Gay Lisbon – A steamy night out in Lisbon
City guides
22 January, 2018

By Signe Jungløw

 

Gay Lisbon has been flying under the gaydar for quite a while now. However, with its pulsating nightlife, mild climate, romantic ambience, picturesque setting and numerous beaches close by (including one of the most popular gay beaches in Europe), Portugal’s capital is coming out of the closet as one of Europe’s top travel destinations for members of the LGBTQ community.

 

Lisbon has a lot to offer! Besides Portugal being one of the sunniest countries in Europe, the capital was built across seven hills, which provides most streets with the satisfying view of the charming city and the wide river Tagus, that runs into the Atlantic Ocean only a few kilometres west of Lisbon. There are undeniable similarities with a lot of our favourite Mediterranean travel destinations, but most people are still a bit in the dark when it comes to Lisbon. This works to your advantage, as Lisbon has not yet been completely overrun by tourists, which gives you a unique chance to explore the true Lisbon – and exploring is one of the best things about travel!

 

Gay Lisbon: The Portuguese Way

 

Portugal has a long history, and with Lisbon being the second-oldest capital in Europe the Portuguese are proud of their Catholic traditions and somewhat old-fashioned ways. And even though Lisbon is a modern and accepting city (gay marriage became legal in Portugal way back in 2010), it is still not very common to see same sex couples holding hands or kissing in the streets. With that being said, Lisbon is slowly moving away from the ultra-traditional ways and turning into a beautiful diverse, open-minded city. Plus the country’s win at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, secured them the hosting duties for 2018, which makes the city’s LGBTQ future shine bright like a rainbow.

 

You don’t have worry about holding your partner’s hand in public or give your lover a good snog under the sun.

28 Tram Lisbon - My Gay Venture

The famous 28 tram climbing Lisbon’s steep cobbled streets

 

Gay Lisbon: Nightlife

 

Lisbon is known for its rich nightlife. The city shines at night time, and there are a lot of LGBTQ-friendly venues and gay bars and clubs to discover. Best of all is, that most of them can be reached by foot!

 

In Cais do Sodré, by the river, you’ll find Pink Street. It is quite easy to recognize because the street is actually painted pink. It’s not a designated gay area, but even though most places in Lisbon don’t advertise with being LGBTQ-friendly, you can assume that they are by default.

 

Pink Street is a party street packed with restaurants, bars and clubs, so from Thursday to Sunday it’s buzzing with thirsty young people. It gets over-crowded during the summertime, but there are still a couple of interesting places that’s worth the trip. The 19th-century burlesque club, Pensao Amor; Portuguese for “Love House”, is a favourite for both Lisboetas and tourists. It’s decadent to the smallest detail, complete with tiger-striped velvet, a dancing pole, mirrored walls, private booths and dozens of erotic antique decorations of undressed ladies posing. The ambience is further set by careful attention to period detail, nostalgic furniture and the sex shop Purple Rose in one of the back rooms. Under the bridge there’s a quirky club called MusicBox. They invite a lot of international DJ’s and bands, so check out their program before planning a night out. It’s one of the best places to dance in Lisbon and it definitely has a very LGBTQ-friendly vibe.

 

Bairro Alto

In the very center of Lisbon there is a whole district dedicated to a night out; the infamous neighborhood of Bairro Alto. The choice of pubs and clubs in these narrow streets is extraordinary and ranges from casual restaurants and fine dining with fado singers, to Erasmus student bars with extra large €5-mojitos, beer bars, pubs, jazz clubs, queer bars, gay saunas and unconventional venues. The street of Rua da Barroca is home to several gay bars. Amongst others, you can find the avant-garde gallery ZDB and the hipster bar 49, which is part of the same concept but with a different vibe. No matter where on this street you decide to quench your thirst, fun is absolutely guaranteed no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity. Here the crowd is as diverse as the selection of venues!

For a night dancing in Bairro Alto with Lisbon’s coolest kids, Purex Clube is just around the corner on Rua das Salgadeiras, 28.

Trumps dance floor - My Gay Venture

Marta Ribeiro – The steamy dance floor at Trumps. Picture Marta Ribeiro via Instagram

 

Principe Real

 North of Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara is the district of Principe Real, which is not only the most trendy area in Lisbon, but also Lisbon’s gay and lesbian district because the majority of the gay bars, clubs, shops and restaurants are situated in this area. In the daytime it’s the perfect place to go shopping, as it is booming with trendy shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Are you looking for that unique antique find? Then this is perfect for with the broad selection of antiques shops especially located along Rua da Escola Politecnica and Rua Dom Pedro V. Take a break in one of the  amazing parks or gardens in the area, and soak up some sun. No matter what time of year you visit, the sun will most likely be shining.

