Spread over a series of seven hills, Lisbon can be a challenge to navigate. Streets rise and fall, sometimes heading up steep inclines with a series of switchbacks. You’ll need a good pair of walking shoes if you want to explore this city on the banks of the Tagus River.
Lisbon looks like no other city, partly because of the topography and partly because of its individual style. Blue-and-white ceramic tiles adorn the fronts of public buildings, churches, and fountains. The ornate Manuelian architecture is eye-catching, as is the severe Romanesque cathedral. Around every corner is another view of the hillsides or the river.
Gay life in Lisbon is laid-back and friendly. There’s not a lot of anti-gay sentiment here, which is evident in how easily the same-sex marriage law passed in 2010. Portugal Pride takes place every June. Queer Lisboa is the long-running gay and lesbian film festival that’s held every September. The Chiado, Principe Real, Bairro Alto and Santa Catarina are the most gay-friendly neighborhoods. Outside these districts people are a bit more reserved with public displays of affection.
Lisbon International Airport is just 4½ miles north of the city center. Buses are a cheap and speedy option, and taxis are also fairly affordable.
This is a city to explore on foot. To help you out, there’s also a decent system of buses, trams, and subways. Some of the more unusual modes of transportation include funiculars to take you directly up hill, and one elevator designed by Gustav Eiffel, of the famous tower in Paris. GoLisbon has good public transportation info.
To the west of the medieval quarter is Bairro Alto, the upper town heart of an old Bohemian District, where you’ll find many hetero-friendly gay bars, cafes and clubs and gay-friendly general public social gathering places. Chiado nearby is an elegant area of cafes, theaters, book and antique shops, and big brand names for luxury items. The Principe Real area has an older style of gay ambience, with bars discreetly tucked behind doors with bells or buzzers.
The beach can also be quite gay. Costa da Caparica (Metro to Praça de Espanha, then bus to beach 17 or 19) even has a small summer train that connects the areas: go south, past family strands to find the more nudist and gay areas. At Beach 19 follow the guys to a local gay-frequented bar, or into nearbly dunes to cruise.
Currency and Money
Portugal is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. There are plenty of ATMs downtown.
Media & resources
Lisbon Gay Tours travel agency, offers gay sightseeing trips around the city and surrounding areas; straight-friendly too.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Lisbon listings pages.
Going OutGoing Out
Bars, cafes and nightclubs are very mixed here, with straight and gay, men and women, to be found throughout the scene. The city has become a favorite party destination for young Europeans and a good place to find all the trendiest international DJs. Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real are home to the main two clusters of bars.
Bar Espaço 40e1 (Rua da Barroca, 41), small warm-up before-the-clubs bar at the center of the "Gay Corner."
Clube da Esquina (Rua Barroca 30-32 ), men/women, straight/gay, neighborhood cocktails hangout, big windows on busy street, DJ music.
Frágil (Rua da Atalaia 126-128), big, two-floor dance club opposite Portas Largas bar, mixed but gayest on weekends.
Les Mauvais Garçons (Rua da Rosa 39, Bairro Alto) cozy, relaxed bistro, mixed international crowd, Wi-Fi access.
Portas Largas (Rua Atalaia 105, Bairro Alto), small, famous old tavern at the center, open earlier than most; live weekend music, mixed crowd.
Purex (Rua das Salgadeiras, 28), no sign, but a bright orange door, gay and lesbian-friendly cocktail bar, dance boîte with DJs.
Sétimo Céu Bar (Travessa da Espera 54), a favorite for years, briefly called Bardot, friendly locals' bar, large dark/backroom for men.
Bar 106 (Rua de São Marçal 106), mixed international cocktail lounge, party bar and restaurant, open nightly to 2am, with game events.
Club Cru (Rua de Sao Marçal 170), new men's cruise bar, open nightly, leather fetish and naked nights, Monday cabaret. Former Agua-no-Bica site.
Construction (Rua Cecilio de Sousa 84), men's nightclub, open midnight to 6am, bear popular, foam parties. Former Bric-a-bar.
Finalmente (Rua da Palmeira 38) late night drag bar with elaborate and glamorous shows from 3am, open nightly until 6am.
TR3S Lisboa (Rua Ruben António Leitão 2a), men's bar, open from 4pm, bears, big guys and friends, multi-national, crowd.
Trumps (Rua da Imprensa Nacional 104b), large, fashionable, international gay lounge and dance club, stage shows, men and women mix.
Ursus Bar (Praça das Flores, 41-43), bear/men's bar in Príncipe Real, opens early (6pm-4am), everyone welcome.
Woof LX Bar (Rua da Palmeira 44-b), small bar in Principe Real for masculine men, popular with bears, special events.
Woof X (Rua Manuel Bernardes, 2-a), the "other" Woof in Principe Real, more directly sexual, bear/ masculine men's fetish cruise bar, darkroom.
Kremlin (Escadinhas da Praia 5), big weekend deep progressive house dance club, open to 8am, varied crowd of all kinds, including gay people.
Le Marais (Rua Santa Catarina, 28, Bairro Alto), mixed crowd internet cafe and bar; cocktails, French delicacies include Soupe de Champagne.
LuxFrágil (Avenida Infante D. Henrique, warehouse A), large, popular, industrial decor dance club, mixed upscale crowd, gayest on weekends.
Mar Adentro (Rua do Alecrim, 35), bar, coffeeshop, internet cafe, casual and friendly international mixed crowd, sandwiches, seafood, burgers, brunch, magazines and local info.
For periodic Conga Club indie music dance party dates that move around town, see their tweets on Twitter.
Sex and Saunas
Cinebolso (Rua Actor Taborda 27b), closeted family guys and hustlers hook up in corners of big straight porn cinema; early evening scene.
Saun'Apolo 56 (Rua Luciano Cordeiro, 56A), new sauna & steam room complex, cabins, dark room, playspaces, porn video cinema, massage, swingers & youth nights.
Sauna Sertório (Calçada da Patriarcal, 34, Príncipe Real), gay stram/sauna, Jacuzzi, private cabins, bar, cruising area.
Sauna Viriato (Rua do Telhal 4-B), older but clean facility, steam and dry saunas, private cabins, cruising area.
Trombeta Bath (Rua do Trombeta, 1C, Bairro Alto), centrally located, dry and steam saunas, private cabins, porn cinema, dark room, bar.
Bairro Alto Hotel (place Luis de Camoes 2), comfortable luxury boutique hotel, 55 rooms on beautiful Bairre Alto square, restaurant, cafe/bar, fitness center, terrace.
Hotel Metropole (Praça Dom Pedro IV, 30, Baixa), classic grand hotel, 1920s Art Deco appointments, great location on Rossio Square, one of most historical and traditional hotels of Lisbon.
Lisbon Poets Hostel (Rua Nova da Trindade 2, Chiado), cobblestone alleyways, charming old streets, trendy district, best shopping, cafes, galleries, nightlife and museums. Cozy and casual, above A Brasileira Cafe, steps from Baixa-Chiado Metro.
My Rainbow Rooms (Saldanha 1, Saldanha), gay B&B, modern apartment, centrally located in quiet residential area 2 minutes walk from Metro station, sophisticated amenities.
Pensão Gerês (Calcada do Garcia 6), central location, comfortable rooms, historic building, bar.
Pouso dos Anjos (Rua dos Anjos, 31), restored mansion, 32 rooms, private baths, English and French speaking staff, private garden, central near metro, shopping area, 5 minutes from Rossio.