When it comes time to plan a trip to Lisbon, you’ll inevitably find yourself wondering: What are the best Lisbon neighborhoods? And which ones are the coolest?
With terracotta rooftops dotting across a hilly landscape, accented by the sparkling waters of the Tagus River, Lisbon views are always sure to be spectacular. And the city’s iconic ancient-meets-modern charm? Well, it’s unparalleled the world over. But as you begin to explore, you’ll notice that each Lisbon neighborhood veers off on its own path, featuring its own particular essence.
Looking for the perfect boutique hotel in the most romantic part of town? There’s a hood for that! Looking for chic cocktail bars and the trendiest restaurants? There’s a neighborhood for that, too. And what about the best antique shopping? Or busy promenades and impressive plazas, perfect for people-watching (and a glass of wine)? Ditto.
Since this is Lisbon – the City of Seven Hills – we’re talking about, you really can’t go wrong with any of the neighborhoods you choose to explore. But if you’re looking for something in particular, this guide to Lisbon’s neighborhoods has your back!
From the romantic and historic quarters, to the cool and modern districts, here are the best neighborhoods to explore during your trip to Lisbon, Portugal.
Table of Contents
- The Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon to Visit & Explore
- Baixa (Pombalina/Downtown): Best Neighborhood to Stay in
- Bairro Alto: The Coolest Neighborhood in Lisbon
- Chiado: Best Neighborhood for Boutique Shopping & Hotels
- Cais do Sodré: Best Neighborhood for Late Night Shenanigans
- Alfama: The Most Romantic Neighborhood in Lisbon
- Alcântara: Best Neighborhood in Lisbon for Digital Nomads
- Belém: Best Neighborhood in Lisbon for a Day Trip
- The Coolest Lisbon Neighborhoods to Visit & Explore
- Lisbon Neighborhood FAQs
The Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon to Visit & Explore
Baixa (Pombalina/Downtown): Best Neighborhood to Stay in
Welcome to Baixa/Downtown, the beating heart of Lisbon! There is a ton to see and do in Baixa, and even more foot traffic here.
After the tragic 1755 earthquake, fire, and tsunami, Baixa was rebuilt using the Pombaline anti-earthquake grid city design you see today. In addition to the sights and attractions, Baixa is the epitome of resilient, modern Lisbon!
Baixa is home to five important historical praças (squares), the most famous pedestrian street (the Rua Augusta) plenty of big-name shopping, and some of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire city.
Because of its central location, Baixa is the best overall Lisbon neighborhood to stay in. I stayed in a stylish room at the 4-star Brown’s Central Hotel, and I recommend you do the same. (Brown’s Central Hotel is definitely my #1 hotel recommendation for your Lisbon city break!)
Historic Baixa extends from the shore of the Tagus River up to Praça dos Restauradores, and is often considered to include the surrounding micro-neighborhoods of Rossio, Santa Justa, and Sé, to name a few. This area is so historic, it is on the list to be titled a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Note that the restaurants around Baixa tend to be geared toward tourists (hello, tourist traps!), and therefore, can be overpriced with long waits. You’re better off walking a little to find the best restaurants… More on that below!
Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Baixa
- Stop by, shop, sip wine, and people-watch in Baixa’s five impressive praças (squares): Praça do Comércio, Praça Dom Pedro IV (everyone calls this square Rossio Square), Praça dos Restauradores, Praça da Figueira, and Praça Martim Moniz
- See the monumental Rua de Augusta Arch and roam down the bustling Rua Augusta
- Santa Justa Lift: This wrought-iron gothic elevator is a must-do while you’re in Lisbon. It’s totally gorgeous and also the fasted way to get to Bairro Alto from Baixa for a night out! Head here before sunset for some of the best views of the city.
- Rossio Train Station: The Rossio Train Station looks more like a palace from the outside. Pop in to admire the hustle and bustle over a coffee.
- Dona Maria II National Theater: If there’s a play that interests you, definitely catch a show! This is one of Portugal’s most renowned theaters, and it’s worth meandering around simply to appreciate its beauty.
Bairro Alto: The Coolest Neighborhood in Lisbon
Looking for the trendy, cool neighborhood of Lisbon? Look no further than Bairro Alto.
Bairro Alto is raved about for its nightlife scene. You may have read about the street parties outside the tiny bars in the bar district, or the Fado houses echoing melancholic music into the night. That’s Bairro Alto! However, this is also a very historic (and residential) neighborhood, brimming with plenty of things to do and see (that don’t involve partying).
