Traveler’s Guide to The City of Seven Hills: Where to Stay in Lisbon Portugal

By Camila Perez on Dec 13, 2019

Thanks to gorgeous views, a warm, sunny climate, and a vibrant atmosphere that’s bursting with young, creative energy, Lisbon is among the world’s most exciting cities. Famous for its history, it’s a place where ancient buildings rub elbows with glamorous clubs and cozy coffee shops. Now more than ever, it’s gaining fame as an exciting urban hub where art, entrepreneurship, and a second to none nightlife come together. This hotspot offers something for everyone!

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. About Lisbon
  • 2. A quick guide to the best neighborhoods in Lisbon: Where to Stay
  • 3. Lisbon Attractions: Things to See and Do
  • 4. Things to Do Near Lisbon
  • 5. Where to Stay in Lisbon: Prices

In this guide, we’ll cover best neighborhoods in Lisbon, with our unique take on different activities to enjoy throughout the city. As it turns out, the answer to the question of where to stay in Lisbon Portugal depends on what you’re hoping to get from your trip. Let’s take a closer look!

About Lisbon

Recently crowned Europe’s answer to San Francisco, it’s only in the last few years that Lisbon Portugal has become the new capital of cool. Bursting with a hub of great bars, restaurants, breathtaking scenery, and historical sites, this city of sunshine has become an attractive option for artists and young entrepreneurs alike. The city is perched right on the Atlantic Ocean, with even more water in view thanks to its position along the northern bank of the Tejo river.

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Lisbon is divided into several major districts, which you’ll find on our Lisbon neighborhood map. Depending on your priorities, any one of them could be your personal answer to the question of where to stay in Lisbon.
Alfama: Wander the streets of Alfama, and you’ll notice signs of the area’s Moorish roots. Streets seem to wind with a will of their own and buildings are situated almost on top of one another. Many sites in this Lisbon district date back to the middle ages; they’re among the buildings that were spared in the 1755 earthquake.

Praça do Comércio: Also known as Terreiro do Paco, which means “grounds of the palace,” this plaza faces the river and serves as a jumping-off point for downtown destinations

Rossio: The main square, sometimes described as Lisbon’s nerve center. It’s home to Café Nicola, which is one of Lisbon’s most famous coffee shops, and a popular place for artists, entrepreneurs, and locals to unwind.

Principe Real: A trendy Lisbon district with lots of independent boutiques and local shops to explore.

Chiado: A historic section, with elegant shops, cafes, and artwork. Discover incredible views along the old streets of the Bairro Alto neighborhood, which is also home to some of Lisbon’s best restaurants and hottest nightclubs.

Downtown: Also known as Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown area was rebuilt after much of its infrastructure was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.

A quick guide to the best neighborhoods in Lisbon: Where to Stay

“Where’s the best area to stay in Lisbon?” This is a question we hear frequently, and the answer depends on what you’re looking for.

Cais do Sodre: Number one for nightlife, culture, and more

Where to stay in Lisbon if you’re hoping to find art, history, culture, and nightlife all in one neighborhood? If you’ve got lots of things you’d like to see and do, Cais de Sodre is the place to be. Here you’ll find endless opportunities to experience the best of Lisbon.

There are a few reasons why many visitors find that Cais do Sodre is the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon. This trendy area is within easy reach of cool vintage shops, beautiful art galleries, wonderful cafes, and marvelous riverfront venues. If you’re planning a visit to LUX Fragil, which holds claim to fame as one of Lisbon’s biggest (and best) nightclubs, you’ll appreciate Cais do Sodre for its close proximity and affordable, friendly hotels.

Cais do Sodre is effortlessly fashionable yet unpretentious. This diverse neighborhood boasts a welcoming atmosphere, where digital nomads and students rub elbows with visitors, adding to its vibrant appeal. A train station offers direct connections to Lisbon’s beaches, which are just about 20 minutes away. Timeout Market showcases an endless array of food stalls, and the colorful Municipal market makes for a unique shopping experience. All along Pink Street, which is named in honor of its colorful pavement, nightclubs and bars offer after-hours fun, where you can sip local ginjinha and dance to local beats till the early hours.

Because this neighborhood is within a short distance of so many popular attractions and offers so many things to do, it’s our top pick for the best place to stay in Lisbon.

Baixa Chiado: Best for culture & business

Overall, Baixa Chiado is among the most popular places for travelers to call their home away from home as it is close to sightseeing and shops, as well as bars, restaurants, and transportation. It’s definitely the best place to stay in Lisbon for those who prefer luxury over affordability, as there are some luxurious properties from which to choose. Baixa Lisbon hotels typically offer a unique boutique atmosphere, and many offer some intriguing historic features. If you’re traveling on business, the Baixa Chiado area offers close proximity to the Lisbon city centre, where large banks and companies share wide avenues with supermarkets, restaurants, and more.

Principe Real: Best for shopping

Urban concept shops, amazing designer stores, and close proximity to Bairro Alto make Principe Real an up-and-coming neighborhood. It’s probably the best place to stay in Lisbon for those who want to prioritize shopping, and who prefer five-star hotels that boast incredible design details along with luxurious extras. If money is no object, you’ll want to shortlist Principe Real.

