Accomodation in Lisbon: Where to stay?

Whether it is for a nice holiday or if you are starting an exchange you will need accommodation in Lisbon and this article will explain how. Prices on accommodation in Lisbon have risen abruptly in recent years and there are a lot of scams online! Below is my article to help you make the best choice for you and safely navigate through all the offers online.

Some of the questions I will answer in this article are:

  • In which neighborhood to stay?
  • Where to look online?
  • What are the prices?
  • How to avoid scams?

Which neighborhood of Lisbon?

If you want to stay in Lisbon, the choice of the neighbourhood will without a doubt strongly affect your experience. Below, is an explanation of the different neighbourhoods as well as my own take on who would want to live there. While Lisbon stretches far beyond the limits of the map I provided below, these neighbourhoods are considered as being “in the city” and under 30min away from the river. Hope it helps!

Map over the different neighborhoods in Lisbon's center

Just like most cities, Lisbon is divided into boroughs. However, to make it easy, I have divided them into what I believe makes the most sense as a foreigner moving to Lisbon. I have chosen to divide the city into the following main neighborhoods:

  1. Cais do Sodré + Santos
  2. Baixa-Chiado
  3. Bairro-Alto
  4. Alfama
  5. Alameda
  6. Marquês de Pombal
  7. Saldanha

1. Cais do Sodré + Santos

This is one of the major hubs in Lisbon. If you are going to/back from Cascais or if you are coming by ferry from the other side of the river: this is the transfer station. The green metro line ends here as well. Apart from being well connected, this area is popular due to its location on the bank side of the river. A lot of cafés and bars are located here as well as hotels and Airbnb. This neighborhood sees a lot of traffic during the day and tourists during the night looking for bars. The famous pink street with all the bars is located here. If you are looking for accommodation in Lisbon’s center for a short stay then this is a great place. For people looking for something long-term, although the location is good, you’d probably pay more for it.

Cais do Sodré is by the sea and has a lot of nice places to have drinks with a view. Here is the bar Titanic sur Mer

2. Baixa-Chiado

If there is a part of town that gives you Milano vibes it would be this one. With its high-end stores, fountains, and embassies, Chiado is known for its beautiful streets. With only a walk away from the river bank and its own metro stop (on the blue line), Chiado is an ideal location to meet and go for a stroll through the shopping street. However, mind that Chiado is built on one of the 7-hills so beware tourists who believe they can easily walk uphill from Cais do Sodré! Despite the crowd during the day and the somewhat expensive cafés, Baixa-Chiado is a great place to stay if you are looking for a hotel or an Airbnb. For people looking to rent a room or a flat, be ready to not find that much choice here and expect to pay more than average for its renown and location.
View from rooftop bar Mundial over Baixa

3. Bairro-Alto


If there ever was a “Red Street” this would be it. With its numerous bars and amazing look-outs (Miradouros) this neighborhood is very popular during the evening and night. Bairro-Alto is one of the few places where you will see Portuguese and foreigners intermingling and living in harmony: drinking, singing, and enjoying themselves. The neighborhood has always been a meeting place for the Portuguese to blow some steam. It also has two beautiful look-outs, the Miradouro de S. Pedro as well as the Miradouro da S. Catarina. Housing here is expected to be cheap due to its known raucous atmosphere. 

Accommodation for tourists in the form of hostels, hotels, and AirBnB is affordable. For the deep-sleepers or people that want to be where the party is, rooms and apartments can be rented here long-term.
Church São Vicente de Fora in Alfama

4. Alfama


With its serpentine cobblestone streets, yellow trams, and churches overlooking the river: Alfama has without a doubt “postcard”-perfect scenery. While Alfama is a must-see for anyone coming to Lisbon, it has seen the downside of intense tourism in recent years. This neighborhood has always embodied the Portuguese culture with its fado in its streets (Portuguese traditional song). However, more and more Lisboetas are driven out of the neighborhood. This is due to prices being increased by the high demand for AirBnB:s and hotels. As a great admirer of Portugal and its culture, I feel the need to mention this as it is a hot topic today in Portuguese society. My personal recommendation is to definitely visit Alfama, however, its lack of metro and high tourist activity during the day does not make it the best choice for most when it comes to accommodation.

Better connected as well as more affordable locations are close-by and Alfama can always be reached by tram or bus when the time comes to explore its beautiful streets.
View over Alameda park with Técnico school in the background with its two black towers

5. Alameda


While I am biased for having lived there for 2 years I can only speak well of this area. Located along the Avenida Almirante Reis, the area I am speaking of stretches from the metro stop of Intendente up to the stop Areiro on the green line. This area is well-connected with two metro lines (red and green), and bus lines, as well as the train station of Roma-Areiro, are one stop away. A lot of affordable cafés and bars can be found here. Intendente has its own little nightlife which is considered a bit underground. However, the area is more or less quiet during the evening. The engineering school of Técnico is located here so if you are looking for accommodation, bear in mind that you’d compete with many students for shared apartments.

