Where to Stay in Philadelphia (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Philadelphia is one of America’s most underrated city. A rich history, diverse culture, and an awesome nightlife scene, Philadelphia is without a doubt one of America’s best-kept secrets.

But Philadelphia is a massive city with tonnes of neighbourhoods to choose from, which is exactly why we wrote this insider’s guide for where to stay in Philadelphia.

This article breaks down the top five neighbourhoods in Philadelphia into easy to digest bites. Organized by travel interest and need, you’ll be able to quickly find the place that’s right for you.

Whether you’re travelling on a budget, with family, or as a pack of party animals, after reading this article, you’ll be able to book your trip with confidence and ease.

Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Philadelphia

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Old City
Old City is our recommendation for where to stay if you’re visiting Philadelphia for the first time. The city’s historic quarter, this is the neighbourhood where the seeds of American Independence were sown
Places to Visit:
  • Tour the Betsy Ross House, where the first American flag was sewed
  • Visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776
  • Dine on local and organic fare at FARMiCiA

 

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Philadelphia.

 

Best Hostel in Philadelphia: Apple Hostels of Philadelphia

This is our pick for the best hostel in the city. Located on a quiet street in Old City, this hostel is close to top landmarks, as well as restaurants, bars, and museums. It has comfortable beds, outfitted with a reading light, electrical outlets and a USB charging port.

If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Philadelphia!

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Best Hotel in Philadelphia: Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia

This elegant and stylish four-star hotel is our choice for the best hotel in Philadelphia. Located at the heart of the Old City neighbourhood, this hotel is close to Philadelphia’s most famous sightseeing attractions. It has a fitness room, an in-house spa, and spacious guestrooms.

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Philadelphia Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Philadelphia

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Old City

  • Old City is our recommendation for where to stay if you’re visiting Philadelphia for the first time. The city’s historic quarter, this is the neighbourhood where the seeds of American Independence were sown
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Center City

  • Center City is set at the heart of Philadelphia. The city’s central business district, this neighbourhood is the second most inhabited downtown in the USA
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Rittenhouse Square

  • If you’re someone who loves to stay at the centre of the action, then Rittenhouse Square is for you!
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Fishtown & Northern Liberties

  • Set north of the city centre are the neighbouring district of Fishtown and Northern Liberties. Once an ignored area of the city, these two districts have risen the ranks over the last couple of decades to become the coolest neighbourhoods
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Midtown Village

  • Stretching across central Philadelphia is Midtown Village and Washington Square West. These side-by-side neighbourhoods are home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, shops, museums, and historic landmarks
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Philadelphia is a city bursting with history. The one-time capital of the United States, this massive Pennsylvanian metropolis played a major role in the development of America as a nation. It’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed in the 18th century, and today, history rings out throughout the city.

Philadelphia is the fifth most populous city in the country. It is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, as well as an impressive selection of nightlife, dining and entertainment offerings.

The City of Brotherly Love is divided into more than 100 distinct neighbourhoods and districts. Each is awash with activities and attractions that will thrill and entertain travellers. This article will look at the must-sees in the top five neighbourhoods.

Starting, of course, with Centre City. The city’s central business district is packed with historic landmarks and tourist attractions, world-class restaurants, museums and art galleries.

Travel east to Old City. One of the oldest neighbourhoods in the nation, this is where you’ll find historic landmarks, art museums, upscale boutiques and a great selection of nightlife options.

Continuing north from here and you’ll pass through Northern Liberties and Fishtown. One of the coolest areas of the city, these adjacent ‘hoods are home to vintage shops, trendy eateries, and plenty of hip hangouts.

Head south to Midtown and Washington Square West. Boasting a delightful mix of residential dwellings, shops, restaurants and bars, this is where you’ll find some of the best food in all of Philadelphia.

And finally, travel west to Rittenhouse Square. This upscale neighbourhood is where you’ll enjoy the best and most vibrant nightlife in all of Philadelphia.

