Man there are a lot of hills in this city!
Portugal’s capital city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Just two and a half hours away by EasyJet, the city makes an ideal city break for the weekend. It helps that the weather is awesome and that it’s one of the most affordable of all the European capital cities.
Lisbon is often overshadowed by other great gay destinations such as Berlin or Barcelona, but with stunning views, heaps of history, and loads of gorgeous gays, Lisbon should absolutely be on your list of places to jet off to.
Where is the gay scene in Lisbon?
Lisbon’s gay scene is mostly divided into two neighborhoods: Barrio Alto and Principe Real. Both are very centrally-located, so if your goal is to go club-hopping, make sure you get a hotel/hostel/AirBnB nearby. Speaking from personal experience, stumbling down steep cobbled streets after a night of drinking and dancing is a LOT more treacherous than you think. And I wasn’t even wearing heels!
This is the real touristy area, where you can mingle with a load of mixed crowds of gay, straight, bi, and lesbian Lisbions. In fact, drinking in the street is a real part of Lisbon culture, so expect to see swathes of drinkers just standing in the street. This doesn’t mean the club is SO busy they can’t fit, it’s just what they do over there.
(Note, if you go during the winter months, it will be rainy, so take a hood or an umbrella for street drinking).
If you’re searching for some serious gay bars, this is where you’ll need to go. As usual though, we went out WAY too early. Clubs really don’t get going until 2am at the earliest, and many of them are located within what looks like residential houses. Lisbon’s Catholic roots meant that the gay scene was originally kept well hidden, and remains part of their aesthetic to this day. It seems fairly normal to have to knock on doors or ring bells in order be let into the really gay clubs.
Also, Friday night is not an especially gay night, with a lot of gay-specific venues only open on Saturdays. This was the breakdown of places to go I got from a guy on Grindr:
Finalmente – This clubs is the go-to gay venue and is pretty much packed every night of the week with Drag queens performing regularly.
Trumps – Not to be confused with you-know-who, Trumps is known to be the home of the young and the beautiful gay crowd in Lisbon, and is especially popular on Fridays.
Construction club – It’s tagline is “Built for you!” This hetero-friendly club is home to guys looking for something a little harder, edgier, and with more of a cruising atmosphere. Enjoy!
Let’s go to the beach!
Let’s face it, one of the biggest appeals of Lisbon is – like it’s Spanish sibling, Barcelona – you can pair up a city break with a beach trip all in one visit. There’s loads of luscious beach to soak up the sun in, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Cascais and Estoril – This is the home of elegant resorts that draw in the crowds of sun-seeking tourists.
Costa da Caparica – This is where the locals tend to prefer, possibly specifically to avoid said-tourists. With lots of high-rise apartments and camping sites, it’s not for everyone, but just beyond Caparica there’s an expanse of pristine beachfront that only gets more unspoiled and secluded the further south you head.
Lisbon’s nude beach!
Praia 19 – Just north of the village of Caparia, Praia is a stunning stretch of beach where Lisbon’s gay community tends to go and strip off. Yes, that’s right, it’s a nude beach, set amongst the backdrop of beautiful dunes and woodland with LOADS of convenient spots for cruising. There’s a mixed crowd of locals and visitors from all over Europe (and the world) so you’ll have your pick of “friends” to make.
Getting to Praia 19 – It’s a bit of a schlepp, and while there are public transport links, the best way is to either hire a car and drive, or just go on a beach tour. You can book onto a tour on for around €29 per person which includes round-trip transportation between central Lisbon and Beach 19, an English-speaking guide, a Gay Lisbon map and guide and even a beach towel to use during the day… which they hopefully wash THOROUGHLY!
Where to gay stay in Lisbon
Despite its MANY hills, Lisbon is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. So as long as you choose a hotel/hostel/apartment that’s fairly central then you’ll be able to get to pretty much everything without too much effort.
I stayed at the fabulous 1908Lisboa, which is the ultimate expression of boutique hipster chic located within minutes of the city centre. Yes, the room was lovely, yes the decor was cool AF, but it’s biggest appeal (for me) was the restaurant which was the perfect place to grab a big greasy breakfast when you get in at 7am before you crash.
Have you been to Lisbon?
Tell us about your gay experience in Lisbon in the comments section below, on TheGayUK social network, or on Twitter @thegayuk.