Best Areas to Stay in Portland, Oregon

The Best Areas to Stay in Portland, OR
The Best Areas to Stay in Portland, OR

Where to Stay in Portland – A Guide to “The City of Roses”

Portland is Oregon’s largest city. Located in the northwest of the state, on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and nicknamed “The City of Roses,” Portland is famous for its hipster scene, its widespread liberal and environmentally-friendly attitudes, and for being one of the main financial, commercial, and tourist hubs in the northwestern United States. In this post, we will discover the best areas to stay in Portland, OR.

Considered one of the most hipster-friendly cities in North America, Portland wears its so-called weirdness with pride. This Oregon town is renowned for its craft beer, organic, locally-grown food, and thrift stores. However, Portland’s “alternative” attitude runs deep below the ironic mustaches and penchant for vegan cheeses and electric cars; Portland is a lifestyle. Every city should be, at least a little bit, like Portland.

Some of the most visited tourist attractions in Downtown Portland include the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society, Keller Fountain Park, The South Park Blocks, The Old Church Concert Hall, and The Simon Benson House. See accommodation in Downtown Portland.

Washington Park, located a couple of miles west of Downtown Portland, is a massive urban park with several tourist attractions like the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. Nearby Hillside is home to the Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance-style château and museum.

North of Downtown lies the Pearl District, the most hipster neighborhood in the most hipster city in America. Pearl is known for its lovely pedestrian-friendly streets, quirky cafes, and boutiques. See accommodation in the Pearl District.

Not far, the city’s Old Town Chinatown offers sights like the gorgeous Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Shanghai Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels built to move goods from the ships on the Willamette to the local businesses’ basement storage areas. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the colorful history of these passages. See accommodation in Portland’s Chinatown.

Portland is also the main gateway to explore Oregon’s national parks and reserves. Some of the most popular natural attractions in and around Portland include the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, Forest Park, Round Lake, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, and Kelley Point Park.

Due to its geographical location in the Willamette Valley and 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Portland has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate. Winters are cool, with temperatures hovering between 36 and 47 ºF (2 – 8 ºC). Meanwhile, summers are warm and dry, with average temperatures of around 58 and 82 ºF (15 – 27 ºC). The best time of the year to visit Portland is from mid-spring to early fall (April through October), when temperatures are pleasant, and you can enjoy outdoor activities and sightseeing.

To get to Portland by air, the city is served by Portland International Airport. This important airport, the busiest in Oregon, is located 12 miles northeast of Downtown Portland and offers connections to virtually every major city in the USA and a wide range of international flights to several cities in Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

Portland is also served by train. Portland Union Station, located in Old Town Chinatown, is the city’s main railway hub and intermodal station. It is the terminus station of the Empire Builder line connecting Portland to Chicago. The Amtrak Cascades connects the city to several places in Oregon, plus Seattle and Vancouver. Additionally, the Coast Starlight train service stops in Portland on its way between Seattle and Los Angeles. See train routes, schedules & fares.

Additionally, Portland is connected to other places in Oregon and the Northwest through a network of long-distance buses. See bus routes, schedules & fares.

To move around town, Portland has a very efficient and well-developed intermodal public transport system consisting of five color-designated light rail lines (known as MAX), three streetcar lines connecting the central districts, and dozens of bus routes reaching virtually every corner of the city. Additionally, Portland offers regular taxis and mobile apps like Uber and Lyft, and you can choose to rent a car during your trip.

The best area to stay in Portland is Downtown. This lively district is home to Portland’s historical attractions, world-class museums, shops, nightlife, and some of the best restaurants in town. Downtown Portland is also the best-connected area and offers the widest range of accommodation. See accommodation in Downtown Portland.

If you’re in Portland to explore this city’s legendary alternative vibe, then the Pearl District is the best location in Portland for hipsters. See accommodation in the Pearl District.

Other hipster-friendly districts in Portland include the Alberta Art District, Nob Hill, and Buckman & Hawthorne.

Finally, other excellent options to keep in mind when choosing the best location in Portland, OR, are Southwest Portland, the Lloyd District, North Portland, and the WA city of Vancouver.

Keep reading to find out more about the best areas to stay in Portland, OR.

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The Best Areas to Stay in Portland, Oregon

Downtown Portland’s accommodation offer is very wide. Here, you can find budget brands like Econo Lodge, mid-range chains like Hyatt House, or luxury hotels such as The Sentinel.

Located on the Willamette River’s west bank, Downtown is Portland’s main commercial, financial, dining, nightlife, and shopping district.

This lively area is home to some of Portland’s most important cultural attractions, markets, and shopping centers.

