Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is the perfect destination to experience a warm American welcome! Located in the corner of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia perfectly combines Midwestern culture with East Coast cool. It is also becoming a popular destination for foodies.
With the third-largest central business district in the United States, navigating the different neighborhoods of Philly can be difficult. It’s important to consider your needs before choosing where to stay in the city.
That’s where we come in. This guide has the seven best areas to stay in the city, as well as what they are good for. Whether you want nightlife, cuisine or history – we have you covered!
So let’s get started!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Philadelphia
- Old City – Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for your first time
- Centre City West – Where to stay in Philadelphia close to everything
- Centre City East – Where to stay in Philadelphia for nightlife
- Rittenhouse Square – Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for families
- South Philadelphia – Where to stay in Philadelphia on a budget
- Fishtown – Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for couples
- University City – Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for culture
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
Not only is Apple Hostels one of the most centrally located hostels in the city – it also has plenty of character that oozes Philadelphia charm! With regular social events and great communal spaces, Apple Hostels has some great finishing touches including radios in the showers and their very own Rocky steps.
Best Budget Hotel in Philadelphia
Straddling the boundaries between Centre City West, Centre City East and Rittenhouse, Philadelphia 201 Hotel is the perfect choice for staying centrally on a budget! Whilst it is a budget-friendly choice, they provide excellent additional extras including complimentary breakfast and a fitness centre.
Best Luxury Hotel in Philadelphia
As the best rated five star hotel in Philadelphia, it’s no wonder the Dwight D takes our top spot for splurge hotels! This boutique hotel provides both regular hotel rooms and apartments, giving you more choice depending on what kind of stay you are hoping for.
Philadelphia 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighbourhoods in Philadelphia. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
(Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Old City – enjoy the amusements and year-round entertainment facilities at Penn’s Landing
- BEST place to visit in Old City – Independence National Historical Park is packed with attractions based around the history of both Philadelphia and the United States
Old City is the historic centre not just of Philadelphia – but arguably of the entire United States! This is where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and many attractions related to this turbulent period of American history can be found across the area. For first time visitors, this is not only a great place to learn about Philly, but also about the birth of the nation.
Though a popular area with tourists, the Old City is a little bit quieter than the modern City Centre districts. This creates a peaceful atmosphere where you can soak up the culture and history of the city! It is great for most kinds of travellers – whether you’re a backpacker or a family.
- Head to the Liberty Bell Centre where you can learn about the historic significance of the monument and get up close with American history
- Betsy Ross House is a popular attraction for families where you can learn about the history of the American flag and the woman who sewed the first one
- First Fridays, held on the first Friday of every month, are great events to discover local art and mingle with different communities from across the city
- Unwind at Old City Coffee, one of the most popular coffee shops in town with a great selection of drinks and light bites
- The Crocodile Lounge is a nightlife venue that is known for its policy of serving a free pizza slice with every drink!
Best Hostel Old City
This hostel lives and breathes Philadelphia, and is the perfect choice for backpackers that want to socialise with other travellers! They run daily events and tours of the city, and the huge communal area has comfortable sofas, pool tables and musical instruments. They also provide free beer during some events.
Best Budget Hotel in Old City
Though pushing more towards mid-range in terms of budget, Penn’s View is well worth spending a little extra for the great facilities and added luxuries! There is a fitness centre on-site, as well as a large wine cellar. They provide a complimentary breakfast every morning and have free WiFi throughout.
Best Luxury Hotel in Old City
With a rooftop lounge overlooking the city, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia is one of the best-reviewed luxury hotels in the city! It comes with a large fitness suite, and also has a well-equipped business centre for corporate guests. They offer free bike rentals, as well as an American style breakfast.
(Where to stay in Philadelphia close to everything!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Centre City West – take in the city’s longest-running improv show at Comedy Sportz
- BEST place to visit in Centre City West – run up the stairs of the Museum of Art to follow in the steps of Rocky Balboa himself
Centre City West is home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – arguably the most iconic attraction in the whole city as the filming location of one of the most recognisable scenes from the Rocky franchise! This neighborhood is where you will discover the real Philadelphia, and indulge in contemporary culture.
