When you hear the name ‘Portland’, your mind may instantly jump to the infamous city in Oregon, leaving the beautiful coastal city in Maine nearly forgotten. Well, we believe this needs to change as the picturesque coastal destination has so much to offer! The city is home to a flourishing food scene, funky boutique shops, and a plethora of phenomenal natural beauty spots. It’s the ultimate getaway spot.

As it’s the largest city in Maine, figuring out exactly where to stay in Portland can be a little tricky. There are a variety of neighborhoods to choose from, each offering something unique to travellers.

To help you out, we’ve broken down four of the best neighborhoods in Portland. We’ve included the top things to see and do in each area, so you can find the best one for your needs.

Whether you’re keen to explore the city’s best galleries and monuments, discover Portland’s epic nightlife scene or anything in between, we’ve got you covered.

Where to Stay in Portland

Here are our top recommendations for accommodation in Portland.

Portland Maine

Beachy 1BR Atop Munjoy Hill + Steps to Eastern Prom | Best Bed & Breakfast in Portland

Beachy 1BR Atop Munjoy Hill Steps to Eastern Prom Portland

If you stay here, you are guaranteed to see some of the best views in Portland. Nestled in between Eastern Promenade and East End Beach, the apartment offers iconic views of Munjoy Hill. It sits within walking distance of many of Portland’s top attractions, ideal for exploring. This is certainly one of the best bed and breakfasts in Maine.

The Black Elephant Hostel | Best Hostel in Portland

The Black Elephant Hostel Portland

The Black Elephant Hostel is the first hostel to open in Portland! Despite it being the only option for those looking to stay in a hostel, it is certainly a good one. It’s got sleek rooms with a funky interior, along with an extremely sociable atmosphere. It’s ideal for solo travellers and budget backpackers.

Check out more budget Portland places to stay!

Inn By the Sea | Best Hotel in Portland

Inn By the Sea Portland

This gorgeous beachside property in Cape Elizabeth is our favourite hotel in Portland. It boasts an outdoor pool and al fresco dining area, where you can enjoy dinner with stunning views of the coast. The rooms are spacious and warmly decorated with soft colours and local artwork.

Portland Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Portland

Downtown Portland Maine


Despite not having the most picturesque look and bubbly atmosphere as other areas in the city, Downtown’s central location makes it perfect to explore Portland’s excellent selection of activities.

Cape Elizabeth Portland Maine

Cape Elizabeth

Located just a 20-minute drive from the city center, Cape Elizabeth and the Casco Bay Islands provide visitors with the perfect outdoor vacation.

Old Port Portland Maine

Old Port

Portland’s Old Port is well-known for being one of the prime locations for seeing the city’s top sites, but it is also packed full of concentrated eating and drinking spots making it our top pick for the best neighborhood to stay in for nightlife in Portland.

Munjoy Hill Portland Maine

East End

Portland is known for its vibrant brewing culture and hosts some of the best breweries in the country, most of which are found in the East End neighbourhood. Known for its regeneration over the past years with new hipster shops and cafes, Munjoy Hill is becoming one of the trendiest places to stay in Portland.

Portland is a small but vibrant coastal city bustling with energy. Located on the south coast of Maine, it’s known for its vibrant music scene, beautiful surrounding islands, and unique neighborhoods.

Downtown Portland is home to an incredible restaurant scene along with a spectacular variety of noteworthy art galleries. If you’re looking to throw yourself Portland’s hustle and bustle, then this is the best place to be.

Head towards the coast, and you will find Downtown’s historic Old Port. This lively neighborhood is known for its nightlife scene and is where you’ll find beautiful courtyard bars and mega clubs. The Old Port also offers plenty of attractions to explore during the day.

Nature lovers looking to explore some of Portland’s fantastic landscapes will love staying in Cape Elizabeth. Offering a plethora of outdoor activities including kayaking, swimming, and a great selection of hiking trails, it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors.

But to really experience outdoor living, we’d recommend staying in one of the stunning Eco-lodges in Portland, which can be found in many of Portland’s districts.

Finally, located slightly north of the city centre is the regenerated neighborhood of Munjoy Hill. Also referred to as the East End, Munjoy Hill is quickly becoming one of the trendiest places to stay in Portland.

Still not sure where to stay in Portland? Don’t worry, we’ve got more information on each of these areas below!

Portland’s Top 4 Neighborhoods to Stay in

Check out our top recommendations for places to stay in Portland, Maine.

1. Downtown – Where to Stay in Portland for your First Visit

Downtown Portland Maine

It may not be as picturesque as other areas in the city, but Downtown’s central location makes it an ideal base for discovering Portland for the first time. Downtown caters to a variety of vacation goers and is arguably the best all-around neighborhood in Portland. Whether you’re a history buff looking to soak up the city’s rich culture or a foodie looking to explore Portland’s best restaurants, you’ll be well looked after.  