Portland Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums on the West Coast, showcases a large collection of Northwest and Native American works. Meanwhile, the Oregon Historical Society is a history museum home to the “Portland Penny”, the very coin that was tossed to decide the city’s name in 1845, the loser option was Boston. Portland’s South Park Blocks, spanning 12 blocks and sandwiched between both lanes of Park Avenue, for a public park with fountains, statues, and sculptures.

Located right in the heart of Downtown Portland, Keller Fountain Park, an iconic public space, features artificial waterfalls. A few blocks away Chapman Square, Lownsdale Square, and Terry Schrunk Plaza form a green space surrounded by skyscrapers and public buildings. Across from it, the Italian-inspired Portland City Hall is the headquarters of the city government.

Pioneer Courthouse Square, located across from 19th-century Pioneer Courthouse, at the heart of Downtown Portland’s shopping area, is nicknamed “Portland’s living room” and hosts regular events. Right next to it, Pioneer Place offers an upscale shopping experience.

If this city’s name was not already a clear indication. Portland was born as a river port. In old times, the Willamette River was one the primary docking causeway for vessels moving products, people, and raw materials from Oregon to Washington, Canada, and Asia.

Nowhere is this frontier-town-slash-port-city connection more apparent than in the Old Town Chinatown. Located at the north end of downtown, this historic district is home to the Shanghai Tunnels, officially built to facilitate the transport of goods from store basements to the mooring docks on the river; these passages are filled with legends of illegal trade, organized crime, and shanghaiing.

Also located in Old Town Chinatown, Lan Su Chinese Garden is a small botanical garden with Chinese plants, ponds, sculptures, and a tea shop. Nearby, the Portland Saturday Market, held every weekend, offers crafts, food carts, and entertainment.

The Southern edge of Downtown Portland is occupied by the Portland State University.

Downtown Portland is the best-connected area in one of the best-connected cities in America when it comes to public transportation. All MAX and Streetcar lines cross the City Center north to south and east to west. Furthermore, Portland Union Station, which handles intercity traffic, is located at the district’s northern edge.

Best area in Portland for tourists - Downtown
Best area in Portland for tourists – Downtown
Where to stay in Portland - Downtown
Where to stay in Portland – Downtown
Best location for sightseeing in Portland, Oregon - Downtown
Best location for sightseeing in Portland, Oregon – Downtown
Accommodation in Downtown Portland - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this areaº
Accommodation in Downtown Portland – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Where to stay in Downtown Portland:

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland, OR:

  • Central location
  • Best area for sightseeing
  • Best area to stay without a car
  • Old Town Chinatown
  • Best area for shopping
  • Very well-connected by public transport


2. Pearl District

Pearl District’s hotels are every bit as hip as its reputation will lead you to believe. This lively area is home to gorgeous boutique properties like the Hampton Inn And Suites Pearl District or the Canopy by Hilton Portland Pearl District.

Portland’s Pearl District is located directly north of Downtown, on the Willamette River’s west bank and a stone’s throw away from Old Town Chinatown.

This buzzing area is known for being the epicenter of Portland’s legendary hipster scene.

With a grungy, industrial atmosphere, Pearl District used to be a port area. Today, many of its old factories and warehouses have been turned into art galleries, boutiques, cafés, and bars.

Considered one of the best shopping areas in Portland, the Pearl District is packed with independent boutiques and hip brands.

On its southern edge, W Burnside Street is home to Powell’s City of Books, an iconic, multi-level, bookstore with millions of new and used books and a café.

Tanner Springs Park is an urban square featuring an award-winning layout, a wetland waterscape, and an art installation called Artwall made with railroad tracks.

To move around, Pearl District’s central location and pedestrian-friendliness mean that you can discover the area, as well as Downtown Portland, on foot. To reach other city neighborhoods, the Pearl District is crossed by Portland’s Streetcar network and you can also catch the MAX at nearby Union Station.

Best area to stay in Portland for hipsters - Pearl District
Best area to stay in Portland for hipsters – Pearl District
Accommodation in Pearl District - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Pearl District – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland:

  • Hipster area
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Near Union Station
  • Best area for nightlife
  • Connected by public transport
  • Central location

3. Nob Hill & Northwest Portland

Hip and lovely Nob Hill and the smart neighborhoods of Northwest Portland are home to funky inns like Inn at Northrup Station and some mid-range alternatives such as Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.

Nob Hill is one of the districts that make up Northwest Portland.

Located directly west of the Pearl District, on the other side of the Stadium Freeway, Nob Hill offers an eclectic mix of residential streets and commercial strips.

Like Pearl District, Nob Hill is considered a hipster area in Portland. That said, Nob Hill offers a quieter atmosphere in its shady, tree-lined streets.

Originally a residential upper-class district, Nob Hill is known for its refurbished Victorian homes turned into fashion boutiques, upscale restaurants, and quirky caffés.

21st and 23rd Avenue are home to Nob Hill’s top eateries and vintage and local designers’ fashion shops.