Still not sure where to stay in Philadelphia? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

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Philadelphia’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods to stay in Philadelphia. Each is a little different from the last, so be sure to pick the one that’s the right fit for you.

 

1. Old City – Where to stay in Philadelphia first time

Old City is our recommendation for where to stay if you’re visiting Philadelphia for the first time. The city’s historic quarter, this is the neighbourhood where the seeds of American Independence were sown.

Located next to the Delaware River, this downtown district is home to Philadelphia’s most famous historical landmarks. From the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, here you can make a pilgrimage to all the sites that played a key role in the birth of the nation.

But there’s more to Old City than history. Old City is also where you can also enjoy a great selection of contemporary art galleries, interesting museums, upscale shopping and incredible nightlife.

Old City, Philadelphia

 

Things to See and Do in Old City

– See the Liberty Bell and its mysterious crack.

– Visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776.

– Browse the exhibits at The National Constitution Center.

– Tour the Betsy Ross House, where the first American flag was sewed.

– Explore Penn’s Landing.

– Shop until you drop on the 3rd Street Corridor.

– Wander along Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually inhabited residential street in the US.

– Take a tour of the US Mint.

– Eat incredible food at Fork.

– Dine on local and organic fare at FARMiCiA.

– Grab a pint at the City Tavern.

– Sip sophisticated cocktails at Sassafras Bar.

 

Best Hostel in Old City: City House Hotel Old City Philly

Tucked away in Philadelphia’s Old City, this hostel is close to top landmarks and tourist attractions, including the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House. It is also surrounded by restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. This hostel has a lively and relaxed environment, clean rooms and comfortable beds.

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Best Hotel in Old City: Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia

This elegant and stylish four-star hotel is our recommendation for where to stay in Old City. Located at the heart of the neighbourhood, this hotel is close to the city’s most famous sightseeing attractions. It has a fitness room, an in-house spa, and spacious guestrooms.

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Best Hotel in Old City: Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Penn’s Landing

Set in Old City, this great three-star hotel is ideally located for exploring the city. You’ll enjoy top restaurants and shops just a few steps away. This hotel boasts modern rooms, stunning views, and offers a delicious daily breakfast. You’ll also enjoy free wifi and an on-site bar.

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2. Center City – Where to stay in Philadelphia on a budget

Center City is set at the heart of Philadelphia. The city’s central business district, this neighbourhood is the second most inhabited downtown in the USA. It is where you can enjoy a great mix of historical and contemporary attractions, as well as incredible dining, shopping and nightlife options.

This neighbourhood is also where you’ll find a wide selection of budget hostels and cost-conscious hotels. If your goal is to save a little money while visiting Philadelphia, this is the place to stay. You’ll enjoy all the perks of the city centre without the hefty price tag.

Center City, Philadelphia

 

Things to See and Do in Center City

– Take a relaxing stroll through Fairmount Park.

– Run up the Art Museum Steps and do your best Rocky impression.

– See the largest collection of Rodin’s works outside of Paris at the Rodin Museum.

– Dig into delicious, spicy and savoury fare at Rose Tattoo Café.

– Kickstart your day with a hearty breakfast at Sabrina’s Café & Spencer’s Too.

– Sip an awesome craft brew at Prohibition Tap Room.

– Grab a pint at Con Murphy’s Irish Pub.

– Indulge in a delicious cappuccino at Café Lift.

– Sample sophisticated cocktails at The Trestle Inn.

– See incredible performances from emerging artists at Underground Arts.

 

Best Hostel in Center City: Apple Hostels of Philadelphia

This hostel is our pick for where to stay in Center City. Located on a quiet street in Old City, this hostel is close to top landmarks, as well as restaurants, bars, and museums. It has comfortable beds, outfitted with a reading light, electrical outlets and a USB charging port.

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Best Hotel in Center City: Alexander Inn

Thanks to its excellent location, this is the best hotel in Philadelphia’s Center City. Top tourist attractions, including the Liberty Bell, are within walking distance and there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby. This hotel has 48 comfortable rooms and a relaxing on-site day spa.

