Where To Stay In Lisbon – A Local’s Guide To The City’s Neighborhoods

Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal, is a captivating blend of history, culture, and modern flair. With its colorful tiled buildings, winding cobblestone streets, and breathtaking vistas, this city has captured the hearts of millions of visitors.

However, navigating Lisbon’s diverse neighborhoods can be a daunting task, especially for first-time visitors.

That’s where this comprehensive local’s guide comes in a treasure trove of insider knowledge designed to help you uncover the perfect base for your unforgettable Lisbon adventure. 

As a local, I’ve witnessed Lisbon’s transformation from a hidden gem to a world-renowned destination. I’ve come to appreciate the unique character of each neighborhood.

From the historic charm of Alfama to the trendy vibes of Príncipe Real, Lisbon offers a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored.

In this guide, I’ll share my favorite areas, insider tips on where to stay, dine, and explore, ensuring you make the most of your time in this captivating city. So, let’s dive in and discover the best neighborhoods to call home during your Lisbon escapade. 

Local help with your planning

If you could use some help coming up with a great plan for your visit to Lisbon (and Portugal more broadly), schedule a Portugal travel consultation with one of our Local Experts!

These are one-hour Zoom calls where you’ll get to chat with a Portugal-based travel pro about the trip you’re planning, and they’ll share their tips and advice, answer your travel questions, and help you perfect your itinerary. 

Map of Lisbon’s Neighborhoods

Map of Lisbon's Neighborhoods

To help you visualize the locations of the neighborhoods we’ll be exploring, I’ve included a handy map below.

My recommended areas are spread throughout Lisbon, so this will give you a quick overview of where each one is situated.

If you want to experience all of Lisbon’s central neighborhoods in a short time, consider joining a private guided tour with our favorite local guide, Inés a true expert in navigating the city’s winding streets and hidden gems. 

Best Areas to Stay in Lisbon

Lisbon is a city of contrasts, where historic neighborhoods seamlessly blend with modern attractions, and each area offers a unique ambiance.

Choosing the right base can make or break your experience. It determines your proximity to the sights, the local vibe you’ll immerse yourself in, and the overall character of your stay.

While some visitors prefer the convenience of central locations, others seek the authenticity of residential areas away from the tourist crowds.

Fortunately, Lisbon’s excellent public transportation system makes it easy to navigate between neighborhoods, allowing you to explore the city efficiently.

However, the true essence of your experience lies in the atmosphere and character of the area you choose to call home.

From the historic charm of Alfama to the trendy vibes of Príncipe Real, each neighborhood offers a distinct personality that caters to different travel styles and preferences.

Alfama & Mouraria

Alfama & Mouraria

Best for: History lovers and those looking for a postcard view of Lisbon. Alfama and Mouraria are a photographer’s paradise, with their pastel-colored buildings, winding alleys, and breathtaking river views.

As Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama survived the devastating earthquake of 1755, retaining its authentic charm and rich history.

The influx of tourism has led to gentrification. It’s forced out many long-time residents and replaced traditional establishments with trendy cafés and shops.

Despite these changes, the neighborhood’s allure remains intact, with its maze-like streets inviting you to get lost in its beauty.

Visit the Sé, Lisbon’s cathedral, or haggle at the flea market near the pantheon. In June, the entire area comes alive with the Santo António festivities, filling the air with the aroma of grilled sardines and the sound of live music.

Adjoining Alfama is the multicultural neighborhood of Mouraria, where you’ll find a blend of Indian spice shops, Chinese restaurants, and African grocers alongside traditional Portuguese eateries.

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My favorite hotels in Alfama & Mouraria 

  • Memmo Alfama – Offering breathtaking river and Panteão Nacional views, with a swimming pool for hot summer days ($250-350). – 
  • Solar do Castelo – Located inside the castle grounds, this four-star hotel oozes character with exposed stone walls, wooden ceilings, and antique furniture ($250-350). 
  • This is Lisbon Hostel – A budget-friendly option with dorms and private rooms, featuring a communal kitchen, lounge, and rooftop with city views ($30 dorm, $100 private room).

