Going to Lisbon?
Portugal’s dynamic capital city is bright, welcoming and a destination that wins visitors over with its authenticity, generous people, innovative concepts, rich history, beautiful sights and fabulous food, not to mention spectacular beaches to enjoy year-round.
So you are now planning your next trip to Lisbon. To make sure your stay in Lisbon is absolutely flawless, our local team has come up with a summary of the key-areas to consider, both in the city and in its outskirts.
In summary, these are the 7 best places to stay in Lisbon:
Castelo, Alfama &Graça;
Avenida da Liberdade;
Belém & Alcântara;
Parque das Nações.
Lisbon’s Map & Key-Areas to Stay in the City
To provide some visual guidance, we present you with a simple-to-understand map of Lisbon that identifies the places we would stay. Each number on the map corresponds to a Lisbon area and is described below.
Starting with the basics, this is the number 1 choice of most of Lisbon’s first-time visitors. As such, the number of tourists can be quite high, particularly in Baixa’s streets. If that doesn’t put you off, then this could well be your best place to stay in Lisbon.
This area corresponds to the many parallel and perpendicular streets nestled between the ample, Tagus river facing Praça do Comércio (also known as Terreiro do Paço) that go all the way to Rossio Square: these include Rua Augusta and Rua do Ouro (also named Rua Áurea), two of the busiest arteries of downtown Lisbon.
In this lower city section lies one of Lisbon’s most famous attractions - Arco da Rua Augusta (The Rua Augusta Arch), from where a glorious view over the river can be enjoyed. Visiting just before sunset time is particularly beautiful and often less crowded. Alternatively, or in addition to, head to the nearby Elevador de Santa Justa (The Santa Justa Lift), located between Rua do Ouro and Rua do Carmo. Apart from being one of Lisbon’s architectonic symbols, it will take you effortlessly to the ever-busy Chiado area.
Should you belong to the club of those who can’t skip a sweet treat, try one of the delicious traditional pastries at Confeitaria Nacional in Praça da Figueira.
In the opposite direction (east), lies the hilly Castelo and Alfama area. More on that below.
For a perfect stay in Lisbon, particularly in the Baixa area, we have a few suggestions of hotels with charming views:
POUSADA DE LISBOA - SMALL LUXURY HOTELS OF THE WORLD →
This 5-star elegant hotel offers direct views of Praça do Comércio, Tagus river, and the constantly passing Lisbon’s trams. It is ideally located between Arco da Rua Augusta and City Council and a stone’s throw to MUDE (design&fashion museum), many restaurants and shops.
THE 7 HOTEL →
Should you be looking for a great value for money accommodation in Lisbon - and still enjoy a room view - consider staying at The 7 Hotel. Apart from being exceptionally well located at Lisbon’s historical heart, this hotel’s staff is always on idle to help and the décor is classy and contemporary.
Adjacent to Baixa, on the upper side of the hill, lies one of Lisbon’s most dynamic areas, a place frequented both by locals and foreigners. Chiado is where some of Lisbon’s most happening restaurants are located, the same being true in regards to shops and innovative concepts.
Chiado’s main artery is Rua Garrett, that spans from Praça Luis de Camões all the way down to Armazéns do Chiado and Rua do Carmo. In Rua Garrett there are (at least ) two particular locations that deserve a visit: (1) the historic coffee shop A Brasileira, where the famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa has a statue; (2) and Livraria Bertrand, holding the record of being the oldest bookshop in the world.
This Lisbon area is a foodie’s heaven and visitors will get the chance to try something new every day. Just to give a few references, restaurants from Portuguese celebrated Chef Avillez deserve some praise: to get a taste of local food with a more refined touch, head to the more informal Cantinho do Avillez in Rua Duques de Bragança or the sophisticated, multi-awarded Belcanto, lying just a few steps away. Still in the food department, no visit to Chiado is complete without paying a visit to Palácio Chiado in Rua do Alecrim, a beautifully restored 18th-century palace with a few restaurants inside.
To enjoy some genuine Fado and a more bohemian atmosphere, go for a drink on pedestrian-friendly Bairro Alto, next to Praça Luis de Camões.
Also worth visiting is Convento do Carmo, a well-preserved convent with unobstructed views over Lisbon, and the epicenter of Portugal’s revolution events that took place in April 1974.
Some of Lisbon’s more desirable hotels are located in Chiado. Take note:
BAIRRO ALTO HOTEL →
After an extensive renovation, one of Lisbon’s most iconic hotels is once again ready to marvel its patrons. This luxury hotel offers high-end rooms with square views as well as a staggering panoramic view over Lisbon’s rooftops, all the way down to the river, from its exclusive rooftop.
