One of the greatest features about Portugal’s capital is that it's small! There is almost nowhere you can’t reach on foot, making it the perfect city for those looking to explore hassle free. While the city has very effective systems of public transportation, from the iconic yellow trams to a beautiful coastal train, those staying in the city center will hardly need to rely on them.
Lisbon has a variety of beautiful neighborhoods to stay in which offer different experiences and knowing where to stay is the key to starting a great vacation.
We have created this guide to Lisbon’s top five and most central neighborhoods. The hotels, attractions and businesses here cater to all types of traveler’s needs, whether you're here on a family vacation, honeymoon or simply for business. Knowing how you want to spend your holiday day and what you’d like to see and have access to starts with where you stay!
1. Alfama Neighborhood in Lisbon
Perhaps Lisbon’s most well known neighborhood is the historic Alfama. One of the oldest districts in all of Europe, Alfama has roots which date to Roman time. It was later occupied by the Moors and finally the Portuguese fishermen by about the 14th century. Many remark that Alfama feels like a village within the capital, with its narrow maze-like streets, colorful and quaint homes where residents chat to one another across the street from their windowsills and family-owned markets and cafes, where older generations sit outside and enjoy glasses of wine in the late afternoon.
Alfama offers the best viewpoints in the city, picturesque architecture, Lisbon's most popular bakeries and cafes, taverns with Fado is performed nightly and countless souvenir artisan shops where tiles, ceramics and fabrics are sold. Wandering the cobblestone and extremely hilly streets of Alfama will put you in company with the city’s biggest attractions, such as the Lisbon Cathedral, National Azulejo Museum, Portas do Sol and Santa Luzia Miradouros and let us not forget, São Jorge Castle.
Thinking of staying in Alfama? We have created a complete guide to Alfama for exploring all of the amazing attractions the neighborhood has to offer.
→ YourMobileGuide offers a walking self-guided audio tour of Alfama, where users can explore the top highlights of the neighborhood and learn about Portuguese food, history, architecture and culture in an easy and enjoyable way.
2. Baixa Neighborhood in Lisbon
The very center of Lisbon is Baixa, catering almost completely to tourism. Running directly through the heart of Baixa is Rua Augusta, one of Lisbon's best shopping streets, top attractions such as the Santa Justa Lift, MUDE Fashion and Design Museum and the top restaurants in the city.
At the riverfront of Baixa is Praça do Comércio, a large plaza and popular gathering spot which was the prior location of the royal castle. Pass under the Rua Augusta Arch and head into the aforementioned shopping district. At the top of Baixa is Rossio Square and train station, another popular gathering place and the departure point for day trips to Sintra.
Streets in Baixa are wide and flat, lined with Pombaline-style architecture which was built after the earthquake of 1755. As the center of Lisbon's tourist neighborhoods, it generally caters to visitors, rather than locals. Know that prices here can be a bit higher but menus with multiple language options will be available.
In this article you can discover the Top 50 Things to do in Lisbon, with many of them located right here in Baixa!
3. Chiado Neighborhood in Lisbon
Hop on the Santa Justa Lift in Baixa and exit at the top, stepping foot into the upscale neighborhood Chiado. Chiado offers some of Lisbon's best dining options, boutique hotels and luxury shopping. Here you will find small plazas, theaters and beautiful historic attractions, such as the Carmo Convent.
Chiado is a great place to walk in the footsteps of Lisbon’s beloved author, Fernando Pessoa, who is honored in statue form in front of the famous Café A Brasileira. Enjoy a break here, sip on an espresso or pick up a book at the Saturday literature street market.
Head to the main plaza Largo de Camões, a great place for people watching, or pop your head into Biblioteca Camões, a fantastic library which looks more like a palace inside than a library. The charming yellow trams rumble through Chiado and the district has access to most forms of public transportation and is less than a ten minute walk to the riverfront. Some of Lisbon's top historic hotels are located in and around Chiado and if you contact our guest services department we can help you find the best deals for your booking.
4. Bairro Alto Neighborhood in Lisbon
Bairro Alto is the relaxed bohemian neighborhood that comes alive at night with a voracious energy that lasts until sun up. If you’re looking for excitement, bars, music shows, nightclubs and crowds that spill into the streets, this is your spot.
The street art covered neighborhood sits beside Chiado and the less touristy Príncipe Real. During the day, boutiques, cafes and fusion food options welcome visitors as well as landmark attractions, such as the stunning São Roque Church.
The hilly streets of Bairro Alto are best explored on foot and are a photographer's dream come true. Breathtaking views make themselves seen between narrow alleyways as well as the instagrammable, graffiti-painted Gloria Funicular. Bairro Alto is fun and entertaining, with so much for the eyes to enjoy. The neighborhood attracts Lisbon’s younger crowd, looking to do a bit of shopping or sip on a cold sangria at an outdoor cafe.
→ Download this easy to use audio-guide tour of Lisbon's city center and familiarize yourself with Bairro Alto and its top attractions.
5. Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon
Avenida da Liberdade is the biggest street to run through Lisbon and it cuts directly through the heart of the city, connecting Baixa to Praça Marquês de Pombal and ending at Park Eduardo VII. The more than kilometer long street is lined with trees and dotted with adorable green mushroom-shaped kiosks, statues, fountains and the most exclusive names in fashion.
Inspired by Champs-Élysées, Avenida da Liberdade is one of the wealthiest streets in all of Europe. Aside from retailers featuring Gucci, Versace and Cartier, you will discover a string of Lisbon's top 5-star hotels, trendy restaurants and rooftop bars, vintage theaters and the finest Art Nouveau architecture in the city. There is much to see along this boulevard, but be sure to glance once or twice down at your feet. The wide sidewalks feature the famous black and white cobblestone with elaborate designs, adding to the unique flavors of Lisbon.
Despite its small size, Lisbon is a city rich in culture and attractions. Many more neighborhoods surround these central five and a long list of highlights awaits you. Check out our related articles or send us a message to help plan an unforgettable trip to Portugal!