Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Lisbon's accommodation scene has exploded recently, so there is no shortage of places to stay, from historic buildings and palaces to excellent independent hostels. There are real bargains to be had in the off-season, but the city can get very busy from June to September. Prices are at their highest during the summer and you'll need to book ahead to avoid disappointment. We've put together a list of some of the best areas to stay in Lisbon to help you plan your trip.

Best for the historic centre: Baixa and Chiado

Lisbon’s Baixa, or ‘downtown’, is an appealing oblong of handsome buildings flanked by the squares of Rossio, Figueira and the grand riverfront Praça do Comércio. Its an impressive example of late eighteenth-century town planning, and many of its traditional shops survive – from men's outfitters to shops selling needles and thread. Most of its banks and offices have now been converted into hotels and guesthouses: a plethora of them have opened up in the last couple of years, so wherever you stay, you’ll be right in the thick of it. Consider adjacent Chiado too, the chic hilltop shopping district that’s home to the famous café A Brasileira.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: Florescente
Feeling flush: Hotel do Chiado

best area to stay in Lisbon - Praça do Comércio, Lisbon, PortugalPraça do Comércio in Baixa © S-F/Shutterstock

Best for romance: Alfama

Lisbon's oldest quarter is a fascinating warren of steep, winding streets that thread their way past densely packed houses where life carries on much as it has for centuries (this part of the city was first settled by the Moors in the 7th century AD). Heading uphill towards the castle, you’ll get some of the best views Lisbon has to offer, across the terracotta roof tiles and the cruise ships that anchor on the broad Tagus estuary. Fado restaurants and touristy souvenir shops are moving in, but this is still an alluring old-world village where you can spend all day exploring the narrow streets.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: The Keep
Feeling flush: Memmo Alfama

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Alfama, Lisbon, PortugalAlfama © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Best for the shopping district: Avenida da Liberdade

The wide, palm-lined Avenida da Liberdade is a mile-long strip of Portugal’s most expensive real estate, where embassies and consulates sit above top glitzy designer shops. Gently sloping downhill from the spaces of the centre’s main park, Parque Eduardo VII, to the central Baixa, the Avenida is also a short walk from most of Lisbon’s attractions.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: Dom Carlos Parque
Feeling flush: Heritage Avenida

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon, PortugalParque Eduardo VII © JoaoKrull/Shutterstock

Best for nightlife: Bairro Alto

Spread out across a hill above the old town, Bairro Alto the ‘high district’ has long been the city’s bohemian quarter. Its grid of densely packed streets are an intriguing medley of boutiques, bars, restaurants and graffitied houses. Relatively quiet by day, the district comes to life after midnight when on warm summer nights, it seems there’s a permanent street party taking place until the small hours. This is not the place to come for a quiet night, but it's ideal if you want some serious nightlife. Stay on the fringes of the central grid to be clear of the noisiest streets.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: The Independente
Feeling flush: Hotel Bairro Alto

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Bairro Alto, Lisbon, PortugalBairro Alto's colourful streets © ingehogenbijl/Shutterstock

Best for hip and happening: Cais do Sodré

The once seedy Cais do Sodré has had a makeover, and the bars and clubs that once attracted sailors and street walkers now attract the hip and trendy. There’s an appealing riverfront promenade, tasteful warehouse conversions and the Mercado da Ribeira, the main market, much of it now given over to food stalls serving top cuisine. Cais do Sodré also has plenty of fashionable restaurants and bars, but many of its budget establishments remain; it hasn’t quite thrown off the earthiness that is part of its appeal.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: Oasis Hostel
Feeling flush: LX Boutique

Best area to stay in Lisbon – Pastel de Nata, Lisbon, PortugalPasteis de nata on sale at Mercado Ribeira © Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock

Best for sophisticates: Lapa and Madragoa

West of the centre, the well-heeled districts of Lapa and Madragoa contain some of the city’s finest mansions and embassies, many with dazzling views over the Tagus. This is the quieter, more residential side to Lisbon, yet you’re only a short tram or bus ride from the city centre one way and the historic sites of Belém the other. This is also where you’ll find the splendid Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, an art gallery featuring the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Dürer, Rodin and Cranach.

Where to stay

Cash-strapped: Fado Bed and Breakfast
Feeling flush: Olissippo Lapa Palace

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Lapa© Frank Spee/Shutterstock

Best for culture: Belém

In 1498, Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém to India, and the trade routes he set up established Portugal as one of the world’s superpowers. To give thanks for this good fortune, the king built the sumptuous Jerónimos monastery, the centrepiece of a raft of impressive monuments and museums in this historic suburb west of the centre. These include the Torre de Belém tower, the impressive Maritime Museum and the unmissable Berardo Collection, one of Europe’s top modern art galleries.

Where to stay

For the cash-strapped: Casa Amarela
Feeling flush: Altis Belem

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Torre de Belém, Belém, LisbonTorre de Belém © Eduardo Barroso/Shutterstock

Best for early morning flights: Parque das Nações

Close to the airport and a short metro ride from the centre, the Parque das Nações was built for Lisbon’s Expo '98. It’s a futuristic new town of modern apartments and gardens flanking various tourist attractions, including a casino, science museum and its most famous site, the Oceanarium, which is one of the largest aquariums in Europe. You’ll also find a range of international restaurants, bars, concert venues and the giant Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre. All of this faces out onto the Tagus, here crossed by Europe’s longest bridge, the 17km-long Ponte Vasco da Gama. If you've hired a car crossing the bridge make for a fun experience, especially at sunset.

Where to stay

Cash-strapped: Pousada de Juventude Parque das Nações
Feeling flush: Myriad by Sana

Best area to stay in Lisbon - Ponte Vasco da Gama, Lisbon, PortugalPonte Vasco da Gama © Henrique Silva/Shutterstock

This feature contains affiliate links. All recommendations are editorially independent and taken from the latest Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon. Top image: Tram on the streets of Lisbon © Rrrainbow/Shutterstock.

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