Where to stay in Portland without a car – 5 Best areas

Where to stay in Portland without a car? In this article, we will look at the best areas to stay in Portland Oregon without a car, how to get around without a car, and the best hotels in Portland without a car for all budget visitors.

It is possible to stay in Portland, Oregon without a car. Portland is known for its pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, excellent public transportation system, and a strong emphasis on cycling. 

Portland is a major city located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

Portland is often referred to as the “City of Roses” due to its ideal climate for growing roses, and it hosts the Portland Rose Festival annually. Another common nickname is “PDX,” which is also the code for Portland International Airport.

Portland is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene. It’s home to numerous theaters, art galleries, and museums, including the Portland Art Museum. The city also has a thriving music scene, with many venues featuring live music.

The region surrounding Portland offers various outdoor activities, including hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, skiing on Mount Hood, and exploring the Oregon coast.

Portlandhas a reputation for being a bike-friendly city, has a comprehensive public transit system, and has implemented various green initiatives.

It has a diverse and thriving food scene. It’s famous for its food carts, craft breweries, and a wide range of restaurants offering everything from farm-to-table cuisine to international flavors.

Where to stay in Portland without a car?

The best areas to stay in Portland without a car for tourists are Downtown Portland, Pearl District, Northwest (Nob Hill), Central Eastside, and Lloyd District. These are walkable locations with well-connected public transportation, making it convenient for a car-free holiday in Portland.

In general, Downtown, the Pearl District, and Nob Hill are often known as the best areas to stay in Portland for first-time visitors. If you want the most convenient access to public transportation and a wide range of amenities, they are excellent choices.

When booking accommodations in any of these areas, consider proximity to public transportation stops, as this will make it even more convenient to explore the city without a car. 

Overviews of best areas to stay in Portland without a car

Here is an overview of recommended areas in Portland for visitors without a car and why you should stay in each area: 

Best areas in Portland without a carWhy should you stay in this area?
Downtown PortlandThis area is the heart of the city and offers easy access to many attractions, restaurants, and shops. You can explore downtown on foot or use MAX light rail, buses, and the Portland Streetcar to get around the city.
Pearl DistrictLocated just north of downtown, the Pearl District is known for its trendy shops, art galleries, and dining options.
Northwest District (Nob Hill)The Nob Hill is a charming area to explore on foot, and it’s accessible via public transportation.
Central Eastsidea rapidly developing that has a thriving food and drink scene, with many breweries, restaurants, and food carts.
Lloyd DistrictSituated east of the Willamette River, home to the Oregon Convention Center and the Moda Center. It’s well-connected by MAX light rail.

Map of best areas and neighborhoods in Portland without a car:

Map of areas to stay in Portland without a car
Map of areas to stay in Portland without a car

How to get around Portland without a car as a tourist?

Getting around Portland, Oregon without a car is entirely possible, thanks to the city’s well-developed public transportation system, bike-friendly infrastructure, and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. 

Here are several options for getting around Portland without a car:

Public Transportation: 

TriMet operates buses, MAX light rail, and streetcar services throughout the city. The MAX light rail system connects various neighborhoods, making it easy to travel without a car. You can purchase tickets or passes for convenient access to public transit.


Portland is a bike-friendly city with numerous bike lanes and dedicated bike paths. You can rent a bike from various bike-sharing programs like Biketown or simply bring your own bike. 


Portland’s neighborhoods are designed with pedestrians in mind. Many areas have a high Walk Score, meaning that daily errands can be accomplished on foot. 

The city also has numerous parks and green spaces for leisurely strolls.

Ridesharing and Taxis: 

Services like Uber and Lyft operate in Portland, providing convenient options for getting around when public transportation isn’t available or convenient.

Car Rentals:

While you’re trying to avoid having a car, you can still rent one when needed. Several car rental agencies operate in the city, allowing you to pick up a vehicle for specific trips or activities.

Companies like Zipcar offer car-sharing services in Portland, allowing you to rent a car by the hour or day when necessary without the commitment of owning a vehicle.

Portland’s well-developed transportation infrastructure and commitment to sustainable commuting options make it feasible to stay in the city without a car. Many visitors find that they can easily navigate the city using a combination of these transportation methods.

5 Best areas to stay in Portland without a car are:

1. Downtown Portland

Downtown Portland is often considered one of the best areas to stay in Portland without a car, especially for first–time travelers due to its central location and accessibility. 

Downtown Portland is located in the heart of the city, bounded by the Willamette River to the east, the West Hills to the west, Burnside Street to the north, and I-405 to the south.

Many of Portland’s top attractions, such as Powell’s City of Books, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society, are located in or near Downtown.

Downtown Portland is highly walkable, with numerous shops, restaurants, parks, and cultural attractions within easy walking distance. You can easily explore the Pearl District, Old Town Chinatown, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and many other popular spots on foot.

Additionally, Downtown is well-connected by MAX light rail, streetcars, and buses. The city’s transportation hub, Union Station, serves as an Amtrak train station.

Portland is known for its bike-friendly infrastructure, and Downtown Portland is no exception. You can rent a bike or use the city’s bike-sharing program to get around easily.

