Lisbon Nightlife: welcome to the dark side
Happily up and down the streets
A Peruvian cocktail with a view to an art installation or a Spritz among comic books? Perhaps you are more the hip-hop type. Whatever kind of night crawler you are, there is something for you in Lisbon’s party neighbourhood.
It was once the place to go out at night in Lisbon. Meanwhile, it lost its popularity, but didn’t lose its fun. If you’re starting your night at Príncipe Real we suggest you begin the tour by visiting El Clandestino (Rua da Rosa 321) to savour tequila cocktails, margaritas, and pisco sours: Mexico and Peru meet in this restaurant/bar, among tacos and ceviches. Can you see the small colourful houses stacked on the walls? It’s called “Favela Digital” and it’s an art installation.
On the other hand, if you departure from Largo Camões, then perhaps it’s best to start your evening on the other side of the street, at Tasca Mastai (Rua da Rosa 14). They serve snacks such as bruschettas, salads, toasts and Italian appetizers like Spritz – in the midst of all this, you can see the best of comic books and comic illustration on the shelves and on the walls. Next stop: ZDB (Rua da Barroca 49). It not only holds exhibitions and performances but also experimental music concerts. Take a look at the programme and go up the stairs to have a drink at 49 da ZDB – the bar is LGBT-friendly, but it invites everyone to go in and go ecstatic with the DJ sets. Can you feel the rhythm? It’s O 36 (Rua Luz Soriano 36), that you’ll want to meet, given that it’s one of the best places in the city to listen to hip-hop. The best new artists perform here and they also have thematic DJ set nights. Head to Cheers Pub & Disco (Rua da Atalaia 126) might as well be the place where you’ll end the night. On weekends it opens until 4 AM with DJ’s and live music.
Letting the restlessness take over
“Só estou bem onde não estou”, [“I only feel good when I’m not there”], is (roughly translated) what António Variações used to sing, so let’s celebrate this Portuguese artist. It’s what you’ll feel when walking around these streets.
It’s okay if you feel a flutter of nervousness, some sort of restlessness. Embrace it: the night at Cais de Sodré consists in going from bar to bar. We suggest starting with a glass of wine at The Wine Cellar (Rua de São Paulo 49) – there are hundreds to discover, from different parts of the country. Then walk over to Praça de São Paulo until you reach Café da Ordem dos Arquitectos – it has an outdoor area, sheltered from everything, surrounded by plants, and the ambience is great. After that the tour continues: perhaps until you reach 4 Caravelas? It’ll be hard to choose from the dozens of vodka, rum, gin or tequila cocktails.
To recharge your batteries try something Portuguese that’ll make you have another beer. For years, Sol e Pesca (Rua Nova do Carvalho 44) was a famous place where fishing rods and baits were sold. Nowadays, it brings back that tradition with an endless selection of Portuguese tinned food, served with baskets of bread. Meanwhile, the body is already asking for some stretching exercises so get your body ready for the dance floor. Before hitting the floor, climb up Rua do Alecrim where you’ll find O Bom, O Mau e O Vilão, at number 21, where you can listen to some indie rock while sipping some Moscow Mule (vodka, lime and ginger beer).
Now, for some tough decisions: maybe you’ll want to play with the map and jump from Liverpool to Oslo or go from Jamaica to Copenhagen? Every one of these bars/nightclubs has rock and pop from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – Cais do Pirata, further ahead, stands out by playing Latin music and serving rum on the counter. If you want your evening to last until 6 AM there’s Sabotage’s welcoming rock or the varied programmes Musicbox presents.
Follow your (night) gut
Whether you go north or south you’ll always find a place playing music, a nice rooftop or a different bar.
It represents new cuisine, fashion, and design. But, in spite of all the innovations, it’s also a neighbourhood full of traditions: such as sitting at an outdoor café while drinking a fresh beer and eating lupin beans at Quiosque do Príncipe Real (known as Quiosque Oliveira). Gin fans: all you need to do is cross the road and go inside Embaixada. At Gin Lovers (Praça do Príncipe Real 26) there are over 60 different drinks to choose from, served in a snifter.
The sophistication continues while heading over to Memmo Príncipe Real. The restaurant and the hotel bar, Café Colonial, also incorporate the flavours of Portuguese ex-colonies in its drinks – the view over São Jorge castle is a bonus. Speaking of incredible sights, The Insólito (Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara 83) is located at the last floor of an old building and faces São Pedro de Alcântara’s viewpoint. Enjoy the city lights and the commotion with a Bloody Mary in hand.