The rest of Northwest Portland is more residential and quiet. A couple of miles from Nob Hill lies the expansive Forest Park, popular for its hiking and biking trails. Not far, the Pittock Mansion offers tours and impressive city views from its hillside estate.

While the northern end of Nob Hill is connected to the Pearl District and Downtown Portland by the Portland Streetcar, to get around the rest of Northwest Portland you’ll have to use buses, taxis, or cars.

Where to stay in Portland, OR - Nob Hill & Northwest Portland
Where to stay in Portland, OR – Nob Hill & Northwest Portland
Accommodation in Nob Hill & Northwest Portland - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Nob Hill & Northwest Portland – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland, Oregon:

  • Hip area
  • Lovely Victorian architecture
  • Forest Park
  • Pittock Mansion

4. Lloyd District

Centrally-located and business-oriented, the Lloyd District offers a good range of inexpensive accommodations like the Courtyard Portland Downtown / Convention Center, as well as established business hotel brands such as Crowne Plaza.

The Lloyd District is located on the east bank of the Willamette River, in the Northeast Portland District.

This vibrant and modern commercial district is centered around the Oregon Convention Center, a massive fairgrounds complex hosting the most important events in the city.

Not far, the Moda Center arena, is a multi-sport center home to the Portland Trail Blazers basketball and Winterhawks hockey teams. When not used for sporting events, Moda Center houses big concerts and theater productions.

Lloyd and Downtown are the main financial districts in Portland. The Lloyd Center Tower, with 20 floors and 290 feet is one of the tallest buildings in Oregon.

The Lloyd District is also renowned as a shopping area. Lloyd Center mall is home to 170+ shops, a food court and office spaces.

This neighborhood is easily accessible via buses, MAX, and streetcars. It is served by all four lines of the MAX light rail system and one Portland Streetcar line.

Best area to stay in Portland, OR for business travelers
Best area to stay in Portland, OR for business travelers – Lloyd District
Accommodation in the Lloyd District - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in the Lloyd District – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland, Oregon:

  • Best area for business travelers
  • Oregon Convention Center
  • Moda Center
  • Well-connected area

5. Buckman Neighborhood & Hawthorne Boulevard

Hipster-friendly but not yet over-gentrified, this East Portland area offers several privately-owned tourist apartments and some boutique options like Hotel Grand Stark.

The Buckman Neighborhood is located on the east bank of the Willamette River, in Southeast Portland.

Offering a mix of industrial buildings, modern condo apartments and historic areas, Buckman is an eclectic and interesting area to stay in Portland.

This up-and-coming and centrally-located area of Portland is home to some local attractions like Victorian-era Lone Fir Cemetery, Colonel Summers Park, and the Buckman Community Garden.

The riverside Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade occupies much of the western edge of the neighborhood. It’s a floating walkway offering impressive views of the river and Downtown Portland.

Popular Hawthorne Boulevard is located south of Buckman. This lovely commercial strip is considered the place to go in Portland for inexpensive international eateries, vegan and vegetarian restaurants, second-hand shopping, and nightlife.

The Portland Streetcar system connects the district’s western edge to the Downtown Portland area.

Best area to stay in Portland for vagans & vegetarians - Hawthorne Blvd
Best area to stay in Portland for vagans & vegetarians – Hawthorne Blvd
Accommodation in Buckham Neighborhood and around Hawthorn Boulevard - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Buckham Neighborhood and around Hawthorne Boulevard – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland, Oregon:

  • Hipster area
  • Cheap restaurants
  • Best area for vegans and vegetarians
  • Well-connected area
  • Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade

6. Alberta Arts District & Northeast Portland

The accommodation offer in this secluded, uber-cool alternative haven includes a variety of privately-owned homes and apartments and a handful of stylish boutique options like the historic McMenamins Kennedy School.

The Alberta Arts District is centered around a 1.5-miles stretch of NE Alberta Street.

This Northeast Portland commercial thoroughfare connects the Concordia, King and Vernon neighborhoods.

Busy and vibrant, Alberta St is famous for its its eccentric monthly street fair, Last Thursday.

Last Thursday is arguably the quintessential hipster event in Portland. Held every month, this street extravaganza brings together artists and performers, as well as thousands of people to this Northeast Portland neighborhood.

During the summer (from June to August), the road is closed to traffic from 15th Avenue to 30th Avenue.

On regular days, Alberta and the surrounding districts, while not as crowded, are still busy and interesting.

Being an “Arts District“, Northeast Portland is packed with art galleries, fashion boutiques, pubs, restaurants, and bars.

Because it’s a relatively outlying area, far from the uber-gentrified Pearl District, Alberta also offers a more local perspective of Portland’s alternative and hipster scene.

