Knowing where to stay in Lisbon for the first time without already having been there to feel the vibe for all of Lisbon’s neighborhoods is… quite the challenge (to say the least).
When we were moving to Lisbon, I did an ungodly amount of searching online to try and get an idea of the best hotels, apartments, and neighborhoods to stay in. 🙈 But it wasn’t until I lived there that I got a true feel for where to stay.
Lisbon is a large, sprawling city so you don’t want to just book a place without knowing what you’re getting into.
Lisbon’s neighborhoods that make up the heart of the city—Bairro Alto, Chiado, Alfama, Sé, Baixa—are inevitably going to be the “best” places to stay in terms of convenience and proximity to Lisbon’s top things to do, restaurants, museums, bars, brunch spots, coffee shops, and even sunset spots!
Having lived in Lisbon as a digital nomad for a couple of months, I was able to explore and scope out Lisbon’s most sought-after locations, which I’ll reveal down below!
In this guide, I’ll share with you the most popular, unique, and well-rated apartments and boutique hotels so your stay in Lisbon can feel perfect no matter which central neighborhood you choose.
Say goodbye to FOMO because here is the ultimate guide for where to stay in Lisbon!
Where to Stay in Lisbon, Portugal
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Staying in Lisbon for the First Time?
If you are visiting Lisbon for the first time, then you will generally want to stay within the Santa Maria Maior district which encompasses the most central and interesting neighborhoods of Baixa/Chiado, Sé/Alfama, and Bairro Alto — click here to jump to the top-rated hotels and places to stay.
Consider this area the large heart of Lisbon. Outside here, you will start to get far from the main attractions of the city (but closer to other popular things to do and see in Belém and Alcântara).
Beyond where to stay, you might consider grabbing a Lisbon City Card to save on transport. Take a look at some of Lisbon’s top tours as well!
✈️ Book your cheap flights to Lisbon on KAYAK
🚗 Need a rental? I use DiscoverCars.com for the best rates!
🎟 Get a Lisbon Card for 24, 48, or 72 hour stays to save on admission and transport.
🚋 Kickstart your stay with a Lisbon Essentials Tour: History, Stories, Lifestyle
Lisbon’s most popular and central neighborhood, Baixa is definitely a contender for short stays or first-timers. For example, it would be a good location to stay in if you were only spending 2 days in Lisbon. Being mostly flat, it’s ideal for getting around on foot or via one of Lisbon’s iconic scooters.
When viewed from above, the Baixa district is easily recognizable with three wide, parallel streets. Its “parameters” lie between the Praça do Comércio beside the Tagus river to the south up to the start of the Avenida da Liberdade.
That said, there is a downside to staying in Baixa. As central as it is, it gets quite busy with tourists, taxis, and red tourist buses shuffling people from one side of Lisbon to the other.
While there are grandiose shopping boulevards, neoclassical buildings, and beautiful plazas, it’s not exactly “quintessentially” Lisbon, whose character (I feel) really reveals itself in its labyrinth streets and hilly, artsy neighborhoods. In other words, it’s not my favorite part of the city for living, but nonetheless ideal for short stays.
Things to Do in Baixa
- Santa Justa Lift (Carmo Lift) — Historic elevator/lift that connects Baixa with the Bairro Alto neighborhood. Connects to and puts you at the doors of the medieval Carmo Convent.
- Rua Augusta & Arch — The Rua Augusta is a popular street lined with shops, restaurants, cafés… you. name it. It ends in a glorious yellow arch which dons on the Praça do Comércio. Visit the roof for epic panormic views of the city!
- Praça do Comércio — Lisbon’s iconic square open to the Tagus riverside, surrounded with bright, pastel-colored buildings.
- Praça Dom Pedro IV (Rossio Square) — Lisbon’s most historic square decorated with mesmerizing calçada stones.
- Rossio Railway Station — Lisbon’s gorgeous Gothic-style train station (Manueline architecture) which serves the city with connections to/from nearby destinations like Sintra and Cascais.
Where to Stay in Baixa
Madalena Hermitage ($$): Set in a quaint 18th-century building, these single and family-friendly apartments ooze Lisbon’s bright, pastel, and sunny vibes. They’re fully equipped and stocked with all you would need for a feel-at-home in Lisbon stay. You will truly be in the center of it all with the best of Lisbon in reach.
Yes Lisbon Hostel ($): We stayed in this hostel the first time we visited Lisbon — no joke! This place is perfect for solo female travelers, digital nomads, or backpackers traveling on a shoestring. Choose between small mixed or female-only dorms. You can also book a private double room with a shared bathroom if you want more privacy yet still be within a community setting to network and spark friendships!
My Story Hotel Ouro ($$): For a hotel experience that feels luxurious but boutique, check out My Story Hotel Ouro. From its private balconies to its ideal location and its cozy decor to its excellent (included) breakfast, this hotel is perfect for short stays in Lisbon shrouded in comfort.