The museum aside, it is also well connected to other major tourist areas of the city – making it a great choice for those only in town for a short while! The restaurants and bars have a much more local atmosphere here than in the Old Town, showing you true brotherly love.
- Head to Liberty Place shopping centre to browse the international brands, as well as enjoy a cheap bite to eat in the food court
- Underground Arts is a fantastic theatre where you can check out live performances from up and coming creatives
- Climb up the Comcast Centre – the tallest skyscraper in Philly, you will be rewarded with great views across the city and interesting recreational facilities
- Village Whiskey offer some of the best burgers in the city – they also have an extensive drinks menu
- McGlinchy’s is a great insight into the real Philly – with dirty interiors, dim lights and liberal smoking policy, it might not sound appealing but it is worth a few hours
Best Hotel for Backpackers Centre City West
Whilst there aren’t any hostels in Centre City West, Sonder is a great aparthotel offering budget-friendly serviced apartments that are fantastic for backpackers arriving as a group! Kitchens are well equipped and furnishings are modern. There is a communal fitness suite, as well as a barbecue terrace.
Best Budget Hotel in Centre City West
For more of a typical hotel experience, Philadelphia 201 is still fairly budget-friendly and comes with some great additional comforts! There is a large fitness centre with cutting edge equipment, and a breakfast buffet is served every morning. The hotel also boasts an indoor swimming pool and private parking.
Best Luxury Hotel in Centre City West
Located within the iconic Comcast Centre, this hotel truly takes you right to the heart of Philadelphia’s major landmarks! Rated five stars, this is truly the pinnacle of luxury in the city – and has great guest reviews as a result. With unbeatable spa facilities and Michelin starred restaurants, you can’t go wrong with this hotel.
(Where to stay in Philadelphia for nightlife!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Centre City East – drink at Dirty Frank’s, one of the best dive bars in the city
- BEST place to visit in Centre City East – visit the African American Museum of Philadelphia to learn more about the community
Centre City East is a great spot to check out the different segments of Philly nightlife! From the dive bars surrounding Washington Square to the Gayborhood at Midtown Village, there’s something for everyone in this part of the city.
Sandwiched between Centre City West and Old City, it is also a great neighborhood for easily getting to all of the main attractions! It provides a great mix of culture and history, all with a creative edge that is specific to the area. Whether you want to party, or simply want to experience modern culture, Centre City East is the place to be.
- Take a walk around Chinatown in the evenings to sample some of the excellent cuisine that comes from the area
- The Gayborhood is a must-visit for LGBTQ+ travellers – Woody’s is the main gay bar, and Sisters is popular with lesbians
- Hop Sing Laundromat is a speakeasy-style bar right in the heart of Chinatown offering classic cocktails with an upmarket twist
- During the winter, Blue Cross RiverRink is the largest ice rink in the city – skate hire is cheap, and it is very popular with locals
- Walk along the Avenue of the Arts to discover fantastic theatre, music concerts and independent art galleries
Best Hostel Centre City East
Situated on the boundary between Old City and Centre City East, City House Hostel gives you easy access to two of the best neighborhoods in Philly! They offer happy hour events every evening as well as regular bar crawls, cultural events and karaoke. This is the perfect hostel for socialising with others.
Best Budget Hotel in Centre City East
Days Inn by Wyndham is a brand known for their budget-friendly comfort – and their Philadelphia offering is located directly across from the convention centre! This is perfect for anyone visiting the city for a short stay that wants easy access to all of the main attractions. Breakfast and WiFi are included.
Best Luxury Hotel in Centre City East
Another well-recognised brand name, the Ritz-Carlton has become synonymous with luxury hotels across the world! Their Philadelphia offering comes with vast spa facilities where you can unwind after a long day of exploring the city. They also offer holistic therapies, as well as a fitness suite.
(Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Rittenhouse Square – shop until you drop at the boutiques that line Walnut Street
- BEST place to visit in Rittenhouse Square – head to the Rosenbach, a rare books museum with guided tours
Though technically part of Centre City West, Rittenhouse Square has a character of its own that makes it one of the most desirable areas of the city! Though right in the heart of the action, the upmarket reputation of the area makes it a calm oasis amongst the busy central business district. This makes it perfect for families that want to stay centrally.
