If you are planning a trip to the Portuguese capital but are still wondering where to stay in Lisbon, this article has you covered. Today we will be looking at the best areas in the city for tourists to consider staying in, and the pros and cons that they each offer.
As a waterfront city with a long and vibrant history, wonderful weather, and plenty of tourist attractions, there is tons to do here and it’s not hard to see why Lisbon is such a popular destination.
With so much to see, it is important that you find the perfect area to explore it all from. By the end of this article, you should know exactly which neighbourhood is perfect for your personal needs.
Best areas to stay in Lisbon: Tips & Info
Lisbon attracts visitors from all walks of life and the best place to stay in Lisbon will depend on what each individual traveller is looking for. Before we get into the main portion of the article, I have some quick suggestions to help you narrow down which areas might best interest you.
For a central location, perfect for exploring the entire city, the central regions of Baixa, Chiado, and El Bairro Alto are ideal. Right at the heart of the city, these are all excellent locations from which to explore Lisbon, with tons of major attractions within walking distance of your hotel.
To best appreciate the culture and history of Lisbon, Alfama is the best neighbourhood to consider. Known as the ‘old town’ and the ‘castle district’ this is the oldest district in Lisbon and home to many historical sites and traditional streets.
For the best shopping the city has to offer, the central district of Baixa is your best choice. The neighbourhood is home to several popular shopping streets, all arranged on a grid pattern for peak convenience.
If luxury shopping is your preference however, Avenida da Liberdade is one of the most popular high end shopping locations in Europe. I will add I mean best for those with larger budgets though.
If nightlife is an important consideration for you, then you are going to want to head to Chiado. This is where you will find Lisbon’s red light district, home to a good percentage of the city’s nightclubs and bars.
Alternatively, if specifically LGBTQ friendly nightlife is of more interest to you, then you might want to consider Principe Real and Bairro Alto. Both are known for their clusters of popular gay bars.FIND BEST HOTELS IN LISBON
Where To Stay in Lisbon: 10 Best Areas to Stay in Lisbon
If you are still not entirely sure of where to stay in Lisbon, this next section should help. I’ve chosen what I feel are the ten best areas for visitors to stay in Lisbon and provided detailed breakdowns of what each one has to offer.
Read on to find out which of these vibrant districts best suits your needs and preferences.
- Baixa, where to stay in Lisbon for first time visitors
- Chiado, where to stay in Lisbon for foodie
- Príncipe Real, one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon for nightlife
- El Bairro Alto, where to stay in Lisbon for nightlife
- Lapa, an upmarket area of Lisbon
- Belem, where to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing
- Alfama, the most romantic area to stay in Lisbon
- Park of Nations, a modern neighborhood in Lisbon
- Avenida da Liberdade, the best place to stay in Lisbon for walking
- Avenidas Novas, a modern district in the heart of Lisbon
Best areas to stay in Lisbon map
1. Baixa, where to stay in Lisbon for first time visitors
The Baixa district is the primary central neighbourhood of Lisbon. As the city centre, it is a hub of shopping and hospitality. You will find many restaurants and popular brand names along the long shopping streets.
The neighbourhood is built on a grid pattern, so it’s particularly easy to find your way around. Ideal for first time visitors who don’t want to get lost in the busy city. It’s also perfect if you are travelling with children and want an easier time shepherding them from place to place.
Baixa is even within comfortable walking distance or a short metro ride of the Avenida da Liberdade. As one of the most popular luxury shopping streets in Europe, this is a must visit if shopping is a high priority.
Augusta and Garrett are two particularly popular shopping streets with both locals and tourists. Garrett is where you will find many of the areas more upscale stores and designer boutiques.
Augusta is a charming pedestrian street with a historical atmosphere, thanks to the pretty mosaic pavement. Lined with popular shops and cafes spilling onto the street, there is a lively yet relaxed atmosphere here that is perfect for a summer afternoon stroll.
At the end of the street you will find the Arco da Rua Augusta. This grand 19th century sculpted arch marks the entrance to the Praça do Comércio plaza. There is even a viewing platform that visitors can climb to in order to get a fantastic view of the historic streets, plaza, and nearby sea.
The Praça do Comércio is a popular public plaza right by the waterfront. Lined with chic restaurants and cafes, it’s a popular place to meet and relax, and small local events are often held here.
