Where to stay in Lisbon: Baixa and Chiado
Flanked by Praças Rossio, Figueira and Praça do Comércio, downtown Baixa is packed with handsome buildings. Many traditional shops still flourish here and some date as far back as the 18th century. However, most commercial buildings in Baixa are now hotels or guesthouses, so it's a good area for accommodation, as is neighbouring Chiado.
Where to stay in Baixa and Chiado
- For budget stays: book ResidencialFlorescente to be close to Praça Rossio in the heart of Baixa.
- For design conscious stays: try Hotel do Chiado, which was designed by architect Álvaro Siza Viera and has great city views.
- For indulgent stays:Hotel Avenida Palace is one of Lisbon’s grandest hotels and, despite extensive modernization, still retains period features which create a traditional feel.
- For comfortable stays: welcoming Hotel Metropole is a friendly three-star which overlooks Rossio and offers simple, spacious and comfortable rooms.
- For boutique stays: historic AlmaLusa is one of Baixa's chic boutique hotels, all its rooms are different and you can look forward to charming 18th century features.
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Best places to stay in Alfama
Alfama is Lisbon's oldest district, first settled by the Moors in 7AD. Here steep and narrow streets thread through closely packed houses and life often seems to be lived as it has been for centuries. If you're pondering Porto versus Lisbon, which city to see first, Alfama could definitely tip you in favour of the latter.
For a deep dive into the area's history, as well as spectacular views, head up to Castelo de São Jorge. From the castle walls you can gaze right over Alfama's rooftops to the River Tagus. São Jorge may not be one of the 30 best places to go with kids in the world, but it's certainly on the top 10 list in Lisbon.
Apart from ancient castles and a very pretty cathedral, you can look forward to a lot of authentic charm here too, although you should also expect plenty of Fado restaurants and tourist shops.
Where to stay in Alfama
- For family stays: Pick self containedLittle duplex in Alfama. Perfect for family friendly independence, the apartments are just a short short walk from Castelo de São Jorge.
- For boutique stays: boutique hotel Memmo Alfama is beautifully designed to make the best of Alfama views.
- For luxury stays: Palacete Chafariz Del Rei was built as a luxury guesthouse in 1909 and restored 100 years later. It's a mix of Brazilian Art Nouveau and neo-Arabic flamboyance. Most of the huge rooms have river views and feature chandeliers and modern bathrooms.
- For authentic stays: set in a tall Alfama townhouse, Solar Dos Mouros has a contemporary interior filled with modern art. The hotel also features a bar and each of its 12 rooms has fantastic views of the river or the castle.
- For sublime stays: a tastefully renovated 18th century mansion, Solar do Castelo abutts the castle walls and its 14 rooms are set around a tranquil courtyard. Although rooms aren't large, most have balconies overlooking the castle grounds.
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Alfama is Lisbon's oldest and most atmospheric district © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Explore upmarket Avenida da Liberdade
Wide Avenida da Liberdade is a mile of Portugal’s priciest real estate which slopes downhill from Parque Eduardo VII to Baixa. This is where most embassies and consulates are located and it's certainly not the district for the world's weirdest hotels. However, it is the area for upmarket accommodation , designer shopping and major Lisbon attractions within walking distance.
Where to stay in Avenida da Liberdade
- For comfortable stays: affordable, three-star comfort is the signature at Hotel Dom Carlos Park, off Praça Marquês de Pombal. Rooms are fair-sized and spread over eight floors.
- For charming stays: set in a fine mansion, Heritage Avenida blends tradition and contemporary style. Though the dining area/bar is small, the rooms more than compensate with retro fittings and great city views.
- For family stays: Casa Amora Studios lie close to the picturesque Praça das Amoreiras. There are five tastefully furnished rooms in the main house and six large, family-friendly studios in a separate building.
- For design stays: created in the 1940s by influential architect, Cassiano Branco, Hotel Britania Art Deco features huge airy rooms, each with traditional cork flooring and marble-clad bathrooms. The hotel interior, with library and bar, has been declared of national architectural importance.
- For cultured stays: Eurostars Das Letras is a modern hotel with its own small gym and bar. Rooms, named after writers, come with comfy beds, a choice of pillows and a complicated array of power showers.
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Parque Eduardo VII, where to stay in Lisbon for great city views © JoaoKrull/Shutterstock
Discover boho Bairro Alto
Lisbon's boho quarter, High District Bairro Alto is a dense grid of streets packed with a mix of shops, bars, restaurants and houses. Quiet by day, the district comes alive after midnight and during summer can often seem like a permanent street party until dawn.
It's not the area for early nights but it is perfect for nightlife, although you can avoid the noisiest streets by staying on its fringes. If you like a buzzing city districts, take a look at the best area to stay in Amsterdam for after dark fun.
Where to stay in Bairro Alto
- For stellar views: part hostel, part boutique hotel,The Independente is in a fantastic old building, Lower floors house dorms with towering ceilings. Upstairs, quirky double rooms offer balconies with great views. There’s also a downstairs bar and patio.
