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Where to stay in Lisbon first time visitor guide

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Wondering where to stay in Lisbon first time and find all attractions nearby? We got you covered in this post with all the essential tips, best neighborhood areas, top hotels and apartments for your first ever trip to Lisbon Portugal.

Which is the best area to stay in Lisbon for first time visitors?

Guide to where to stay in Lisbon first time

As a first time traveler, stay at the historic city centre or close to it so that you can explore major sightseeing attractions, restaurants and cafes within walking distance. Best areas to stay in Lisbon are Baixa, Chiado, Avenida da Liberdade and Alfama. 

Lisbon has steep hills, and if you are not very fond of walking stick to Baixa district and the Avenida da Liberdade, they have fewer hills than Chiado, and Alfama. For nightlife enthusiasts, opt for Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodré districts. 

My personal favorites are Chiado and Alfama. Yes, there is a ton of walking involved, but you can also take the tram to rest your legs. Chiado is the central core of Lisbon, and Alfama is one of the oldest districts filled with charming alleys and buildings – packed with a lot of personality. 

We will share all the various neighborhoods in detail, plus provide you with the top hotel and apartment picks. 

In a hurry? Here are the top picks for hotels in Lisbon

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As a Booking and an Airbnb Associate, we may earn when you book through these links.

Hotel Baixa

  • Top rated hotel
  • Perfect for couples stay
  • Central location

Hotel do Chiado

  • Free breakfast
  • Suite with great views
  • Central location

Graca Riverview

  • Airbnb
  • Great views
  • Offbeat area

Casa do Barão

  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Homely, vintage stay
  • Central location

Chiado 44

  • Budget Boutique stay
  • Suite with great views
  • Central location

Alfama Apartment

  • Airbnb
  • Great views w/ balcony
  • Historic area

READ: Best Airbnbs in Lisbon Portugal

Best Places to stay in Lisbon: First Time Visitors


Baixa District: Historic Centre of Lisbon

Baixa district forms the historic centre of Lisbon. This is where all the sightseeing attractions, cafes and transportation can be easily located. Baixa, on the map, extends from the banks of the Tejo Estuary in the south, up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal in the north. 

It is located between the two hills of the Alfama and Chiado districts, and that’s why sometimes you will find people, including hotel/Airbnb bookings citing Baixa-Chiado as one area. Don’t worry the areas are not too far from each other, Lisbon central area is very walkable. And if you are using the tram/train – the station is the same to reach both Baixa and Chiado.

Commerce Square
Commerce Square

So why should you stay in Baixa and what is there to see? 

  • The Baixa district is filled with plazas, grand avenues, and amazing touristy attractions. The entire place is always bustling with energy, and yes there is so much history!
  • Baixa, means ‘low’, and it refers to the flat ground level of the central district. When the world’s most powerful earthquakes devastated the city’s core, a new way of the urban layout was developed. This new style with grids and Pombaline architecture (post earthquake architecture by Marquis of Pombal), goes to show how resilient Lisbon has been for centuries. 
  • You will LOVE the cultural vibes in Baixa. It is a touristy area so expect people to be at all times of the day. 
  • Watch the sun go down from the River Tejo banks
  • Staying in Baixa you don’t have to travel too far for restaurants, transportation or sightseeing. For a hassle-free stay at the center area of Baixa, we recommend not renting a car and just walking the downtown area, and taking the tram to reach other districts like Alfama, Belem, or even taking day trips to Sintra and other via tour or public transportation. 
  • Top Attractions: Baixa grid layout, Terreiro do Paço and the River Tejo, Rua Augusta, Lisbon Story Center, Rossio Square, Santa Justa lift
Santa Justa Lift
Santa Justa Lift

Top Picks: Luxury hotels and Airbnbs

Cozy Apartment in Historical Center - Baixa Lisbon Airbnbs
Photo Credit: Airbnb

Chiado district: Touristy Central Area of Lisboa

Another Central Lisbon neighborhood for accommodation, but this one has my heart! If you ever wanted to live in an area surrounded by history and mesmerizing views – book a place in Chiado. 