Culturally rich with a cosmopolitan flair, the Chiado neighborhood in Lisbon is one of the best places to stay if you wish to remain in the heart of the city center while being mere blocks from Bairro Alto’s pumping nightlife.
It’s home to the Bertrand Bookstore—the oldest operating bookstore in the world—numerous delicious restaurants for all tastes and budgets (we love The Green Affair), and a handful of cultural monuments. Prices of apartments and hotels here will definitely be a little elevated considering Chiado’s popularity and location.
Nonetheless, Chiado is probably the best choice for where to stay in Lisbon if you want to be central to all of the neighborhoods. You’re within easy walking distance to the Cais do Sodré (10 minutes), Bairro Alto’s pubs and bars (5 minutes), and Lisbon’s Old Town (Alfama, 20 minutes).
In my opinion, Chiado is the ideal “compromise” between Lisbon’s flat, seaside district and its hilly, trendy neighborhoods.
Things to Do in Chiado
- São Carlos National Theatre — ornate 18th-century opera concert hall decorated with rococó-style art and host to the Portugal Symphony Orchestra.
- Praça Luís de Camões — bustling plaza surrounded by shops, bakeries, restaurants, bars, hotels, and more.
- Miradouro de Santa Catarina — popular viewpoint and sunset spot in Lisbon surrounding by cafés and rooftop bars.
- National Museum of Contemporary Art
- Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara — another great viewpoint worth climbing for panoramic city views.
- Belcanto — Jose Avillez’s two-star Michellin restaurant whipping up some of the best in Portuguese cuisine.
- Igreja da Encarnação and Igreja do Loreto — two iconic, elegant churches typical of Chiado’s vibe.
Where to Stay in Chiado
Chiado Camões Apartments ($$$): Elegant, sound-proof, and open-air style apartments set right in the heart of Chiado overlooking the Luís de Camões plaza. Be within minutes from the best restaurants, bakeries, and bars!
Casa Balthazar ($$+): Spacious and clean apartment-style hotel rooms with amazing views overlooking the city.
Rodamon Lisbon ($+): These hostel rooms are as clean and nicely decorated as they come! The Rodamon features mixed dormitory rooms as well as superior double or family rooms. Enjoy a quiet, budget-friendly stay in the heart of Lisbon!
Corpo Santo Historical Hotel ($$+): An exquisite and historical hotel containing a chunk of a 14th-century mural (Muralha Fernandina). Set within one-minute walking distance to the Tagus River, the 5-star Corpo Santo is minutes away from the Cais do Sodré, Praça do Comércio, tram lines, and myriad restaurants and cafés.
Bairro Alto Neighborhood
Up next is Bairro Alto — the neighborhood where we stayed/lived in Lisbon!
Filled with Irish pubs, funky bars, and trendy restaurants, Bairro Alto’s has become known, for better or worse, as Lisbon’s party neighborhood. But there’s much more than meets the eye (or in this case, ear) in Bairro Alto.
For one, this is where you’ll find a traditional Portuguese wine bar or a Fado house in which you can listen to live Portuguese folk music (book this experience on GetYourGuide). In fact, Anthony Bourdain once visited the Tasca do Chiado bar right in the heart of Bairro Alto, which you can see in the Lisbon episode of his travel show No Reservations.
In short, Bairro Alto is a hilly, cobbled neighborhood in Lisbon that will enchant you with its bohemian vibe.
If you don’t mind climbing back up the hill each time you return back to your apartment or hotel room, then I’d highly recommend this charming neighborhood of Lisbon to base yourself during your stay.
(P.S. not recommended for light sleepers.)
Things to Do in Bairro Alto
- Bica Funicular — The yellow tram connecting the bottom of Lisbon to Bairro Alto. It’s one of Lisbon’s most photographed locations. Unfortunately, the real yellow tram is locked away and the current one sitting at the top of the rail line is covered in graffiiti.
- São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint — Considered one of Lisbon’s most romantic viewpoints.
- Igreja de São Roque — An ornate church inside which you can find the “world’s most expensive chapel.”
- Listen to Fado music — Fado music seeps out of the tiny bars every evening. Go early to grab a seat or book a live Fado show online.
- Rua da Rosa — Eat and drink your way down Rua da Rosa, one of Bairro Alto’s typical streets.
- Ride the Glória Funicular — Ride the scenic Glória funicular back down the hill to Baixa. Purchase a Lisbon Card to get free rides on the city’s transport.
- Igreja de Santa Catarina — A gorgeous and ornately-gilded church on the edge of Bairro Alto.
- Santa Catarina Viewpoint — A popular viewpoint and sunset spot overlooking the river Tagus and the 25 de Abril bridge in the distance.
Where to Stay in Bairro Alto
Raw Culture Art & Lofts ($$): Industrial, modern-style apartments designed with conceptual design and culture in mind. Features exquisite designs, furnishings, service, and a tasty à la carte or vegan breakfast.
