apartments and suites are beautifully decorated and come with a balcony or inner-court view. Everything for a short stay is provided and the staff are very helpful. Select your date.
You’re sure to find something to suit you from this range of comfortable rooms and apartments. The apartments come with a fully equipped kitchenette and the rooms are clean and simple. Book your accommodation.
Park of Nations (Parque das Nações)
This modern area is a good alternative to an airport hotel for your last night – it’s just a 20-minute ride on the red metro line to get to the airport from here.
Built for the 1998 Expo, this flat riverside area is full of futuristic architecture, including the impressive oriente train station. It’s a transport hub, with links to the metro plus long distance and urban buses and trains, and car rental offices.
As well as the food hall in the Vasco de Gama shopping mall, there are plenty of restaurants in the area for a staisfying last dinner in Lisbon.
It’s also a good area to stay for families.
Among the many things to see and do in Park of Nations, you’ll find:
- A riverside park and walkway with interesting sculptures and features
- Cable car offering views of the river and city
- Wonderful urban art
- Science and Knowledge Pavillion
- FIL events and exhibition centre
- Atlantic Pavillion concert hall
- Marina, with bike rental
- Vasco da Gama shopping mall
Where to stay in Parque das Nações
If you’d prefer a little independance, these modern apartments come with all of the neccessities and the location is ideal. Book your apartment now.
Other good neighbourhoods to stay in Lisbon
There are, of course, other places to stay in Lisbon that are away from the main hustle and bustle yet also allow you to do a great deal of sightseeing and exploring on foot.
Madragoa / Santos
Madragoa lies to the west of Lisbon city centre and is just about within walking distance if you’re fit. There are plenty of buses running through the main arteries though.
This is a gorgeous boutique guesthouse with plenty of interesting features and attention to detail and service. Book now.
An elegant and quirky recently renovated B&B with lovely garden and city views. The decor in the rooms is very imaginative and beautifully done. The hosts are very friendly and service is impeccable. Take a look at the photos.
Estrela / Lapa
Estrela is a pleasant residential neighbourhood with one of my favourite parks, an impressive basilica and the nearby market in Campo de Ourique. Served by several buses and tram #28, the closest metro station is Rato.
There’s not so much accommodation here as it’s more of a residential area but this Small Historical Hotel is housed in a former palace. The tastefully-decorated and bright rooms feature an all-white look with contrasting luxury carpets.. Check photos and availability
As you head west towards the National Museum of Ancient Art, you’ll find yourself in a fairly genteel district known as Lapa. One of the best hotels here is this 4-star Heritage Hotel with ample lounge spaces, a rooftop terrace and a leafy courtyard. Grab a room while you can
Close by is the Palacio Ramalhete a beautiful and unique hotel with wonderful staff and a delicious breakfast. There are lovely hand painted Portuguese tiles throughout to marvel at. Book your stay.
If that’s not grand enough for you, check out this luxurious palace hotel, which is an oasis of tropical gardens and pools supported by the sumptuous facilities you’d expect from a top 5-star hotel. Choose a room or suite
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.
This 4-star airport hotel has an onsite restaurant, pool and spa facilities. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the first or last hours of your Lisbon stay in a bright, modern hotel. Better still, it’s just 100 metres from the terminal building. Book your stay
Everything you need for a peaceful night’s sleep can be found here in this modern 3-star 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.
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