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If you’re planning a visit to beautiful Lisboa soon, then you’re probably already researching the different areas to consider for your stay. No doubt there are so many beautiful Lisbon neighborhoods to chose from and in this guide, I hope to help you narrow down where to stay in Lisbon for your perfect trip!
Please note that these views are my own personal impressions of each area and opinions may differ dependant on personal preferences. Use this post as your guide and decide which area is best suited to your individual needs. I also list some recommend Lisbon hotels, apartments and boutique hotels that you may want to consider booking too.
When we first came on holiday to Lisbon in 2016, before deciding to move here permanently, we booked a lovely apartment in the heart of Chiado. And we were so glad we did.
Trendy Chiado is the ideal neighbourhood to stay in, in Lisbon in my opinion. Especially if you want to be in the centre of the city and within walking distance of many attractions. It really has it all. Good transport links, easily walk-able, lots of attractions, shopping, next door to Bairro Alto (the party district) and great restaurants and bars too.
It is no wonder that many choose Chiado as their preferred spot to stay in Lisbon. The only negative being, with its popularity also inevitably comes the flood of tourists. As such, it does tend to get busy and very touristy and this may be a downer for some.
But either way if you want to be situated in the hustle and bustle of downtown Lisbon, then Chiado is without a shadow of a doubt your best bet!
Praça Luís de Camões, National Theatre of São Carlos, Carmo Convent, Church of Sao Roque, Bertrand Chiado, the oldest bookstore in the World.
For more info on these two events, go read up on my blog post detailing Unique Things to do in Lisbon!
Moving more downtown you will find the district of Baixa, located right next door to Chiado. Being located so close to Chiado, and sharing the same metro, the two neighbourhoods are often referred to as Baixa/Chiado. But they definitely have their own distinct qualities that set them apart from each other.
In fact, due to its location right on the waterfront, Baixa was one of the worst hit areas of the 1755 earthquake, (and fire and tsunami that followed) that destroyed many parts of Lisbon. Subsequently downtown Lisbon (or Baixa) was rebuilt and followed the European city planning trends of the time, being laid out in a square grid fashion. Thus, the area is made up of several blocks.
Certain areas of Baixa can also get quite touristy and very crowded, especially in and around the famous Rua Augusta and Rossio areas. At the same time, other streets are much less crowded and especially at night you may feel there is not much going on in and around the area. But Lisbon is quite compact and with so much to see and do within walking distance from Baixa, you will still be well placed staying here if searching for accommodation in Lisbon and deciding where to be based.
Top Attractions in Baixa:
Rua Augusta Street & Arch, Rossio Square, Santa Justa Elevator that connects Baixa and Chiado, Lisbon Story Center, Núcleo Arqueológico, Church of São Domingos, MUDE – the Museum of Design & Fashion.
Apart from Chiado, another noteworthy and very trendy area of Lisbon is Principe Real. It is located just up the hill from Chiado and is one of my favourite Lisbon neighborhoods.
Scattered all along it’s main street you will find an array of trendy restaurants, bars, boutiques and so much more to explore. Sure, Principe Real is another area that can get quite touristy due to some of the attractions found here, but I’ve honestly never felt it to be too cramped or crowded. And as such I would highly recommend you consider this as another top contender for where to stay in Lisbon.
A word of warning – Lisbon is well known for its 7 hills and depending on where you stay in Principe Real, you may well find yourself walking up and downhill. The main street travelling through from Chiado all the way to Rato metro station is pretty flat all the way. But once you start wandering if up and down the various side streets, you are bound to be going up or downhill a lot!
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Botanical Gardens of Lisbon, Embaixada Shopping situated in the Ribeiro da Cunha Palace.
Heading further up and away from Baixa and the riverfront, you will find the most expensive piece of real estate in Lisbon, that of Avenida Liberdade. This very posh tree-lined avenue houses various designer boutiques, restaurants and hotels.