The Lumiares Hotel & Spa ($$$+): This hotel is an award-winning small luxury hotel nestled right at the top of Bairro Alto overlooking the city. Retreat back to this oasis for a drink on the rooftop bar or soak in the spa.
Alecrim ao Chiado ($$): A beautiful small boutique hotel with fine touches, excellent breakfast, and an ideal location close to amazing restaurants and the popular Time Out Market.
Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood with medieval alleyways that twist and turn past artisanal shops, plazas, and historic restaurants.
Here, you will be in the center of all the charm; watch the Tram 28, packed with tourists, shrill by on its way up to the castle, climb up to Miradouro de Graça for city views, and step into tiled hole-in-the-walls inside which you’ll find myriad art galleries, cafés, and more hidden treasures.
If you stay in the Alfama neighborhood, you will be minutes from some of the city’s most historic and charming attractions. Travelers and photographers will fall head over heels for this medieval quarter.
Things to Do in Alfama
- Sé Cathedral — Sé is the oldest district of Lisbon. Here, where you’ll find the 1000-yr-old imposing cathedral (that kinda looks like a mini Notre-Dâme).
- Castelo de São Jorge — The most emblematic of Lisbon’s monuments and heritage sites, set on the city’s highest hill. Click here to get your skip-the-line admission ticket online.
- Teatro Romano de Lisboa — Museum showcasing the ruins and archaeological remnants of an ancient Roman theatre.
- Casa dos Bicos — The white façade buildling known as the “House of Spikes.” Home to the José Saramago Foundation, Lisbon’s most celebrated poet and writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia — The most sought-after (and Instagrammable) viewpoint in Lisbon overlooking the Alfama neighborhood down to the Tagus (Tejo) river, with a garden of bougainvilleas, street sellers, and a quaint church with a tiled mural.
Where to Stay in Alfama & Sé
Tandem Palacio Alfama Suites ($$+): Feel at home in Alfama in these fully-equipped apartments complete with an outdoor garden and inviting swimming pool!
Hostel Petit Lusa ($+): An upscale hostel set in the heart of Alfama with Portuguese art and decor, free breakfast, and private double rooms or family rooms. You will be steps away from the Santa Luzia viewpoint and the Fado museum!
Finally, if you’re looking for a place to stay in Lisbon that’s slightly outside of the city center, but that’s still within proximity to trendy bars, restaurants, and fun things to do, then check out the neighborhood of Alcântara.
It’s here where you’ll find the hip LX Factory, waterfront bars and cafés, and myriad museums—all once abandoned warehouses. The neighborhood is busy and young, with lots of new artists and students.
Basing yourself here sets you right in the middle between Belém to the west and Lisbon’s heart and soul to the east. You’ll also be well connected via public transport for day trips to Sintra and Cascais, and right in front of the red Ponte 25 de Abril.
Things to Do in Alcântara
- LX Factory — A former textile factory now converted into an artsy, funky neighborhood within a neighborhood. Filled with trendy artisanal shops, restaurants, and eclectic art studios.
- Santo Amaro Docks — Industrial riverside walk speckled with fun bars, restaurants, and lots of space for joggers and outdoor recreation (i.e. rollerblading, skating, biking, etc).
- Visit Belém — A popular district of Lisbon known for its sea-faring monuments, Gothic Jéronimos Monastery, and the famous and original pastéis de nata house (Pasteís de Belém).
Where to Stay in Alcântara
TryLisbon Alcântara ($+): Large, spacious, fully-equipped individual apartments set in a 150-year-old tiled building right in the heart of Alcântara. Perfect for traveling with friends or family! Pets are allowed, too, which is always a bonus (especially for us because we travel with our cat).
Pestana Palace ($$$): One of the leading hotels in the world, the Pestana Palace is a superbly-rated hotel with elegant decor, curated gardens, and world-class service. A true gem for luxurious travelers!
Alcântara Lodge ($$): Modern and cozy, this apartment has everything you could need for an exquisite stay in Lisbon. A beautifully furnished place to stay with amazing attention to detail from the hosts.
Bright Studio in LX Factory ($+): Right around the corner from the LX Factory, this bright and airy studio apartment is an ideal place to stay in Alcântara, Lisbon.
Other Great Places to Stay Near Lisbon
If you stay in one of the above neighborhoods in Lisbon, you won’t be disappointed. However, know that Lisbon is a big city and there are more districts that encircle the city center like Princípe Real and Avenua da Liberdad.
While these offer less of the “iconic” things to do and see, they are still well located. Rent or hotel prices may be cheaper as well, considering you’ll need to take the metro or an Uber each time you want to go into the center.
Honestly, if I were going to stay in Lisbon again, I would stay in either Alfama or Chiado. Bairro Alto was amazing, but forget sleeping well on weekends because the neighborhood comes alive with the chatter and singing of party-goers throughout the night.
So, where will you decide to stay in Lisbon? If you have any questions, please drop your thoughts in the comments below.
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