Where to stay in Lisbon for first time: 5 Best areas & safe neighborhoods

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Lisbon without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Lisbon for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safa areas to stay in Lisbon for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Lisbon and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Lisbon:

Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, located on the western coast of the country. Founded by the Phoenicians and later became a part of the Roman Empire, the city has been influenced by various civilizations, including the Moors and the Portuguese during the Age of Discovery.

The city is situated along the banks of the River Tagus (Rio Tejo), which provides a scenic backdrop and opportunities for activities like waterfront walks and boat tours.

Some of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon include São Jorge Castle, Commerce Square, the Belem Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries. The city also boasts a series of colorful and historic neighborhoods, such as Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Chiado.

The city has a mix of historic buildings, including Moorish and Roman influences, as well as ornate Baroque and neoclassical structures. The iconic Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Lisbon is also known for its traditional Fado music. The city’s museums and galleries, like the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, showcase a rich collection of Portuguese art and history.

Lisbon offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from enjoying fresh seafood dishes to tasting the famous pastel de nata (custard tart). You can also savor the local wine, such as Vinho Verde or the world-famous Port wine.

When visiting Lisbon, you can enjoy the Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. It has a pleasant climate, making it a popular destination year-round.

Lisbon has a well-developed public transportation system, including trams, buses, and metro. The city is served by Lisbon Portela Airport, which connects it to various international destinations.

Is Lisbon safe to visit?

Yes, Lisbon is generally a safe destination for travelers with a low violent crime rate. But, like any popular tourist destination, pickpocketing and petty theft can be a concern in tourist-heavy locations, so maintaining vigilance is important. 

It’s recommended to exercise standard precautions, such as taking care of your personal belongings, staying aware in crowded tourist areas, being cautious when using ATMs, and avoiding poorly lit or isolated places at night. 

Also be aware of public demonstrations/protests, and terrorism attacks, especially in crowded touristy spots and transport hubs. I suggest monitoring the media and following the advice of local authorities to ensure your safety.

Where to stay in Lisbon for the first time?

The best areas to stay in Lisbon for first-timers and tourists are Baixa, Chiado, Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Av. Liberdade. These are generally safe and central areas to book your accommodations, but it is always essential to stay alert no matter where you stay.

Baixa is one of the most popular areas to stay in Lisbon for first-timer who want to be in the heart of Lisbon and have easy access to many of attractions. It is known for its grand squares, historic architecture, and shopping streets. You’ll find many hotels, restaurants, and shops in this area.

Chiado is a trendy and upscale neighborhood with a mix of historic and modern attractions, located just uphill from Baixa. It’s famous for its elegant cafes, boutique shops, and cultural venues. Great base if you want to be in the midst of Lisbon’s cultural scene.

Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon, characterized by its narrow, winding streets, historic buildings, and Fado music. Staying here provides an authentic and historic experience, but it may involve some steep hills and cobblestone streets.

Bairro Alto is a great base to experience the local nightlife scene. This area is known for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs. It can get noisy at night.

Avenida da Liberdade is a good choice if you prefer a more upscale and modern atmosphere. It is grand avenue is lined with upscale shops, hotels, and beautiful gardens.

When visiting Lisbon, it’s a good idea to avoid and take extra caution in some areas. The Mouraria district can be sketchy at night, while Intendente and Anjos may have higher crime rates. Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are popular nightlife áreas, but it can get rowdy, and you should be cautious, especially at night.

During my trip to Lisbon, I stayed at the mid-range Hotel da Baixa, a good value for money hotel according to more than 2k guests’ reviews from booking.com. It has a prime location, so I was able to explore most sights on foot or by tram. Breakfast was fabulous and room was comfortable.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Lisbon for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Lisbon first time
Map of the best areas to stay in Lisbon first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Lisbon, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Lisbon have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Best areas to stay in Lisbon for first-timers and tourists:

1. Baixa

Baixa is the top choice for first-time visitors who want to stay in a central area with easy access to many of Lisbon’s attractions. Baixa is the historic heart of the city, making it a convenient base for exploring the city. Many of the major sights and landmarks are within walking distance or a short tram ride away.

The area is known for its grand squares, historic buildings, and elegant architecture, giving you a sense of the city’s rich history.

Baixa is a shopper’s paradise with numerous shops, boutiques, and traditional Portuguese stores. You’ll also find a wide range of dining options, from traditional Portuguese cuisine to international restaurants.

Baixa is well-connected to various public transportation options, including trams, buses, and metro, making it easy to explore other parts of Lisbon.

The area is relatively flat compared to some of Lisbon’s hillier neighborhoods like Alfama, which can be more challenging for walking.

Baixa is home to many cultural attractions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries. You can visit places like the Lisbon Story Centre and MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum.

Baixa is not far from the waterfront, and you can take a pleasant walk along the Tagus River or visit the nearby Cais do Sodré area.