Staying short-term or long-term, the area Alameda is more affordable than other parts of town and is very well located with a direct metro line down to Cais do Sodré.

6. Marquês de Pombal

This roundabout is named after a great Portuguese lord from the 1700s. It is located between the great avenue of Avenidas Novas and the city park of Parque Eduardo VII. Looking at the picture next to this text: you can see the park with a stretch of grass pointing to the sea, the roundabout has a statue that stands out in the picture. Beyond the roundabout starts Avenida Novas with its alleys of tall trees.

Marquês de Pombal also has its own metro stop with the same name. Two metro lines cross each other (yellow- and blue-line). It also is an intersection between major streets of the city with a lot of bus lines passing through. I have stayed at hostels as well as hotels in the area and they all had great value for the price. I have also seen affordable rooms in shared flats for students.

View over the garden of Parque Eduardo VII

7. Saldanha

In this area, located near the metro sharing the name, you would find Lisbon’s business center with lots of offices and restaurants. Good bars with decent prices are also found here. This neighborhood is pretty calm in the evening and has a wide variety of good restaurants. If you manage to find accommodation at a fair price here I would take it. While you won’t have the nightlife of Bairro-Alto nor charming cobbled-stone streets like downtown, it is well connected with buses and the red metro-line passes here. Great location if you are studying at the Técnico engineering school.
Belém tower in the evening

Belém and Carcavelos


While these areas are actually outside of the municipality of Lisbon they are well connected to the center (Cais do Sodré) with the Cascais train line. Belém and Carcavelos are respectively 10 to 40 min away from the city center by train. Trains are every 10/20min depending on the hour of the day. If you don’t mind having to commute to school or work, Carcavelos and Belém are to be considered; offering much lower prices for housing for long-term stays. Mind that in Carcavelos you have the famous Nova Business School. Therefore, if you are looking for accommodation bear in mind that a lot of central and northern-European students drive up prices on rents in shared apartments.

If you are staying short term and are looking for hotels and hostels, the choice is much narrower compared to Lisbon. There are fewer AirBnB:s to rent and even fewer hotels and hostels.

Staying in Cascais and Sintra?

Palacio da Pena in Sintra is a UNESCO world heritage site

Cascais and Sintra are both located west of Lisbon at the river mouth of the Tejo. These smaller towns are 45-50min away by train from Lisbon’s center. If you are looking for long-term accommodation close to Lisbon and don’t need to be in the city every day (or don’t mind commuting) affordable housing can be found here. You would get more bang for your buck so to say. Cascais can be very expensive still if you go for the better apartments close to the beach and the train station. These towns are better suited for people that don’t mind missing out on the nightlife and value being close to nature and appreciating small-town life.

What I love about Cascais is the beach: Praia da Rainha is inside the town, just 5min away from the train station. There are a few museums as well as a lot of nice restaurants.

Sintra is also considered a town with beautiful scenery with the mountains and the coast. Portugal’s arguably most beautiful beach is nearby, namely, Praia do Guincho and Praia Grande dos Rodízio. Sintra also houses a fairy-tale-like castle in the mountains called Palácio da Pena.

Praia da Rainha beach in the center of Cascais

Short term accomodation in Lisbon?

There is a lot of choice when it comes to what kind of accommodation in Lisbon you are looking for. Lisbon offers a lot of hotels with a wide range of price but hostels have also made an entrance on the scene and offers a lot of options. For the ones who do not mind living in shared spaces, a hostel can offer great value for a low price!

While I am planning to write soon a post with my favorite hotels and hostels in Lisbon, AirBnB:s can also be affordable if you are staying a few days in the city. Breakfast and lunch can be had for a very good price at a local café, so having a Hotel charge for it might not be the best deal. Furthermore, having an Airbnb can offer you some privacy. Lisbon is one of the safest cities in Europe, so don’t worry if you have to make a walk back to the apartment in the middle of the night.

While I agree that housing is one of the most costly expenses during a trip, I believe that you should not overspend on this because there are a lot of affordable hotels and hostels if you look well enough. I believe that you should not need to spend more than 50€/night per person to have a great room inside the city.

Long term accomodation in Lisbon?

If you are staying for more than 2 months, AirBnB starts to get really expensive and if you don’t mind giving a deposit then renting an apartment or a room might be the way to go. Below I have given a list of platforms where to find accommodation as well as what you should be mindful of when choosing one.