The square itself has an excellent park where you can unwind after a long day of exploring, and the surrounding streets are packed with boutiques, museums and upscale restaurants! Don’t be scared off though – budget-conscious families also have plenty of dining options nearby.
- The park in the middle of Rittenhouse Square has historic significance as one of the first public spaces designed by William Penn
- Check out Delancey Place – a peaceful square close to Rittenhouse that showcases civil war era architecture and is a popular filming location
- The Curtis Institute of Music is usually a music conservatory, but check their events calendar for public concerts
- For families, XIX Nineteen is a great restaurant where you can grab a wide selection of typical American cuisine
- For other travellers, the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. is a great bar that is styled on the speakeasies of the prohibition era
Best Hotel for Backpackers Rittenhouse Square
Though fairly basic, Pod Philly is a great choice for those on a strict budget that want to stay in the exclusive Rittenhouse area! Rooms are well designed with minimalist decor, and come with all the basic conveniences you require for a short stay in the city. High speed WiFi can be accessed throughout.
Best Budget Hotel in Rittenhouse Square
This quaint bed and breakfast has a warm and inviting atmosphere – perfect for small families visiting the city! Rooms are individually decorated, adding a touch of character to the decor. A complimentary breakfast is included as part of the rate, as is access to the high speed WiFi.
Best Luxury Hotel in Rittenhouse Square
This five star boutique hotel is perfect for families that are willing to splash the cash on the height of luxury! Rooms are well equipped with modern technology, classic design and large bathroom suites. They offer serviced apartments as well – which are excellent for guests opting to self cater.
(Where to stay in Philadelphia on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in South Philadelphia – sample the iconic Philly Cheesesteak at one of the famous restaurants in South Philly – we recommend Geno’s
- BEST place to visit in South Philadelphia – catch a Philadelphia Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field
South Philadelphia is the culinary heart of the city – aside from the world-famous cheesesteaks, it is also the home of the largest Italian community in the city who produce some of the finest cuisine! Aside from the food, South Philadelphia is also a great place to get a more authentic Philly experience.
For travellers on a budget, South Philly offers cheap accommodation and even cheaper food! The bars also have a much more local feel – which whilst initially intimidating, can be rewarding if you want to mingle with residents of the area.
- The Italian Market is a vibrant hub of culinary delights – from fresh ingredients to well-prepared meals, it can all be found here
- For something a bit more upmarket, head to Laurel where you can discover the contemporary culinary scene and sample some French delights
- East Passyunk Avenue is a must-visit for anyone interested in shopping – it is lined with locally owned boutiques that offer great prices
- Bob & Barbara’s is the place to go for a typical dive bar experience – with regular events, they are right at the heart of the community
- Hire a bike and take a ride along the Schuylkill River – this recently renovated park is emblematic of the growing city
Best Hotel for Backpackers South Philadelphia
The Alexander Inn might seem like a bit of an upgrade for backpackers, but its location in South Philadelphia means it is still very reasonably priced! A buffet breakfast is provided every morning, and high speed WiFi is available throughout. Rooms are beautifully decorated with modern furnishings.
Best Budget Hotel in South Philadelphia
This antique hotel allows you to experience a classic touch of Philly hospitality! Rooms are decorated in a classic style to complement the historic building, and the en-suite bathrooms are spacious. There is a peaceful garden on-site where you can relax and mingle with other hotel guests.
Best Luxury Hotel in South Philadelphia
As a mostly residential area, there aren’t any luxury hotels in South Philadelphia – however, this lavish holiday home is a great option if you have a big budget! There is a private roof terrace with a patio area where you can take in views across the city.
(Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Fishtown – grab a drink and watch the live performances at Johnny Breda’s
- BEST place to visit in Fishtown – visit the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site to learn about the life of the famous author
Just north of the Old City, Fishtown is Philadelphia’s hipster neighborhood. With independent art galleries, locally-owned boutiques and innovative restaurants around every corner, this area just oozes cool! For young couples, Fishtown is a great escape from the busy centre and has plenty of fantastic date night venues.