HOTEL DO CHIADO →
When we’re asked about Lisbon’s best views - and that happens quite a lot - this hotel’s name inevitably comes up. As one passes through the hotel’s discrete entrance on Rua Nova do Almada and gets into the lift, one is far from imagining the awe-inspiring views over Lisbon awaiting at the rooftop bar. Even if you’re not staying here while in Lisbon, take your better half to a romantic drink as the night falls and witness the city’s historic Castelo de São Jorge (São Jorge Castle) lit up right before your eyes.
CASTELO, ALFAMA & GRAÇA
When facing The Rua Augusta Arch with Tagus river on your back, this is the area that is situated on your right. Start your climb through Rua de Santo António da Sé until you reach 12th-century Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon’s Cathedral). At this point, you should be halfway through to Castelo de São Jorge, thus stopping here might prove to be a good pit-stop.
This Lisbon district is where the city is to be found in its rawer, more authentic state: narrow streets, locals that have been there for generations, unpretentious restaurants, and genuine Fado houses. In the warmer month of June, when days become much longer than nights, Lisbon’s festivities attract thousands of Alfacinhas (nickname for Lisboners) looking for sardines, drinks and gathering with friends and the occasional tourists.
One of the best places to enjoy a great view in the city is Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a viewpoint where the sights of Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon), Alfama’s orange roofs and the resplendent Tagus river, will surely leave you with a long-lasting memory. Other impressive viewpoints that deserve a visit while in Lisbon include Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, both located in Graça, Lisbon’s highest hill and among the city’s most picturesque neighbourhoods.
A place that deserves a visit while in Lisbon is Chapitô: it’s not just a circus school, a terrace or a cultural centre: it’s all of those things in one single location.
Hotels in this Lisbon region often offer the city’s most impressive panoramic vistas. Here are two examples of hotels - from the many we could point out - to consider if you happen to stay around here:
MEMMO ALFAMA - DESIGN HOTELS →
Think of a picture-perfect pool that provides the illusion to be floating over Lisbon’s charming rooftops down below and at the same time unveiling expansive river views. From the hotel’s bright rooms, guests can also enjoy a similar experience.
SANTIAGO DE ALFAMA - BOUTIQUE HOTEL →
This exclusive property certainly qualifies as one of the finest boutique hotels in Lisbon. Santiago de Alfama’s immaculate, tastefully designed rooms, alongside a top-notch service and splendid Lisbon views, make it a strong contender for those looking for a luxury stay in Lisbon outside the more established hotel brands.
This is most definitely one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon, particularly for those looking forward to enjoying trendy restaurants, specialty shops, and some night fun. To provide you with some bearing, Príncipe Real is known as the road that starts in Largo do Rato and goes all the way to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, from where one of Lisbon’s most impressive views can be admired. This long road is divided into two streets, unified by Jardim do Príncipe Real (nice little garden with a local market on weekends): Rua da Escola Politécnica and Rua Dom Pedro V (the last acting as a northern Bairro Alto border).
While in Príncipe Real, there are a few tips we would like to suggest: Embaixada, a very beautiful shopping mall that houses a few, hand-selected concepts and innovative shops; Casa Pau-Brasil, putting on display some of Brazil’s best brands and products; Italian restaurant Zero-Zero, a good, inexpensive choice for pizzas (great backyard); and La Paparrucha, an awesome Argentinian restaurant with panoramic views over Lisbon. This is just a sample, as we wish to leave some room for self-discovery.
In the specific case of Príncipe Real, we have a clear preference on where to stay:
MEMMO PRÍNCIPE REAL - DESIGN HOTELS →
Upon making a sudden turn on Rua Dom Pedro V into a somehow suspicious street, nothing prepares visitors to the gem they are about to find: one of Lisbon’s most stylish hotels with a jaw-dropping view of the city. In fact, views at Memmo Príncipe Real are omnipresent: be it from the privacy of your room, the hotel’s restaurant or hip pool, the sights over the Portuguese capital city never fail to impress.
AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE
Every capital city usually has a street or avenue where luxury shops and top-end fashion stores concentrate: in Lisbon’s case, that would be Avenida da Liberdade, or often shortened to “Avenida” by locals, an avenue that starts in Restauradores (just after Baixa), all the way up to Praça Marquês de Pombal, perhaps Lisbon’s most famous square.
