I’ve visited Lisbon four times over the past three years and decided to spend one full month exploring this hilly city in an effort to escape New York City’s winter. The biggest question on my mind was obvious: Where is the best place to stay in Lisbon, especially for a full month?
Talk about commitment!
Before we dive into my guide on the best places to stay in Lisbon, it warrants mention that this is my personal list. Not everyone will feel the same way and that’s okay.
But I can tell you, after four visits and one month-long stay, I’ve definitely had my fair share of discovering the best neighborhoods in Lisbon to stay in.
I’ll make sure to highlight the pros and cons of each area so that you can make a more informed decision for yourself, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with question — my firsthand experience is at your disposal!
So, without further ado, let’s cover where to stay in Lisbon, the cost of staying in Lisbon and the best neighborhoods to explore in the process. I’ll also include a list of hotels I recommend, most of which I stayed in myself.
Who am I and why should you trust me?
Fair question, and don’t worry — I don’t offend easily. I’m an avid American traveler. I spent a month in Lisbon after visiting the city more than four times. I’ve stayed in a new neighborhood each time and have learned the pros and cons of the most popular neighborhoods in Lisbon firsthand.
I don’t accept sponsorships to ensure that my posts are unbiased and honest. I spend my own money traveling and booking accommodations and am always honest about my experiences. Heck, I typically write these guides to share with my own sisters, so I tend to cut the fluff.
I want your trip to Lisbon to be special and I want to make the planning process easier on you, which is why I share these guides publicly.
Want to explore Lisbon the right way? You won’t want to miss 25+ EPIC Things to Do in Lisbon & 10 Breathtaking Lisbon Miradouros (Viewpoints) You Won’t Soon Forget,
Where to Stay in Lisbon | Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon
Map of Lisbon Neighborhoods
One of my favorite things about Lisbon is the city’s manageable size. The city can be broken up into five popular neighborhoods ripe for exploration. Those neighborhoods are: Chiado, Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Principe Real and Avenida da Liberdade.
If you choose to stay in Lisbon’s popular neighborhoods, you’ll have access to the best restaurants, top attractions and historic sites.
But as you know, every neighborhood has a unique feel and vibe to it. So let’s break them down in detail.
Where to stay in Lisbon for first-time visitors
You might be short on time, if so, here’s a super quick breakdown of my personal recommendations.
- Chiado & Baixa are, hands down, the best neighborhoods in Lisbon for first time visitors. The central location can’t be beat and you’ll have everything within arms reach. This is my FAVORITE hotel in Lisbon.
- Romantic getaway? Look no further than the most charming neighborhood in Lisbon, Alfama. Between the pastel-colored homes and meandering cobblestone streets, you’ll be privy to plethora of “pinch me”moments. Here’s the BEST hotel in Alfama.
- What to enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife? You party animal, you. Make a bee-line for Bairro Alto. Experience the city after the glorious morning light clocks out for the day and rub elbows with night owls that can’t be convinced 8am exists for a reason. If helpful, here’s my favorite hotel in Bairro Alto (but girlfriend, it’s luxury and has the price to match).
Chiado | Where to Stay in Lisbon
The reason I recommend Chiado for anyone that asks where to stay in Lisbon for a first visit is simple: you’re in the heart of the city. This is the most central neighborhood in Lisbon, so you’ll be within a stone’s throw to everything you could possibly want.
You’ll have access to the best the city has to offer and will be within walking distance to all the other trendy Lisbon neighborhoods on this list.
With a plethora of shopping options, great restaurants, cafes and historic sites, you’ll find it hard to get bored. Plus, the famous yellow tram (Line #28) connects you to the best of this lively Lisbon neighborhood.
In review: Chiado is the best neighborhood in Lisbon for first time visitors because it’s charming and close to everything you’ll want to see in Lisbon.
Where to Stay in Lisbon: Pros & Cons of Staying in Chiado
- Chiado is as central as it gets. If you plan to explore Lisbon properly during your visit, this is the best neighborhood to base yourself in.
- The neighborhood is very colorful and charming. You’re bound to see locals peeking out their windows in the evening hours, which is always so sweet.
- There’s no clear layout to the neighborhood, so getting lost on the cobblestone streets is practically mandatory. It’s half the fun of staying in Chiado.
- The area is well connected by metro, so you can easily get to where you need to go without tiring yourself out or relying on cars.
- Chiado is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Lisbon, thanks to its central location, and the prices match. You can expect to pay more for hotels if staying in Chiado.
- The hills are alive with the sound of
musichuffing and puffing people. There’s a lot of hills in this lovely Lisbon neighborhood so you should take not to plan accordingly. Although I will note, nothing is more humbling than getting passed by an 80+ year old local while you’re huffing up the stairs.
Best Things to Do in Chiado
Explore the Convento do Carmo: Built in 1389, the impressive Carmo Convent was a Catholic convent destroyed by the formidable 1755 Lisbon earthquake mentioned earlier. The earthquake forced the vault of the church to collapse and rendered the building unusable. The building has since been converted into a fascinating museum and houses the tombs of King Ferdinand I, Fernão Sanches (the bastard son of King Dinis I) and Queen Maria Ana of Austria.
