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Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Lisbon

Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Lisbon
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When first planning your trip to Lisbon, it can be tricky to figure out which neighborhood of the city you should book your accommodations in. Whether you’re looking for art, food, culture, partying, adventure, or a bit of everything, you can find it in Lisbon. However, choosing the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon is a great start to making sure you get the most out of your visit. 

Although there really aren’t any unsafe areas of the city to worry about, where you choose to stay could drastically impact your experience here.  The neighborhood you choose influences the accessibility to the attractions and restaurants that you’d like to visit. 

We spent over a month living in Lisbon, during which time we learned a lot about its different neighborhoods. Here is everything you need to know about each one, so that you can choose the right area of Lisbon to stay in for your visit. We’ve also included a map outlining the different neighborhoods, and have linked to the best restaurants in each Lisbon neighborhood. Furthermore, we’ve included some accommodation options in each one. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments. Happy planning!

Principe Real

Principe Real is the best neighborhood to base yourself from if you want to be surrounded by the biggest concentration of spectacular fine dining in Lisbon. It is an incredibly elegant neighborhood, that doesn’t feel touristy at all. Many locals live here. 

During the day, there are tons of trendy designer and vintage stores to explore, and at night Principe Real comes to life with its incredible food scene. While it does have some bars, Principe Real maintains a very residential feel and tends to be significantly quieter than some of Lisbon’s more party-oriented neighborhoods.

With several parks, beautiful miradouros overlooking the city, and even a weekly farmer’s market, Principe Real is a distinctly livable neighborhood of Lisbon for those who love spending time outdoors.

Whether you’re coming for a short or a long stay, if you plan on frequently indulging in Lisbon’s vibrant food scene and want to live like a high class local – Principe Real is definitely the perfect place neighborhood to stay in Lisbon. This is where I would choose to stay on our next trip to Lisbon!

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Incredible world-class restaurant scene.

Best Restaurants in Principe Real Neighborhood:

Local, A Cevicheria, Tapisco, O Asiático, Pesca 

Best Brunch in Principe Real Neighborhood:

Seagull Method Cafe

Click here to check out the best hotels in Principe Real

Santa Catarina

A small yet beautiful neighborhood tucked into a hill just under Barrio Alto, Santa Caterina packs a lot of punch for its tiny size. With a delicious cafe scene, stunning views over the harbor, and the famous Bica Funicular, you definitely won’t run out of things to do staying here. 

The Santa Catarina neighborhood is quite centrally located, houses our favorite pastel de nata house, Manteigaria. It’s a great, incredibly central base for exploring all parts of the city.

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Being close to everything.

Best Restaurants in Santa Catarina Neighborhood:

Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, SEA ME Peixaria Moderna

Click here to check out the best hotels in Santa Catarina

Santos-o-Velho

For an authentic, long-term stay in a residential neighborhood of Lisbon, Santos is the perfect place.  With close proximity to so many great brunch spots, it’s hard to beat Santos if you like to spend your days in trendy cafes eating avo toast and drinking colorful lattes.

Santos is also a very trendy neighborhood due to its proximity to the design school IDE, and was officially branded as the Design District of Lisbon in 2005.

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Close proximity to tons of delicious brunch spots

Best Restaurants in Santos Neighborhood:

Local – Your Healthy Kitchen

Best Brunch in Santos Neighborhood:

Fauna & Flora, Heim Cafe

Click here to check out the best hotels in Santos

Alfama

This is the oldest and most historic neighborhood of Lisbon, tucked right into the same hill that Lisbon’s Castelo de Sao Jorge sits atop. As such it is full of many winding and hilly streets. 

I think it has the most character, picturesque (and graffiti free!) cobblestone streets, with fantastic miradouros looking out all over the city. You can also find some wonderful bars overlooking the classic red roofs of Lisbon. 

Alfama is definitely a quieter neighborhood at night, far from most of the crazy Lisbon nightlife. Typically, it is also a more expensive neighborhood to stay in – but worth it in my opinion! For a 3-7 day visit, Alfama is a great neighborhood to stay in Lisbon. But I wouldn’t recommend it for a long term stay due to its high cost and lack of good restaurants and brunch spots.

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Old world charm and fairytale historic character with some of the best views over the city

Click here to check out the best hotels in Alfama

Bairro Alto

If you want to be right in the thick of things in Lisbon, Bairro Alto is a charming and classic old Lisbon neighborhood. You’ll find this neighborhood to be full of gritty bohemian vibes and well trodden cobblestone streets. 