The plaza overlooks the historic Cais das Colunas pier, leading down into the water. The iconic stone towers of the pier make the perfect frame for souvenir photos against the backdrop of the Tagus River.
One of the top tourist attractions of the Baixa district is the Santa Justa Lift, or the Elevador de Santa Justa as it’s known in Portuguese. Initially built as part of the public transport system to provide residents easy access between the uneven levels of the city, it now primarily serves as a tourist ride.
Aside from appreciating the beautiful wrought ironwork of the tower, you should take the opportunity to ride to the viewing platform at the top. Dubbed the ‘City of Seven Hills’, Lisbon is full of incredible viewpoints, and this is one of the best to enjoy panoramic views of the whole city.
Being so centrally located, Baixa is a perfect location for exploring the whole city. Lisbon has great public transport so getting to the various surrounding neighbourhoods is a breeze.
Baixa is the best place to stay if:
- You want to stay right in the city center
- It is your first time visiting Lisbon
- You want a good location from which to explore the whole city
- You want somewhere with plenty of places to shop
- You are travelling with children
Best hotels in Lisbon Baixa
- Best luxury hotel: Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel
- Best mid-range hotel: Hotel da Baixa
- Best budget hotel: Rossio Garden Hotel
2. Chiado, where to stay in Lisbon for foodie
Right next door to Baixa is the lively neighbourhood of Chiado. In fact, Chiado is so close to Baixa that they share a metro station, so you know you will be just a short walk from the city centre.
As a central area, this is another great option if hospitality and shopping are your main concerns. Aside from the plentiful stores lining the streets, you will be within easy walking distance of the bustling shopping districts of Baixa, whilst staying in a somewhat less crowded area.
If you are looking for where to stay in Lisbon for the best nightlife, Chiado is the place. This is where you will find the best selection of bars and clubs in the city. Many of the clubs here don’t even open until late in the evening, so you know they will keep the party going until well into the early hours.
The vast majority of the clubs and bars are clustered in Lisbon’s Red Light District, Rua Nova do Carvalho. The area has aptly been dubbed ‘Pink Street’ due to the paving here literally having been painted bright pink, so it’s easy to spot when you’ve arrived.
If you are worried that Chiado is all shops and nightclubs, there’s still plenty of sights and culture to be found here.
The Carmo Convent is one of the major sights for anyone visiting Lisbon. The gothic medieval church was left in ruins by a 1755 earthquake but its grand remains have been converted into an archaeological museum.
Within walking distance of the convent are both the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Theatre of São Carlos. The theatre in particular is housed in a beautiful 18th century building, worth visiting just to appreciate the neoclassical façade.
Just beyond Pink Street is the more sedate waterfront area. The river’s edge is lined with leafy urban parks and laid-back cafes where you can enjoy lunch overlooking the water.
The ferry terminal here is one of the best places to embark on river tours, with several companies offering sightseeing cruises along the river. Alternatively, if you are planning to take a ferry to one of the cities on the other side of the Tagus, this is where you’ll likely be departing from.
You will find a wide range of hotel options here, ranging from affordable to more high-end luxury hotels. Chiado is a prime location suitable for every budget.
Chiado is the best location to stay if:
- A thriving nightlife scene is a priority
- You want to stay in Lisbon city center
- You plan to take a ferry or river cruise
Best hotels in Lisbon Chiado
- Best luxury hotel: Bairro Alto Hotel
- Best mid-range hotel: Hotel Mundial
- Best budget hotel: Casinha das Flores
3. Príncipe Real, one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon for nightlife
Principe Real is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Lisbon. A favorite of the city’s young and alternative crowd, Principe Real is one of the edgier districts, with a uniquely artsy atmosphere.
The streets here are lined with innovative concept stores and hipster cafes. If you are looking for a more unique shopping experience in a vibrant and cutting-edge community, Príncipe Real may be the location for you.
Embaixada Palace is the perfect example of this distinct cultural flare. The 19th century Moorish palace has been converted into a modern shopping mall celebrating local Portuguese designers. Ideal for picking up unique souvenirs or just admiring the opulent interior.
The palace is sandwiched between the historic Principe Real garden and the Botanical Garden of Lisbon. Both are home to rare or significant plants and trees. All the leaf cover keeps the trails cool, perfect for walking on a hot summer afternoon.
