Dive headfirst into the heart of Lisbon by selecting an abode nestled within its lively core. You’ll be spoiled for choice with options such as the bustling Baixa, the charming Chiado, the vibrant Bairro Alto, or the aristocratic Avenida da Liberdade. But don’t discount the slightly off-the-beaten-path locations like Alfama, Marquês de Pombal Square, Avenidas Novas, Lapa, and several others that I’ll introduce you to. These spots too have a unique allure, awaiting discovery.
Among the European tapestry of metropolitan delights, it holds a special place in my heart. This place is a vibrant cocktail of history, culture, gastronomy and, above all, unending adventures. Once you taste Lisbon, you’ll find yourself coming back for more, such is its irresistible charm.
Over the past few years, Lisbon has bloomed into a premier tourism destination. This transformation is evident in the sheer diversity and abundance of accommodations it offers. Best part? Lisbon’s hospitality scene is a bargain hunter’s paradise, offering some of the best value-for-money stays amongst Europe’s capitals.
I’m not shy to admit it, Lisbon’s accommodations can be considered a steal. The city generously caters to those on a shoestring budget, especially within its central districts. That said, Lisbon’s popularity means the early bird catches the worm. To snag a beautiful, budget-friendly lodging in the city centre, you’ll need to book in advance.
Thankfully, navigating Lisbon is a breeze, courtesy of its excellent public transport system. This gives you flexibility when choosing your Lisbon home base. You’re not bound to the city centre to enjoy what Lisbon has to offer.
Choose to reside away from the city centre and your wallet will thank you. A few extra minutes spent commuting on the metro or other public transport options can translate into significant savings.
Best Areas To Stay in Lisbon
Highly coveted districts for a Lisbon stay include Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, and to some extent, Avenida da Liberdade. These are sought-after locations due to their central positioning. Scoring a reasonably priced lodging here requires some early planning.
While all these districts have their unique charm, I find myself drawn to the Avenida da Liberdade, should it fit my requirements. But beyond these popular districts are others which, though less frequented, are well worth considering.
1. Baixa: The quintessential tourist hotspot in Lisbon
Baixa, with its pulsating heart in the very center of Lisbon, is a prime choice for visitors seeking the quintessential Lisbon experience.
Stretching from Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV) with its iconic Rua da Prata and Rua Áurea, all the way to the riverfront Praça do Comércio, this district is comfortably nestled between Bairro Alto and Chiado on one side, and the Alfama and Castello districts on the other.
The district is a tribute to Lisbon’s past, with its “Pombaline” architecture—a testament to the Marquis of Pombal’s reconstruction project post the devastating 1755 earthquake. The buildings, though elegant and a bit weathered with age, speak volumes of a bygone era.
Historically a commercial hotspot, Baixa has been home to leading banks and businesses. Today, many of these buildings have been transformed into chic hotels or cozy hostels.
Baixa is your go-to for sightseeing as it’s close to everything—be it shopping in its streets or in the adjacent Chiado, enjoying the nightlife in Bairro Alto, or just taking a leisurely stroll. Despite a plethora of both luxury and budget accommodation options, finding a spot during peak tourist season can be challenging. Early reservation is almost mandatory to avoid the dreaded “No Vacancy” sign.
Best Hotels in Baixa
2. Chiado: Your stay in Lisbon with everything at arm's length
Chiado, located just a stone’s throw away from Baixa and Bairro Alto, is a compact area boasting an air of elegance and chicness. This district is home to some of the city’s best-known stores, offering a mix of international brands and boutique shops.
This neighborhood oozes charm and hosts some remarkable attractions like the Santa Justa Lift with its breathtaking city views, the historic Carmo Convent, the Chiado Museum, and its renowned Art Deco cafes.
A trip to Lisbon isn’t complete without a leisurely walk along Chiado’s famous Rua Garret and Rua do Carmo, and a coffee break at one of its numerous cafes. A Brasileira, a city institution, tops the list.
Chiado’s advantages as a base in Lisbon are manifold. Like Baixa, it’s close to everything and well-connected by metro, with plenty of life around. A stroll through its streets is a pleasure, with a plethora of dining and coffee options, and Bairro Alto’s vibrant nightlife just around the corner. Cais do Sodré, another neighborhood renowned for its bars and clubs, is also within easy reach.
Best Hotels in Chiado
3. Bairro Alto: The heart of Lisbon's nightlife
Perched atop a hill, just a stone’s throw away from Baixa and Chiado, you’ll find Bairro Alto. Its narrow streets, reminiscent of the Alfama, and the buildings that survived the 1755 earthquake lend it an enchanting old-world charm.
The district brims with a colorful palette of bars, restaurants, cafes, unique stores, and boutiques flaunting young designers’ creations. Bairro Alto is a haven for those who love the bohemian and alternative vibe, renowned for its vibrant nightlife. Along with Alfama, it also ranks as one of the best places to get lost in soul-stirring Fado music.
Bairro Alto’s nightlife is legendary. A bustling hub of bars and clubs, it’s perfect for those with a penchant for partying. Undoubtedly, if late-night revelries are your thing, Bairro Alto stands as one of the best places to stay in Lisbon.
