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The best Lisbon bars

If you fancy a vibrant night out, the Portuguese capital has an abundance of great places for a drink

© Ana Luzia
Casa Independente

Embarking on an intrepid mission to discover Lisbon's many offerings is thirsty work and, besides the city's wide-range of history and cultural sights, there is a long list of modern, and more traditional, bars where you can replenish any lost fluid. From Portuguese beers to contemporary cocktails, you're in for a smorgasboard of alcoholic refreshments... 

The best Lisbon bars

Mahjong

Majong, a busy corner watering hole, is a key Bairro Alto bar, with cool decor and a well-judged DJ-driven soundtrack. It's favoured by a self-consciously avant-garde crowd, but don't let that put you off. After 11pm it can get absurdly crowded. Smoking is allowed here.

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Bairro Alto

Pensão Amor

The name means 'Love Boarding House' - a nod to the building's past as a place of business for sex workers and their clients. Trendy locals now flock here to see and be seen in the over-the-top lounge bar - a sort of decadent tearoom, open from late afternoon - and attached rooms, which include an old-style disco. There are occasional concerts and the background music is eclectic.

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Cais do Sodré

Maria Caxuxa

The phrase 'do tempo da Maria Caxuxa' means old and old-fashioned, but this café-bar in a barely renovated former bakery packs in hip folk in their twenties and thirties. During the week it's an ideal place to wind down to a loungey soundtrack. DJs spin dub and house music from Thursday to Saturday, when space is at a premium and drinkers spill out on to the street.

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Bairro Alto
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DAMAS

New bars open in Lisbon every month, but few make their mark as quickly as has DAMAS, which opened in April last year just off the Largo da Graça. During the day and in the early evening it is a restaurant, but at some point hour it turns into a bar and concert venue with dancefloor. There is music for all tastes in the course of the night and always a good atmosphere.

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São Vicente 

49 da ZdB

The bar attached to art space Galeria Zé dos Bois (which often hosts concerts of experimental music), up a flight of stairs. It is very LGBT-friendly and has DJ sets (and people who really let themselves go on the floor when the right music is on) plus other events.

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Bairro Alto

Casa Independente

In a decaying mansion that has housed all manner of clubs and associations over the past century or so, this is the latest (and probably the liveliest) incarnation. The large front 'Tiger Room' hosts gigs and DJ sets, there are various small rooms that are good for a chat or a spot of work on your tablet, and the café and back patio are great places to relax. The bar serves a good range of teas, fresh juices and cocktails, while finger food is served until midnight.

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Intendente
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Duplex

In the trendy Cais do Sodré area, with a well-known young chef, Nuno Bergonse, serving fashionable comfort food made from top-quality ingredients, Duplex – a restaurant upstairs from a bar – could only be a success. And it is, a big one.

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Cais do Sodré

O Bom, O Mau e O Vilão

The Portuguese title for the Sergio Leone film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provided the name for this ambitious project, hinting at its multifaceted nature: bar, restaurant, film club and music venue, with concerts or DJ sets daily. Check the Facebook page for details. In contrast to most Lisbon bars, where house and electronica rule, here soul, funk, Afrobeat and jazz dominate. Several rooms feature striking murals by local artists.

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Cais do Sodré

Cinco Lounge

This New York-style cocktail bar is a colourful haven in a bit of a nightlife no-man's-land. Its British owners have built up a loyal clientele, who come to lounge on low sofas and savour some of the 100 drinks on offer: from classic martinis through fruity mocktails to sophisticated devils such as Madagascar Bourbon and Madeline Hays. Alcoholic cocktails start from €7, non-alcoholic from €5.

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Chiado/Cais do Sodré
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Lounge

Lounge, a roomy Bairro Alto-style bar, has moderate prices, an unkempt and youngish crowd, and interesting musical events. On regular nights, decent DJs spin an underground mix of electro and minimal techno, and there's the occasional themed party. It's packed inside and out at weekends, when ordering a drink can be a challenge.

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Cais do Sodré

Lisbon craft beer bars

Cerveteca Lisboa

This was Lisbon’s first place to specialise in craft beer. It was also the first to stock brands such as Mikkeller and Rogue. It boasts a wide selection of drinks and brands, bottled or on tap – there are always 12 different ones to choose from). According to Carolina Cardoso, one of the owners, they may be adding a few soon: “We have three times as many waiting to get on than we can have on tap at once.”

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Chiado/Cais do Sodré

LisBeer

LisBeer claims to have the largest selection of beers in Lisbon: some 250 and counting, even if not all are craft beers. Opened in early 2015, it is a pleasant place where it is still possible for punters to smoke. 

Duque Brewpub

The most recently opened of these three bars, at the start of 2016, on a flight of stairs between the Bairro Alto and Rossio. Its owners brew their own beer, Aroeira – which is made on the premises – and the place serves only Portuguese craft beers, bottled and on tap. As for the music here, the likes of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson predominate. 

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