Are you now facing the garden the other way and walking down the street? Well, there’s also something that way too. For a decade, Cinco Lounge (Rua Ruben A. Leitão 17A) continued – and still does – to elegantly serve cocktails among its irreproachable sofas and lower tables. Cerveteca (Praça das Flores 62) is the street’s most recent acquisition and it was one of the first places to specialize in artisanal beer. If you feel like walking down a small memory lane then visit Foxtrot (Travessa de Santa Teresa 28). It opened in the 70’s, has an art deco style and draws inspiration from the tradition of the English pub. Then there’s the gym: Brownie (Rua da Imprensa Nacional 46) presents itself as a place to exercise body and soul while listening to good electronic music. Reminder: you must ring the doorbell.
Fight the inclination, hold the cocktail
We advise you to go down, so that “all saints help” you, as locals usually say. Try to keep your balance until you reach your destination.
When standing on top of Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo you can see the houses, the Tagus river and the other margin of the river. At the centre, the early 19th century tram completes that perfect postcard picture. Then the sun sets and the streets start filling with noise and people. Socializing while standing up (even if it’s hard fighting against the street’s inclination) is part of the job. And having a drink in your hand too.
At Enólogos Amadores (Travessa do Sequeiro 28) – or amateur oenologists – you may feel comfortable asking which gin is the gin for you – or scotch, beer, cider or wine. Then, in the main street, you’ll find the iconic Bicaense (number 42) where you can watch concerts and DJ’s play. Right next to it, at number 38, is Dona Saudade, which is both a cultural place and a bar, but this is not the only art place around: there is Bicanela (Travessa da Laranjeira 17), which was created by a couple that loves photography, painting, and music as much as having a drink – during happy hours, gin can go as low as 4€.
For a quieter evening, search for L’Atelier Porto. The wine bar only has Port wines (over 100 bottles) and it organizes Portuguese, English or French meetings about white, tawny and ruby wines while eating small cheeses and cold meats – but only until 11 PM. To feel the river’s fresh air go up to Santa Bica (Travessa do Cabral 37). The old bakery is now a guesthouse, a restaurant and a bar with an inviting rooftop. Follow the railway to reach Alemão da Bica (Rua dos Cordoeiros 2-4). The owners are a couple - she is Portuguese and he is German - brought a breath of fresh air to this bar. It has homemade pretzels and German sausages with curry as snacks, aside from new cocktails every week: hotter days bring strawberry daiquiris and piña colada back to the menu.
An old neighbourhood with a new charm
The word originates from Arabic and it means “the bridge”. Today, its stands near the 25 de Abril bridge. Here you can find all sorts of things, from electronic music played with a New-Yorker scenery background to horse tunnels where you can drink beer.
In the Bronze Age, it used to house shepherds and farmers. But Alcântara also had Romans, plague victims, French soldiers and, more recently, lots of workers: this is the heritage you can find at Lx Factory, an early 19th century industrial complex that has art, gastronomy and music inside. Get to know the place: first, the restaurant and bar Rio Maravilha: it has a view over the Tagus river and to the bridge that’ll make you want to hug the city, imitating the statue, which stands there with open arms. If you’re not the friendly type then head over to Ler Devagar, one of the most original and prettiest bookshops – it has a bohemian soul and also serves amarguinha (Portuguese almond liqueur with lemon juice), wine, beer or gin.
But there’s more beyond Lx Factory. Like what you can find at Rua Prior do Crato: at number 10 is Portus-Cale, with its blue façade and legendary 16th century poet Luís de Camões’ face painted as a graffiti on the walls: besides having a drinks menu they also serve typical Portuguese dishes. Next to it, at number 6, there’s Quimera Brewpub that blends the old with the new. If one day the tunnel, created in 1740, was a place where horses used to pass by, nowadays is a place to hang out and drink artisanal beer (there are 12 draft beer types and other bottled brands) or organic wine. Then, as the evening progresses, get closer to Radio-Hotel (Travessa do Conde da Ponte 2). It has a New-York vibe to it, with pink, yellow and blue lights and corners with illuminated cube-like armchairs and tables. The music is mostly electronic.
The perfect night out in town
It’s no secret that the Portuguese love to party, and the Lisbon nightlife reflects that like a mirror: chill, crazy or just really loud, there is something for all the night crawlers out there. From amazing rooftops to closed door bars, from fancy cocktails to beers from all over the world, all the must-knows are here. Recommended: The best of Lisbon nightlife
In past decades, Cais do Sodré was mostly known as something of a red light district, but little remains of that reputation. About four years ago, the neighborhood began having cool bars, pretty stores and it became a major nightlife hangout. If you’re the party animal kind, book a table and line your stomach in one of the best restaurants in Cais do Sodré. Recommended: the best Lisbon clubs