 

Finalmente

Since opening in 1976, the very intimate Finalmente bar has become a focal point of Lisbon nightlife because of it’s drag shows. Even more unique is that Finalmente is presenting daily shows 365 days a year. In addition to the professional shows, the stage is reserved for Lugar às novas – “A place for the new” every Monday night, so if you are an upcoming drag queen ready to conquer the world, this is the ideal place for you to lipsync for your life. It’s not for the early birds – Finalmente opens at midnight, and the shows don’t start until 3 am.

Go to Rua da Palmeira 38, a small side street to the main street of Principe Real. (Psst: In Portugal dinner is normally eaten at around 9pm, so don’t expect bars in general to be crowded before 11.30pm or later).

 

Trumps

Don’t let the name confuse you – this place has nothing to do with a certain orange-colored president, but is named after the legendary London club, Tramp.

Trumps boasts of being “The best gay club of Lisbon”, which is true because it is the only gay club in Lisbon!

The doors to this must-see venue opens only on weekends, and has two rooms; one dedicated to house music for some true gay clubbing. The other caters to a more pop-loving mainstream crowd, where the chances of hearing some songs by  Britney, Madonna or Lady Gaga is very likely. The rainbow cherry on top is the stage, that frequently host drag and gogo performances by local as well as international talents. On a regular basis, Trumps invites renowned guest DJ’s which makes this LGBT club one of the trendiest in the capital, if not all of south Europe.

You can find Trumps on Rua da Imprensa Nacional 104 B, and the entrance is €10 on Fridays and €12 Saturdays, but you get two drinks vouchers in return.

 

Construction Club - My Gay Venture
Cheeky snapshot from Construction Club via Instagram

 

Woof X & Woof LX

Wanna try something else than drag queens and mainstream crowds? Then these two places are just for you! Woof LX is a smaller bar, in the gay area of Principe Real. As the name indicates it caters to a more buff bear and scruffy beard kind of crowd, so if this your flavor, then this is definitely a playground for you.

 

Right next door, you’ll find Woof X. Similar to Woof LX in decor and crowd, this differs by being a closed-door fetish-inspired bear cruising bar. So if you want to try to get lucky with a hairy fella, then this is a place to definitely visit. Rua Manuel Bernardes, 2A and 2B.

 

Psssst, “LX” is not about size but actually short for Lisbon!

 

Construction

Let’s keep admiring the bears at Construction Club. This place is designed to cater for the furry, bearish (and horny) gay crowd, looking for a night of dancing to throbbing house music. This venue normally doesn’t get crowded before 2 am, so check out some of the other bars before you head here, with Construction Club being the preferred place for a lot of people to end their night. It’s a small walk away from the Principe Real area, on Rua Cecílio de Sousa, 84.

 

Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real has numerous bars, saunas and clubs, and they are all fairly close. So if you don’t mind the adventure, take a stroll down the small streets and explore the LGBTQ-friendly bars and venues. At the end of the night you can pop down the street to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara and watch the most spectacular sunset with a stunning view of the city as it slips down towards the river banks.

 

Praça Luís de Camões - My Gay VentureOne of Lisbon’s countless Quiosques on Praça Luís de Camões.

 

 

Lux Frágil

Lisbon’s most well-known and iconic nightclub Lux Fragíl is rumoured to be owned by John Malkovich, but the actual clubs reputation outranges it’s owner. Even though this is not a designated gay club, it’s extremely LGBTQ-friendly and the single most popular club in Lisbon. Lux has two big dance-floors with very different atmospheres and a top level with a huge balcony right by the river. Make sure you check their website before going as they often organise events including concerts with major (!) names. It can be a bit of a hassle to get in, but if you get there around 2 am it should be possible. Prices can vary and you should expect waiting in line.

 

Lisbon’s nightlife is evolving quickly, and new bars and events are popping up around the city constantly. As a matter of fact, just last week a new lesbian bar called Society popped up, that yours truly hasn’t even had the chance to check out yet. So even if you are a repeat visitor, you will never get bored. There are a lot of venues that we didn’t mention in this guide, and also annual events and concepts such as Queer Lisboa – International Queer Film Festival, Lisbon Pride and Lesboa parties.  The best thing about Lisbon is that the people are more than happy to show you around, and our handpicked hosts are no exception. To get the freshest scoop on the local night scene, connect with one of our hosts and explore the city like a true local. Check out the exciting activities we offer in Lisbon by clicking right here.

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