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 here is laid-back and friendly, and there isn't a lot of anti-gay sentiment. Same-sex marriage laws passed with little fuss in 2010. Lisbon Pride takes place every June, and Queer Lisboa is the long-running gay and lesbian film festival every September. The Chiado, Principe Real, Bairro Alto and Santa Catarina neighborhoods are the most gay-friendly. Outside these districts people are a bit more reserved with displays of affection in public.
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. Renfe, Spain's national rail system, offers "Lusitania" Trenhotel service between Madrid and Lisbon, with all the comforts of a hotel --an overnight trip of ten and a half hours.
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 too. Costa da Caparica, in a nature reserve 30 kms south of Lisbon. Take the Metro to Praça de Espanha, then the bus to beach 17 or 19 for the small summer train that connects the various areas. Go south past family groups to find the Beach 19 gay nudist area (stop 19 on the beach train). There's a gay-frequented bar here, walking food vendors, and dunes to cruise nearby. Lisbon Beach does day trips here from Príncipe Real.
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
Dezanove.pt is the Portuguese language website/portal for all things LGBTQ, for this country and around the world.
Lisbon Gay Tours travel agency, offers gay sightseeing trips around the city and surrounding areas; straight-friendly too.
The ErasmusLifeLisboa guide by former international exchange students in Bairro Alto (Travessa da Cara, 14), now also has a phone app. Punk, gothic, queer and alternative subcultures and scenes are covered, all across Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodré, The Riverfront and beyond.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Lisbon listings pages.
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" where the streets fill with happy drinkers.
Clube da Esquina (rua Barroca 30-32 ), men/women, straight/gay, neighborhood cocktails hangout; big windows on busy street, DJ music.
GPS Cafe Bar (rua da Palmeira 27), cafe food and drinks from 9am daily; gay-popular late weenend nights until 4am.
DRAKO Sex Club (rua Nogueira e Sousa 11), men's cruise/fetish club; sling, dark room, bed, BDSM area, /cabins, porn movies, showers, nude staff; naked dancing, naked porn star performances, orgy nights, theme events.
Espaço 40e1 (rua da Barroca 41), mixed/ gay locals' music and sports bar.
Portas Largas (rua Atalaia 105, Bairro Alto), small, famous old tavern at the center, open earlier than most; live weekend music, mixed crowd.
Pride Burlesque (rua da Rosa, 159), Tuesday-Saturday hip gay lounge and music bar, mixed younger crowd. The former Salto Alto.
Purex (rua das Salgadeiras, 28), no sign, but a bright orange door, gay and lesbian-friendly cocktail bar, dance boîte with DJs.
Side Bar (rua da Barroca 33), small gay-friendly bar with street tables in the "Esquina," open 7pm-2am, 3am on weekends.
CLOSED: Etílico (rua do Grémio Lusitano 8), gay bar, drag shows, go-go dancers/strippers, art shows/music, Happy Cock parties; Sétimo Céu Bar (Travessa da Espera 54), gay favorite for years, friendly mostly male locals mix, large dark/backroom.
Bar 106 (rua de São Marçal 106), mixed international cocktail lounge, party bar and restaurant, open nightly to 2am, with theme nights and game events.
Bar Cru (rua de Sao Marçal 170), men's cruise bar, open nightly, leather fetish, underwear, blackout and naked nights, afternoon orgies. Former Agua-no-Bica site.
Edelweiss Bistro (rua de São Marçal 2), "a bit of Switzerland" ambience, gay-friendly bar/lounge and restaurant with Spätzli and Bratwurst mit Zwiebelsauce.
Finalmente (rua da Palmeira 38), late night drag bar, elaborate and glamorous shows from 3am; open nightly until 6am.
Gayola Steakhouse & Bar (rua da Imprensa Nacional 116b), casual gay-popular cafe steaks, tapas, burgers, beer/wine/cocktais, late snacks; next to Trumps.
Shelter Bar (rua da Palmeira 43A), 6pm nightly mixed gay/bears' music bar, tapas, wines, craft beers.