A bit further along this beautiful avenue with it’s gorgeous traditional calcadas (traditional patterned Portuguese pavements), you will start to notice less and less tourists. For some reason, despite this being one of my favourite avenues in Lisbon, it still feels far less crowded than other areas and has a certain peace and calmness to it. Perhaps owing the gorgeous greenery and the general vibe you get just lazily strolling down the avenue.
Despite it being such an expensive and prime location, it certainly doesn’t mean that you should discount this area. Hotels here range from affordable to luxury. So there really are options to suite all budgets.
Towards the end of Avenida Liberdade, you will also find the Marques Pombal area. And since they’re so close and interlinked I have lumped them together.
These areas are really great if you prefer a break from the touristy hotspots but still want to be close enough to easily get around to virtually any Lisbon attraction. Hence this is another top pick when you’re looking for the best place to stay in Lisbon!
As mentioned, this street is lined with designer shops & boutiques, so Shopping has to be top on the list. You can also enjoy various rooftop bars with stunning views over the city (two of my favourites are the bars found at the H10 Duque de Loule and the Tivoli Avenida Hotels).
Other attractions include Parque Eduardo VII, Cinema de São Jorge and the Avenue itself with the various Quiosques (kiosks) where you can grab a drink (at reasonable prices too!).
The oldest and most historic part of Lisbon is that of Alfama and its neighbours Castelo & Sé.
Alfama is certainly a very unique neighbourhood of Lisbon, with narrow cobbled alleyways, it’s higeldy-pigeldy homes and the various restaurants and fado houses where you can hear the melancholic sounds of traditional fado music belting out from. It offers a completely different charm and allure which may appeal especially to those who love history and being in the heart of the historic part of Lisbon.
Located around the São Jorge castle, the area of Castelo, and further downhill closer to the Sé Cathedral, the area of Sé are both unique and stunning in their own ways too and together with Alfama add a uniquely different narrative to the rest of Lisbon.
Do bear in mind though, that this is an older neighbourhood, with narrow streets, steep hills, houses very close to each other and not as refined or polished as you will find in say Chiado. So be mindful that this area may or may not appeal to you.
But even if you do end up deciding not to stay in one of these areas, they are still definitely worth at least a visit, either way.
The Castle of São Jorge, The Sé Cathedral, The Panteão Nacional, The Fado Museum, The (viewpoint) Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
During the month of June Lisbon celebrates the Saint Anthony festivals (the patron saint of Lisbon). You may want to avoid staying in Alfama over this period as there are street parties almost every single night throughout the entire month. The whole neighborhood becomes rather festive, with music sounding from loud speakers throughout the area and blaring till the early hours of the morning. So be warned that June may be best to avoid booking here!
One of my favourite areas in Lisbon has to be that of Avenidas Novas (translated as New Avenues), Saldanha and Picoas. These neighbourhoods are a tad bit out of the centre of Lisbon, yet still close enough that you could walk or even catch the metro only 10 minutes into the city centre.
Considered as trendy areas, they offer a charm and allure of their own, almost making you feel like you’re in a completely different city altogether. They really have it all from beautiful classic architecture, tree-lined avenues & streets, museums, restaurants, shopping and more.
All of this whilst being set away from the sometimes-maddening tourist crowds. And the best part, it’s pretty flat too! You’ll appreciate this after trekking up and down a few of Lisbon’s many hills.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves House-Museum, Pastelaria Versailles, El Corte Inglés Shopping Centre.
Deceptively peaceful during the day, Bairro Alto, situated right next door to Chaido really comes alive at night. It’s not the prettiest of neighbourhoods either, but if you enjoy the unapologetic and somewhat grungy old city look & feel, then it’s definitely worth wandering through! Or visit at night of course, when you’re ready for a drink, or two or three!
Undoubtedly known as being the party district of Lisbon, Bairro Alto is made up of a maze of narrow streets lined with bars and clubs of every sort, kind and taste. And at night you’ll find party-goers flocking to this area to enjoy the best of Lisbon’s nightlife.