Hike up and down steep streets and winding staircases that will lead you to fanciful art galleries, book stores, plenty of trendy dining opportunities, unique shops, magnificent miradors (viewpoints), and famous Lisbon funiculars.
This is a dynamic district, and our second recommendation for the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon.
From funky hostels to luxury hotels, Bairro Alto has accommodations to suit your budget and preference. My top hotel recommendation here is the luxurious Bairro Alto Hotel with spacious rooms. Click here to find the best deals on Bairro Alto hotels, apartments, and hostels.
Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Bairro Alto
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara: Multi-level mirador offering a unique view of eastern Lisbon.
- Miradouro de Santa Catarina: Gorgeous spot for sunset with views of the Tagus River and the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
- Glória Funicular: One of those iconic yellow elevators Lisbon is known for! This one connects Bairro Alto to Praça dos Restauradores.
- Lisbon Wild Pub Crawl: If you want to experience a wild night on the streets of Bairro Alto, check out this pub crawl tour – especially great for solo travelers looking to make friends!
- A Night Out in Bairro Alto: A night of delicious Portuguese food, booze, and culture is always a good idea in Bairro Alto; you’re going to love this tour called A Night Out in Bairro Alto – An Evening of Food, Spirits & Superstitions.
Can’t Miss Restaurants in Bairro Alto
- 100 Maneiras: A Michelin-star restaurant visited by Anthony Bourdain! Need I say more?
- Leve Leve: Best to make a reservation here, everyone loves the tapas at Leve Leve!
- Valdo Gatti Pizza Bio: If you crave authentic Italian pizza, this is your spot.
Best Bars & Fado Houses in Bairro Alto
- Friends Bairro Alto: Loud music, totally crazy. Epitome of a Bairro Alto street party!
- Groove Bar: This little bar is the perfect balance of classy and chill, yummy drinks, too!
- 49 da ZbD: Maybe one of the best bars to really let loose on the dance floor.
- Park Rooftop: This rooftop has views for miles, plus a few bars to choose from!
- Casa de Fado: A famed Fado house in Bairro Alto, do as the locals do: sit down and have a glass of Port.
- A Tasca do Chico: Another spot that hosted Anthony Bourdain during his time in Lisbon. This Fado house gets crowded!
Chiado: Best Neighborhood for Boutique Shopping & Hotels
Nestled between Baixa and Bairro Alto is the regal neighborhood of Chiado – reminiscent of the Belle Époque with its theaters, bookstores, art galleries, and museums.
Chiado is loved for its balance of upscale shopping and historical landmarks.
The Praça Luís de Camões is one of Lisbon’s most-adored squares; it separates Baixa and Bairro Alto from Chiado. Spend some time shopping and people watching here. To get here, you can hop on the famed 28 tram.
Must-Sees in Chiado
- Carmo Convent Ruins & Archaeological Museum: Destroyed by the 1755 fire and left as a reminder of the event, these ruins are breathtakingly gorgeous and historic.
- Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea: Incredible contemporary art museum in Chiado!
- Terraços do Carmo: Three viewpoint terraces just below the Santa Justa Lift and the Carmo Convent.
Can’t-Miss Restaurants & Cafés in Chiado
- A Brasileira: One of Lisbon’s oldest cafés; a staple!
- Organi Chiado: Incredible vegan food, for the plant-based traveler out there!
- The Little Wine Bar: Wine, tapas, vibes. The name speaks for itself!
- Alma: This is a Michelin-star restaurant serving avant-garde, locally inspired dishes, crafted by Lisbon’s most famous chef!
- Carmo Rooftop: Just by the Carmo Convent ruins, this bar boasts spectacular views and drinks.
Cais do Sodré: Best Neighborhood for Late Night Shenanigans
The nightlife in Cais do Sodré goes hand-in-hand with the nightlife in Bairro Alto; when the bars in Bairro Alto close up shop, head towards the waterfront to continue the party.
Cais do Sodré has always been the place to come for all things “after-hours.” Not long ago, this was Lisbon’s very own red light district, complete with brothels, drunken sailors, and all kinds of illicit happenings. That is, until the neighborhood was cleaned up and the famous Rua Cor de Rosa (Pink Street) was introduced as a wholesome tourist draw. Yet, the nightclubs and party scene thrives on.
Cais do Sodré is a fitting neighborhood for party-goers and foodies alike! Plus, it has a large subway station for easy transit to Belém, Sintra, and Cascais.