Avenidas Novas

Avenidas Novas

 Best for: Families and couples looking for a quieter atmosphere. Avenidas Novas is a pleasant neighborhood renowned for its wide boulevards, well-kept parks, and classic buildings.

Despite being one of Lisbon’s newest districts, it offers a “functional” vibe, primarily consisting of homes and offices.

During the week, the streets buzz with commuters, while weekends belong to families and couples exploring the Calouste Gulbenkian’s art museums or strolling through its charming gardens.

This relatively flat area is ideal for families with kids. Its excellent public transportation links make it easy to reach the city center within 20 minutes.

Avenidas Novas might not seem like the obvious choice for first-time visitors. However, it provides a welcome respite from the crowds. Yet, it still offers easy access to Lisbon’s attractions.

Indulge in a pastry at the century-old Pastelaria Versailles or explore the semi-tropical greenhouse, Estufa Fria, for a taste of Lisbon’s tranquil side.

My favorite hotels in Avenidas Novas

Here are some key points about the favorite hotels in Avenidas Novas:

  1. EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel:
    • Location: Situated near Parque Eduardo VII, offering convenient access to the park’s attractions.
    • Amenities: Features a rooftop pool, spa, and gym, providing guests with opportunities for relaxation and wellness.
    • Views: Offers rooms with stunning views of the surrounding cityscape.
    • Luxury Experience: Known for providing a luxurious experience for guests seeking comfort and indulgence during their stay.
    • Accessibility: Close proximity to public transportation, allowing easy exploration of Lisbon’s attractions and beyond.
  2. H10 Duque de Loulé:
    • Historic Charm: Occupying an 18th-century building with distinctive blue-and-white tile accents, adding to its historical charm.
    • Location Benefits: Close to Chiado’s main shopping streets, providing guests with access to Lisbon’s vibrant shopping scene.
    • City Views: Many rooms offer picturesque views of Lisbon’s iconic landmarks, including the castle and river.
    • Architectural Significance: Designed by award-winning architect Siza Vieira, offering guests a blend of modern comfort and historic elegance.
    • Boutique Experience: Provides a boutique hotel experience, catering to guests who appreciate unique and stylish accommodations.
  3. ibis Lisboa José Malhoa:
    • Modern Comfort: Offers modern rooms equipped with essential amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay for guests.
    • Affordability: Provides budget-friendly accommodation options without compromising on quality and convenience.
    • Pet-Friendly: Welcomes pets upon request, making it suitable for travelers who wish to bring their furry companions along.
    • On-Site Facilities: Features a restaurant and bar within the hotel premises, offering convenience for guests seeking dining options.
    • Accessibility: Located in Avenidas Novas, providing easy access to nearby attractions and public transportation hubs.

Each hotel in Avenidas Novas boasts unique features and benefits. They cater to various preferences and budgets of travelers visiting Lisbon.

Baixa & Chiado 

Baixa & Chiado 

Best for: Visitors short on time who want to stay close to the action. It doesn’t get any more central than Baixa and Chiado, Lisbon’s commercial hub that was extensively rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake.

While not many people live here, it’s a shopper’s paradise, with international brands like Zara and Gucci alongside traditional Portuguese stores like Luvaria Ulisses (custom-made gloves) and the iconic Livraria Bertrand bookshop

Beyond shopping, this area is home to iconic landmarks like the Terreiro do Paço square, the gothic-style Rossio railway station, and the Elevador de Santa Justa.

With everything within walking distance and direct train connections to nearby destinations like Sintra and Cascais, Baixa and Chiado offer unbeatable convenience.

For culture enthusiasts, the neighborhood boasts several theaters, cinemas, and even Michelin-starred restaurants like Alma and Belcanto

My favorite hotels in Baixa and Chiado 

  • The One Palácio da Anunciada – A luxury hotel with French-style gardens, a swimming pool, and a spa ($500). 
  • Hotel do Chiado – Designed by award-winning architect Siza Vieira, offering castle and river views ($200-300). 
  • Home Lisbon Hostel – A budget-friendly option surrounded by cafés and souvenir shops ($50 dorm, $150 private room). 