Just down the road you will find Lisbon’s Science Museum. The National Museum of Natural History and Science is housed in a particularly grand building and hosts a wide range of exhibits. There’s sure to be something to interest the whole family.
Príncipe Real is also well known for its LGBTQ-friendly nightlife. Gay bars line the streets in the south of the district between Príncipe Real and neighboring El Bairro Alto.
If you are hoping to explore more than just the city centre during your stay in Lisbon, Principe Real is a good starting point. There are several metro stations in the neighbourhood with lines connecting out well beyond the central Lisbon neighbourhoods.
Principe Real is the best location to stay if:
- You are looking for a more alternative, artsy neighbourhood
- You want somewhere close to the city centre but a little away from the more crowded shopping streets
- LGBTQ friendly nightlife and hospitality is a plus
4. El Bairro Alto, where to stay in Lisbon for nightlife
Right next to the Baixa district and Chiado is the neighbourhood of El Bairro Alto. A vibrant blend of tradition and bohemia lend Bairro Alto a distinctly colourful atmosphere. There’s a lot of personality packed into a relatively small district.
If you love art, Bairro Alto is the perfect neighbourhood to consider staying in Lisbon. Bairro Alto is scattered with art galleries. You can enjoy browsing both intimate studios, as well as more contemporary art museums and show rooms.
If street art is more your style, there is plenty to be found in Bairro Alto. The cobbled streets were lined with colourful facades even before local street artists began using spare walls as canvas for their impressive murals.
Fans of unique public transport will enjoy riding Bairro Alto’s iconic Bica Funicular cable car. Some of the avenues are so steep here that this innovative system is more effective than traditional trams or buses.
Bairro Alto is known for being popular with Lisbon’s LGBTQ community. Gay bars are scattered throughout the neighbourhood, particularly running down the centre of the district. If you are looking for a great night out, you can easily hop between here and the red light district of Chiado.
As one of Lisbon’s older districts, Bairro Alto is home to many historic buildings. The Church of Sao Roque dates back to the 16th century and is one of the oldest surviving Jesuit churches.
Whilst the exterior may not appear terribly impressive, you just have to step inside to appreciate the history and splendour. Covered in opulent décor and intricate carvings, the church also houses an art museum.
El Bairro is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay in a quirky, bohemian neighbourhood
- Staying at the heart of the city is ideal
- Riding the Bica Funicular cable car is a high priority
- LGBTQ friendly nightlife is a plus
Best Places to stay in Bairro Alto
- Best luxury hotel: The Lumiares Hotel & Spa
- Best mid-range hotel: Lisbon Serviced Apartments
- Best budget hotel: Casinha das Flores
5. Lapa, an upmarket area of Lisbon
Lapa is a slightly more suburban neighbourhood outside of the tourist bubble. A little way to the west of the city centre, this is a quieter area whilst maintaining plenty of links into the more popular tourist areas.
Whilst it may be a more laid back, residential district, there are still plenty of things to see and do here. The Basílica da Estrela is one of the grandest buildings in Lisbon. Built in the 18th century, it boasts twin bell towers, a towering central dome, and the tomb of Queen Maria I.
Across from the Basilica is the Mosteiro do Imaculado Coração de Maria convent. The convent is notable for housing Saint Jacinta before her death. The room in which she stayed has been preserved along with several of her belongings and clothes, and guests are welcome to pay respects.
The Basilica and convent are located at the southwest corner of Jardim Guerra Junqueiro. The garden is a beautiful public park at the west end of Principe Real. Here you will find opulent bandstands, ponds, and waterfalls.
Home to many unique trees and exotic plants, the gardens offer a network of winding pathways to explore. The shaded routes are a perfect escape from the hot Portuguese sun. Meanwhile, the cafes and food stalls that surround the park will provide plenty of options for refreshments.
To the west of Lapa is the entrance to the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. This 2-kilometre-long suspension bridge crosses the Tagus River over to neighbouring Almada. The bridge is impressive in its own right, reminiscent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate, so worth visiting even if you don’t intend to cross.
Lapa is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay in a quieter area but still relatively close to the city centre
- A less tourist heavy neighbourhood is ideal
- You are planning to cross the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
6. Belem, where to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing
Belem is a more relaxed neighbourhood further west along the banks of the Tagus river. Close to where the river joins the Atlantic, Belem has a rich maritime and fishing history. That heritage is reflected in the abundance of fresh seafood served by the local restaurants.