Must-Sees in Cais do Sodré
- Pink Street (Rua Cor de Rosa): Cais do Sodré’s claim to fame. The most Instagrammable street in Lisbon (or so the kids say).
- Elevador da Bica: If you’ve seen a photo of a Lisbon funicular, it was probably Elevador da Bica! Climb aboard for this steep ascent and an epic view of the Tagus.
- Ribeira das Naus: Hit pause on all that walking, take a seat on the grass, and soak up some sun here, on the banks of the Tagus River.
- Igreja de São Paulo (St Paul’s Church): Admire the church’s painted ceilings and enjoy walking around the lovely Praça de São Paulo.
Can’t-Miss Restaurants in Cais do Sodré
- Javá: Chic Mediterranean rooftop restaurant and bar.
- Time Out Market: Taste a little bit of everything at this food hall and market – but be warned, it gets crowded!
- IBO Restaurante: Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the terrace at Ibo, overlooking the river!
- Sol E Pesca: A fantastic spot on Pink Street to order a light lunch of Portuguese canned fish and wine.
- Lisboa é Linda: Traditional, fresh, delicious Portuguese food.
Best Bars & Nightclubs in Cais do Sodré
- Pensão Amor: Fancy vintage cocktail bar with an extensive menu of one-of-a-kind crafted drinks!
- O Bom O Mau e O Vilão: Explore each room in this eclectic bar and pick your favorite vibe!
- Titanic Sur Mer: Come here for the cocktails, stay for the various live music acts throughout the week.
Alfama: The Most Romantic Neighborhood in Lisbon
Sitting on the hills below the Castelo São Jorge (Saint George’s Castle) is the small residential neighborhood of Alfama.
Alfama is one of the most ancient neighborhoods in Europe, and certainly the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It’s also the most romantic!
Here, you can meander through narrow streets, visit the Sé Cathedral (Cathedral of Lisbon), enjoy traditional Portuguese dining experiences, admire the street art and azulejo tiles, the old, peeling paint and drying laundry billowing in the breeze, and bask in awe-inspiring views at the many miradors perched throughout.
Alfama is a great place to stay in Lisbon (click here for deals on Alfama hotels), if you don’t mind a bit of a leg workout! There are a few high-end boutique hotels, such as Memmo Alfama and Hotel Convento do Salvador, that are sure to make your stay in Lisbon unforgettable.
You can easily spend a half-day exploring here, adoring the historic charm and winding cobblestone streets.
Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Alfama
- Castelo São Jorge (São Jorge Castle): Take the bus or tram, or get a nice workout in, to make it up to Saint George’s Castle, complete with a museum and garden!
- Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon): The National Pantheon is astonishingly massive and beautiful, so it’s no wonder the tombs of Portugal’s elites rest here.
- Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora (Church and Monastery of St. Vincent): A beautiful church with a massive collection of Baroque tiles.
- Miradors: The Miradouro das Portas do Sol and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, are both a short walk down from the castle, waiting for photo ops!
- Treasures of Lisboa Food Tour: If you want to ensure you eat at the best of the best in the Alfama district, from restaurants to wine bars, book this Treasures of Lisboa Food Tour. Your tastebuds will thank you.
- Alfama District Walking Tour: Since Alfama can be a little bit of a maze, this walking tour is a good way to get acquainted with the highlights, while learning the history (and not getting lost in the process)!
Can’t-Miss Restaurants in Alfama
- Augusto Lisboa: Best brunch… Maybe in the whole city of Lisbon!
- Lisboa Tu e Eu 2: If you haven’t had a homestyle Portuguese meal yet, look no further.
- Parreirinha de Alfama: Live Fado music, fresh seafood, Portuguese wine… The perfect combination.
Alcântara: Best Neighborhood in Lisbon for Digital Nomads
Welcome to Alcântara, the hipster haven neighborhood tucked under the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge).
The main super-touristy attraction in Alcântara is the Ponte 25 de Abril, but here, visitors can appreciate something different than downtown: a new-wave vibe.
Alcântara is a great place to buy eco-friendly products, used books, handmade goods, plants, and shop sustainable fashion. It’s also a great spot to catch some lovely music acts. What’s not to love about that?
The nightlife here is beginning to challenge that of downtown – with more and more happening bars, restaurants, and nightclubs popping up. As such, new lofts and apartments are being built to house the influx of youth transplants. This Lisbon neighborhood is the most desirable for young entrepreneurs and digital nomads.
Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Alcântara
- Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge): This is the massive Golden-Gate-looking bridge you’ve been seeing from the miradors in downtown Lisbon! You can’t cross it by foot, but you can pay a small fee to enter inside and see the structure up close.