Chiado Best neighborhoods in Lisbon Portugal
Chiado Best neighborhoods in Lisbon Portugal

Just walking down the street feels so good – never a dull moment, you know! 

And apart from the architecture of the buildings, you will find many historical and cultural reminiscences of Lisbon from bygone days.  

Here is why Chiado is a hip and happening spot for first timers to Lisbon

  • It is the cultural hub of the city
  • The cafés and theatres located here were the meeting point or hang out area for the artists, and intellectuals. It’s not hard to find those picturesque streets and squares in Chiado.
  • From museums, art galleries, opera house to memories of poets, it is all located here
  • Do check out: Largo de Camões, named after Portugal’s 16th-century literary hero and a popular meeting spot
  • Top Tourist Attractions: Square/Statue of century poet António Ribeiro Chiado, Café A Brasileira, Carmo Church and Archeological Museum, Carmo Lift/Santa Justa Lift, Chiado Museum, Camoens Square, National Theatre of Saint Charles, Rua Garrett Shopping Area

Top Hotel/Airbnb Picks: 

  • Hotel do Chiado – A favorite with frequent travelers, Hotel do Chiado’s location is perfect to get to all the prime attractions. With stunning interiors, and even more gorgeous views from your suites, on-site restaurant, and hotel balcony, Hotel Chiado is a sleek modern hotel perfect for your stay in Lisbon. Oh, and there is free breakfast! View pictures of the rooms and rooftop cafe here
  • Casa do Barão – For a more relaxed stay, opt for Casa do Barao. With a beautiful terrace and a garden, you will surely feel at home here. The bed and breakfast is set in an 18th-century building, is clean, and oozes a very refreshing feel to it! This hotel is a favorite with frequent travelers. View availability for Casa do Barao hotel Lisbon
  • Dear Lisbon – Bordalo House – Another bed and breakfast place with more vintage interiors, so expect a lot of character in their rooms and lobby. This property also features a terrace, garden, and a library, and allows pets! View rooms and other amenities offered here
  • Chiado 44 – This is a 3 star boutique hotel located in Chiado. What I love about this property is its homey feel. It is important to know that the building dates back to 1820, and sitting on their balcony here, you can see the pretty lanes of Lisboa while enjoying coffee and pastel de nata! It is an affordable option with less than $100 USD per night. You can check out current prices and availability here 

The Avenida da Liberdade: Upscale and Posh Area 

Love the Liberty Avenue aka the Avenida da Liberdade. This district is lined with luxury retail stores and is a shopping district, with many high-end boutique hotels. Although a busy shopping area, we enjoyed walking around the district in the evenings. The area has parks, and is full of leafy green pavements and lovely gardens. 

Great view in Central Lisbon Airbnb Guide
Photo Credit: Airbnb

The avenue has paths running all the way up to Parque Eduardo VII (Pombal Square area). Although not at the heart of downtown, this area is still close to the city center, and you can walk down easily from Avenida da Liberdade. Trams are also available. 

Why stay in the Avenida da Liberdade district?

  • If you prefer to stay away from the downtown core, yet within accessible reach, this is a nice neighborhood to consider
  • It is an upscale neighborhood, and you will easily find a boutique hotel for a fancy romantic getaway for two
  • You can literally, ‘shop til you drop’ here, and crash in your hotel after (thanks to the ‘inviting’ stores in the district)
  • It is the MOST expensive street in Lisbon (yea Louis Vuitton, Gucci calls you here!)
  • Public transportation accessibility is good. This area links Marquis of Pombal Square in the north to Restauradores Square to Baixa, so you can access both. 
  • The square of Marquis of Pombal is home to many sightseeing tour buses, and you can easily connect from here. We have walked to the Pombal square via Avenida da Liberdade from Chiado (downtown) – oh yea, it is doable (but we like walking if you don’t, public transportation is easily available)

Top Hotel/Airbnb Picks: 