Bairro Alto

Best for: Night owls and young-spirited visitors. Bairro Alto, or “Bairro” as locals call it, is the beating heart of Lisbon’s nightlife.

This neighborhood is all about bar-hopping. You can grab a shot at one place and a cocktail at the next, with crowds spilling onto the streets.

While popular with students and bachelor parties, Bairro Alto attracts revelers of all ages looking to experience Lisbon’s vibrant party scene.

Start your evening by watching the sunset at one of the local viewpoints. Then, grab dinner at a traditional Portuguese restaurant. Alternatively, explore the neighborhood’s diverse dining options, ranging from Mexican to Korean.

Note that noise levels can be high, especially on weekends, so light sleepers may want to consider alternative areas.

During the day, Bairro Alto offers a more relaxed vibe. It boasts independent boutique shops, art ateliers like Oficina Marques, and beloved pastry spots like Manteigaria.

My favorite hotels in Bairro Alto 

  • Bairro Alto Hotel – Facing Praça Luís de Camões, this hotel offers spacious rooms inspired by Lisbon’s colorful surroundings ($350-500). 
  • The Lumiares Hotel & Spa – Featuring suites and apartments with equipped kitchens, a rooftop bar, restaurant, and spa ($300-500). 
  • Selina Secret Garden & Cowork – Ideal for remote workers, with a co-working space, yoga classes, and DJ events ($100). 

Belém 

Best for: Urban explorers, history lovers, and families. Hugged by the Tejo river, Belém is where you’ll find most of Lisbon’s museums and landmarks connected to the country’s maritime roots.

Visitors flock to the Gothic-style Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, taste the original custard tart from Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, or admire the contemporary art at MAAT museum.

While Belém can get crowded with tourists, it’s a must-visit destination for its historical significance and stunning riverfront promenade.

From MAAT, you can walk or cycle to the city center, about 30 minutes away, or take public transport if short on time.

Belém is an excellent option for a day trip from Lisbon. It’s also a great base for exploring the nearby Cascais coastline, despite having only a few high-end hotels in the area.

My favorite hotels in Belém 

My favorite hotels in Belém” offer a luxurious retreat amid Lisbon’s historic and cultural richness:

  1. Altis Belém: Situated facing the river, this upscale hotel provides a Michelin-star restaurant, swimming pools, and a spa, promising a lavish experience amid stunning surroundings.
  2. NAU Palácio do Governador: Housed within a 17th-century mansion, this hotel exudes grandeur and charm. Its proximity to Torre de Belém makes it an ideal choice for history enthusiasts.
  3. Jerónimos 8: Offering affordability without compromising comfort, this hotel is conveniently located next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Its modest rooms provide a cozy haven after a day of exploration.

 Alcântara, Estrela & Madragoa 

Best for: Remote workers, foodies, and families with kids. These three neighborhoods form a triangle along the riverfront, offering an alternative vibe with trendy cafés, picturesque gardens, and urban art murals.

In the old port of Alcântara, life revolves around the docks, with skaters, runners, and padel enthusiasts taking over the waterfront under the iconic 25 de Abril bridge. 

Alcântara is also home to creative hubs like LX Factory, a former textile factory turned into a shopping and dining destination, housing Lisbon’s stunning Ler Devagar bookstore.

Meanwhile, Estrela and Madragoa are packed with design stores, specialty coffee shops, and a vibrant expat community.

Estrela’s charming Jardim da Estrela is a favorite among families, with its kiosks, playgrounds, and monthly crafts and design market. 

My favorite hotels in Alcântara, Estrela & Madragoa 

  • Olissippo Lapa Palace – A luxury 19th-century palace hotel with a spa, two pools, and stunning river views ($600). 
  • York House – A boutique hotel next to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and several cafés ($150-200). 
  • LX Hostel – Located inside LX Factory, offering budget-friendly dorms and private rooms, pet-friendly ($40 dorm, $100 private room). 

