You have decided to visit Lisbon (YAY!), and now you’re wondering where is the best place to stay. There is no “BEST” place but there is a best place for YOU. Each area and neighborhood has a totally unique vibe. Considering that you should decide where to stay based on:
- Price– What can you afford for the time you’re there. If you are only there a few days then maybe you want to go all out, but if you are there for awhile you might want something a little cheaper. Luckily Lisbon is affordable for a European country so you get decent bang for your buck.
- What you want to do – Are you interested in the historic side of Lisbon, or are you there to go out at night? You always want to put your hotel room near the attractions you’re most interested in. This makes the most of your precious time on vacation.
- What kind of feel you want – Do you want to be immersed in a really authentic Portuguese neighborhood where people are out living their daily lives, or are you wanting to be in the touristy area where things are catered towards you? Yes you are a tourist, and no, touristy doesn’t necessarily equal bad. You need to be honest about what you want to be around.
Baixa is the most central neighborhood. This part of the city was completely rebuilt in the 1700’s after a massive earthquake. This is where most of the touristy things to do are. Most of the restaurants, clubs and shops are here. It is also the busiest, and the priciest area. Some of the attractions located here are: The Santa Justa Lift,
Avenida da Liberdade, and many emblematic squares where you can find locals and tourists.
You will like Baixa if you:
- You really want to be in the thick of the action
- You want to go shopping a lot
- You want to go to the nicest restaurants
- You want to go out to the clubs at night
- Noise and traffic don’t bother you
- You don’t want to walk far to see the sights
- You don’t mind spending extra on accommodations
Chiado is the most elegant neighborhood in Lisbon. It has stately buildings from the 1700’s, but many of them were restored in the 1990’s after a devastating fire in 1988. This neighborhood is very trendy with it’s stores, cafes, and restaurants. This area has a very cosmopolitan vibe. Located next to Baixa and Bairro Alto.
You will like Chiado if :
- You love shopping at high end international brands
- want to spend your day in cafes
- You enjoy strolling the promenades
- You want to see beautiful architecture
- You want to visit the trendiest places
- You like museums
- You don’t mind spending a little extra
This neighborhood is a shabby chic mix of sleepy authentic neighborhood by day and party area at night. This is where the bars spill out on to the streets. It is an authentic neighborhood close to the city center. You will find street art and laundry hanging in windows. Stay here if you want the most hipster happening place. Just realize the Portuguese stay out LATE so if you are a light sleeper this might not be the place for you.
You will like Bairro Alto if:
- You are really into art and all things hipster
- You love going out at night
- You sleep like the dead
- You want to experience an authentic neighborhood
- You don’t need a super polished experience
- You are looking for LGBT friendly places
- You want to save a little money
Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods is all of Europe. It is a Medieval area that was spared by the 1755 earthquake. Full of narrow streets and alleys. This is the most authentic and in my opinion interesting neighborhood in Lisbon. It has been through many phases. Once the Moorish and Jewish district, followed by an area inhabited by fisherman families. It still holds to it’s past. It is the best place to wander in the city and see what you can discover. It is one of the best areas to experience Fado, the music style of melancholic singing that originated in bars and pubs in the area.
You will like Alfama if:
- You want to experience the soul of Lisbon
- You want to see old historic buildings
- You want to see the best examples of Azulejo Tiles
- You want to experience Fado music
- Your ideal day is spent wandering the streets
- You want to be away from the hustle and bustle
Belem is the museum area of Lisbon. This is where you will find monuments dedicated to the Portuguese explorers, the Tower of Belem, and tons of museums. The famous
Pastéis de Belém originated here and you can find it all over the place. This neighborhood has beautiful waterfront views and promenades to walk on. It is also home to the Royal Palace and the Botanical Gardens.
You will like Belem if:
- You love visiting museums and monuments
- You are obsessed with history
- You love pastry
- You don’t want to be in the city center, but still want lots to do
- You aren’t terribly interested in going out at night
- You love gardens
- You want to visit the Royal palace
Park of the Nations
Created in 1998 for the Lisbon World Exposition this area has a more modern feel. The area is easy to navigate and is great if you have children. This is where you will find the second largest Aquarium in Europe, The Oceanário de Lisboa. The Water Garden is a wonderful attraction especially for kids. You will find modern shopping malls, lots of restaurants, parks, and pedestrian areas. The Vasco da Gama Tower is where you can get a great view of Lisbon. If you plan of visiting lots of other areas in Portugal this area is great. Home to the beautiful Oriente train station it is connected to regional and local trains, metros, and buses. It is pretty far for walking to the other parts of Lisbon but if you have a city pass you are well connected via public transportation.
You will like Park of the Nations if:
- You want to be in a modern area of the city
- You want to be able to travel to other parts of Portugal easily
- You want to get around via public transportation
- You are getting the Lisboa Card
- You want the most modern hotels and accommodations
- You like spending time in parks and pedestrian areas
- You are travelling with children
There are other neighborhoods in Lisbon, but these are my favorites for tourists. You will find the most to see and do in these places. Most of the hotels and Airbnb‘s are in these neighborhoods as well. Staying further out may save you money, but keep in mind your time is more valuable. If you spend your whole day travelling to and from your hotel you aren’t going to get to experience as much. I hope this helps you pick your best neighborhood.