Whilst Belem might be quite a distance from the city centre, the local train station provides easy access right into the heart of Lisbon. You can enjoy the local charm of the quieter streets whilst knowing that the vibrant tourist neighbourhoods are just a few minutes away.
Of course, there is plenty to see and do in Belem itself. Once a significant port, Belem is home to many historical structures well worth visiting. A wander around the quiet streets will reveal beautiful architecture and fascinating buildings around every corner.
Jerónimos Monastery is the grandest of these old buildings. The opulent gothic building dates back to the 16th century. Its intricate carving work is excellently preserved. The monastery is now home to several museums related to the area’s history and culture.
One of these is the Museu de Marinha, displaying exhibits related to Belem’s maritime history. The other is the National Archaeological Museum hosting displays on a broader range of topics.
Along the waterfront we have Belém Tower. Once part of the city’s defensive fortifications, visitors can now climb to the tower’s roof terrace to enjoy unobstructed views over the river. The adjacent army museum provides greater insights into the region’s military history.
Further along the river, between the town’s two marinas, is Belem Lighthouse. The lighthouse is surrounded by public parks from which to enjoy views of both the lighthouse and the river.
You can also pop into the neighbouring Popular Art Museum to appreciate works by artists from across Portugal. The museum displays works in various mediums and houses both contemporary and folk pieces.
Belem is the best area to stay if:
- You want a quieter neighbourhood well outside of the city centre
- You love history and preserved historical buildings and structures
- You prefer to stay in a more local neighbourhood
- Staying close to the waterfront is a must
7. Alfama, the most romantic area to stay in Lisbon
Alfama is the district right next to Baixa, on the opposite side from Chiado and El Bairro Alto. It’s Lisbon’s oldest district, and a hub of historic buildings and traditional architecture. Alfama is home to many of Lisbon’s major attractions and is often dubbed the ‘Castle District’ due to its historic sites.
The entire area has a distinct historic charm. Full of narrow cobbled lanes lined with traditional shops and quaint cafes set in beautiful old buildings, a stroll through this neighbourhood is like stepping back in time.
The narrow streets and charming atmosphere give this neighbourhood a particularly romantic air. If you are looking for a location for a honeymoon or couple’s getaway, Alfama and its stunning scenery could be the perfect place.
Castelo de S. Jorge, or George’s Castle as it is known in English, is one of the top attractions in the city. Built in the 11th century, it now largely lays in ruins, but visitors are free to tour around the grounds and attached museum.
George’s Castle is located atop a hill at the centre of the city. Anyone who makes the trip to the top is treated with a beautiful panoramic view of both the old town and modern Lisbon.
Another of the integral historic structures you have to visit in Alfama is Lisbon Cathedral. Having been damaged by earthquakes and repeatedly rebuilt since its initial founding in 1147, it stands as a monument to the many architectural fashions of Lisbon through the ages.
If you were wondering where to stay in Lisbon to ride one of the famous trams, Alfama is one of the best options. The most famous number 28 tram passes through the neighbourhood, so you can enjoy watching the historic sites of the neighbourhood pass by from inside the iconic yellow car.
Alfama is not the most affordable part of the city, home to some of Lisbon’s best hotels, many in the 4- and 5-star class. In keeping with the traditional atmosphere of the neighbourhood, there are also plenty of boutique hotels and guesthouses to choose from for a more intimate feel.
Alfama is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay in Lisbon’s historic center
- Exploring the city’s culture and history is your priority
- You want to ride on the iconic yellow trams
- You are planning a romantic vacation or honeymoon
8. Park of Nations, a modern neighborhood in Lisbon
Built for the Lisbon World Exhibition in 1998, the Park of Nations district is one of the most distinctly modern regions of Lisbon. Located in the northwest of the city, Park of Nations is quite a way outside of the city centre, far from the typical tourist districts.
As a modern neighborhood, built for leisure to impress foreign visitors, comfort, fun, and aesthetic appeal are some of the most prominent qualities. In addition to leisure complexes and exhibition centres, the area is known for its many garden squares and public parks.
The Water Garden is particularly lovely. Consisting of a variety of water-based art installations, fountains, and pools, it’s both beautiful, and a handy opportunity to cool down in the mist from the fountains.