Staying in or around Avenida da Liberdade could prove to be an excellent choice, specifically for those looking for a more upscale address while visiting Lisbon. Apart from all the designer shops and exclusive boutiques, there are some spots we wouldn’t skip a visit: there’s the sophisticated JNcQUOI restaurant (owned by a prominent Portuguese-woman entrepreneur, Paula Amorim); Zenith, every brunch-lover’s dream in Rua das Pretas; the traditional Portuguese restaurant Solar dos Presuntos, an exceptional opportunity to try some mouth-watering local delicacies; and for coffee fans, Delta Q in Avenida da Liberdade, a coffee shop where some of the city’s best baristas are to be found.
There are several high-quality accommodation options around Avenida da Liberdade. These would be our first choices for a flawless stay:
ALTIS AVENIDA HOTEL →
Opposite to the impressive Rossio Train Station, this luxury hotel is located at Restauradores, making it ideal to explore Avenida da Liberdade on foot and still be close to Baixa-Chiado region. Among our favourite features of this hotel is its rooftop bar, a great place to fully observe the fancy Avenida da Liberdade down below.
BESSAHOTEL LIBERDADE →
Directly located in Avenida da Liberdade and a few blocks away from charming Praça da Alegria, this stylish 4-star hotel is one of the best value for money options to stay in Lisbon.
BELÉM & ALCÂNTARA
A bit distant from the city’s centre, the area of Belém & Alcântara works as some sort of a magnet and no visit to Lisbon is ever complete without spending some time - one day at least - around this location.
Also referred to as “Lisbon’s museum district”, Belém has some of Lisbon’s most visited attractions. This is where the Portuguese ships departed some centuries ago on their maritime quest to explore the world - a period known as “Descobrimentos” (meaning “Discoveries”). Three monuments, in particular, celebrate this glorious past: the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower), perhaps Lisbon’s most photographed attraction; the riverfront Padrão dos Descobrimentos, where some Portuguese heroes rest their eyes where Tagus river meets the Atlantic; and UNESCO World Heritage Site Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an impressive gothic monastery that strikes every Lisbon visitor’s attention. Quick side note: just next to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos lies Lisbon’s most famous pastry shop: Pastéis de Belém. Don’t let the long queues put you off as these usually go quite fast and the traditional custard pastry is nothing less than divine.
Still in the Belém area, there are some more interesting things to explore: the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), a cultural centre that is also an architectural masterpiece. The rooftop coffee shop offers great river views from above; the Museu Nacional dos Coches (coach museum), providing great insights on the evolution of private transportation; Museu da Electricidade, a former power plant that became one of Lisbon’s top museum; and MAAT, a new addition to Lisbon’s museum scene, dedicated to the arts, architecture and technology (the sunsets enjoyed from the museum’s terrace are material for making a grown man cry). Next to MAAT is one of our team’s favourite restaurants in Lisbon, Sud Lisboa, a fabulous venue to enjoy an expansive view over the river and Ponte 25 de Abril, Lisbon’s iconic bridge.
Our last suggestion would be for paying a visit to Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, a spectacular palace built for the Portuguese royalty, a monument that, for some reason beyond our comprehension, is very short on the number of visits.
The area of Alcântara, close to Ponte 25 de Abril, is some sort of a Belém’s extension as it is connected by a riverside esplanade (between 15-20 minutes walking distance). Alcântara’s highlight would have to be LX Factory, a former industrial complex that went through a profound transformation, only to become one of Lisbon’s most happening clusters. Here is where young creatives and tourists - from Portugal or abroad - mingle in a more informal atmosphere. LX Factory has an abundant number of restaurants, designer shops, and inventive concepts, that keep on attracting the crowds on a regular basis.
Should this sound like being the place where you’d stay in Lisbon, these are our hotel recommendations:
PALÁCIO DO GOVERNADOR →
Beautifully positioned just across Torre de Belém, this hotel offers generous-sized rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, an inviting spa and high-line amenities. A pleasant stroll from the hotel will take you to some of Lisbon’s most appreciated croissants, served at pastry shop Careca.
ALTIS BELÉM HOTEL & SPA →
If your idea of staying in Lisbon involves a room with a direct river view, then look no further - filled with natural light, rooms at this luxury hotel boast idyllic views over the river and some of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks. Days at Altis Belém Hotel & Spa begin not with a regular breakfast, but with a feast, promptly followed by riverside walks or exercise activities.
PESTANA PALACE LISBOA HOTEL & NATIONAL MONUMENT →
On an elevated position, in a quiet residential area, with Alcantâra directly below, lies one of Lisbon’s best hotels. The rich hotel is also classified as a national monument and, as one wanders through its opulent rooms and landscaped gardens, the reasons behind it become clear.
So far in this article we have been covering Lisbon’s most popular areas for international visitors. In the specific case of Avenidas Novas (translates into “New Avenues”), this area corresponds to a least explored section of the city by tourists and at the same time one of the most vibrating neigbourhoods in the whole city of Lisbon.