Best places to stay in Lisbon in Baixa for first-time tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): Altis Avenida Hotel, 5-star hotel, located in the heart of Lisbon city, within a few mins walk from the shopping areas of Rua Augusta Street, Liberdade Avenue, Chiado, and nightlife area of Bairro Alto. Easy access to the Rossio Station and Santa Justa Elevator. It has Superb breakfast, spacious family rooms, private parking, and 24-hour front desk.
  • Mid-range ($$): Ferraria XVI FLH Hotels Lisboa, great 4-star hotel, located in the middle of Lisbon downtown area, a short walk from Dona Maria II National Theatre, Commerce Square, St. George’s Castle and Rossio. It has comfy beds, fun decor was fun, and delicious breakfast.
  • Budget ($): Browns Downtown Hotel, popular 3-star hotel located in central Lisbon, 15 mins walk from São Jorge Castle, bars/restaurants of Bairro Alto, and the shopping of Baixa Chiado. Easy access to the Rossio Square, Comercio Square, and tram number 28 stop.

2. Chiado

Chiado is a fantastic area to stay in Lisbon for first-time visitors who appreciate the arts, enjoy shopping, and want to experience the vibrant spirit of Lisbon’s city center with a touch of elegance.

Chiado is a cultural epicenter with numerous theaters, art galleries, and cultural venues. It’s home to the iconic Teatro Nacional de São Carlos and the Livraria Bertrand, one of the world’s oldest bookshops.

This area is renowned for its boutique shops and high-end fashion stores. You can indulge in some upscale shopping, and it’s a great place to find unique and stylish items.

The neighborhood boasts beautifully preserved 18th-century architecture with grand buildings, elegant squares, and traditional Portuguese tiles (azulejos).

It is also famous for its historic cafes, including A Brasileira, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and immerse yourself in the literary and artistic history of the area.

Chiado is centrally located, making it easy to explore other parts of Lisbon. It’s within walking distance of both Baixa and Bairro Alto.

You can enjoy panoramic views of Lisbon and the Tagus River from some viewpoints in Chiado, such as the Miradouro de Santa Catarina.

Chiado is situated just uphill from Baixa, which means you have easy access to all the central attractions and can explore both areas easily.

Best places to stay in Lisbon in Chiado for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel, 5-star good value for money hotel located within a short walk from Chiado and Bairro Alto. It has Superb breakfast, paid airport shuttle, and parking for those who drive. Easy access to public transportation for further exploration. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Palácio das Especiarias, 4-star good value for money accommodation, a former 16th century place, set in a prime location, in the historic center of Lisbon. You can choose to stay in suites that have views of the Tagus River. A few minutes flat walk from Baixa-Chiado Metro station and is a reasonable walking distance to Rossio train Station.
  • Budget ($): Solar dos Poetas, 3-star accommodation located in central Lisbon in Misericordia district, within walking distance from many attractions and public transportation. It features luggage storage, 24-hour front desk, and family rooms.

3. Alfama

Alfama is a unique area to stay in Lisbon, especially for first-time visitors who appreciate history, culture, and a more traditional atmosphere. Alfama is one of the oldest and most picturesque districts of Lisbon, known for its narrow winding streets, historic architecture, and Fado music. 

Alfama is steeped in history and offers a genuine glimpse into Lisbon’s past. The neighborhood’s narrow streets, cobblestone alleys, and centuries-old buildings create an authentic and romantic atmosphere.

Alfama is considered the birthplace of Fado, Portugal’s soulful and melancholic music. You can enjoy live Fado performances in local restaurants and bars, immersing yourself in this cultural tradition.

The hilly terrain of Alfama offers some of the best viewpoints in the city, providing breathtaking views of the Tagus River and the cityscape. Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte are popular spots for panoramic vistas.

The neighborhood is home to the historic São Jorge Castle, which is a major attraction. You can explore the castle and its grounds, enjoying both its history and the panoramic views it offers.

Alfama hosts several traditional markets, like the Feira da Ladra flea market, where you can browse for antiques, vintage items, and unique souvenirs.

Alfama has plenty of small, family-run restaurants serving traditional Portuguese cuisine. You can savor delicious seafood dishes and other local specialties.

Despite being in the heart of the city, Alfama has a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a more relaxed and romantic setting.

Alfama is not far from other central areas like Baixa and Chiado, and you can easily explore the rest of Lisbon on foot or using public transportation.

While Alfama’s charm is undeniable, it’s essential to be prepared for its hilly and maze-like layout, which may involve a fair amount of walking. Some of the streets are quite narrow and may not be accessible by car.