Society Bar (rua Cecilio de Sousa 72), gay men/women mixed music bar, DJs, warm up for Trumps, food; formerly Hercules, then Secret Bar.
TR3S Lisboa (rua Ruben António Leitão 2a), men's cocktail bar, open daily from 4pm; bears, bears, big guys and friends, multi-national crowd.
Trumps (rua da Imprensa Nacional 104b), large, fashionable, Friday/Saturday international gay lounge and dance club, stage shows, men and women mix.
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 explicitly sexual/cruise vibe; bear/ masculine men's fetish cruise bar, darkroom.
Buuba Bar (rua Santa Catarina, 28, Bairro Alto), mixed men/women young friendly international crowd, internet cafe, wine and cocktail bar.
Kremlin (Escadinhas da Praia 5), big weekend deep progressive house dance club, open until 8am, varied crowd of all kinds includes gay people.
LuxFrágil (avenida Infante D. Henrique, warehouse A), large, popular, industrial-decor dance club, mixed upscale crowd, gayest on weekends.
Viking Bar (rua Nova do Carvalho 7, Cais do Sodre), rowdy young international mix, mostly straight but fun and friendly crowd; weekend dancing, DJs, Monday Stripeoke striptease.
Sex and Saunas
Oasis Gym/ Sauna/ Massage (rua Salitre 85), older guys, gym/sauna/massage facility near University Botanical Gardens.
Saun'Apolo 56 (rua Luciano Cordeiro, 56A), men's sauna and steam room complex, cabins, dark room, playspaces, porn video cinema, massage, swingers & youth nights.
Trombeta Bath (rua do Trombeta, 1C, Bairro Alto), centrally located, dry and steam saunas, private cabins, porn cinema, dark room, massage services; bar and pizza orders.
CLOSED: Cinebolso (rua Actor Taborda 27b), big straight porn cinema, early evening hook-ups; The Cock (rua Noronha 5A), late-night weekend men-only sex club/ bar; darkrooms/ private cabins.
Bairro Alto Hotel (place Luis de Camoes 2; 351 21-340-8288) - reopening August 2018 - 55-room luxury boutique hotel between Bairro Alto and trendy Chiado; Flores do Bairro Restaurant, cafe/bar, 24-hour business center, fitness center, guest laundry, terrace.
Evidencia Hotel Santa Catarina (rua Dr Luís de Almeida e Albuquerque 6. Bairro Alto; 351 213-861-317), 16 double and triple modern/ minimalist guest rooms, internet lounge, WiFi.
Hotel Metropole (praça Dom Pedro IV, 30, Baixa; 351 21-321-9030 ), classic grand hotel, 1920s Art Deco appointments, great location on Rossio Square, one of most historical and traditional hotels of Lisbon.
Hotel Eurostars Das Letras (rua Castilho 6; 351 213 573 094), 107 rooms and suites, literary-themes, cafe/bar, restaurant, sauna/gym, business center, concierge, WiFi.
Late Birds (Travessa André Valente 21-21a; 351-926-713-331), men-only gay urban resort in Bairro Alto, 12 guesthouse rooms, swimming pool, garden bar, buffet breakfast, widescreen iMac, free WiFi, multilingual library, cocktail parties.
Lisbon Poets Hostel (rua Nova da Trindade 2; 351-213-461-241), private rooms near Baixa-Chiado Metro station, local artists' decor, charming old-street trendy district with cafes, galleries, nightlife and museums. Also rua Heliodoro Salgado 4, Graça, casual no-smoking hostel, mixed dorm beds, breakfast.
My Rainbow Rooms (Saldanha 1, Saldanha; 351 218-421-122), gay men's guest house/ B&B, modern apartment, centrally located in quiet residential area 2 minutes walk from Saldanha Metro station, sophisticated amenities.
Pensão Residencial Gerês (Calcada do Garcia 6; 351 218-810-497), central location, comfortable rooms, private baths, historic building; bar, internet access.
Pouso dos Anjos (rua dos Anjos, 31; 351 21-314-0654), restored mansion 5 minutes from Rossio; 32 rooms, private baths, English and French speaking staff, private garden, central near metro, shopping area.