The nucleus of Avenidas Novas is Saldanha, a cycling-friendly square with several offices, shops and restaurants nearby. The main artery of Avenidas Novas is Avenida da República, a wide avenue sprinkled with restaurants and some establishments of historic significance, such as the pastry shop Versailles and Galeto restaurant, the last being open until the late hours in the night. A special mention should also go to Avenida Duque de Ávila, where new concepts, healthy restaurants, organic markets and coffee shops have been popping up like mushrooms. This avenue leads to El Corte Ingles, Lisbon’s most famous department store. Close to it, three places deserve a visit: (1) Jardim Amália Rodrigues (garden) that is connected with the city centre’s largest public park - (2) Parque Eduardo Sétimo; and (3) Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, a cultural foundation that hosts a museum and one of Lisbon’s finest parks (particularly popular during Lisbon’s warm summer months).
If the option Avenidas Novas is starting to get some traction in your mind, these two hotels would provide a great Lisbon stay.
SHERATON LISBOA HOTEL & SPA →
A hotel name that doesn’t require any introductions, Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa is among Lisbon’s tallest hotels and, as a result, the views on display from its top floor restaurant are second to none.
EVOLUTION LISBOA HOTEL →
Directly located in Praça do Saldanha, at the very beginning of Avenida da República, this contemporary hotel pampers its guests with an indoor pool and rooms with clear square views.
PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES
In clear contrast with Lisbon’s historic areas, and located in Lisbon’s northeastern section, lies a neighbourhood that was built from scratch for the Expo’98, thus often referred to by Lisboners as “Expo”.
This is an ample riverside area with contemporary architecture and some points of interest that deserve being highlighted: Oceanário de Lisboa, one of Europe’s largest aquariums; Meo Arena, Lisbon’s largest entertainment events venue; Casino de Lisboa, the only one in the city; Vasco da Gama shopping mall, with numerous retail options; the oddly-shaped Gare do Oriente train station; and Pavilhão do Conhecimento, a very good option to take the little ones on rainy days. Last but not least, taking a ride on Parque das Nações’ cable car is a well-worthy experience to better understand the success story behind this urban renovation.
MYRIAD BY SANA HOTELS →
Located on the area’s tallest tower, this sophisticated Lisbon hotel offers unbeatable views over the river and Ponte Vasco da Gama (bridge) and is, in our opinion, the place to stay in Parque das Nações.
Decisions, decisions… Hopefully we have been able to shed some light into the subject of where to stay in Lisbon. Each area has its own character and unique advantages. One thing is for certain, whatever neighbourhood you pick to stay while in Lisbon, rest assured you are covered with these options.
Perhaps you are a bit like us in allowing the hotel view to settle the matter. For that, here’s our curated selection of best hotels in Lisbon with a view.
Staying around Lisbon
Lisbon is a blessed city. Blessed by the abundant yearly sunshine hours, having several beaches around the city and some interesting surrounding tows. In this article, we briefly mention two of those locations, the seaside town of Cascais and the historic village of Sintra.
Cascais & Estoril
Located around 25km to the west from Lisbon, Cascais is much more than just a summer destination. Visitors flock to Cascais looking for its secluded bays and oceanic beaches, such as Guincho, considered to be one of the best windsurfing beaches in the world. Apart from its charming centre, Cascais is also home to some interesting museums and art galleries (a good example is Casa das Histórias Paula Rego). Great food and oceanside restaurants are also among the top reasons why Cascais is so popular within locals and foreigners alike.
For the most inspiring sunset ever, drive to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe. The views are second to none.
Adjacent to Cascais is the beautiful village of Estoril, a seaside destination better known for attracting royal families from all over the world. Estoril has some sort of aristocratic feel about it, with palatial homes scattered across its hills.
Cascais and Estoril are easily accessible by train from Cais do Sodré station. The pleasant commute takes around half an hour, making it one of the most popular day-trips from Lisbon, and involves some captivating sea views.
Some would argue this is area - Costa do Estoril - is the Portuguese Riviera. Telling by the selection of luxury hotels available, some of the best around Lisbon, we certainly agree with that statement.
Think of a lush mountain, photogenic palaces, an often foggy atmosphere and mysterious roads. Should this description be appealing to you, a visit to Sintra is absolutely mandatory. Here are some names to add to your must-visit list: Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros, Quinta da Regaleira (fascinating Masonic wells) and Palácio de Queluz (not actually in Sintra but a short drive away).
Below is a link with our top accommodation choices outside Lisbon, particularly hotels in Cascais and Sintra with a view.
And that’s that. As we, the Portuguese would say, “Boa viagem até Lisboa”!