When we first moved to Europe, Lisbon, Portugal was high on our list of places to explore. We headed there for Mike’s birthday about a year after moving abroad and we found Gay Lisbon to be one of our favorite destinations. The city is great for gay travel. The Lisbon gay scene may not be as large or as popular as Berlin or San Francisco, but there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and things to do in Lisbon. Here’s our gay travel guide for Lisbon with everything you need to plan your own Gay Lisbon itinerary.
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Getting to Lisbon
The first thing to consider when planning a trip to Lisbon is how you’ll arrive. For foreign visitors, flying into Lisbon International Airport is your likely route. It lays 7 km (4 miles) north of Lisbon’s city center. The flight from America’s east coast is about 6 hours and 45 minutes. Flights from New York City can cost as little as $450 USD. If you’re visiting from continental Europe, you’ll have shorter flights, like 2 hours from Barcelona. Those fares will also be cheaper – you can find deals as low as 50€ round trip. Wherever you’re flying from, check out Skyscanner for discount fares that you may not find advertised elsewhere.
Search Sky Scanner for discount flights to Lisbon.
The airport is linked to the city center by underground trains and buses. You can easily use Google to navigate your way to Lisbon city center. Alternately, you can seek help from the information desk in the arrivals terminal.
If you’re traveling by rail you’ll likely enter the city center through Rossio Railway Station. It conveniently places you in the center of beautiful Rossio Square when you arrive. From there it’s easy to hail a taxi to your hotel or lodging location. Taxis in Lisbon are easy to find, efficient and trustworthy. Even from the airport, taxi transportation is a simple and cheap way to get around.
What's Gay Lisbon Like?
Lisbon has a thriving gay scene and something for everyone. Homosexuality has been legal in Portugal since 1982 and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010. Discrimination against LGBT individuals has been illegal since 2004. As the facts would portray, Portugal is a place where you can feel safe, comfortable and open to travel. Lisbon’s LGBT community is vibrant, visible and proud. Throughout the year there are gay popular gay events in Lisbon with support from the local community and governing municipality.
Best Hotels in Gay Lisbon
When looking for a hotel in Lisbon, there’s a few things you should consider. First is the district and neighborhood you wish to stay in. For the best of Lisbon gay nightlife, look for a property near Bairro Alto. This is the party location of gay Lisbon. It’s also a very hilly area, so make sure you’re comfortable walking the hills and don’t skip leg day before your trip. The best gay neighborhood with access to the gay bars is Principe Real. If you don’t stay in this neighborhood, look for a hotel or Airbnb near the metro line so that you can take public transport to the Principe Real stop.
Next, consider the amenities you want at your hotel. Most importantly, you’ll want to have air conditioning in the warm months (April through September).
Here are a few gay hotels and gay-friendly hotels in the ideal areas. Check out the links for up to date room rates, availability and booking.
Memmo Principe Real - Design Hotel
This gorgeous 5-star hotel is EVERYTHING! It’s located in the beautiful and affluent Principe Real district and has a rooftop pool and spectacular restaurant and pool bar. The terrace has floor to ceiling windows for a spectacular view and if you don’t elect to stay here, stop in one night for cocktaisl and soak in the hilltop views.
Lisboa Carmo Hotel
This is a 4-star contemporary hotel with excellent service and well-appointed, stylish rooms. Each room has a view of the river or Old Town and all-important air-conditioning. The onsite restaurant is popular and it’s very central. The area is quiet, but near shopping, and nightlife hotspots like Bar Espaço 40e1.
Hotel Gat Rossio
This modern, 3-star hotel has been recently refurbished and is centrally located. The stylish rooms have air-conditioning and the hotel is close to the Baixa Chiado Metro Station. This makes exploring the city easy and convenient and it’s not difficult to reach the gay nightlife or day-time Lisbon sightseeing attractions. Overall, this hotel is an excellent value. It has popular features like a fitness center and airport shuttle at a 3-star price.
Hotel Alternatives for Gay Lisbon Lodging
One easy way to find gay-friendly lodging is to use the popular short-term rental site, Mister b&b. With Mister b&b you can find Airbnb-type properties to rent from LGBT and gay-friendly hosts. Our experiences using the service have been fantastic and it makes it easy to find properties in the heart of the gay area.
Using the service, you can often find a better deal than using Airbnb. You also have the advantage of dealing with a host who knows the gay scene. Private rooms and entire properties can be rented and if you don’t have an account, you can receive a 10€ discount with THIS LINK.