Best places to stay in Lisbon in Alfama for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Áurea Museum by Eurostars Hotel Company, 5-star hotel located on the banks of the Tagus River, in the Alfama neighborhood. It has an indoor swimming pool, Fabulous breakfast, paid airport shuttle services, and Turkish bath. Within 15 mins walk uphill to the São Jorge Castle. Also close to the Commerce Square and Rossio.
  • Mid-range ($$): Alfama – Lisbon Lounge Suites, 4-star modern apartments in Alfama, 10 mins walk from São Jorge Castle and Portas do Sol viewpoint. You can choose a room with Tagus River views.There are lots of restaurants and cafes nearby. You can catch the traditional Lisbon trams to other parts of Lisbon such as the Chiado district. 
  • Budget ($): Hotel Convento do Salvador, 3-star accommodation located in the historical Alfama district, 6 mins walk from the famous São Jorge Castle, Sé Cathedral and National Pantheon. Easy access to Tram 28, as well as many restaurants, bars, Fado Houses, and belvederes.

4. Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is a popular neighborhood to stay in Lisbon, especially if you enjoy nightlife and the arts. It’s a great choice for those who want to be at the heart of the action and experience the unique atmosphere. But, if you seek a quieter and more relaxed environment, you might want to consider other areas.

Bairro Alto is the epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife. It comes alive in the evening with a multitude of bars, clubs, and live music venues. If you enjoy going out at night, Bairro Alto offers a lively and energetic scene.

Bairro Alto has a diverse and artistic community, making it a hub for creative expression. You’ll find street art, galleries, and an overall bohemian vibe.

During the day, Bairro Alto offers a range of restaurants, cafes, and eateries. You can enjoy a meal or a coffee in its cozy streets. You can also find alternative and boutique shops in Bairro Alto, offering unique fashion and artisan goods. 

Bairro Alto is centrally located, allowing for easy access to other parts of Lisbon. It’s within walking distance of many attractions and public transportation.

Despite its reputation as a nightlife district, Bairro Alto also has historic charm, with narrow, winding streets and traditional Portuguese architecture. Some of the streets in Bairro Alto are steep and hilly, which can make walking more challenging.

Best places to stay in Lisbon in Bairro Alto for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Lumiares Hotel & Spa – Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, great 5-star hotel  located in the bohemian and cultural center of Lisbon in Bairro Alto. It has a rooftop with views of River Tagus and Saint George’s Castle. Great base to explore the city on foot and by metro.
  • Mid-range ($$): Chiado Arty Flats, 4-star good value for money accommodation, located in central Lisbon, right next to the lively streets of Bairro Alto, easy access to Camões Square and high end shops and boutiques of Avenida da Liberdade. Also close to Baixa-Chiado Station and São Pedro de Alcântara Belvedere for views over the city’s rooftops.
  • Budget ($): Anjo Azul, 3-star good value for money hotel, centrally located, close to Camões Square, Rossio, and Bairro Alto. You can find many traditional Portuguese restaurants, eateries, and bars in its surroundings. Also a short walk from Bica Lift and the cruise boat harbor.

5. Avenida da Liberdade

Avenida da Liberdade is a prestigious and upscale avenue in Lisbon, offering a more modern and luxurious atmosphere. While it may not have the historic charm of neighborhoods like Alfama or the bustling nightlife of Bairro Alto, it provides a different kind of experience that appeals to many travelers. 

Avenida da Liberdade is known for its luxury hotels, high-end boutiques, and upscale restaurants. If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, this area offers a range of premium accommodation options.

The avenue is lined with renowned international and Portuguese designer boutiques, making it a shopping paradise for those interested in fashion and upscale shopping.

Avenida da Liberdade is adorned with beautiful tree-lined boulevards and well-maintained gardens, providing a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere for leisurely strolls.

While it exudes a modern vibe, Avenida da Liberdade is not far from the historic city center (Baixa), making it easy to access Lisbon’s historical sites, museums, and cultural attractions.

The avenue is well-connected to public transportation, including buses and the metro, making it convenient for exploring the rest of Lisbon.

Best places to stay in Lisbon in Avenida da Liberdade:

  • Luxury ($$$): TURIM Boulevard Hotel, popular 5-star hotel, has an unbeatable location, easy to walk for shopping and restaurants. Close to a metro stop which is handy to reach the downtown area, the main train station, ferry port, and the airport.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Hotel – Member of Design Hotels, 4-star accommodation in a prime location  just off Avenida de Liberdade, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, Superb breakfast, a terrace and restaurant.
  • Budget ($): room007 Select Liberdade, 5-star hotel, conveniently located in the central area of Lisbon, easy access to all tourist attractions, train stations, and close to the main square.

In conclusion, Baixa, Chiado, Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Avenida da Liberdade are the best places to stay in Lisbon for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas that offer a wide range of accommodations for all budgets and within short walk/tram ride from major sights.

You can continue reading about Lisbon in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safe neighborhoods for your first trip to Lisbon. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Where to stay in Lisbon for first time: 5 Best areas & safe neighborhoods”

  1. I have been to Lisboa a few times but consider myself still a first timer as I have still trouble with the layout of Lisbon! I have found your article extremely helpful as I prep to go next week to Lisboa for 3 days. Thanks and I’ve saved this to review and use as a guide while I show my friend around Lisboa ! Thank you Obrigada!


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