Our top choice for where to stay in Portland if you are a first-time visitor, Downtown is an area that is perfect for those that like to navigate on foot. Here you can enjoy some of Portland’s best sites without having to jump on any mode of transportation.

Portland, Maine doesn’t have the most budget-friendly accommodation options and offers very limited hostels and budget hotels. But, if you’re looking for somewhere that won’t break the bank, then Downtown is probably your best option. Here, you’ll find the only hostel in the city along with a few budget-conscious hotels and apartments.

Hip & Cozy, high-end Modern Design | Best Bed & Breakfast in Downtown

Hip Cozy high-end Modern Design Portland

This hip and modern retreat consists of a high-quality construction with large windows, providing a bright but private atmosphere. It’s got a cosy living space and is only a five-minute walk from shops and restaurants. 

The Black Elephant Hostel | Best Hostel in Downtown

The Black Elephant Hostel

The Black Elephant is the first and only hostel in Portland! It’s got clean rooms that are decorated with a modern and funky design and is close to some of Portland’s coolest attractions. It’s an extremely sociable hostel with a super catchy motto: “We truly believe in affordable travel and love the social environment that hostels create.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection | Best Hotel in Downtown

The Press Hotel Autograph Collection Portland

The Modern and Sleek Press Hotel is in a prime location only 100 yards from Portland’s Downtown Historic District. It also sits close to a variety of bars, restaurants, and landmarks. All rooms are spacious and well-equipped with en-suite bathrooms, a workspace, and free wifi.

Things to See and Do in Downtown:

McLellan House Portland Maine
You wouldn’t want to face those stairs after a night out! The McLellan House
Photo: Paul VanDerWerf (Flickr)
  1. Visit The McLellan House.
  2. Marvel at the spectacular selection of pieces at Portland Museum of Art.
  3. Soak up the atmosphere during a performance at the Merrill Auditorium. 
  4. Dine on exotic Asian-Fusion food at The Green Elephant.
  5. Delve into History at the Maine Historical Society and the Wadsworth. 
  6. Sip on a cocktail at Downtown Lounge.
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We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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2. Cape Elizabeth (& The Casco Bay Islands) – Where to Stay in Portland for Families

Cape Elizabeth Maine

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Portland with family, then check out Cape Elizabeth. Located just a 20-minute drive from the city centre, Cape Elizabeth and the Casco Bay Islands provide visitors with the perfect outdoor vacation. The picturesque suburban town is the home to sun, sea, and sand, where visitors can enjoy scenic walks along the beach or hike along the rocky coves in its two spectacular state parks.

Cape Elizabeth is the perfect place to keep your kids entertained with kayaking, swimming, and hiking in the nearby Casco Bay islands. In the evening, the calm coastal town has an excellent selection of restaurants where you can wind down your day overlooking the beautiful Maine Coastline.

Life is a Beach | Best Airbnb in Cape Elizabeth

Life is a Beach Trails Bikes Hammocks Chill Portland

With a great name and an even better location, this bed & breakfast provides a relaxing and safe experience. It’s got a variety of cosy rooms, making it perfect for families. This beachside cabin in Maine also boasts a terrace with an outdoor table and hammocks. You’ll have a huge selection of sandy beaches on your doorstep, so make sure to pack all your beach essentials!

SUITE’S Beautiful?? PORTLAND + BEACHes! | Awesome Bed & Breakfast in Cape Elizabeth

SUITES Beautiful PORTLAND BEACHes Portland

This cosy guest suite overlooks a beautiful pond and offers quick access to the area’s spectacular beaches, vast lighthouses, and amazing rocky coastlines. Each room is comfortably furnished, and guests can enjoy basic cooking facilities as well as other useful amenities.

Inn By the Sea | Best Hotel in Cape Elizabeth

Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth

Inn By The Sea is perfect for those looking to be by the coast. Located just a stone’s throw away from the Atlantic Ocean, the property is nestled amongst a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline. The accommodation boasts a warmly decorated interior with soft colours and local artwork and also offers guests an on-site pool, bar, and beachfront access.

Things to See and Do in Cape Elizabeth:

Fort Williams Park Portland Maine
  1. Explore Crescent Beach State Park.
  2. Watch the sun go down at Casco Bay. 
  3. Marvel at the views of Portland Head Light.  
  4. Soak up the atmosphere at Old Orchard Beach Pier. 
  5. Hike through Fort Williams Park. 
  6. Go kayaking around the Casco Bay Islands .
  7. Spot wildlife at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
  8. Eat dinner with a view at The Lobster Shack at Two Light.

