Lisbon is quite a large city and despite its well-developed transport infrastructure the question where to stay in Lisbon is of utmost importance. You can find the list of hotels in Lisbon here, but below we will discuss how to choose a hotel based on the city’s topography.
What Area is the Best to Stay in Lisbon?
Marquess of Pombal Square
Perhaps, the nicest place to stay in Lisbon is the area around the Marquess of Pombal Square (Praça Marquês de Pombal). In the middle of this square you will find a monument dedicated to a man who led the reconstruction of the country after the earthquake of 1755. Despite quite restrained urban conditions, this district is greenish, cozy and very convenient for tourists. First, the square is connected by means of public transportation with all parts of the city and the Lisbon airport. Second, there is a great number of hotels just around the square which gives you a good choice of accommodation based on your budget. Third, here starts the main shopping street of Lisbon – the Avenida da Liberdade, and not far from here there is El Corte Ingles – the department store where you can purchase house goods, clothes and shoes, and even food products. The disadvantage of the district around the Pombal Square is its relatively large distance from the historical center of the city and its railway stations but considering a great transport infrastructure you can easily ignore this disadvantage, moreover, if the weather is bright and sunny (that is to say almost every day) you can walk to the downtown and back (for example, when I visited Lisbon I was walking everywhere and never took a metro!) If you want some recommendations, I would suggest taking a look at the America Diamonds Hotel and chain hotels Exe Lisboa Parque Hotel (former АC Hotel Lisboa by Marriott) and SANA Lisboa Hotel.
The Area of Avenida da Liberdade
Down from the Pombal Square goes a wonderful Avenida da Liberdade, which seemingly (when we look from above) enters right into the Lisbon Harbor. It will definitely remind you of Paris boulevards but with a local flavor in form of mosaics right under your feet or the ocean blue on the horizon. The buildings here are all respectable mansions, hotels, restaurants, and shops. The area is green but very lively, too, so when you choose a hotel here, pay extra attention to feedback of other travelers regarding the noise. But then, often windows are facing quiet courtyards and guests don’t experience any discomfort. Here you will not have any problems with shopping (most shops are boutiques of famous brands, more affordable brands “live” closer to the harbor), catering establishments are in plenty, and the Old city can be reached on foot (around 30 minutes from the middle of the Avenida da Liberdade), or by metro (there is metro station Avenida here). In the district of the Avenida da Liberdade you can consider such hotels as Tivoli Lisboa, Tivoli Jardim, Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade or Eurostars Das Letras, which is located further into the district, in the direction of the Botanical garden.
Railway Station Sete Rios
Before we move right to the center I would like to share with you information about a couple of interesting districts where you can stay, especially if you also want to save on accommodation costs and if you plan to explore the Lisbon surroundings. The first district is located north-west from the Pombal Square near the railway station Sete Rios.
Side note: you should keep in mind that Lisbon has several railway stations. The main are Oriente, Entrecampos, Cais do Sodre and Rossio. In addition to these railway stations there are some intermediate stations – from those you can also board trains, sometimes it is more convenient than going to the main railway station wasting time and money. Sete Rios is one of those intermediate stations. It is also very convenient that near the station there is also a bus terminal – from here every day buses depart to the “depths” of Portugal, for example, to Leiria. So, if buses are your main transportation in the country (in most cases it is cheaper, faster and more convenient than traveling by train) and if you plan to leave early in the morning, you can consider this district for accommodation.
Even in the darkest hour you will feel safe here, because there are mostly office buildings and banks in the district, and the area is illuminated sufficiently. El Corte Ingles department store is 15 minutes away from here, also there are stores in the district itself but to get a decent meal you will have to move closer to the center. Possible disadvantage of the district could be the fact that the planes come in for landing just above this area. But then, since the Lisbon airport is located within the city area, planes fly right above the entire city center (when you land it seems that the plane is moving upon the roofs of the buildings.) Besides, modern hotels have soundproof rooms, and when windows remain closed, no noise or vibration will ever disturb you, and the landing planes can be considered an additional entertainment. In this district I can recommend the following hotels: SANA Malhoa Hotel, Hotel ibis Lisboa Jose Malhoa, and Corinthia Hotel Lisbon.
Praça de Entrecampos
Another district worth your attention is located north to the Pombal square, around the Praça de Entrecampos. The main advantage of the district is its location. The same name railway station is within close proximity. From there every day lots of trains depart into different directions (for example, to Sintra, Beja, and Evora). From here you can also easily reach various parts of the city using public transportation. The airport is just 10–12 minutes away by bus. The fans of bull fights will like that the Campo Pequeno is located nearby. Here you can find fewer shops than in the city center but overall more supermarkets because this is a residential district. As a disadvantage we can consider the distance from the city center, that’s why I recommend staying here, only if you don’t want to pay extra for the central location of your hotel and are ready to spend some time for reaching your destinations by public transport. In this area I recommend to take a look at such hotels as the chain hotel NH Campo Grande or a designer Hotel 3K Europa.