- Doca Santo Amaro (Santo Amaro Docks): Mosey around the boat docks and take your pick of riverside restaurants and cafés. This is a perfect spot for some shots of the bridge, too!
- LxFactory: Old industrial warehouses transformed into a wonderful myriad of shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. This space also has splendid murals, interactive art installations, and a craft market on Sundays.
- Museu do Oriente: A beautiful museum where you can learn about Portugal’s relationship with Asia, and appreciate their in-house collection of Asian art and artifacts.
Belém: Best Neighborhood in Lisbon for a Day Trip
A trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without exploring the charming riverside district of Belém. This is one of Lisbon’s most historic neighborhoods!
While in Belém, enjoy parks, many historic monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, churches, museums, art galleries – and, of course, the original pastel de nata.
Though Belém is most popular for half or full-day trips, this calm neighborhood is a good option for traveling families looking for a quieter place to stay in Lisbon.
Getting to Belém, Lisbon’s southwesternmost district, is easy since it lies just 5 kilometers outside of central Lisbon. Just hop on the number 15 tram at Praça da Figueira, Praça do Comércio, or Cais do Sodré train station. Alternatively, get there in half the time (7 minutes) by taking the train to Cascais from the Cais do Sodré train station. Just get off at Belém!
Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Belém
- Torre de Belém (Belém Tower): Tall and terrific 16th-century gateway to the city of Lisbon.
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery): The devastatingly beautiful Gothic Manueline style of architecture of the monastery alone is worth a visit here!
- The Padrāo dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discovery): Climb to the top for a cool breeze off the Tagus River, a nice view, too!
- Sunset Sailing Tour On The Tagus River: See the important monuments in Belém, as well as get a new perspective of Lisbon’s narrow streets and castle walls while sailing the Tagus on this Sunset Sailing Tour.
- Lisbon Bike Tour (from Baixa to Belém): The flat landscape of the Belém riverfront just begs to be biked. Check out this bike tour that goes from Lisbon’s city center to Belém.
PRO TIP: Book this tour to knock out all three: riverboat cruise, Belém tour, Ponte 25 de Abril!
Can’t-Miss Restaurants & Cafés in Belém
- Pastéis de Belém: Sometimes there’s a wait to get a table, so snag a pastel de nata to-go and eat the tart in the park across the street!
- Taberna dos Ferreiros: One of Belém’s best traditional restaurants serving up fresh fish and meat dishes, but they also have a few vegan options!
- Pão Pão Queijo Queijo: One of Belém’s best (and most affordable) spots for a quick baguette sandwich and fries, perfect for between sightseeing.
The Coolest Lisbon Neighborhoods to Visit & Explore
There’s really no way to go wrong when exploring the neighborhoods of Lisbon. If you can, it’s best to dedicate a day or half-day to visiting each!
Lisbon, Portugal’s multifaceted character is reflected in the open-minded people, flavorful foods, and one-of-a-kind neighborhoods. Venture the medieval cobblestone streets of Alfama, traipse down the winding stairs in Bairro Alto, bike to Belém and beyond – and do your best to pick a favorite!
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Lisbon Neighborhood FAQs
Due to its historic charm and location near the beautiful Tagus River, Alfama is the nicest neighborhood in Lisbon! (In my opinion.) Alfama is home to many luxury boutique hotels and fine dining restaurants, as well as regal miradors with views unlike anywhere else in the city.
The cool area in Lisbon is Bairro Alto. From art galleries and street art, to speakeasies and avant-garde dining experiences; there is never a dull moment in Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto is also cool because of its close proximity to other popular neighborhoods like Chiado, Baixa, and Príncipe Real.
Expats live largely all over Lisbon. The wealthier expats choose neighborhoods like Chiado, around Avenida da Liberdade (a luxury shopping avenue in Príncipe Real, near Bairro Alto), Belém, or in the residential neighbourhood of Alfama. Younger expats choose neighborhoods like Alcântara, that have less tourism and more nightlife.
Yes, Lisbon is a very walkable city. Lisbon has many pedestrian-friendly streets, plus the city itself is not so large. There are many hills and stairs, but this is alleviated by funiculars and elevators for pedestrians to move around the steep neighborhoods with ease.
The trendiest part of Lisbon is Alcântara, the neighborhood between Belém and the city center. Alcântara is trendy, and as of recently is one of the most popular neighborhoods for digital nomads and young entrepreneurs.