However, if you’re more of a night owl in the sense of needing peace and quiet, it might be best to book your lodgings elsewhere. The district comes alive with a symphony of nocturnal sounds when the sun goes down.
Best Hotels in Bairro Alto
4. Lapa: A serene sanctuary in the city
Lapa, often overlooked by tourists, is an intriguing alternative to consider when choosing where to stay in Lisbon. Conveniently located between Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Belem, Lapa is a tranquil oasis within the bustling city.
As an exclusive residential area housing several embassies, Lapa remains largely untouched by tourism, offering a peaceful retreat. Within its vicinity lie the quaint neighborhoods of Sao Bento and Campo de Ourique, brimming with antiquated shops, bookstores, and delectable eateries. Not far off, you’ll find Cais do Sodré on the banks of the River Tagus, featuring modern bars and clubs offering a distinct vibe from those in Bairro Alto.
Although devoid of a metro station, Lapa is well-connected to Lisbon’s center via tram and is comfortably close to Bairro Alto and Chiado. Accommodation options range from several hotels to an array of apartments for rent, presenting a serene yet convenient base for your Lisbon exploration.
Best Hotels in Lapa
5. Belém: Lisbon's crown jewel of culture
Belém, the heart of Lisbon’s rich cultural tapestry, lies on the city’s outskirts. It’s a spot you’ll undoubtedly be drawn to, dedicating at least a day of your itinerary to explore its treasures.
Boasting an array of tourist attractions and museums, all within easy reach thanks to the tram and bus network, Belém is a cultural enthusiast’s paradise. Key sights include the majestic Jerónimos Monastery, the iconic Belém Tower, the captivating Planetarium, and prominent museums like the National Coach Museum, the Navy Museum, and the Berardo Museum. A smattering of art galleries also add to its cultural allure.
Personally, I wouldn’t opt for an overnight stay in Belém, as I’m partial to areas teeming with nighttime energy and easy metro access. Nevertheless, if you have a deep appreciation for culture and museums, Belém could be the perfect fit for you. By day, it buzzes with tourists, transitioning to a peaceful hub at night, offering a selection of restaurants and chilled out spots for a relaxing drink.
Best Hotels in Belém
6. Alfama: Experience authentic Lisbon charm
Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, is nestled on a hill adjacent to Baixa, contrasting the areas of Bairro Alto and Chiado. This enchanting district, with its winding narrow streets, vintage trams, quaint squares, and breathtaking viewpoints, holds a unique allure.
Getting lost wandering around Alfama is a joy in itself. I highly recommend enjoying dinner in one of the local Fado restaurants for an authentic experience. While the area is generally safe during the day, it’s prudent to be cautious at night, particularly in less-traveled alleys.
Although Alfama is a popular choice for many visitors due to its undeniable charm, I lean towards other central areas or less central but more modern districts with easy metro access. Alfama’s accessibility and safety fall a little short compared to other districts.
Best Hotels in Alfama
7. Avenida da Liberdade: My top choice in Lisbon
Without a doubt, Avenida da Liberdade is my top pick for where to stay in Lisbon. This avenue, extending from Restauradores to Marquês de Pombal square, encapsulates everything I love in a neighborhood.
Close to both Baixa and Bairro Alto, it boasts excellent connectivity, cleanliness, elegance, and safety. It’s one of the city’s most luxurious and sophisticated areas, adorned with stately buildings, embassies, theaters, and high-end boutiques. The avenue is also home to an array of superb restaurants and a plethora of 4 and 5-star hotels, making it a premier choice for your stay in Lisbon.
Best Hotels in Avenida da Liberdade
8. Marques de Pombal and Avenidas Novas: Where quality meets affordability
Following Avenida da Liberdade leads you to the bustling Marquês de Pombal, marking the start of Avenidas Novas, a district echoing with modernity and a bustling business scene.
While the heart of the city can be reached by a pleasant extended walk from Marquês de Pombal, the reliance on public transportation is often more practical. Initially, this district might not be the first one you’d consider for accommodation. However, when availability in the city center dwindles, or prices skyrocket, Avenidas Novas becomes a compelling alternative.
Here, you’re likely to find better deals, more spacious rooms, and modern hotels from well-known international chains. Its well-connected metro stations make the commute to the city center a breeze, whisking you to Baixa in a swift 10 minutes. This district offers arguably the best value-for-money accommodation options, without straying too far from the heart of Lisbon.
Best Hotels in Avenidas Novas
9. Parque das Nações: A trendsetter teeming with tourist hotspots
El barrio del Parque das Nações es otra de las opciones alternativas a considerar para alojarse en Lisboa cuando no encuentras alojamiento que se te ajuste a tus necesidades en las zonas más céntricas.
Fue la sede de la Expo Mundial del 98,y es uno de los barrios de más reciente desarrollo. El Parque de las Naciones muestra la cara más moderna de Lisboa con su arquitectura vanguardista.
Es un distrito muy cómodo y moderno, y que está muy bien comunicado con el centro de Lisboa. Tiene de todo lo que puedas desear como tiendas y centros comerciales, bares y buenos restaurantes.
También tiene algunos atractivos turísticos imprescindibles como el Puente Vasco da Gama, el Museo de las Ciencias o el Oceanario entre otros.