As every self-respecting European city Lisbon has a medieval-era center. Here it is especially distinctive: a fortress on a hill, cute houses at the bottom of the hill, and right above all of that there is a bright blue sky. The old city is located on the shore of Mar da Palha. This location proved to be disadvantageous when in 1755 the old city was destroyed in the earthquake and a tsunami. The oldest quarters of Lisbon are closer to the hill and if you check the map, you will see how meandering and circularly arranged they are. The hotels here are authentic and boast great views at the city, the fortress or blue waters of the bay. You couldn’t ask for a better location: the fortress is right in front of your windows, all tourist attractions are within an easy reach, not to mention lots and lots of cafes and restaurants with the smells that make your mouth water, in the evenings you will see street vendors roasting chestnuts on an open air right on the streets making them smell of something baked and undeniably delicious. Possible disadvantage of the area is the price. The hotels here charge more than hotels in other districts. Another drawback is the terrain: to reach hotels located on the hill, on foot is not that easy, to climb is pretty tiring, especially after a long day of exploring the city or if you carry heavy luggage. The car drivers don’t have it easy either: the uphill road is quite a challenge! But the atmosphere and the vibes of this district make all the drawbacks insignificant, even though you still should keep them in mind. I recommend you to take a look at the following hotels: Olissippo Castelo, Portas do Sol Apartments and Solar Dos Mouros.
Rua da Prata Neighborhood
Another interesting district that you can consider as an accommodation option is the area around the Rua da Prata, the street leading from the bay and the Praça do Comércio to the railway station Rossio. This street and its neighboring streets form a shopping and promenade area of Lisbon (booking websites often refer to this district as Pombalino or the Lower city, the list of hotels can be found here). Each building here is a hotel, a restaurant, or a store; they are all illuminated at nights. On the one hand, it is definitely an advanrage, you are always in the center of the events, there is no need to go anywhere far away to get a decent meal for lunch or dinner, and you won’t have to carry your purchases all through the city. On the other hand, loud crowds of people, music from the stores, and street artists create noise that might disturb your sleep if your windows will face this street. So, if you come to stay here, ask for a room that faces a courtyard, or bring your earplugs. The location of the district is also convenient in terms of visiting all the main tourist attractions: the castle and the cathedral are just ten minutes away, to reach the abbey’s ruins you will need around the same time. Besides, this district is located between two railway stations – Rossio and Cais do Sodre – which makes it more convenient to explore the nearby towns. Here I recommend such hotels as Vincci Baixa, Browns Downtown Hotel, Hotel Santa Justa and apartments Madalena Hermitage and Casas da Baixa – Jules & Madeleine.
Rental Apartments in Lisbon
I can’t help but say a few words about renting apartments in Lisbon. Hotels are good enough but sometimes you want to feel as if you are local here, to wake up early and go to the market with your neighbor old ladies, to cook something of local produce, and then rest pensively on the terrace looking at the bay or a lively street, or at the very least, at a quiet courtyard. Of course, you will not find 24/7 service and receptionist, there won’t be daily cleaning and change of towels, but apartments are great for families or large groups of friends (then can have a few bedrooms and a living room). Besides, in most cases you will have a fully equipped kitchen at your disposal which will help you save money on food, (for example, breakfast in a 4-star hotel costs around 18 euros per person, which makes it 36 euros for two. If you cook yourself, you will notice that the same 36 euros are enough for two adults for the entire day, including seafood, wine and other delicacies). Many apartments are also pet-friendly.
As a disadvantage of renting an apartment in Lisbon I see payment conditions: owners often ask for prepayment (wire transfer of the amount in euro).
When choosing an apartment always read feedback of previous guests before you proceed to booking: if you go there in winter, check if there is heating in the apartment, if you come in summer, see if there is an air conditioner. The latter is also important if the windows of the apartment face a loud street with intensive traffic. If you come to Lisbon by car, write to the apartment owner and ask where you can park it. Finally, you should keep in mind that the closer to the center, the higher is the possibility that the house will not be equipped with an elevator (in Lisbon even 19th century buildings often don’t have it. I would recommend to pay some attention to the following Lisbon apartments: Apartamento S Jose and Santos River Apartments Lisbon. A larger list of Lisbon apartments can be found here.