Near Marquês de Pombal Square – end of Avenida da Liberdade

  • easyHotel Lisbon – Budget affordable option to stay in Lisbon. It is located about 7 minutes walk from Marquis de Pombal Square – the end of Avenida da Liberdade. There is quite a walk involved to get to the place from Liberty Avenue, but it is an affordable option if you need one; and close to Parque Eduardo VII, Pombal Square, and Liberty Avenue. Book your stay here
easyHotel Lisbon: Where to stay in Lisbon
easyHotel Lisbon

Príncipe Real: Cosmopolitan and Upscale

Príncipe Real is a super upscale neighborhood! Very cosmopolitan yet filled with Portugese heritage gems like 19th-century mansions, and fashionable shops in stunning buildings, this is an excellent choice for first timers to the city who love vintage vibes and want to stay a little away from the touristy places. 

In Principe Real you will find Portuguese designer labels and art, all housed in beautiful quarters. It’s not hard to find locally made items here. A visit to the Embaixada is a must, which is a concept store located inside Lisbon’s oldest palaces. How cool is that? 

When you arrive from Baixa- Chiado (7 minute walk) or Bairro Alto (located on the cusp of the district) you will be mesmerized by the cute Quiosque do Refresco at the Principe Real garden, which is a perfect stop for respite in the summer months.

This area looks very sleek and relaxed, away from the touristy humdrum. It’s location is however great in connecting to various neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Metro stations and buses are accessible here. 

  • Trendy and posh neighborhood. LGBTQ friendly 
  • Shop at the many lavish retail outlets here including many of Portuguese origin. Explore the Embaixada mall 
  • Hang out at the Principe Real gardens, and chill at the Quiosque do Refresco kiosk under the leafy cedar tree
  • Find happening gay bars and nightclubs; quaint cafes here
  • Good location to stay, as it is close to touristy districts of Baixa-Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Avenida da Liberdade, without being overly crowded

Top Hotel/Airbnb Picks: 

  • Memmo Príncipe Real – Stunning hill hotel, the Memmo Principe Real offers amazing city views. You will love their outdoor pool and spa. They also have a restaurant and terrace on site. The restaurant menu has a great culinary line-up, and views from here are also very scenic. Check out availability here. 
  • Casa Oliver Principe Real – Very well cared for a boutique hotel with amazing warm decor rooms, Casa Oliver Principe Real is a nice place to stay in Lisbon. Each room is very differently decorated. Their breakfast room, lobby, views from the bedroom are super gorgeous! Come see them here
  • Casa do Jasmin Boutique Guesthouse – Clean, airy, and charming guesthouse, Casa do Jasmin will make you feel at home, and you can soak all the amazing views of Lisboa from your cute little balcony! Expect free breakfast and great customer service. View all the photos of this beautiful casa here
  • Casa do Príncipe – A very cute B&B, Casa do Principe is set in a 19th century property, and has so much character in its interiors (including drapes and decorative items). Very clean, and airy. View rooms on Booking.com here 

Alfama District: One of the oldest/heritage areas

Alfama is like a little town in itself. From steep hills, narrow cobblestone streets and walls, Alfama is a delightful place to stay. Keep in mind that you have to walk uphill a bit, so always wear comfortable shoes. Tram lines (including tram 28) exist to take you to the district – to and from Baixa-Chiado area. 

Views of Alfama
Views from Alfama

Due to its location you can expect breathtaking views from up there, and we love cityscapes/scenic viewpoints. The view from the Portas do Sol miradouro viewpoint is enchanting with the terracotta orange rooftops, and the blue Tejo River at its backdrop, Alfama’s old world charm will delight you! 

Alfama is home to many boutique hotels with views, vacation rentals, Airbnbs, and apartments.

Why stay in Alfama?