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Best Hotel in Center City: Hampton Inn Philadelphia Center City-Convention Center

A good location and a stunning pool make this hotel an excellent choice for your time in Philadelphia. It has a modern gym, perfect for travellers who like to keep up with their routines when on the road. This hotel has 250 contemporary rooms with comfortable beds and outstanding features.

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3. Rittenhouse Square – Best area to stay in Philadelphia for nightlife

If you’re someone who loves to stay at the centre of the action, then Rittenhouse Square is for you!

This downtown district is one of the most upscale in the city. Rittenhouse Square is a lush and manicured park surrounded by expensive condos and shopping, dining and entertainment options.

Rittenhouse Square is also our pick for where to stay for nightlife in Philadelphia. This centrally located neighbourhood is home to the best bars, clubs and cocktail lounges in the city. So whether you’re looking to dance until dawn, enjoy panoramic views, or sip sophisticated cocktails in a hip speakeasy, this neighbourhood has something for every taste, style and budget.

Ritthenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Things to See and Do in Rittenhouse Square

– Enjoy cocktails with a view at Vango Lounge and Skybar.

– Grab a pint at Monk’s Café.

– Dine on delicious American fare at XIX Nineteen.

– Spend a night eating and drinking at Tria.

– Savour delicious drinks in an intimate setting at Library Bar.

– Dance the night away at Rumor.

– Sample an array of craft brews at Good Dog Bar and Restaurant.

– Cosy up with a cocktail at 1 Tippling Place.

– Sip classic cocktails at The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co, a popular prohibition-style speakeasy.

– Shop the upscale boutiques along Walnut Street

 

Best Bed and Breakfast in Rittenhouse Square: La Reserve Bed and Breakfast

This charming and cosy bed and breakfast is located within walking distance of Rittenhouse Square’s top bars and attractions. It has 12 comfortable rooms, each with en-suites, heating and other facilities. This B&B also provides modern features including luggage storage and free wifi. The food also comes highly recommended.

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Best Hotel in Rittenhouse Square: Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Midtown

This great hotel comes complete with an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a stylish lounge bar. Located just a few minutes walk from local bars and restaurants, this hotel is set at the heart of Philly’s nightlife district. Enjoy refurbished rooms and a daily gourmet breakfast.

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Best Hotel in Rittenhouse Square: The Windsor Suites Philadelphia

This modern hotel is our pick for where to stay in Rittenhouse Square. It sits at the heart of the district and is surrounded by tourist attractions, wining, dining and shopping options. It has cosy rooms, and not one, but TWO restaurants on-site. There’s also a rooftop swimming pool and a contemporary fitness centre.

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4. Fishtown & Northern Liberties – Coolest place to stay in Philadelphia

Set north of the city centre are the neighbouring district of Fishtown and Northern Liberties. Once an ignored area of the city, these two districts have risen the ranks over the last couple of decades to become the coolest neighbourhoods in Philadelphia.

If you love to eat, Fishtown and Northern Liberties are for you! Dotted throughout these city streets are a great variety of hip, trendy and tasty establishments serving dishes from around the world.

It is worth mentioning that, unfortunately, Northern Liberties is not the safest neighbourhood in the city. You’ll likely be fine as you explore throughout the day, but do take extra caution when out at night. Stick to the main streets to stay safe.

Fishtown and Northern Liberties, Philadelphia

source: André Carrotflower (flickr)

 

Things to See and Do in Fishtown & Northern Liberties

– See live acts at Johnny’s Brenda’s.

– Sip incredible coffees at La Colombe.

– Satisfy your appetite with a delicious lox sandwich at Philly Style Bagels.

– Shop for secondhand and vintage pieces at Two Percent Gory and Urban Exchange.

– Grab a slice at Pizza Brain.

– Enjoy a scoop at Little Baby’s Ice Cream.

– Take a stroll through Penn Treaty Park.

– Down a pint at Yard’s Brewery.

– Visit the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site where the author lived and worked.

– Sample your way through Frankford Hall, a traditional German beer garden with a modern twist.