- For boutique stays: go for charming boutiqueBairro Alto Hotel set in an 18th century building in the heart of the lively district and known for its award winning restaurant.
- For lively stays: Casa de Sao Mamede sits on a busy street north of Príncipe Real. It's a superb 18th century magistrate’s house with period fittings, bright breakfast room and a grand stained-glass window.
- For budget stays: Pensao Londres is a wonderful old building with high ceilings and pleasant enough rooms sleeping up to four. Some have tiny bathrooms, but the best have great views over the city.
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Bairro Alto, where to stay in Lisbon for nightlife © ingehogenbijl/Shutterstock
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Hang out in hip Cais do Sodré
Once seedy Cais do Sodré has had a makeover and formerly disreputable bars and clubs now attract hip urbanites. As well as its appealing riverfront promenade, look out for sleek warehouse conversions and lively Mercado da Ribeira, which is also the start of a fun tour of the cable railways of old town Lisbon.
But for all the smart restaurants and bars in the area these days, Cais do Sodré still has a good choice of budget hangouts and the atmosphere remains quite appealingly earthy and authentic. If you're on a budget take a look at our ten free things to do in Lisbon.
Where to stay in Cais do Sodré
- For sociable stays: if you're keen to socialise endlessly in Cais do Sodré, Casa do Mercado is a great choice. It's only a few minutes' walk from Mercado da Ribeira and a tram ride from the city centre.
- For boutique stays: a smart, little hotel in converted townhouse LX Boutique Hotel has its own chic restaurant and the “boutique” refers to its themed floors, named after Portuguese poets and fado singers.
- For budget stays: Hotel Borges is a traditional and elegantly furnished three-star and very popular, though front rooms can be noisy. Double or triple rooms are plain and small but good value.
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Pasteis de nata on sale at Mercado Ribeira © Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock
Choose arty Lapa and Madragoa
Lapa and Madragoa sits to the west of central Lisbon. An upmarket and mainly residential area, it's still close enough to the city centre and several historic sites to be a good choice for accommodation. If you're exploring locally in Lapa and Madragoa, don't miss Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.
Where to stay in Lapa and Madragoa
- For convenient stays: if sightseeing is high on your Lisbon to-do list,Fado Bed & Breakfast is a good value choice just a short walk from Santos Station.
- For luxury stays: bookOlissippo Lapa Palace, a stunning 19th century mansion set in its own lush gardens, with dramatic views over the Tagus. Rooms are luxurious, and those in the Palace Wing are each decorated in a different style.
- For elegant stays: York House Hotel is set in a 16th century Carmelite convent, hidden from the main street by high walls. Rooms here are chic and minimalist and the best are grouped around a beautiful interior courtyard.
- For artistic stays: discreet 18th century As Janelas Verdes is where Eça de Queirós was inspired to write Os Maias. The hotel is minutes from Museu de Arte Antiga and its spacious rooms come with marble bathrooms and period furnishings.
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Find characterful places to stay all over Lisbon © Frank Spee/Shutterstock
Get to know historic Belém
In 1497, Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém to India and established the trade routes which made Portugal a 16th century superpower. To give thanks, King Manuel I built the Jerónimos monastery which is as much of a showstopper today as it was back then. However, it's not the only area attraction, you'll also find Torre de Belém and the Berardo Collection in Belém.
Where to stay in Belém
- For boutique stays: Hotel Jeronimos 8 is in a great position for Belém’s attractions and housed in an attractive stone building with boutiquey touches. Expect crisp white decor, marble bathrooms and a modern bar area.
- For luxury stays: for five-star luxury surrounded by Lisbon's historic attractions, try Altis Belem which also comes with a Michelin starred restaurant, swimming pools and rooftop sundeck.
- For palatial stays: set in an early 20th century palace, Pestana Palace is full of priceless works of art, most rooms at this five-star hotel are in tasteful modern wings that stretch either side of lush gardens. Many have large terraces and lie a short walk from a cocktail bar.
Experience the new in Parque das Nações
Parque das Nações was created for Lisbon’s Expo '98 and its new town of modern apartments and gardens is a top choice for accommodation close to Lisbon Airport. The science museum and Oceanarium are also in this district and it's good for restaurants, bars and venues too.
Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre is another local attraction and the district faces the River Tagus and 17km long Ponte Vasco da Gama, Europe's longest road bridge and a must-do for sunset drives or sunset cruises. If you're in the mood for more great Portuguese rivers, discover the Douro with an expert guide to the best places to stay in Porto.
Where to stay in Parque das Nações
- For off-beat stays: make the most of proximity to the Tagus by climbing aboard Tagus Marina narrowboats. Probably some of the quirkiest stays in Parque das Nações.
- For extravagant stays: pick boldMYRIAD by SANA Hotels for extreme luxury, contemporary design and an exceptional range of facilities including a full spa and gym.
- For independent stays: central Panoramic Living offers a range of studios and apartments with fabulous views, close to Gare do Oriente transport links and MEO Arena.
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Ponte Vasco da Gama in Parque das Nações, Lisbon © Henrique Silva/Shutterstock
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