Okay, so you booked a flight and found the right hotel or Mister b&b… now what? Here’s the best of everything to plan your Lisbon itinerary. We’ll give you some awesome restaurant recommendations, pass on cool things to do while you’re in Lisbon and the best part of the guide, gay bars reviews.
The Best Restaurants in Lisbon
Portugal is known for a fantastic food scene and when you visit Lisbon, you’ll get to experience just that! The seafood is phenomenal with fresh ingredients and delicious results. We spent three nights in Lisbon and here were the incredible restaurants we visited during our trip.
Tip: Try to bring cash with you when possible, not all restaurants in Lisbon accept credit cards.
Our second night in Lisbon we had a reservation mistake and had to find a place to eat on the fly. This fortuitous mistake led us to O Trivial, a small family restaurant with amazing service and the most tasty food. The kitchen was close to closing when we arrived, so some dishes were unavailable but we were offered a few “off the menu” items based on what was remaining. It was really cool to get the special attention that came from the improvised menu. The experience at O Trivial was authentic and we would go back there in a minute! Check it out and let us know what you think.
Carinho do Vinho
Carinho do Vinho was on the same street as some gay bars we planned to visit on night one. It was a natural spot to eat at on our way out and we really enjoyed the meal. It’s technically a wine bar, and excels at both wine and food. The shrimp risotto and polpo were incredible and the wine list is truly impressive. The small plates made for a great meal and the prices are easy on the wallet.
This was the location of our final dinner in Lisbon and after a few days of seafood, the break was nice. We chowed down on their delicious fondue and enjoyed a bottle of wine. The menu isn’t in English, but the wait staff was super helpful and they provided an iPad with pictures for ordering. The decor was unique – like a Swiss ski chalet from the 80’s – but somehow it really worked. Definitely check this place out and let us know your thoughts. Of course, you want to lock down a few meals for seafood, but Bistro Edelweiss is an excellent alternative.
Things to do in Lisbon
Lisbon is full of beautiful buildings, fascinating history and delicious food and wine. Lisbon sightseeing is some of the world’s best and there’s really something for everyone. We always find our attractions through GetYourGuide, use the button below to review their tours, attractions and book museum tickets with skip-the-line privileges. The main reason that we use GYG is because you can cancel your reservation up to a day in advance for no fee. This holds your place on a tour or for admission without the strict commitment of paying upfront.
Check out all the tours and activities that GetYourGuide Lisbon has to offer
Do a tour, ANY tour
There’s a lot of things to do in Lisbon besides gay bars. In fact, most of the gay bars open late, so you’ll have plenty of daytime to experience the city. We highly suggest looking for at least one tour of the city. It’s hilly, so for some people, you’ll prefer the Hop on Hop Off Bus. Others will enjoy a walking tour or one that includes a Tagus River boat ride. If you’re a foodie, try a food tour of Lisbon – just make sure you get out and enjoy the city.
Taste some Port Wine
Portugal is famous for a lot of things, like exploring the world by sea and sexy footballers. Besides the obvious, Portugal has amazing port wine – try it while in Lisbon! We did a tasting at a port wine academy called Solar do Vinho do Porto. It was a really cool experience – informative and tasty, plus we left with some knowledge and a good buzz.
Visit Sao Jorge Castle
Lisbon is the site of a massive medieval castle that was built during the time of the Moorish rule. If you’re remotely into history, you’ll love exploring this fortress. The surrounding streets are beautiful and full of interesting shops and cafes. Once inside, you have some of the best views of the city and the Tagus River. You can book a skip-the-line guided tour HERE for about $20.
If you really want to jump into the culture of Lisbon, experience Fado while you’re in the city. Fado is an incredibly emotional singing that is often accompanied by a guitarist. The singer belts out mournful melodies and you may not understand the lyrics, but you interpret the emotions. The origin is from the early 18oo’s and UNESCO has classified Fado as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. It’s a powerful experience and Fado singers are advertised at many restaurants in Lisbon. There are also Fado shows that you see for about $20 per ticket like the one HERE.
Go on a Day Trip to Sintra
There are a ton of things to do in Lisbon, but if you have an extra day or two – book a day trip. A Lisbon to Sintra day trip should be required travel for anyone to visit Portugal. Sintra is full of history and monument to visit like The Morrish Castle and Pena Palace. There are beautiful gardens, plenty of hiking for the butch queens and it’s incredibly picturesque for the instagays. Check out the full day tours here – they include entrance to the monuments and hotel/Airbnb pick up and drop off.