To get to this secluded corner of Portland, your best bet is using Uber or taxi. If you want to move around by public transport, there are some bus lines available.

Best neighborhoods for hipsters in Portland, OR - Alberta Arts District & Northeast Portland
Best neighborhoods for hipsters in Portland, OR – Alberta Arts District & Northeast Portland
Where to stay in Portland, Oregon - Alberta Arts District
Where to stay in Portland, Oregon – Alberta Arts District
Accommodation in the Alberta Arts District & Northeast Portland - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in the Alberta Arts District & Northeast Portland – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Portland, Oregon:

  • Hipster area
  • Last Thursday street fair
  • Local atmosphere
  • Nightlife and restaurants

7. Southwest Portland

This massive Portland district is spotted with all kinds of accommodation; a central, nice, mid-range option is River’s Edge Hotel Portland.

Southwest of Portland is, for the most part, a quiet and residential area.

This massive area is home to several Portland attractions such as the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Gardens, the Children’s Museum, and the Oregon Zoo.

In the environs of Southwest, there are several natural areas. Oaks Park, an amusement park offers rides and attractions for kids.

The Yellow and Red lines of the MAX, as well as buses, cross the most central areas of Southeast Portland. For the rest of this expansive area, you’ll need to travel by bus or car.

Best areas to stay in Portland, Oregon - Southwest
Best areas to stay in Portland, Oregon – Southwest
Accommodation in Southwest Portland – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

8. North Portland

North Portland is home to some of the cheapest accommodation in Portland. Places like the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Portland North offer low rates near the MAX Yellow Line.

North Portland, as its name suggests, is Portland’s northernmost district, it’s located on the east bank of the Willamette River at the confluence with the Columbia River.

This large district offers a mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods, as well as immense industrial developments around the Port of Portland.

North Portland is connected to Northwest Portland by the St. Johns Bridge, a 1931, 2,000-feet-long suspension bridge and historic landmark.

This district is home to the Portland International Raceway and the campus of the University of Portland.

The Portland Metropolitan Expo Center is a convention center where large events like the Portland Better Living Home and Garden Show, Antique and Collectible Show and Christmas Bazaar are celebrated.

The MAX Yellow Line connects the eastern edge of North Portland (along North Interstate Avenue and the I-5) to Downtown Portland.

Best areas to stay in Portland, Oregon - North Portland
Best areas to stay in Portland, Oregon – North Portland
Accommodation in North Portland - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in North Portland – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

9. Vancouver, WA

When it comes to accommodation, Downtown Vancouver, WA, offers high-end hotels at much lower prices than their Portland counterparts. The best one is Hilton Vancouver Washington.

Vancouver is a city located on the north bank of the Columbia River, in Washington.

Although technically an independent city located in a different state, Downtown Vancouver is only 9 miles north of Downtown Portland.

The second largest city in the Portland metro area, Vancouver has a few local tourist attractions of its own like Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Pearson Air Museum, or Esther Short Park.

Vancouver Waterfront Park is a 7.3-acre park and urban regeneration project on the Columbia River.

Vancouver is not yet connected by the MAX system, but the Amtrak Cascades line connects both cities 11 times a day in just under 20 minutes.

Areas to stay in Portland, OR outside the city center - Vancouver, WA
Areas to stay in Portland, OR outside the city center – Vancouver, WA
Accommodation in Downtown Vancouver, WA - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Downtown Vancouver, WA – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Best Location in Portland – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best area to stay in Portland for sightseeing?

The best place to stay in Portland for a first visit and sightseeing is in the Downtown area. Here, you’ll find attractions like Portland Art Museum and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. This is also the area with the best transport connections in the city.

What is the best area to stay in Portland with kids?

The recommended area to stay in Portland with children is around Washington Park. This beautiful park hosts a Japanese garden and the Oregon Zoo. Likewise, downtown is also a good area to stay with kids because it houses several parks and green areas.

What is the best location in Portland for nightlife?

The Pearl District is the best area to stay in Portland for nightlife. This hipster neighborhood has several bars and clubs that are pure coolness.

For more mainstream options, you could stay in Downtown Portland. The city center has many bars and clubs for all tastes.

Where to stay in Portland without a car?

If you travel to Portland without a car, the downtown area is the best area to stay. Not only does this district has good transport connections, but it also houses several attractions.

What is the best area in Portland for LGBT travelers?

Although Portland doesn’t have an actual gay area, it’s one of the most liberal cities in the US. Thus, you’ll find gay bars and clubs scattered in different neighborhoods like downtown.

Pearl District is also a good area for LGBT visitors, with gay-friendly hipster bars.

What is the best area in Portland for hipsters?

Pearl District is Portland’s hipster neighborhood par excellence. In this area, you can visit alternative galleries, cafés, boutiques, bars, and clubs.

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