Planning a trip to Portugal this year?
If you are wondering where to stay in Lisbon, it can be a bit overwhelming to pick a hotel, when you aren’t familiar with the different parts of the city. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the area you will stay in during your travels, including how you will get around, do you want to walk to restaurants and coffee, or are you willing to go far from the city center to experience historical landmarks or find some peace and quiet?
For the best neighborhood for sightseeing and first-time visitors, you will want to stay in Baixa. It’s in central Lisbon, and is close to lots of tourist attractions. Plus, it’s easy to walk to some of the other great neighborhoods in town.
In this article, we will explain the different neighborhoods in Lisbon you should consider staying in, depending on your travel style. We have a quiet neighborhood, an area for late-nighters, and more.
Where To Stay In Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. It is a charismatic and vibrant city where you can experience a lot of different things. Lisbon, also being the largest city in Portugal, has a lot of traditional heritage buildings as well as modern areas.
Lisbon has a subtropical Mediterranean climate which makes it a popular holiday destination for tourists. You can visit Lisbon off-season if you want to avoid too many crowds. People usually go to Lisbon during the summer months as there are different beaches on Lisbon’s coastline.
But, Lisbon is not just for beach people. Lisbon is full of life with its nightlife, traditional buildings, delicious food, wine, good music, and friendly locals.
There are several different neighborhoods where you can stay in Lisbon. To get around the city, it’s fairly easy to walk everywhere, but there is a convenient public transportation system as well, including buses, trams, and subway trains. You will see the Eléctrico, or the tram, operating around Lisbon as most of Lisbon’s streets are narrow and cannot be accessed by buses.
During the 18th century, a part of Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake.
The District of Baixa was one of those cities that were hit badly. After Baixa was destroyed, it was later rebuilt by the Marquis of Pombal. The Marquis turned the twisting narrow streets of Naixa into the broad avenues that you see today.
Renowned for its emblematic squares and streets, this neighborhood boasts the “Pombaline” style in a lot of buildings. The “Pombaline” style was named after the same Marquis who rebuilt Baixa after the devastating earthquake. His name was Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo.
What to see in Baixa:
The Praça do Comércio is a plaza where you can see the Arco da Rua Augusta or the Rua Augusta Arch. This is a historic building with wonderful architecture and historical meaning. The arch was built after the city’s reconstruction after the earthquake. It has a viewing platform on top so you can have a good look at the Baixa area.
If you want to go up to one of the steepest hills in Lisbon, the Elevador de Santa Justa will take you there. The Santa Justa elevator is a wonderful piece of architecture designed by Raoul Mesnier, once a student of Gustave Eiffel. The exterior of the elevator is made from wrought iron while the inside of the cabin is made of polished wood and brass details.
Baixa sits at the center of Lisbon where there are a lot of shops and open-air cafes for you to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Just 1.3km from Baixa is the Chiado neighborhood. If you like to go shopping and meet up with your friends for coffee, Chiado is a good area to stay in.
One of the main squares in Chiado is the Largo Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro. Here you can see one of the most photographed tiled buildings from 1863.
The Chiado area is rich in culture with its classic theaters and bookshops. In fact, the oldest bookshop in the world is located in Chiado. Founded in 1732, the Livraria Bertrand is still in operation so make sure to give it a visit when you are in Lisbon.
What to do in Chiado:
Like Baixa, the Chiado area is home to beautiful architecture.
You can see the gothic ruins of the 14th-century church in Lisbon. The Convento do Carmo was never fully rebuilt after the earthquake hit the city in 1755. Now it stands as military quarters.
You can also check out The National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado. This was a former convent in 1911 and was converted and renovated into a museum in 1994.
If you want to see Lisbon’s picturesque road, head on to Praça Luís de Camões. This is a town square where you can chill by the monument and take in the sights of traditional buildings, and beautiful streets, and tourists and locals alike going about their day.
El Bairro Alto
About an 11-minute drive from Baixa is where you can find Lisbon’s party scene. If you are in Lisbon and you like to party, you will like staying in Bairro Alto.
The streets of Bairro Alto are filled with bars and you will most likely find the streets of Bairro Alto livelier at night rather than in the daytime. Most people find it hard to navigate around Bairro Alto because of uneven sidewalks. But it is nice to have a stroll and it is interesting to note that Bairro Alto has an orthogonal structure. This means that the streets are straight and intersect at a right angle.
But, nightlife aside, this area in Lisbon has emerging street art and historical sights that you can go to during the day. You can also find yourself eating cuisines from different parts of the world when you are in this area.
What to do in El Bairro Alto:
People usually stay here for the nightlife but, aside from bar-hopping, you can spot works of emerging local artists on the walls and buildings in Bairro Alto.