  • Alfama is a very culturally rich neighbourhood, and has a very Bohemian vibe to it.
  • One of the oldest districts: imagine waking up to the views of orange roof and warm sunrise
  • Views from there are simply breathtaking. 
  • Wander and get lost in the maze of houses and pretty lanes
  • Explore from the Tejo Estuary to the Castelo de São Jorge in Alfama 
  • Top attractions: Se Cathedral or Lisbon Cathedral, the Castelo de São Jorge, the Panteão Nacional, Igreja de Santo António, Portas do Sol miradouro and scenic more viewpoints, Fado Museum 

Top Hotel/Airbnb Picks: 

  • Santiago de Alfama – This is a boutique hotel housed in a 15th century palace building. Its location in Alfama welcomes you to an amazing view of the river and the pretty houses of Lisbon. You can get to all the attractions from here by tram or walk like  Castelo de São Jorge, and Terreiro do Paço (waterfront plaza). Book your stay here
  • Solar dos Mouros Lisboa – OMG! Views views and more stunning views of Lisbon, and this one takes you all the way to April 25 Bridge views, River Teju, and warm orange-y rooftops! Imagine chilling with a beer as the sun goes down (or waking up to warm breakfast here, which is free). The rooms are big and clean. Click to view availability here
  • Cute & Bright Apartment – Traveling with a family or group of friends, you can stay at this 3 bedroom apartment in Alfama. Super airy (something I really love in this property), bright rooms with cute little balconies to hang out! Take a look here

Graça Neighborhood: Local’s favorite

Graca is one of the oldest areas in Lisbon. And just like Alfama you will find narrow streets, and beautiful old houses. Many of the lanes here are painted with stunning murals, giving it a very creative and an edgy vibe.

Tram at Graca
Tram at Graca

As Graca is located on a hill, you will be welcomed to many spectacular views from here. The famed Tram 28 goes through this area, lovingly called the Lago da Graça. This neighbourhood is frequented by locals, and you will find many residential buildings here. 

Other than a few attractions in the area (especially viewpoints), Graca is not overwhelming with tourists or sites, which is nice if you wish to stay away from the central districts.

Historic Districts in Lisbon include Alfama, Graça & São Vicente, and Santa Engrácia.

Why stay in the Graca district in Lisbon?

  • It is one of the oldest suburbs, loved by locals and not super crowded with tourists
  • Colorful neighbourhood with a lot of characteristic features
  • Take pictures from this scenic viewpoint – Miradouro de Santa Graca
  • Listen to authentic fado music in local cafes
  • Top Attractions: Miradouro de Santa Graca, Tram 28 route stops, Jardim da Cerca da Graça (Secret Garden)
RiverView Terrace Apartment - Graca Lisbon Airbnbs
Photo Credit: Airbnb

Top Hotel/Airbnb Picks: 

Bairro Alto District: Bustling Nightlife

The Bairro Alto neighbourhood in Lisbon is great for those looking for an active nightlife. There is never a dull moment in this district. It is filled with centuries old houses, colorful tiled walls and equally Bohemian and delightful street art and decorations.

The streets of Bairro Alto come alive with people, music and drinks in the evening, and are always buzzing with activities. 

Bairo Alto District Best neighborhoods in Lisbon
Bairro Alto District

Who should stay in Bairro Alto? 

  • Great for nightlife. You can choose from hip and quirky bars and enjoy Lisbon’s diverse neighbourhood
  • Enjoy Fado performances/music in local cafes and restaurants 
  • During the day, wander through the lanes and capture the lanes (they are sooo pretty!)
  • Don’t forget to visit São Roque Church here

Lisbon District Barrio Hotels and Airbnb Picks: 

Other popular neighborhoods in Lisbon City

Cais do Sodré  – Great for nightlife. This area was a red-light district before and was a meeting point for weary sailors and their love interests. Remember the Instagram worthy Pink Street, it is located in the area. Find more Lisbon Hotels and Deals on Booking.com

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best places to stay in Lisbon, and find it useful in booking the right accommodation for your next trip!

Read Next About Lisbon Portugal + Travel tips 

Europe Trip Planning:

Where to stay in Lisbon: Lisbon first timer guide

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