Bairro Alto: Perfect for partying

Bairro Alto towers high above downtown Lisbon. During the daytime, it is best-known for its views. Once it’s time to party, bars and restaurants open their ground floor doors wide to welcome guests. If you’re looking for something cheap and within close proximity to exciting hotspots, then this might be the best place to stay in Lisbon. Be careful though – the partying lasts well into the early hours, with happy crowds gathering in the streets and flowing from one establishment to the next. If you need peace and quiet to sleep, it’s best to choose a different place to stay. Cais de Sodre is a good bet.

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Alfama: Best for romance and history

Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood features cobbled streets, many of which are too narrow for cars. St. George’s castle is Alfama’s crowning glory, and a fantastic 12th century cathedral adds to the historic atmosphere of Lisbon old town. There are a few nice three- and four-star hotels here, along with some cool self-catering options. The main drawback to this neighborhood is that it is difficult for cars to access, and it can be tough to navigate after dark. If you are a bit of a homebody even when you’re on vacation, and if Lisbon’s history is your number one reason for visiting though, you are quite likely to enjoy your stay in Alfama and find that it’s the perfect answer to your question about where to stay in Lisbon.

Lisbon Attractions: Things to See and Do

Lisbon neighborhoods may flow almost seamlessly into one another, but each is famous for distinct attractions. Here’s a sampling of things to do that might help you come closer to a decision about where to stay in Lisbon. The good news is that it’s very easy to get around this city. There’s no need to commit to just one of Lisbon’s neighborhoods since you can get a feel for all of them during your stay.

Cais do Sodre’s Praça do Comércio: Belém is an ancient settlement that perches on the bank of the River Tagus, putting a visit at the top of many Lisbon to-do lists. Amazing monuments and incredible architecture will take your breath away. There are two monuments not to miss: Both the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém tower are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lisbon Maritime Museum is here, and so is Berardo Collection, which is one of Europe’s most prominent modern art galleries.

Alfama: Don’t miss the opportunity to take an Old Town tour through the most historic part of Lisbon. If you’re concerned about all the hills, you can relax! There are elevators to the top and most tours follow a downward path. Tuktuk tours offer an even easier experience.

Rossio: You’ll find no shortage of attractions in the Rossio area, which is within easy proximity to major landmarks. This part of Lisbon is flatter than many other neighborhoods, providing a welcome break from all the hills. Be sure to take the Elevador de Santa Justa to Bairro Alto while you’re here.
Principe Real: Love to shop? You’ll enjoy Principe Real for its charming venues including a variety of unique shops and cafes. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing.

Chiado: If you enjoy history, don’t miss Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood. Beautiful architecture abounds; see the Sao Carlos theatre, relax in one of the historic coffee shops, and explore the site of Convento do Carmo, which was a gothic convent and which remains one of the most iconic sites in Lisbon. It is home to the Museum of Cormo, which offers a strong focus on archaeology.

Downtown Lisbon (Baixa): Spend at least one day exploring Baixa Lisbon, where historic buildings, broad plazas, street art, cafes, and shops come together to create an unforgettable atmosphere. Take a walking tour if you’d like more insight.

Things to Do Near Lisbon

Now that you know more about where to stay in Lisbon, you might be curious about the potential for side trips to some Portuguese hot spots outside the city. Here are a few more destinations to consider if you have some time to spend exploring this beautiful country.

Porto is within easy distance, but its gardens, museums, and serenading guitarists make if feel like a world away. Surfing, wineries, and galleries top the list of things to do around Porto.

Ericeira is a short distance away. Famous for its beaches and surfing, and home to the fabled Pedra Blanca World Surf Reserve, it’s an incredible place where Sea caves beckon and stunning rock formations beg to be climbed.

Halfway between Lisbon and Faro, along Portugal’s Alentejo Coast, you’ll find Milfontes. Treks through national parks, meals that put fresh, local ingredients in the spotlight, wine tasting, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing are a few highlights.

Where to Stay in Lisbon: Prices

You’re likely to find attractive pricing on hotels in Lisbon, wherever you choose to stay, and whenever you plan to arrive. Booking early can help you get the room you want at a price that suits your budget.

Average hotel prices vary from one type of lodging to the next. If budget is your number one deciding factor, you’ll be glad to find that there are many excellent options available for well under $100. Groups and backpackers can save even more by opting for hostel-style lodgings that provide easy access to shared amenities while offering comfortable beds to suit even the most frugal of budgets.

For the very best of both worlds and close proximity to many historic sites and attractions, consider staying in Cais do Sodre, which many agree is the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon. There’s enough history, art, and entertainment here to keep you occupied for weeks, and traveler-friendly accommodations welcome a diverse crowd including backpackers, surfers, scuba divers, and history buffs who long for the kind of adventures that only Lisbon can offer. While other neighborhoods certainly hold a special appeal all their own, Cais do Sodre truly has it all.

Selina Secret Garden Lisbon

Enjoy the ultimate remote living experience and find your home-away-from-home at Selina Secret Garden Lisbon!

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