Pioneer Courthouse Square, often referred to as “Portland’s living room,” is a central gathering place and hosts various events throughout the year. Additionally, Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along the Willamette River and offers a scenic place for walking and recreation.

The Willamette River waterfront provides opportunities for outdoor activities like jogging, biking, and picnicking.

Downtown offers a wide range of entertainment options, including theaters, music venues, and nightlife. It’s also a hub for dining with a diverse selection of restaurants, food carts, and cafes.

Downtown Portland has a variety of accommodation options, from upscale hotels to budget-friendly choices. You can easily find a place to stay that suits your budget.

Best places to stay in Downtown Portland without a car:


2. Pearl District

The Pearl District is a popular choice for car-free travelers to stay in portland. It is located in downtown Portland, roughly between NW Broadway to the east, NW Lovejoy Street to the north, the Willamette River to the west, and W Burnside Street to the south.  

Known for its trendy atmosphere, the Pearl District is a stylish and walkable area with plenty of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. It’s also close to the streetcar and has good access to public transportation.

The area was once an industrial and warehousing district, home to factories and warehouses. Over the years, it transformed into a desirable residential and commercial neighborhood.

The Pearl District is a hub for the local art scene. The First Thursday Art Walk is a popular monthly event where galleries open their doors to the public, showcasing a wide range of art styles and mediums.

The neighborhood is home to several parks and green spaces, including Jamison Square and Tanner Springs Park, which provide a pleasant escape from the urban environment.

Throughout the year, the Pearl District hosts various community events and festivals, such as the Pearl District Farmers’ Market and the Pearl Jam music festival.

Best places to stay in Portland in Pearl District without a car:


3. Northwest District (Nob Hill)

The Northwest District, often referred to as Nob Hill, is one of the popular and well-regarded neighborhoods with  good access to public transportation, making it a great area to stay in Portland without a car. 

The Northwest District is located just northwest of downtown Portland and is known for its charming streets, historic architecture, and a diverse array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. 

Nob Hill is known for its pedestrian-friendly streets, making it a pleasant place to stroll and explore. Additionally, it is also well-connected to buses and the Portland Streetcar.

Nob Hill is known for its well-preserved historic homes and buildings, many of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood has a mix of architectural styles, including Victorian, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival.

The neighborhood is home to a wide range of boutiques, specialty shops, and local businesses. NW 23rd Avenue, in particular, is a popular shopping destination, offering everything from clothing and jewelry stores to home goods and antiques.

Nob Hill is a food lover’s paradise, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and eateries to choose from. You can find a diverse selection of cuisines, from local and international options to trendy brunch spots and fine dining establishments.

The neighborhood is close to several parks, including Wallace Park, Couch Park, Washington Park, and Portland Japanese Garden where you can enjoy outdoor activities and picnics.

Nob Hill offers a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, pubs, and entertainment venues. It’s a great place to enjoy a night out with friends or catch live music performances.

The historic neighborhood features cultural attractions such as the Pittock Mansion, a historic house museum, and the historic St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Best places to stay in Northwest District (Nob Hill) without a car:


4. Central Eastside

The Central Eastside is a vibrant and rapidly developing area located just east of downtown Portland. It is known for its mix of industrial and commercial spaces, trendy restaurants, bars, and creative businesses. 

Central Eastside is connected to Downtown Portland via several bridges including Hawthorne Bridge and Morrison Bridge. Its location also offers easy access to popular neighborhoods such as Alberta Arts District, Hawthorne, and Division. 

The Central Eastside has a rich industrial history and is home to many warehouses, factories, and manufacturing businesses. In recent years, these industrial spaces have been adapted and repurposed for various uses, including offices, breweries, and art galleries.

The Central Eastside is located near the Willamette River, providing opportunities for recreational activities and scenic views. The Eastbank Esplanade, a riverside pathway, is a popular spot for jogging, biking, and walking.

While it may not be as tourist-centric as downtown, it’s still well-connected by public transportation and easy access to major attractions, making it a great location for car-free travelers in Portland.

Best places to stay in Central Eastside without a car:


5. Lloyd District

The Lloyd District is situated just across the Willamette River from downtown Portland. It is bordered by the Willamette River to the west, Interstate 84 to the north, and the Kerns and Buckman neighborhoods to the south.

The Lloyd District is a business district with easy access to the Moda Center (home to the Portland Trail Blazers) and the Oregon Convention Center. It’s also served by the MAX light rail system, making it convenient for exploring other parts of the city.

Best places to stay in Portland in Lloyd District without a car:


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In conclusion, Downtown Portland, Pearl District, Northwest District (Nob Hill), Central Eastside, and Lloyd District are the best places to stay in Portland without a car. They are convenient areas for travelers without a car due to their proximity to public transportation and amenities. 

If you prefer a more bustling urban environment with a wide range of amenities and attractions, Downtown Portland or the Pearl District might be your top choices. If you want a quieter and more residential feel with access to trendy shops and restaurants, Nob Hill could be a good fit. The Central Eastside and Lloyd District offer a mix of business and leisure options.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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