Gay Lisbon Guide
TIPS ABOUT GAY LISBON
Nightlife in "Gay-Corner" - the gay area of the Bairro Alto district.
Portugal and Lisbon as a gay tourism destination
The size of the gay nightlife in Lisbon will probably surprise you! Don't forget that Lisbon is the capital of one of the most friendly and open-minded countries in Western Europe. In 2010, Portugal became the 8th country in the World to allow marriage (not "just" civil partnership) for same-sex couples. Lisbon is also the centre of a region with 3,5 million habitants, who flock to it, not just for work, but also for entertainment. Find out more about Portugal and Lisbon as a gay tourism destination on our news section - "Gay Lisbon - A Top World LGBT Destination". Most of the gay spots are in either in Bairro Alto or Principe Real, two of the main districts of the historic centre of Lisbon.
The Bairro Alto district is the hotspot for Lisbon nightlife
Bairro Alto is the centre of Lisbon nightlife for everyone. Bairro is an area from the XVI century made of up of a maze of narrow streets paved in dark cobble stone. Its name literally means "the high neighborhood" as Bairro lies on one of Lisbon hills. Bairro survived the massive 1775 earthquake that destroyed most of the city. During the XIX and XX centuries, Bairro was the spot for writers and journalists with many Portuguese newspapers having had their headquarters in Bairro. At the same time, Bairro also became an area frequented by sailors, prostitutes and this is when it's nightlife roots started. Nowadays, Bairro caters for everyone: tourists, teens, goths, geeks, posh fashionistas, rockers, brazilians, cubans, intellectuals and gays, lesbians and any other group you can think of.
In Bairro you can find gay & lesbian bars, clubs and two saunas, including the newest sauna in Lisbon - Trombeta Bath. Most bars are small, so streets become crowded from midnight onwards. It's usual to drink on the street. The warm weather is perfect to stand outside, chat and make new friends. During the day, Bairro offers many unique stores. Many have been opened by designers, craftspeople, artists or they have been there for a very long time. You'll be able to find fashion, footwear, design goods, antiques and much more. You can find out more about some of the shopping options in our Gay Lisbon Shopping Guide.
Príncipe Real is Lisbon's gay district
Príncipe Real ("the royal prince") is a very central area of Lisbon. It is one of the most expensive areas in the city and it has become the gay district of Lisbon (is there a connection here?). Night or day, you'll encounter countless gay boys and men walking around, shopping or enjoying a drink in an "esplanada". In Príncipe Real, the gay crowd mixes with both the intellectual, creative, edgy and posh Lisbonites and also with the elderly inhabitants of this 'hood.
Príncipe Real has gay bars, several clubs, a sauna, and a very cruisy park. Many of the venues of Príncipe Real are Bear bars. If you are a Bear, (or a chaser), this district is definitely an area to go. You can find out more about Lisbon's bear scene on our Gay Lisbon Bear Guide.
Lisbon's nightlife happens late and often outdoors
To appreciate Lisbon nightlife, the best thing to do is to follow the locals schedule. Dinner time is from 8.30pm onwards and it can often take 2-3 hours. This means that most guys and girls will only arrive at a bar around midnight. If you would like to go clubbing, don't expect to see an open dance floor before 1am. The busiest nights are Fridays, Saturdays and bank-holiday eves.
Lisbon enjoys warm weather for most of the year. Most bars in the Bairro Alto district are small and are usually crowded on busy nights. In Portugal, it is legal to drink outside. So the best place to enjoy a cocktail and chat is often outside. The streets are therefore typically full with people enjoying themselves and chatting. This creates an environment that is perfect to make new friends as locals are very approachable and practically everyone speaks english. You can find a few drink suggestions on our article What to Drink in Lisbon.
There are many gay and LGBT-friendly venues further afield
If you would like to explore further afield in the Lisbon nightlife then you should head to either Bica or Cais do Sodré. Both are up and coming hot spots of the city's nightlife and both offer a mix of bars and clubs that despite not being openly gay are definately very friendly.
Bica is an area around one of Lisbon's picturesque historic elevators and it is very close to Bairro Alto. The street is very steep and there are loads of options of bars on either side of this street.
Just by the river Tejo, the Cais do Sodré area has a decadent, yet vibrant atmosphere. Clubs with a rundown appearence (or is it vintage?) and names of Northern European cities crowd a street where everyone mixes. Unlike Bica where there are many bar options, Cais do Sodré is a place to come late as most places are clubs. Unless you are going to try Pensão do Amor ("The Love Pension"), an ex-whorehouse converted into a mix of bar, ateliers, shops and even offices?
If you are a clubbing addict then you must explore even further and head to Santa Apolónia, where Lisbon's biggest, and best club is - Lux. Despite being a mainstream club, Lux is very gay friendly.
For those who would like to explore even further afield, beyond where tourists would normally go, you can try Mister Gay. This is a gay club located on the other side of the River Tagus, near the town of Caparica. You will need a taxi or your own car to get there but in return you'll get a very authentic experience.
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