A scenic, cosmopolitan city with friendly vibes, Lisbon makes a strong case for being the best place to visit in Portugal. But what’s the best area to stay in Lisbon? From Bairro Alto to Belém, we’re covering six of our favorites below.
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6 choices for the best area to stay in Lisbon, from Bairro Alto to Belém
Read on for a breakdown of the best areas to stay in Lisbon.
1 & 2. Bairro Alto & Cais do Sodré: vibrant, bohemian neighborhoods with great nightlife variety
A charming, historic neighborhood to explore by day turns into one of Lisbon’s coolest nightlife hubs after dark. Bairro Alto hosts an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants, including trendy spots and more traditional venues filled with the melancholy melodies of live Fado music.
Closer to Lisbon’s waterfront, Cais do Sodré has great nightlife as well, especially along vibrant Pink Street. Cais do Sodré's rise to prominence is rather recent, too, sparked by a thriving foodie scene cultivated by places like Time Out Market Lisboa.
Some of the top luxury hotels in Lisbon, Portugal are either in or within walking distance of Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré. Moreover, both neighborhoods are relatively close to the center of Lisbon, so staying in either puts much of the rest of the city within reach.
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3. Baixa: the best area to stay in Lisbon for variety
Baixa may be the overall best area to stay in Lisbon if this is your first visit or if you’re keen on experiencing a little bit of everything the city has to offer, from shopping to sightseeing. Rows of shops, cafés and restaurants fill the neighborhood’s walkable, landmark- and tile-filled streets.
Many of Baixa’s structures date back to the years following the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, offering a masterclass in Neoclassical architecture. Moreover, the neighborhood is well connected to the rest of Lisbon, offering a variety of convenient transportation options.
(P.S. When’s the best time to visit Portugal? Our guide has answers.)
4. Alfama: one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighborhoods
To a large extent, Alfama offers a slower pace and more traditional feel than bustling Baixa. Although, when cruise ships dock in Lisbon, the Alfama can feel flooded with passengers.
Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon. Likewise, it’s home to many of the city’s most intriguing landmarks, including the Lisbon Cathedral and Castelo de S. Jorge (St. Jorge’s Castle), the latter of which offers glorious views of the city at large.
Navigating the medieval maze of Alfama's streets can be a little confusing compared to the modern Baixa, but the trade-off is that Alfama feels a little more authentic to Lisbon’s history and culture (while Baixa is a delight to explore, it certainly draws in the most traffic, too). In line with the more intimate vibe, you’ll find some of the best boutique hotels in Lisbon in Alfama (along with many of the most authentic Fado restaurants).
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5. Chiado: among the best areas to stay in Lisbon for upscale hotels
Situated between Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodré and Baixa, Chiado has a distinct look and feel spurred by its complete revival in the early 90s after a devastating fire. Today, Chiado enjoys a largely upscale atmosphere, with ritzy boutiques, glamorous theaters and notable museums, like Lisbon’s National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Following suit with the high-end boutiques and fine-dining choices, Chiado’s hotels are also among the best in Lisbon, with notable options including Barrio Alto Hotel (it’s technically on Chiado and Barrio Alto’s border, so we’re counting it) and LX Boutique hotel.
6. Belém: a culturally rich and scenic neighborhood along Lisbon’s southwestern waterfront
Belém has a strong claim for being the best area to stay in Lisbon for culture junkies and travelers who prefer a laid-back setting for their accommodations.
There’s a lot to do in Lisbon around Belém, such as touring Belém Tower or checking out some of Lisbon’s most prestigious museums. But because the area is a bit removed from the center of the city, it’s noticeably quieter than the areas we’ve mentioned thus far. The trade-off is that accessing the other neighborhoods from Belém can actually be a little difficult without prior planning (walking is more or less out of the question, but a car ride from the far side of Belém to Baixa usually only takes around 15 minutes).
Otherwise, Belém is a lovely area offering scenic views of the Tagus and gorgeous historical sights.
Sidenote: Belém is also famous for pastéis de nata, a local pastry famous in the Portuguese-speaking world.
(Looking for more itinerary ideas? Check out our 3-day Lisbon itinerary.)
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Have more questions? Can’t decide between two or more of the best areas to stay in Lisbon? Wondering which hotels in Lisbon fit your trip vibe? We can help with any and all of your travel questions. All you have to do?
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