Santa Justa Elevator: The Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the most unique things to do in Lisbon. Built in 1902 and towering a stately 150 feet, this iron structure offers one of the best views of the charming city skyline.
Baixa | Where to Stay Lisbon
One of the most confusing things about planning a trip to Lisbon is figuring out the lay of the land. You’ll often see Chiado and Baixa grouped together, but the reason is simple.
The two neighborhoods are right next to each other, and since neither is particularly big, you can easily step into the other without knowing.
Baixa is known as Lisbon’s modern downtown. The streets are relatively flat, compared to the other neighborhoods in Lisbon mentioned on this list.
Centered around the beautiful Praça do Comércio, the streets give way to long boulevards ripe for exploration. It’s in Baixa that you will find the best stores for shopping, especially if you enjoy name-brands.
Baixa is the best neighborhood in Lisbon for first time visitors due to its central location and for less mobile travelers because it’s flat. If you don’t mind crowds and tourist hubs, you will enjoy Baixa.
Pros & Cons of Staying in Baixa
- In terms of location, Baixa is hard to beat. This Lisbon neighborhood is central to everything.
- The neighborhood has a lively buzz to it, thanks to the high number of tourist attractions in the area.
- Great shopping, both high-end stores and charming local shops.
- Great public transportation options.
- This is one of the flattest areas in Lisbon, so if hills are a concern, this might be the best Lisbon neighborhood for you.
- The neighborhood swells with tourists during the summer months. If you prefer to stay where the locals are, this neighborhood in Lisbon won’t fit the bill.
- Thanks to the great location, hotels in the area are a bit more expensive than other areas.
- Lack of non-touristy restaurants, the neighborhood is geared towards tourists, and the restaurants reflect that.
- Since Baixa is the flattest area in Lisbon, you’ll need to hike uphill to access all the other places you plan to go.
Best things to do in Baixa
Praça do Comércio: Praca do Comercio is a public courtyard with cheery cafes and restaurants that sits on the Tagus River. This is one of the most famous places to see in Lisbon, so it swells with people during the daytime.
You might hear locals referring to this place as still Terreiro do Paco (palace yard). That’s because it used to the location of the Pacos da Ribeira, a palace that was destroyed during the great earthquake of 1755.
Rossio Square: Built in the 13th century as a gathering place for locals, this remains one of the liveliest squares in Lisbon to this day.
Alfama | Where to Stay in Lisbon
The Alfama District is one of the most charming (and oldest) areas in Lisbon. Thankfully it’s ripe for exploration, too!
In fact, during our month in Lisbon, we felt ourselves drawn Alfama almost daily. Between the warmth of the Portuguese culture, inviting al fresco restaurants, narrow streets and iron-clad balconies, we were smitten.
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, which makes exploring it an absolute joy. The neighborhood sits atop a steep hill crowned by the Moorish Castelo de S. Jorge.
The tile-covered and pastel homes pepper the entire landscape, while miradouros give way to breathtaking views of the River Tagus below.
Alfama is the best neighborhood in Lisbon for adventurous travelers that want a charming neighborhood with close proximity to the city’s main historic sites. The charm makes this a very romantic option for couples!
Pros & Cons of Staying in Alfama
- Alfama is picture-perfect. The historic center is charming and offers breathtaking views at nearly every corner. This is the area most folks picture when they think of Lisbon.
- What’s more, Alfama is home to some of the most notable historic sites in Lisbon. If you’re basing yourself in this neighborhood, you’ll find it easy to visit all of the important sites without much effort or planning.
- There’s a lot of great restaurants in Alfama, not to mention fado!
- Very expensive Lisbon neighborhood to stay in
- Tourist hot-spot, especially during summer months.
Best things to Do in Alfama
Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral): Built in 1147, the Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in Portugal. This incredible structure miraculously survived the devastating earthquakes that have marred Lisbon over the years.
Admittedly the cathedral was severely damaged after the major 1755 earthquake, but it has been properly renovated over the years and was designated a National Monument in 1910.
The towering structure is a sight to behold and stands a stark contrast to the busy streets of Lisbon. As such, visiting this historic cathedral is one of the best things to do in Lisbon, especially for history buffs.
The São Jorge Castle (St. George’s Castle) is a popular landmark to see in Lisbon. Casting shadows on Alfama below, this impressive castle sits atop the highest point in Lisbon.
The castle was originally built by the Moors but has been heavily altered by subsequent occupiers. Today it’s hard to find much of the original construction.
As you can imagine, the panoramic views of Lisbon from this vantage point are some of the best in the city. The breathtaking views from the castle are worth the 10 euro admission.
Love Portuguese castles? You might enjoy a day trip to Sintra, Portugal. Here’s 5 Picture-Perfect Sintra Castles You Can’t Afford to Miss
Best neighborhood in Lisbon for Nightlife: Bairro Alto
Bordering Chiado is the liveliest neighborhood in the city — Bairro Alto. The historic feeling of this Lisbon neighborhood and the medieval layout might leave you demanding an explanation. But the past belongs to the past and today Bairro Alto is known as the nightlife hub of Lisbon.