Nearby, the Northern Liberties are another creative hub waiting to be explored! This area is a little less safe, so more for seasoned travellers – but during the day it is a rewarding experience and well worth a short trip if you are staying in Fishtown or the Old City.
- Wander the streets of the Northern Liberties to admire the interesting street art and vibrant atmosphere
- Grab an ice cream sandwich from Weckerly’s – known for their thick ice cream, this independent creamery is a local institution
- Eastern State Penitentiary is a former prison that offers interesting tours during the day, and infamous ghost tours in the evenings
- Grab a pizza from Pizzeria Beddia – they only sell 40 a night, and you have to pick it up two hours after paying, but it is totally worth it
- Drink with locals at the El Bar – they offer cheap drinks and quirky bar food within a typical dive bar environment that has been renovated to reflect the hipster vibe
Best Hotel for Backpackers Fishtown
This small guesthouse is basic, but perfect for both couples and backpackers visiting on a budget! There is a shared kitchen area that comes with everything you need for a self-catering stay in the city. Complimentary WiFi can be accessed throughout, and there is a small terrace outside.
Best Budget Hotel in Fishtown
This aparthotel is somewhat of an attraction in its own right – boasting one of the most popular bars in the area and a fantastic restaurant! Rooms come in the form of small apartments – perfect for couples that want some extra privacy during their stay. WiFi is included.
Best Luxury Hotel in Fishtown
Offering both studios and apartments, Lokal Hotel Fishtown is a great upgrade for couples that are looking for something a little more lavish! Rooms are fully air conditioned and come with well-equipped kitchens. There is a small garden attached to the property where you can unwind and mingle with other guests.
(Best neighborhood in Philadelphia for culture!)
- COOLEST thing to do in University City – grab some great performances from up and coming artists at one of the many theatres in the area
- BEST place to visit in University City – Fairmount Park is the largest in Philadelphia and has plenty of interesting attractions and recreational facilities
University City is a small area in West Philadelphia that, as the name would suggest, is home to a major portion of the city’s student population! With easy access to the city centre, this is a great base to discover the city from if you want something with a more authentic atmosphere than the city centre.
It is also a hub for underground culture – with many small, independent theatres and cinemas dotted around the neighborhood! Be sure to check listings before your visit – we suggest Curio Theatre Company for families and Philadanco for all visitors.
- The Free Library of Philadelphia is a must-visit for book lovers, holding the largest collection of classic literature in the city
- Studio 34 is an interesting attraction that mostly hosts yoga and pilates classes – however also regularly arranges creative arts events
- University City, and West Philly as a whole, have some great international food restaurants – we suggest Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
- Grab a drink at the Blarney Store, a popular watering hole for students at Penn University
Best Hostel University City
Located within Fairmount Park, this Hostelling International accommodation is a bit of a walk from University City but is well worth the journey! It comes with fantastic guest reviews thanks to their above and beyond levels of service. A free pancake breakfast is provided every morning, as well as bicycle rental.
Best Budget Hotel in University City
This gorgeous bed and breakfast has quaint interior design, including stained glass windows that add a touch of elegance! A complimentary breakfast buffet is provided every morning, and snacks are available throughout the day. They also have free parking facilities – perfect for those hiring a car.
Best Luxury Hotel in University City
Right in the heart of University City, the Study Hotel offers a touch of elegance only a short walk away from both the universities and city centre! Rooms are well equipped with air conditioning and modern conveniences, and the large bathroom suites are completed with luxury finishes. Breakfast is provided.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Philadelphia?
The City of Brotherly Love has plenty of fantastic attractions just waiting to be discovered! Whether you are interested in history, cuisine or American culture, Philadelphia provides a great insight into the United States for those visiting from abroad. Domestic travellers will also enjoy the unique culinary scene.
For the best area, we’re going to have to go with Centre City East! This neighborhood is one of the most diverse in the city in terms of attractions and provides easy access to the Old City, Centre City West and Rittenhouse.
Nevertheless, every area mentioned in this guide has its own charms and we hope we have helped you plan your itinerary for your upcoming trip to Philly!
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!
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