Graça 

Best for: Repeat visitors looking for a more local atmosphere. Perched on a hill just above Alfama, Graça offers some of the best views in Lisbon, along with a cozy, down-to-earth charm.

This picturesque neighborhood has become trendier in recent years. It boasts an influx of brunch spots, natural wine bars, and colorful street art adorning every corner.

While Graça has evolved, it retains its authentic Portuguese character, with traditional restaurants and shops coexisting alongside the newcomers.

Explore the neighborhood’s charming villas like Vila Berta and Estrela d’Ouro, built as worker’s housing with terraced houses and tiled facades.

Graça offers a pleasant respite from the tourist crowds. It still provides easy access to Lisbon’s main attractions, making it perfect for repeat visitors or those seeking a more local experience.

My favorite hotels in Graça 

  • Santa Clara 1728 – An upscale hotel with six suites, ideal for a romantic getaway, located between Alfama and Graça. 
  • Albergaria Senhora do Monte – Offering incredible city views, just steps from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte ($180). 
  • Tings Lisbon – An affordable B&B with 16 rooms and a cozy outdoor patio ($120). 

Príncipe Real

Best for: Shopping, foodies, and the LGBTQ+ community. Príncipe Real is one of Lisbon’s most upscale neighborhoods, where independent boutique shops, stylish cocktail bars, and restaurants thrive.

This area is a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, with legendary clubs like Trumps and Finalmente hosting vibrant parties. 

The Embaixada is among the elegant buildings. It’s a 19th-century palace converted into a shopping gallery showcasing the work of local creatives.

The nearby neighborhood gardens are a favorite hangout spot. The Mercado Biológico farmer’s market draws crowds every weekend in search of organic produce.

Príncipe Real’s trendy atmosphere, upscale dining, and shopping options make it a popular choice. It’s sought after by those looking for a vibrant and sophisticated base in Lisbon.

My favorite hotels in Príncipe Real

  • Memmo Príncipe Real – A five-star hotel near the neighborhood gardens, with modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and a cocktail bar with panoramic city views ($450). 
  • 1869 Principe Real – A B&B with a distinctive red tile facade, offering nine rooms and suites, some with private balconies ($300). 
  • Independente Príncipe Real – Set in a 19th-century building, this stylish hostel features dorms, suites, two on-site restaurants, including a rooftop option with castle views ($150 private room).

FAQs

What is the best area to stay in Lisbon for first-time visitors? 

For first-time visitors, the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods are ideal as they offer a central location with easy access to many of Lisbon’s top attractions and excellent public transportation connections. 

Is Lisbon a safe city for tourists? 

Yes, Lisbon is generally a safe city for tourists. As with any major destination, it’s advisable to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night.

What is the best time of year to visit Lisbon? 

The best time to visit Lisbon is in the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) when the weather is mild, and the city is less crowded than during the summer peak season. 

How many days should I spend in Lisbon? 

A minimum of 3-4 days is recommended to experience the highlights of Lisbon, but 5-7 days would allow for a more leisurely pace and the opportunity to explore nearby areas like Sintra and Cascais. 

Is Lisbon an expensive city for tourists? 

Lisbon can be relatively affordable compared to other European capitals, especially when it comes to accommodation, food, and transportation. However, costs can vary widely depending on your choices and travel style. 

Conclusion 

Lisbon is a captivating city. It offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern flair. Each neighborhood contributes its own distinct character to the overall tapestry.

This comprehensive guide has provided you with the insights and recommendations you need. Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Alfama or the vibrant nightlife of Bairro Alto, you’ll find the perfect base for your Lisbon adventure. Alternatively, if you prefer the trendy vibe of Príncipe Real, that’s also an option.

Choosing the right neighborhood maximizes your sightseeing time. It also immerses you in the authentic local atmosphere, making this city special.

Embrace the spirit of Lisbon. Let this guide be your companion as you uncover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories in Portugal’s captivating capital.

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