Best known for its vibrant nightlife scene, an abundance of bars, and some of the best restaurants in Lisbon, this is a great neighborhood for night owls.
Take a stroll down the hilly streets after the sun sets and you’ll be privy to a lively scene! Open doors act as an invitation to the cheery bars, cozy speakeasies and boozy nightclubs.
You’ll find hoards of folks sitting outside or standing along the tile-covered walls, laughing and drinking into the late night.
The neighborhood exudes a very lively best and is flooded with younger folks! As you can imagine, that means sleep might be hard to get.
Pros & Cons of Staying in Bairro Alto
- The nightlife scene is hard to beat. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher concentration of epic bars, clubs and restaurants.
- It’s a very hilly place and public transportation leaves much to be desired, plan to walk or Uber.
- We’re friends here, right? Allow me to be honest, Bairro Alto is LOUD. The vibrant nightlife means folks linger into the wee hours of the morning, and you’ll hear it.
Best things to Do in Bairro Alto
Catch sunset at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara: Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcãntara is arguably the most beautiful viewpoint in Lisbon. It reminded me of the beautiful parks peppered throughout Paris, with the white sandy paths and iron benches.
Best Lisbon Neighborhood for LGBTQ+: Príncipe Real
Lisbon is known as a very easy-going city and doesn’t feel stuffy or overly upscale. Which is why Principe Real somewhat surprised us on our first visit to Lisbon, it’s definitely the most upscale neighborhood in Lisbon.
However, Principe Real has a very relaxed and genuine feel to it, making it a great spot to know about for folks researching where to stay in Lisbon.
The whole tree-lined neighborhood feels lush and the beautiful mansions don’t hurt either. You’ll find plenty of shaded benches and sunbathing opportunities in this charming Lisbon neighborhood, which ensures you won’t want for much.
Pros & Cons of Staying in Príncipe Real
- Classy feel, beautiful buildings, great parks.
- Principe Real is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Lisbon for lodging.
Staying in Lisbon | Hotels Vs. AirBnB
Alright, I know I’ll get some flack, but I want to be honest on this guide: I stay at AirBnBs when visiting Lisbon — and here’s why.
AirBnB is legal in Lisbon. There are some restrictions on short-term rentals in the saturated tourist-heavy neighborhoods, but hosts must clearly display their registrations numbers on AirBnB, so you can rest easy about booking a legitimate place.
Secondly, I typically stay in a city for one month. This helps me absorb more of the city and weed through the tourist traps when I create my guides. As such, AirBnB is a much more affordable option than a hotel (the kitchen is always a bonus!).
To that end, the case against using AirBnB in Lisbon can be made. As with any growing city, Lisbon has been discovered and folks from all over the world want to visit. Slowly, the apartments are being converted into AirBnBs and pricing locals out, which is terrible.
This is the biggest argument against using AirBnB and honestly, it’s a valid concern. But most of my travels involve month-long stays (as mentioned earlier) and AirBnB’s are a more affordable option, largely thanks to the discounts provided for long-term stays.
Likewise, I like putting my money into the hands of the locals that own the AirBnBs as opposed to the hotels. As with anything, there’s pros and cons to everything you do, especially when you travel. We always do our best to support the local economy and feel that renting from locals is better than contributing to the bottom line of big-name hotels.
However, hotels are also a great option in Lisbon, especially for week-long stays when the generous AirBnB discounts doesn’t kick in. In fact, we typically stay in hotels during weekend trips, not AirBnBs.
Lisbon, the City of 7 Hills
Lastly, I think it would be helpful to talk about the geographic landscape of Lisbon. Because goodness, the city is hilly!
Make no mistake, comfortable walking shoes are non-negotiable while exploring Lisbon. Unless you plan to Uber between places (which would be silly since everything is relatively close together), you’ll be doing a lot of walk and will want to prepare accordingly.
As mentioned, we spent a month in Lisbon and found our quads sore from time to time, but we were also clocking in 22,000+ steps per day on average.
The city sits at the edge of the Tagus River, where locals and tourists alike congregate in the evening hours. Anything by the river is bound to be more touristy, but we found ourselves here 2-3 times per week, regardless. The river is beautiful and Lisbon’s sunsets are desperate to impress.
From the flat river esplanade, the city takes shape as hills engulf the city-scape. At the top of the tallest hill you’ll find the Castle of St. George. Everything in it’s shadow is the Alfama district, which borders Chiado and Bairro Alto.
All of the Lisbon neighborhoods on this list will ensure that you never go hungry or thirsty while exploring. Promise.
Best Places to Stay in Lisbon (Post Summary)
I hope you found this hefty guide on where to stay in Lisbon helpful. Remember, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help.
For a quick recap, here’s the best neighborhoods in Lisbon:
- Bairro Alto
- Príncipe Real
Vidya Ramanujam says
Hey from fellow New Yorker! Thank you for this detailed post. We are visiting Lisbon next month and I was curious if Baixa and Chiado are very similar to Times Square. Staying in Manhattan for over a decade that’s something we wouldnt want. Do you think Alfama would be good especially during evening/nights? Thanks in advance.