If you would like to have a good view of the city, you can head on to Miradouro São Alcântara.
Another neighborhood that is near Lisbon city centre is Príncipe Real.
This area does not offer many tourist attractions so it might not be your first choice of where to stay in Lisbon. But, if you want to get away from too many crowds, you can stay in Príncipe Real.
This neighborhood is considered one of the more affluent parts of Lisbon.
This exclusive and affluent district offers traditional houses and boutique shops where you can buy gifts to give your family and friends back home.
What to do in Príncipe Real:
This area’s neighbor is Bairro Alto, so if you don’t like the party scene you can stay in Príncipe Real to get peace and quiet at night then head on to Miradouro São Alcântara during the day to get the best views of Lisbon.
If you are more into shopping and fine dining, or just eating in general, the Embaixada Concept Store is a shopping gallery where you can shop and dine in an oriental-inspired setting.
Our next area is quite far from the heart of Lisbon. A 30-minute drive from Baixa is the neighborhood of Belém.
If you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of central Lisbon, you might want to consider staying in Belém. This area is known for its historic monuments and its museum district. If you like historical places, then this area is for you.
In Belém, you can find the Belém Tower, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and the Jerónimos Monastery. You can also find the official residence of the president of Portugal here, which is the Belém Palace.
The architecture and design of these buildings and monuments will leave you in awe.
What to do in Belém:
You can go take a walk in parks or see historical landmarks in Belém.
The Torre de Belém is a fort to guard Lisbon in case of attacks from the sea. This tower along with the Jéronimos Monastery are two of Portugal’s World Heritage Sites.
The Jéronimos Monastery has amazing architecture and the craftsmanship is just full of details.
Another impressive tourist attraction to see in Belém is the Padrão dos Decobrimentos. This monument can be seen at the banks of Tejo Estuary. If you look at the monument from afar, you can see a boat filled with people. This monument was built to celebrate Portugal’s seafaring history.
It is not all the historical buildings that you can see in Belém. There are also modern and contemporary buildings that you can enjoy.
Belém houses the Belém’s Museum of Arts, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) as well as the Centro Cultural de Belém, which is an architectural landmark, art gallery, and theater.
Going back near central Lisbon, we have the Alfama district,
This district is the oldest area in Lisbon. It survived the earthquake that happened in 1755 because of its dense bedrock foundation.
Alfama is an old-fashioned district and it can really make you feel like you have stepped back in time. If you like looking at traditional buildings and staying at unique hostels, Alfama is worth a look.
What to do in Alfama:
Alfama mostly has very narrow streets so you can either walk around or ride the tram. You can walk on the narrow cobbled lanes and find yourself eating at backstreet restaurants.
If you want to see more historical buildings, you can find the Sé Cathedral in Alfama. This cathedral was first constructed in the 12th century. Aside from landmarks and food, you can also immerse yourself in Portugal’s famous musical tradition, Fado music.
You will also find Castelo de São Jorge in the district of Alfama. This castle sits on the city’s highest hill.
Avenida Da Liberdade
A 14-minute walk from Baixa can transport you to Avenida Da Liberdade. This boulevard is considered the most expensive street in Lisbon. The pavements are covered in mosaics it looks like you are walking on art.
You can find a lot of cafes with covered terraces if you find yourself wanting to take a break from walking along the boulevard. You can also find and sample local and international cuisine if you get hungry.
Beneath the avenue is Lisbon’s oldest metro line, the blue line.
What to do in Avenida Da Liberdade:
You can get a panoramic view of central Lisbon if you go to Edward VII Park. This is the biggest park in central Lisbon where you can relax and take a look at some exotic plants.
You can also spend your day at the Medeiros e Almeida Museum. This museum was once a mansion and now it houses a collection of 17th to 20th-century art.
You can travel from Avenida Da Liberdade to Bairro Alto via Elevador Da Glória, one of Lisbon’s emblematic funiculars.
You can also find boutique hotels in Lisbon that are just a walking distance from all the hottest spots. Some of these boutique hotels have spacious rooms so you can have a relaxing rest after a long day of sightseeing.
When choosing a hotel, find one that is near the metro station, bus, or tram station for convenient travel, especially if you want to take a day trip to the beach.
For a modern hotel and comfy beds, check out the Best Boutique Hotels in Lisbon.
If you want to make the most out of seeing different areas and experiencing tourist attractions in Lisbon, the best area for that is Baixa. Its central location in Lisbon makes it easy to get around with the convenient public transportation system or walking.
Lisbon is a popular tourist destination and you can surely find an area where you can stay that fits your needs. We have included different options as we know not all people prefer the same area to stay in. Whether you enjoy the nightlife or the quiet scenery, Lisbon has a place for you.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and that this helped you in deciding on a place to stay when you travel to Portugal!