Platforms where you can search and find rental homes

There are a number of sites that offer all kinds of housing long-term. A few I have used are Idealista, Inlife, and Uniplaces. Mind that some of these sites might take a commission of around 100€. While this might sound a lot, it is common for these sites to ask for such a fee. One of these sites is intended for Erasmus students and is called Erasmusu, made by Spotahome. I have not used it before but might be worth looking at. Thus, a list of sites I would recommend checking would be:

  • Idealista
  • spotahome
  • OLX
  • Uniplaces
  • Inlife
  • erasmusu (by Spotahome)

I also recommend looking on Facebook. For example, I am a member of a Swedish Facebook group where Swedes would often ask for housing. There are a lot of ex-pat communities in Lisbon and its surroundings, might be worth checking those groups and asking for a favor! However, do keep in mind that people fall for scams every day on Facebook by sending money upfront to unknown people: read more below on how to avoid scams!

Price for room in shared apartment in Lisbon?

Accommodation in Lisbon can be tricky when renting a room. A lot of the time, the owners would post images of different rooms and even different flats (due to laziness I guess). I first realized first that my room had no windows when I arrived with all my luggage… While this really sucked, the rent was on the affordable side being at 300€/month. The second room I rented had a balcony and the apartment was much more recent; the rent was 500€/month. It is common to find shared flats with a number of flatmates ranging from 4 to 10. Be also mindful of the amount of people you will live with: the more people sharing a space the more likely it will get messy.

View from my apartment's kitchen

As I mentioned above, the price will change according to where the housing is located. However, expect to pay above 300€ for a furnished room in a shared flat in the city. If you can manage to pay a rent of 500€ a lot of opportunities would present themselves and you could choose to stay in most neighborhoods. In the case of a shared apartment, all the utilities should be covered as well as the Internet. Usually, the price is included heating, water as well as electricity. Internet should also be there but do check before! Cleaning of common spaces can also be included. I paid 20€ per month for cleaning although this depends a lot on the apartment. More on this cleaning is explained below

Price for own apartment in Lisbon?

View from the rooftop bar Noobai in Lisbon

If you want to rent your own place, I would suggest you rent a so-called T1 or T2. These means respectively 1 or 2-room apartment. The price for these can vary but I would say to expect to pay at least 600€ per month for a decent one that comes furnished. Utilities might have to be added on top of that: this could be 100€ more per month. Mind that the internet might not be included and that the landlord might ask you to pay for the utilities up-front monthly and not according to your consumption.

A note on cleaning

One extra charge you might have to pay when renting a room in a shared flat or a flat for yourself is cleaning. Having a maid doing the cleaning once in a while is very common and asking the landlord to skip it might not be an option. If you live in a large flat with +5 flatmates I wouldn’t expect the maid to clean the private rooms. The cleaning areas they would cover would be bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways.

View from Miradouro da Santa Catarina

Watch out for scams!

As more and more tourists flock to Lisbon, so does the money. Unfortunately, this hasn’t gone unnoticed by some seeing it as an opportunity to trick naive foreigners. A rule of thumb is to never send money upfront to an unknown person/entity. This is one of the reasons why platforms like Uniplaces and Inlife but also have value compared to searching through Facebook. Platforms can act as middle-man to assure the legitimacy of the landlord or host.

I can admit that I have fallen victim to scams on as well as AirBnB but I always got phone support and they managed to find me a new place the same evening so I didn’t have to be without a roof or lose the money. A good habit is to always check for comments: if are there no comments on the host/hotel then it might not be a legitimate business.

In regard to long-term renting of rooms or apartments always ask to do a live viewing: if the landlord can’t fulfill the request then something is not right. Also, ask for the landlord to send a rental contract upfront before sending any money: this can also be a good way to check the authenticity of the rental.

Checklist: questions you need to ask before choosing a place in Lisbon

Before you settle for accommodation in Lisbon and send the deposit, you should ask yourself a set of questions to ensure that there are no surprises. This could be a list of important criteria you decide on beforehand; otherwise, I have made one for you below:

Douglas’ Checklist before moving in:

  • Have you seen the place? Either live video or sent a friend to have a look?
  • What utilities are included?
  • If any, how many flatmates? Some rooms are a couple’s room!
  • Is there internet? Is it reliable?
  • How far to the closest metro or train station?
  • Is cleaning included? if not how much?
  • On which floor is the apartment? Is there an elevator?
If you manage to answer all these questions then I believe you’ll have a good basis upon which to make a decision. Some criteria I put above are not essential for some: for example, the fact that there is no elevator might not be a big deal, but if the apartment is on the fifth floor then it could be a problem!

To sum-up

In this article, you have seen a lot of aspects of when choosing accommodation in Lisbon, whether for a trip or for moving for work or studies. We went through the different parts of town you would want to stay in, and we also discussed where to find housing online as well as what to think about before moving in. I hope this guide was helpful and please have a look at my other posts, for example my favorite beaches around Lisbon: click here

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