 

Best Hostel in Fishtown & Northern Liberties: City House Hostel Philadelphia

Located in downtown Philadelphia, this hostel is a short walk from the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighbourhoods. They offer affordable, comfortable and social accommodations to backpackers and cost-conscious travellers. This hostel has a myriad of features including free wifi, hot showers and a book exchange.

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Best Hotel in Fishtown & Northern Liberties: Stylish 4 Bedroom House with Jacuzzi

This modern apartment is our pick for where to stay in Northern Liberties. Nestled at the heart of the neighbourhood, this apartment is a short walk to great dining, drinking and shopping options. It has four comfortable rooms, a full kitchen, a seating area, and a Jacuzzi.

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Best Hotel in Fishtown & Northern Liberties: Charming 4BD Gem

This charming four-bedroom apartment is an ideal home base for your time in Philadelphia. Located close to top landmarks and attractions, it is ideally situated for exploring the city. This apartment comes complete with a balcony, a full kitchen and modern features. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops close-by.

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5. Midtown Village – Best neighbourhood in Philadelphia for families

Stretching across central Philadelphia is Midtown Village and Washington Square West. These side-by-side neighbourhoods are home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, shops, museums, and historic landmarks. With amazing architecture, arts and culture, plus great nightlife and beyond, this neighbourhood is perfect for history buffs, culture vultures, and everyone in between.

Midtown is our pick for the best neighbourhood in Philadelphia for families. Not only is it located within walking distance of the city’s top historic and tourist attractions, but within Midtown Village’s streets, you’ll find ample opportunities to eat, drink, laugh and play.

For an interesting day out the whole family will enjoy, head to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens where you can marvel at incredible murals and mosaic art.

Midtown Village, Philadelphia

source: Roman Babakin (shutterstock)

Things to See and Do in Midtown Village

– Spend an afternoon people watching in Washington Square Park.

– Tour Philadelphia City Hall and marvel at the towering statue of William Penn that tops the building.

– Explore and eat your way through the streets of Chinatown.

– Visit the Wells Fargo History Museum.

– Admire the architecture on Spruce Street.

– See a world-class performance by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

– Wander through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and admire a collection of murals and mosaic art.

– Visiting in winter? Strap on your skates and go for a spin on the Blue Cross RiverRink

– Ride the carousel at Franklin Square.

– Indulge in a refreshing treat at Sweet Charlie’s.

 

Best Hostel in Midtown Village: City House Hostel Philadelphia

This hostel is set a short walk north of Midtown. It is close to top Philadelphia landmarks, as well as cafes, shops and restaurants. It has clean and comfortable accommodations, a kitchen, and a social common area.

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Best Hotel in Midtown Village: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia

This stylish four-star hotel is our pick for where to stay in Midtown Village. Located near the Liberty Bell, this modern hotel is close to restaurants, bars and popular attractions. It has elegant rooms with great amenities. And onsite you can enjoy a restaurant, bar and a rooftop terrace.

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Best Hotel in Midtown Village: Morris House Hotel

The Morris House Hotel is a charming and cosy three-star property in central Philadelphia. It’s close to a variety of well-known attractions, bars, restaurants and shops. Comprised of 15 rooms, each comes complete with air-conditioning, satellite channels and modern amenities. Guests can also enjoy free wifi and a stylish lounge bar.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a gem city bursting with history, culture, art and food. It’s an incredibly interesting city that is very worthy of your time and your hard earned travel dollars. So whether you’re a history buff, a fearless foodie, a party animal, or a family of four, there’s something for everyone in the city of Brotherly love.

In this article, we’ve highlighted the five best neighbourhoods in Philadelphia. If you’re still not sure where to stay, here’s a quick recap.

Our favourite budget accommodations is the Apple Hostels of Philadelphia. Set in Old City, this hostel is within walking distance of tourist attractions, bars, restaurants, shops and museums.

Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia is our pick for the best hotel in Philadelphia thanks to its central setting, wellness features, and its comfortable and spacious guest rooms.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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