Are you arriving soon in the Portuguese capital and looking for where to stay in lisbon ? Here is our guide to the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon and book your accommodation. Where to sleep in Lisbon?
Inhabited since Neolithic times, Lisbon, the westernmost capital of Europe, has a breathtaking historical and cultural heritage. The problem is that you have no idea which neighborhood to stay in Lisbon. Is not it ? Do you want to sleep in the historic district, uptown, near popular areas, in a hostel , near alternative bars, starred restaurants or high-end stores?
Classified as a “world city” according to a ranking of the most influential metropolises of globalization, Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, with an area of 85 km². It is a metropolis almost as big as Paris, but which has four times fewer inhabitants: figures which promise a rather pleasant living environment among Lisbon residents.
There are some real bargains on accommodation to be had in the low season, but the town is swamped with tourists from June to September. Accommodation prices are at their highest during the summer and you will need to book in advance to avoid disappointment. We’ve put together a list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon to help you plan your trip to Portugal
Where to stay in lisbon ? Baixa , the “touristy Lisbon”
A few steps away, where most of Lisbon’s nightlife is expressed, is this historic district, a favorite spot for tourists. It was entirely rebuilt by Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo – Prime Minister of Joseph I of Portugal from 1750 to 1777 – after the devastating earthquake of 1755, which decimated nearly 25% of the population of Lisbon.
It is a relatively “new” district. It is characterized by its perpendicular streets, an urban plan different from other districts. There are also magnificent squares, interconnected by long avenues adorned with 18th century buildings.
Large hotels and small cafes mark the atmosphere of the district where most tourists come.
The Baixa district is very central, a stone’s throw from Commerce Square and the Castle of São Jorge , from the quays of the Tagus and up to Liberty Avenue. Admire the ruins of the Convent of the Carmelites, destroyed after the earthquake, and never rebuilt.
The busy and often photographed Augusta Street with its arch speaks for itself: you will enjoy this district, but nevertheless densely populated and noisy. The nightlife in the west – Bairro Alto -, the cultural visit in the east – Alfama -, a large number of restaurants, shops and bars await you, the ideal place to stay in Lisbon.
Marked by a maze of small interlocking alleys, Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest district. This imbroglio of picturesque streets joins the hill of Saint George’s Castle to the Tagus estuary, while crossing most of Lisbon’s historical monuments: the Sé Cathedral, the Castle of Saint George, the National Pantheon and the Church of Saint Anthony, for example.
Its name, derived from Arabic, means “a thousand springs”. While the area was once populated outside the city by sailors and port workers, it had a bad reputation.
But nowadays, it is rather trendy and therefore displays a singular contrast brought by this phenomenon of progressive gentrification. It is in this area that you can take the famous yellow tram from the 1930s – because the line is not authorized to receive modern trams – to meander from Graça to Baixa.
Also visit the Lisbon Castle and climb up to the Santa Luzia viewpoint to get a breathtaking view of Lisbon. Formerly popular district, it is reputed to have been the cradle of the emergence of fado, a style of music symbolic of Portugal.
Where to stay in lisbon ? Bairro Alto , the “festive Lisbon”
By day, the Bairro Alto district does not offer much at first sight. There’s not much to do or see there, except maybe the Church of St. Roch in Lisbon and see a play at the Bairro theatre. You have to wait until dusk to start seeing the streets come alive: this is where the Portuguese youth, nocturnal animals, gather in countless small bars to party until the end of the night. Accessible by the Baixa-Chiado metro station, this district, perched on a hill, overlooks the rest of the city.
Festive bars to shake your head to the sound of fado and other cafes with a more intimate atmosphere are the charm of Bairro Alto. In the evening, the cobbled streets are full of young and old, foreigners, locals, so this is a place to stay in Lisbon if you like beer, wine, festive evenings to prolong the aperitif until at dawn. On the other hand, choose quieter streets if you are more of a family or looking for a more relaxing atmosphere.
Where to stay in lisbon ? Chiado, the “chic and cultural Lisbon”
Located between Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina, Chiado has been inhabited since Roman times. It is a rather commercial and chic district. People come here to buy books, clothes and enjoy a sunny terrace. This is where cultural Lisbon lives, because the district is full of theaters and museums of all kinds. For example, see an opera at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos , Lisbon’s main opera house. On sunny days – which are not lacking – enjoy a walk in the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara, a high green space offering a splendid view of the city center and its hills.
Where to stay in lisbon ? Belém, the “Lisbon of explorers”
The name of the district would come from “Bethlehem”, which would have drifted slowly towards Belém over the course of History.
It is the historical place of life of the upper middle class and the golden classes of Lisbon, who – before gentrification – fled the debauchery of the working-class neighborhoods where the working classes worked and slumped.
It is undoubtedly for its eponymous tower that the district is known: when you go to Lisbon, you cannot miss the Belém tower, six kilometers west of the city center. On the quays of the Tagus, it is here that there were old ports which allowed the great explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries to leave to sail towards unknown waters to discover the world.
If you are fascinated by modern history, then this is the area to stay in Lisbon for you. Among these great navigators, it is there that the famous Vasco de Gama (1460 or 1469-1524), set sail for India in 1497.
In the neighborhood you can also visit the Monument to the Discoveries and the Jeronimos Monastery , built in homage to the aforementioned navigator.
The other essentials of the district: the cultural center of Belém, museum of modern and contemporary art, the national coach museum, the national museum of Belém, the navy museum, the monument to the glory of overseas combatants , the Império Square garden, and the famous Pastéis de Belém (emblematic Portuguese pastry). This district, its gardens and walks, can be very crowded, especially in summer, but it is a very good area to stay in Lisbon, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
Where to stay in lisbon ? Santo Antonio
Although it is one of the newest municipalities in the city, San Antonio still houses some of its oldest architecture. The main attraction is the Cathedral of San Antonio, which leaves its visitors speechless.
It is one of the only churches to survive the devastating earthquake of 1774, and is therefore one of the last remnants of the city’s past. It is an excellent base for sleeping in Lisbon since the Santo Antonio district is well served by public transport and very close to the tourist sites of central LisbonWhere to stay in lisbon ? Misericordi
This small neighborhood looks like a village in the middle of Lisbon. Until now, Misericórdia has managed to escape gentrification and is home to small independent shops that have been run by generations of the same family. Unfortunately, this also means that this area is a bit run down and businesses can’t afford to do some much needed renovations. That said, staying in this district of Lisbon is an opportunity to take advantage of a central location with lower accommodation prices.