The Bairro Alto neighborhood is generally pretty quiet during the day, yet livens up when many small trendy restaurants and bars open up here at night. Because of this, it may result in a little bit of noise and is worth noting if you like to stay in a quiet neighborhood or are a light sleeper.

While it’s known for being a rowdier neighborhood at night, you can still find charming places to stay here like The Lumiares where we stayed for a week upon first arriving in Lisbon. Typically the streets at the edges of the neighborhood away from the main core of bars are less noisy to stay on, but it’s always worth reading reviews to double-check before booking! 

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Discovering hole in the wall bars and restaurants 

Best Restaurants in Bairro Alto Neighborhood:

Taberna da Rua das Flores

Click here to check out the best hotels in Bairro Alto

Baixa-Chiado

Concerned by the steep cobblestone streets of Lisbon? Baixa-Chiado might be the right neighborhood for you! It is probably the most centrally located neighborhood in the Lisbon core that appeals to tourists, and Baixa actually means “downtown”. 

Baixa-Chiado is tucked into the valley between hills on either side that make up pretty much every other neighborhood on this list. Because of this, you won’t find many, if any hills here, and sidewalks are much wider and more accessible. If you’re traveling with someone that needs more accessibility, I’d definitely suggest staying here and taking a Tuk Tuk or uber to other parts of the city. 

Since it was flattened in the great earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt with lots of planning in mind, Baixa-Chiado is definitely a slightly more modern neighborhood. It is filled with tons of shops, restaurants, and overall is a very commercial neighborhood. 

Staying here, you will find yourself right in the hub of the main streets in Lisbon, and right around the corner from the famous Praça do Comércio.

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Exploring a more modern and beautiful part of Lisbon without the hills.

Best Restaurants in Baixa-Chiado:

Prado, Boa-Bao,Oficina do Duque

Best Brunch in Baixa-Chiado Neighborhood:

Nicolau

Click here to check out the best hotels in Baixa-Chiado

Sao Bento

If you’re looking for a very local neighborhood off the main tourist map, Sao Bento is another quieter neighborhood that would be ideal for a long term stay. It is definitely off the beaten tourist path, yet still within close proximity to restaurants in Principe Real and cafes in Santos. 

Sao Bento is actually also considered the political center of Lisbon as it contains the Assembly of the Republic, Portugal’s own parliament. Primarily residential, local restaurants here are more hole in the wall gems than the world-renowned giants of Principe Real.

There are also tons of great parks in Sao Bento, and it is an ideal neighborhood for an extended stay in Lisbon as you’re tucked away from most of the tourists.

Best Lisbon Neighborhood For:

Living like a local in a less touristy neighborhood with great  antique shopping.

Best Brunch in Sao Bento Neighborhood:

Early Birds, Boutik,The Mill

Click here to check out the best hotels in Sao Bento

Where Not to Stay in Lisbon: Cais do Sodre

I will preface all of this by saying that this is where we lived for a month while exploring Lisbon. We LOVED living in Lisbon, but did not love where we lived, which is part of the reason why I felt very compelled to pull together this list of my favorite neighborhoods in Lisbon, and all the spots I would have rather stayed than Cais do Sodre.

Cais do Sodre is a smaller neighborhood that encompasses the main subway station, part of the Lisbon waterfront, the now-famous Pink Street, and a vibrant club nightlife scene. Actually, most people would say it is the place to go out in Lisbon. If you google “biggest clubs in Lisbon” they will all show up in Cais do Sodre.

It’s also worth noting that parties don’t remain inside within the clubs, and actually most nights of the week spill out into the streets until 2 or 3 in the morning. It is definitely a fun place to visit, but it’s not worth staying here unless you plan on partying every single night.

To emphasize how unlivable this neighborhood is, there are practically no Portuguese people that live here. Many Uber drivers actually laughed when we punched in our address and said that we lived here!

The Cais do Sodre neighborhood is definitely experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now, and it’s evident as you walk down the streets. While many new bars, restaurants, and other businesses are moving in, there is still a crazy amount of abandoned buildings, giving the neighborhood a very funky grungy vibe.

Best Restaurants in Cais do Sodre Neighborhood:

Fares, Big Fish Poke, Dallas Burger Joint, Guacamole, Time Out Market

Best Brunch in Cais do Sodre Neighborhood:

Comoba, Cafe Janis

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