The centrepiece of Park of Nations is the marina. The waterfront is lined with trendy cafes, fashionable restaurants, and lively bars. You can happily spend your afternoons relaxing with a cocktail, watching the boats drift around the marina.
If you are looking for where to stay in Lisbon close to the airport, Park of Nations is a good option. Lisbon Airport is just a mile away, so you won’t have to worry about being late for your flight.
Park of Nations is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay closer to the airport
- You are attending an event at the Pavilhão de Portugal – Expo 98 exhibition centre
- Being close to the city centre is not a priority
- You want to stay along the riverfront
9. Avenida da Liberdade, the best place to stay in Lisbon for walking
Famous as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the whole of Europe, Avenida da Liberdade is a mile long strip of luxury boutique shops and big-name designer stores. It stretches from Baixa all the way to Eduardo VII Park.
As such an expensive location, you know there will be some very prominent labels featured here. You can expect to browse the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry. You can also discover plenty of independent and exclusive designers you may not have heard of yet.
The length of the boulevard is lined with leafy promenades on either side of the busy road, so there is plenty of space for pedestrians. Meanwhile, the sidewalks are decorated with pretty mosaic tiling to add to the luxury aesthetic.
You won’t need to worry about getting tired from wandering from boutique to boutique. Aside from the many benches along the promenades, there are plenty of chic cafes and fashionable restaurants to rest and enjoy delicious local and international cuisine.
Additionally, the Avenue may be quite long but you won’t have to worry about making your way all the way back down after a long day’s shopping. There are several metro stations along the street so you can just hop on and get a lift back to the start.
It’s not all shopping and cafes. There are several art galleries and monuments along the boulevard. You may even be able to attend an event at the 18th century Foz Palace. Alternatively, keep your eyes peeled for the street performers who display their various talents along the promenades.
The southern end of Avenida da Liberdade connects into the Baixa district. With even more fantastic shopping streets within walking distance, this truly is a shopping addicts paradise.
The avenue segues into Baixa via Rossio Square. Rossio Square is a leafy plaza boasting several impressive monuments and fountains. Overlooked by the National Theatre and surrounded by cafes, it is a popular meeting point.
The other end of Avenida da Liberdade is marked by the Marquês de Pombal roundabout. The roundabout hosts a prominent monument to the Marquis of Pombal who was instrumental to the rebuilding of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake.
The roundabout connects Avenida da Liberdade with the Parque Eduardo VII. The park consists of a long series of manicured lawns and lush gardens. High up on one of Lisbon’s hills, you will have a stunning view straight down the avenue all the way to the water of the Tagus river.
Avenida da Liberdade is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay in Lisbon to take advantage of one of Europe’s top shopping destinations
- You are planning a luxury vacation
- You have a bigger budget to work with
10. Avenidas Novas, a modern district in the heart of Lisbon
Avenidas Novas is a particularly modern district at the heart of the city centre. Despite having been founded in the early 20th century as Lisbon was expanding, much of that earlier architecture has disappeared due to modernisation initiatives.
The area is primarily dominated with modern office blocks, contemporary shopping centres, and amenities catered towards the local corporate worker population. Despite the general lack of tourist attractions or historical landmarks, the area is still popular with visitors.
The central location is what makes Avenidas so popular. It is surrounded by some of the best tourist districts in the city. The regions of Principe Real, Avenida de Liberdade, Baixa, and Alfama are all within a short walk of Avenidas Novas.
Since it is such a popular area with visitors, Avenidas Novas has plenty of options for accommodation. Whilst there is a lot of diversity in price range here, the district is particularly good for anyone trying to keep costs down.
If you are working on a budget but still want to keep close to the popular area, Avenidas Novas is definitely an area you should be considering. You will find a variety of contemporary, modern hotels at very reasonable rates.
Avenidas Novas is the best area to stay if:
- You want to stay close to the city centre but avoid the higher prices
- A good central location with easy access to various tourist districts is ideal
- You are trying to stick to a budget
- You prefer to stay in a more modern and contemporary location
By now you should know where to stay in Lisbon for your perfect vacation. With so many distinct districts to choose from there is sure to be one that suits you.
With the hard work of deciding on a location done, it’s time for the fun of picking your hotel. There are tons of wonderful hotels to choose from. We’ve even done the work of whittling down some of the best options for you. Your perfect city vacation is just a few steps away.