Having a gay old time in Lisbon's gayborhoods
Lisbon and surroundings has been an alluring gay destination since at
least the 18th century when writer William Beckford escaped a homosexual scandal in
England and moved to Sintra.
Today, after decades under a homophobic dictatorship and despite the power
of the Church in ultra-Catholic Portugal, Lisbon has slowly come out of the
The upbeat nightlife, balmy climate, charming and lively outdoors atmosphere, sandy beaches nearby (including a predominantly gay beach), great cultural attractions, and intimate setting of pastel colors and narrow streets create a gay-friendly ambience that has turned the city into an increasingly popular gay destination.
On the whole, it is a fairly modern and accepting city (gay marriage became legal in Portugal in 2010), although the country remains one of the most closeted in Western Europe. As anywhere else in the world, you'll find the occasional person that frowns upon homosexual couples and families, but Lisbon is a very welcoming city to gay travelers and gay/lesbian sex is legal from the age of sixteen.
The gay scene is thriving, and as João Soares (a former mayor) wrote in the preface of the first Lisbon Gay & Lesbian Guide (often available at the "Welcome Center" in Comercio Square), Lisbon is increasingly a place of "freedom, tolerance and creative restlessness."
GAY HANGOUTSA few of the city's most popular bars and clubs such as "Lux" (the best club in the city whether you're gay or straight) attract a large gay crowd, and you don't need to go to strictly gay hangouts to meet gay locals -- a number of cafés in the Chiado district are popular meeting points for everyone ("A Brasileira," "Benard", and "Café no Chiado"), as well as the Armazéns do Chiado shopping mall.
Chiado is one of the "gayborhoods" of the city, along with Bairro Alto, and Principe Real. These are very inviting areas with a myriad of restaurants, bars, bookstores, antique shops and clubs. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back, and everyone is free to be and act themselves.
There is also a number of gay-friendly restaurants, particularly in Bairro Alto, such as Império dos Sentidos, Pap'Açorda, Põe-te na Bicha, Stasha, and Sinal Vermelho.
The beaches south of the city are also popular gay hangouts in the summer months, especially that of Meco, and one known as "Beach 19," for being the nineteenth stop of a toy train that runs by most beaches of the shore known as "Costa da Caparica" (reached by bus from Praça de Espanha uptown).
GAY EVENTSLike most major world cities, Lisbon hosts the annual Gay Pride Festival every June (called "Arraial Pride"), with a march down Avenida da Liberdade and celebrations throughout the city. Another annual event is the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival that takes place in September, screening around 100 films from all over the world.
AT NIGHTClick here for a list of mixed or predominantly gay bars and clubs.
Also check out Trombeta Bath if you're looking for a sauna, and see our lists of hotels, hostels, and apartments for all accommodation choices.
GAY HOTELSFor gay-friendly hotels, check availability at:
- My Rainbow Rooms is a gay bed & breakfast in a very central location.
- Pouso dos Anjos Hotel is a gay/straight-friendly hotel just minutes from the city's main squares.
- Stay in the privacy of your cool, fully furnished apartment in the center of the city, and at cheaper prices than most hotels. Search apartments here.
Also take a look at our shopping guide and our detailed information on all the sights to ensure that you'll have a gay old time in this captivating city.
See also a list of gay and lesbian bars and clubs!