Saving Money on Activities and Transit
If you plan on doing a few attractions and traveling on public transit – the Lisboa Card will probably save you some money. You can purchase a 24, 48 or 72 hour card that included unlimited public transit, museum passes and attraction entrances. It comes with skip-the-line access for most attractions and discounts on many tours and even restaurants and bars. If you use public transit while you’re in Lisbon and do 1-2 activities in a 24 hour period – it will definitely save you money. You can even pick up your cards at the airport and use your public transit pass right away. For all the details on pricing and inclusions, click HERE.
Lisbon Gay Bars and Gay Clubs
We stayed and spend most of our bar-hopping time in the Principe Real district. Again, this is the gay neighborhood and an easy tram ride or moderate walk to central Lisbon. The neighborhood is a good mix of residential and commercial, with plenty of bars and restaurants. Even though it hosts the gay nightlife scene, there are still many actual residents. In the evening the streets are filled with visitors. You’ll spend most of your gay nights out in Principe Real and here are our favorite spots there.
Nominally a bear bar, we found Tr3s to be our default spot for a beer. The bar was never empty all weekend, and both the staff and patrons were relatively social. This may not be the bar where you spend the whole night, but it is at least a good launching point or a good spot for an afternoon beer.
This place is more club than bar, but it’s super fun. Finalamente is a small corner spot that’s famous for its (super) late night drag shows. It’s worth a visit especially later in the night, as it only gets busy after about 1am.
Woof X is billed to be a leather bar with a small cruising area, but there was no enforced dress code when we popped in. They also have a bar area to socialize and a laid-back atmosphere with dance music. We enjoyed it here as people were generally visitors and more chatty then some of the other bars.
We frequented Shelter Bar because it was on the way to and from our hotel. Another pub that was billed as a bear bar, but had a mixed crowd whenever we visited. Overall it was a very welcoming place,. The staff and customers were very social, but it was never very crowded and oddly well-lit.
Bar 106 is a smoke-filled older bar that has not aged gracefully. It could be good as a dive bar, or with a group, but we didn’t stay long. This was due mostly to the smoke but also the crowd who seemed to be local barflies uninterested in chatting.
Lisbon's Gay Beach
When it comes to beaches, Portugal is one of the best destinations in Europe. The same is true for gay beaches. Locals and tourists alike head to Costa da Caparica for their cocktails in the sand and all-over tans. The farther south you go, the more of the latter you’ll find.
Costa da Caprica is about a 15 minute drive from Lisbon’s city center. It’s easy to get a taxi and you can expect to pay around 12-20€ for the fare. The midday sun can be intense in the summer, so heading there in the mid-afternoon until sunset is ideal. The atmosphere is laid-back and “gay beach party”. If you wander south, things get a little looser.
Sometimes called “Beach 19” you’ll find a different scene at Praia de Bela Vista. It’s the nude beach on the south end of Costa da Caparica. It’s not usually as crowded and has more of an “anything goes” vibe. There are venues serving food and drink with WiFi and it’s a popular cruising beach. Avoid the dunes and wooded area if that’s not your thing.
Gay Lisbon Map of ALL These Fantastic Spots
Gay Lisbon Events
Like most European capitals, Lisbon hosts an annual gay pride event. It’s the normal street party and parade, but unlike some cities, Lisbon Pride is often overshadowed by Lisbon Bear Pride. The event takes place the month before pride and is a large international meeting for bears and their friends. In 2020, Lisbon Bear Pride will be held 27 May through 3 June. For tickets and other information, check out their site.
Lisbon Pride takes place each year in mid-June. The parade is usually held the first Saturday of the month and it’s called Marcha do Orgulho LGBT. It’s decidedly political and run by several Portuguese LGBT organizations. The parade is more of a demonstration is is meant to bring attention to LGBT rights in Portugal and around the world. Lisbon Pride’s street party occurs the following weekend in the area of the gay bars. This is the event that most people would think of as a “pride party”. It’s known as Arraial Lisboa Pride. Check up on the exact dates in gay travel news and we’ll update dates and details when they’re available.
If your grindr tribe is “jock” then you’ll probably but into visiting Lisbon the weekend of 23-25 July. That’s when the event, Pitch Beach 2020, is going down. It’s a well-established athletics event for gay athletes into rugby, swimming, volleyball and football (soccer for Americans). This year they’re adding tango and running to the mix. It’s put on each year by Lisbon’s sports club, Boys Just Wanna Have Fun (BJWHF).