Lisbon Gay Spot

Lisbon Gay Spot

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 closet.

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 Hangouts

Some of the city's most popular bars and clubs such as "Lux" (the best club in the city whether you're gay or straight) and the very underground "Kremlin" 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.

If you're looking for a cool gay spot during the day, head to Les Mauvais Garçons, a Paris-inspired cafe in Bairro Alto. Another option is Mar Adentro Café, where you can sit reading your newspaper, with your laptop computer (there is free wi-fi internet access), or meet the locals over a light meal or drink before heading north to the action in Bairro Alto and Chiado at night.

Chiado is one of the "gayborhoods" of the city, along with Bairro Alto, and Principe Real. Here you can find a lot 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," and "Sinal Vermelho."

The beaches south of the city are also popular gay hangouts during spring/summer, specially Meco Beach (located in Sesimbra), and "Beach 19" located at "Praia da Belavista"/ Costa da Caparica.

* Gay Events

Like 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.

* Top Recommended:

From daytime cafés to post-dinner bars, to clubs for dancing and frolicking, there's a place for you in Bairro Alto or Principe Real. The one thing to note is that the boys and girls from Lisbon party hard and party late! You will see the sunrise before you get to bed!

First off, check out Agua No Bico in Principe Real. Note a lot of bars are located in quiet residential areas where you must ring a bell to get in. Once inside you'll find guys of all ages and reasonably priced drinks.

You might also want to try Baliza in Bica/Santa Catarina. Its a laid back cafe-bar with a mixed crowd, right by the Bica Elevator. They serve light meals and killer caipirinhas!

Bar 106 also in Principe Real is a friendly, small bar with a light décor and a good place to start the evening before hitting the clubs. It is a popular meeting place for young gays who chat on seats against the wall or by the busy bar area. It's one of the few bars with some life on Sunday nights, when it's the weekly "Message Night."

Chueca, gay bar in Lisbon named after Madrid's famous gay quarter, is small and stylish bar and is especially popular among lesbians, although you'll find an equal number of gay men mixed with a straight crowd. The attractive tricolor interior design (orange, white, and black) also includes black and white photos on the walls, forcing you to stop and stay indoors, unlike at other bars in Bairro Alto where almost everyone prefers to stand and people-watch outside. For all of that, gay or straight, this is one of the coolest hangouts in Bairro Alto.

Favela Chic is the latest addition to the group who operate "Portas Largas" and is attracting all the young gay guys at night!

Les Mauvais Garcons is a very Parisian café is a popular gay hangout during the day, serving some nice salads and sandwiches. It's a very charismatic place, with classic furniture and black and white photos on the walls. The space is small but that makes it one of the coziest in the city.

Mar Adentro Cafe in Chiado is open to everybody, serving light meals and a variety of drinks. It is a recommended meeting place, located close to Chiado district. With your own laptop you can connect to the internet for free.

MAXs on Principe Real attracts older gay males. There are weekly strip shows and a "Message Night" - leave a message for the one who caught your eye and hope for a response.

For local gay guys, Portas Largas is one of the first stops after dinner. It is a spacious old tavern with a casual, down-to-earth atmosphere, although most prefer to grab a drink and stand outside and watch the world go by. A Lisbon classic.

S&S in Principe Real is a gay bar that opens only on weekends and is known for its late-night drag shows.

Side operated by the popular "Sétimo Céu" next door opened this mixed café-bar that in early 2009 was also turned into a wine bar for late-afternoon drinking. The space is small, so if you can't get a table, join the crowds by the door outside.

Source: Turismo de Portugal