Our first post about Lisbon has become so popular; we decided to do a Lisbon Guide on where to stay, eat and what to do. Even though Lisbon is a smaller city (475,000), it still has a lot to offer but to keep this post from becoming too long I will focus on 3 coastal areas which we really enjoyed.
Like many other cities, Lisbon is split into many different areas/districts; you have old town (Alfama), the hip area or hangout district (Baixa/Chiado) and the party places (Barrio Alto). Besides these three areas, you can go west along the coast and find some fancy/wealthier areas, go northeast along the coast and find a beautiful newly developed area, or go across the bridges to find even more great places.
Lisbon feels like a mix between San Francisco and Barcelona
Lisbon has so much to offer and if you’d like to know some details about places not mentioned in this post, just let me know.
Stay, Eat and Do!
There is a lot to choose from when deciding on where to stay in Lisbon; it all depends on your priorities. You can stay in or near downtown for fairly cheap, or you can choose a fancy place not far from the main attractions and pay a bit more money.
Regarding restaurants, the selection is wide open, in the old town you will find a lot of genuine family owned restaurants and in the hip area you can find almost anything to eat. You will discover everything from traditional Portuguese cuisines to all kinds of cheap or fancy international restaurants. What to see and do is endless, surprisingly enough this little town has great things to discover, everything from surfing and sun bathing to museums, old castles and different activities.
Where to stay:
+ The great thing about Alfama are all the pretty hilly streets and the genuine locals greeting you as you walk around. Since it is not the most popular area to stay in Lisbon, you can find many nice apartments with balconies and gardens for less than 30 Euros a night.
– The downside would be the windy streets and low range of boutiques. Because it’s an old town you can have a hard time finding well developed super markets or stores in Alfama, depending on where you are in this area you might need to go to the main streets for groceries. The apartments are all old so don’t expect elevators.
+ There are not so many hostels in this area, the main one is Alfama Patio Hostel that got great reviews on Tripadviser. It’s located in a nice area in Alfama, fairly cheap from 10 – 30 Euros, with a great outdoor area.
– The Alfama Patio Hostel is a bit far away from the main “downtown” – about 15-20 min walk.
Where to Eat:
Regarding food and drinks in Alfama, I would suggest looking up a Family restaurant with traditional Portuguese food or checking out some of Lisbon’s amazing Rooftops! Try to avoid the places around the castle unless you want to eat at a tourist trap. These are our favorites in the area:
Resto do Chapito – Simple but tasteful restaurant with an amazing view and fairly cheap prices.
Sr. Fado de Alfama – Genuine, personal atmosphere with traditional Portuguese food.
This is the downtown/ hip area where you will find all the cool restaurants and bars. It’s hard to properly describe this area since it changes so much in such a short distance. Unlike the windy streets in Alfama, part of this area is laid out like a grid with many shops and supermarkets, in other parts of this area you will find hipster barber shops and under bridge clubs. Basically, it’s a mixed bag and so much fun to explore.
Where to stay:
+ When searching in Baixa/Chiado on Airbnb you will find a lot of different options, everything from fancy big apartments to simple smaller places. You are right downtown and close to everything from transportation, restaurants, shops to supermarkets and bars, etc.
– Since it is the center of the city, it can also be a bit more expensive and quite loud from all the cars, people and construction workers. One thing to keep in mind is that you should book well in advance since this is one of the most popular areas to stay in.
+ In Baixa/chiado you will find a lot of different hostels, with prices between 13-30 Euros. Again, make sure to book in advance, especially during the Carnival in February.
Where to eat:
Chiado is the main area for the most acclaimed and award-winning chefs. You will find everything from fine international dining to traditional emblematic restaurants with Portuguese cuisines. Since there is so much to choose from here I would suggest checking out some restaurants through Spotted by Locals or Tripadviser. If you are interested in our opinion please see our other blog post below titled, Wine and Dine in Lisbon.
Barrio Alto has traditionally been the part where the bohemian, artist and writers hang out but today it is more known for its nightlife. The northern part of Barrio Alto, close to Principal Real has great antique/interior design shops and also where you will find some gay clubs and bars.
Where to stay:
+ You will find a lot of different types of apartments in Barrio Alto, fancy rooftop apartments closer to Principal Real and small one-bed rooms right on the party streets, closer to downtown.
– This area is a bit more expensive and if you choose to live close to the party streets, you risk loud party people waking you up at 4am. The closer you get to Principal Real the more fancy and quite it will be but also the more expensive.
+ Its fairly cheap to stay in hostels around this area and they are close to all the restaurants, bars and shops.
– Although you won’t find so many hostels to choose among, there are a few with good prices but you might need to look for Hotels instead of hostels.
Where to eat?
In Barrio Alto you will find dozens of choices for all budgets and tastes. This area is quite touristy but if you avoid the main streets, there are several great places to choose from. We eat at a typical Portuguese restaurant where they had amazing Cod and Seafood called: A Camponesa.
What to do?
There are many things to do in Lisbon, my number one suggestion would be to walk around and explore the city since it’s not so big and very easy to get around! We would recommend trying their traditional dishes and visiting the many Rooftops bars and restaurants. Below we have listed our top things to do in Lisbon:
Why we Love Lisbon – 5 reasons why we fell in Love with Lisbon
5 things to do around Lisbon – What is there to do and see around Lisbon?
Where to Dine and Wine in Lisbon – Rooftop bars, traditional food, restaurants etc
Visit Castelo Sao Jorge – Dont forget to visit this place when you are here!
If you have any questions please comment below and we would be happy to answer or share your experience with us!
Purple: Barrio Alto, Green: Baixa/Chiado, Blue: Alfama