3. Old Port – Where to Stay in Portland for Nightlife

where to stay in Portland for nightlife

Portland’s Old Port is one of the prime locations for seeing the city’s top sites. It’s also packed full of eating and drinking spots, making it the best place to be if you’re deciding where to stay in Portland for nightlife. The area is home to atmospheric bars tucked into courtyards and hidden clubs in underground basements. 

Whether you are looking to sip on a cocktail in one of the city’s finest establishments or want to dance the night away in a hidden nightclub, there’s after-hours entertainment for pretty much everyone.

Top of the Old Port/East Bayside1 BR Apartment | Large Bed & Breakfast in Old Port

Top of the Old Port East Bayside1 BR Apartment Portland

This cosy but spacious apartment boasts a very eclectic and unique style with an Egyptian theme. Its prime location means it is only steps to the Old Port’s shops, cafes, museums, and more. The apartment is tucked at the rear of the building making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle after exploring Portland’s excellent nightlife. 

Charming Arts District Studio with Parking | Best Budget Accommodation in Old Port

Charming Arts District Studio with Parking

This beautifully decorated studio is perfect for anyone travelling on a budget. The studio is just a 10-minute walk from just about everything in the area, making it the ideal base for exploring the city both by day and by night.

Portland Regency Hotel & Spa | Stylish Hotel in Old Port

Portland Regency Hotel Spa

The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa is a three-star hotel nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of Portland’s Old Port. It’s just a few minutes walk from nearby clubs, bars, and restaurants along with being under a mile away from the port of Portland where you can go whale watching.

Things to See and Do in Old Port:

Old Port Lighthouse Maine
  1. Indulge on the finest Organic Produce at Hugo’s restaurant.  
  2. Wander down Commercial Street and soak up the lively atmosphere. 
  3. Put on your comfiest shoes and stroll through Portland’s Trails. 
  4. Go wine tasting at Cellardoor Winery Portland. 
  5. View modern art at Greenhut Galleries. 
  6. Let your hair down at Aura Nightclub. 
  7. Take a step into Scandanavia at The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. 
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4. East End (Munjoy Hill) – Coolest Neighborhood to Stay in Portland

Munjoy Hill Maine

Portland is known for its vibrant brewing culture and hosts some of the best breweries in the country, most of which are found in the East End neighborhood. Known for its regeneration over the past years with new hipster shops and cafes, Munjoy Hill is becoming one of the trendiest places to stay in Portland. Not only is it noteworthy for its brewing culture and hip cafes, but its prime location means you will be close to top attractions including the Portland Observatory, the viewing decks at the Eastern Promenade, and plenty of vendors where you can book a cruise around the Casco Bay.

The East End neighborhood is undoubtedly the coolest place to stay in Portland. The area is equipped with some of the sleekest buildings in town and has recently been named Portland’s most desirable neighborhood!

Beachy 1BR Atop Munjoy Hill + Steps to Eastern Prom | Best Bed & Breakfast in the East End

Beachy 1BR Atop Munjoy Hill Steps to Eastern Prom Portland

This apartment is slotted in between Eastern Promenade and East End Beach. It sleeps two guests and is possibly one of the most beautifully decorated Airbnbs in Maine, making it perfect for couples planning a romantic getaway.

Panoramic Water, Island & City Views W/private Roof Deck | Most Unique Accommodation in the East End

Panoramic Water Island City Views W private Roof Deck Portland

Nicknamed the ‘crows nest’ this modernly designed fourth-floor apartment is said to feel like a nest in the treetops. Located at the very top of Munjoy Hill, the apartment consists of a gorgeous roof deck that boasts incredible views of the ocean, nearby islands, the harbour, and the city. Its central location in Portland’s hip East End community means you won’t be shy of things to do, with plenty of attractions and restaurants on your doorstep.

Monument Garden SWEET | Best Luxury Accommodation in East End

Monument Garden SWEET Portland

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Portland to be close to everything, then you’ll love this place! This modern and large apartment is a short walk from the Old Port and Downtown, and just a short drive to West Shore Sandy Beach. Fitting up to ten people, it’s perfect for large groups and families.

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FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in Portland

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Portland and where to stay.

What To Pack For Portland

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Portland

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Portland

Portland is a bustling city and an extremely popular vacation destination. It offers something for travellers of all styles and budgets, with its incredible natural scenery, excellent nightlife, and rich cultural heritage.

If you’re still not sure where to stay in Portland, Maine, then we recommend Downtown. This vibrant area is full of things to see and do and is well connected to other areas, making it an ideal base for exploring Portland. Its connections to destinations further afield also make it an ideal stop-off point for a New England road trip.

Once you’ve decided where to stay in Portland, it’s a good idea to consider getting travel insurance. The USA is safe to travel in, but it’s always good to be prepared in case things don’t go to plan.

Looking for more info on travelling to Portland and Maine?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!