As such, I have to warn you that Bairro Alto can be very rowdy and noisy, and therefore it is not high on my list of recommended areas to stay! Laws in Lisbon require clubs to shut down only by 03:00am, which means, if you’re looking for a quiet and restful nights’ sleep, you may not find it here!
Of course, it does depend in which street you stay in this neighbourhood, as some streets are pretty quiet and devoid of the raucous revellers. But for me, it’s best enjoyed simply for that, its party atmosphere, and not somewhere to base yourself whilst staying in Lisbon.
At the same time, if that’s your scene and you want to be right in the heart of the action and don’t mind not getting some shut eye (because you’re planning on an all-nighter anyway), then Bairro Alto would be the place for you!
To be honest, there’s not too much to see & do in Bairro Alto apart from the bars, clubs and restaurants of course! Or during the day, simply stroll through the quiet alleyways and streets.
Santos, just hop away from Cais do Sodré is an up and coming area of Lisbon that is becoming increasingly popular.
The area has seen a boom in renovations happening and it has become somewhat of a hip and happening area with lots of boutiques, restaurants and bars popping up. All this whilst still retaining a very individual feel.
Santos is also becoming rather popular with expats moving to Lisbon too! It is just out of reach of the main tourist centre but still has good train, bus and tram connections either way. There are plans underway for an extension of the metro line, which may see the area being connected to the main underground system, but this may still take some years to realise.
Talking about up and coming areas, Anjos and Graça, in my mind are two areas to keep an eye on. Anjos with it’s beautiful and colourful art deco architecture is seeing renovations happening all round. Unfortunately, as some would argue, this also largely as a result of gentrification and many foreign buyers snapping up property to turn it into lucrative Airbnb’s. But either way there’s still something very unique and special about the area.
Graça is also one of the older Lisbon neighbourhood, offering up its own unique appeal too. A beautiful old worldly neighbourhood with something to explore around every corner. Be sure not to miss my favourite Lisbon viewpoint, the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. But get there early to try avoid the crowds, and enjoy a drink at the kiosk whilst you take in the stunning views over Lisbon!
Again, the dreaded Lisbon hills! So I do have to caution you that certain areas of Anjos and Graça can be extremely steep and hilly. As such, anyone struggling with mobility may want to consider avoiding these areas altogether.
If you’ve already done some research on Lisbon and you’ve read through online blogs or the good ol’ guide book, then you’ve no doubt come across the neighbourhood of Belém. The area is known for its several noteworthy tourist attractions, including amongst others the Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém), the Jerónimos Monastery, the famous Pasteis de Belém pastry shop (known to be the makers of the original egg custard tarts), the Ajuda Palace, the Monument of Discoveries, the National Coach Museum and so much more!
As much as there is so much to see and do in and around Belém, it wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice of location in terms of where to stay in Lisbon. I have to say, it’s a little way out from the centre and requires you catch either a tram, a bus or the overland train. And it’s just not practical when you can stay in a far more central neighbourhood and easily get around by foot.
But of course, with so much around the area, it’s still definitely worthwhile visiting. Many city sightseeing buses do pass along this area too, so stop off here if you plan on taking a tour.
Tip: Why not book for the Red Sightseeing bus tour or here for the Yellow Bus tour for a 24 hour ticket. They will include a stop in Belém too. Also be sure to check out the value adds (such as travel and attractions discounts) that these sightseeing bus tickets offer.
Lisbon has so much to offer by way of its various unique and beautiful neighborhoods. Each with its own identity and feel. If this is your first-time visiting Lisbon then I would highly recommend staying more central, perhaps in Chiado or Baixa for instance. But of course you may find another of the areas listed above just as appealing. I would suggest you plan carefully, consider what you want to see and do and then locate yourself in the best area that fits that brief.
I really hope this guide will help you narrow down your choice in where to stay and hopefully enhance your overall trip. Regardless, I am sure you will absolutely fall in love with this gorgeous city.
Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting on this post. I would love to hear from you and in doing so also hopefully help other travellers along the way too!
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