Travelers know that the city of Lisbon is home to some fun, interesting activities and great tourist attractions during daylight hours. When the sun goes down, however, the city really shines with a fabulously varied and robust nightlife scene. There’s much to choose from in the evening, as the city is home to many cool bars, clubs, live music venues, and restaurants. So if you’re into checking out the local culture, and staying up all night -- or simply quietly taking in views by the harbor, the Portuguese capital doesn’t disappoint.
Similar to other southern European countries, the nightlight action kicks off very late in Lisbon. So unless you’re dining in the more touristy spots, many restaurants don’t open until 7:00 PM, and won’t start getting crowded for an hour or two later. The local bars are packed until well after midnight -- and clubs don’t start hopping until at least 2 AM. Keep in mind that if you’re heading out for evening’s activities, it’s best not to plan for an early start of sightseeing the next morning!
When visiting Lisbon, be sure to check out a few exciting nighttime activities in the city:
Enjoy the view
Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills, and with good reason — because once you leave the riverfront area, your legs will be getting a workout no matter which direction you head. The (literal) upside to this? From almost anywhere in the downtown area, it’s easy to find a picturesque nighttime view overlooking this stunning city.
Many of the highlights, including the famous São Jorge castle, are illuminated after sunset, creating wonderful photo opportunities. Whether you head to a swanky rooftop bar like Silk Club or Sky Bar, you’re guaranteed spectacular views in every direction. For a more casual experience, just buy a beverage from a nearby kiosk (called quiosque) at one of the city’s many popular lookout points.
Tip: Remember to take a light sweater or jacket with you, because even after scorching summer days, it can get a bit chilly in Lisbon after dark.
Listen to Fado music
The slow, melancholic sound of Lisbon’s famous fado music spills out of tiny bars and venues throughout the city, and it’s well worth planning a night around this centuries-old musical style. This is unique to Portugal, and it’s a cool experience that you won’t want to miss.
There are dozens of tiny fado places to choose from — just follow your ears — or head to O Povo, which has free weekday shows from 8 pm featuring a number of up-and-coming performers. To ensure an authentic experience, avoid the ‘fado and dinner’ packages that are advertised throughout the Bairro Alto and Alfama neighborhoods. Instead, pick an unassuming local spot, and you’ll be rewarded with lower prices, good food, and a more authentic experience.
Tip: To gain a more thorough perspective on the music, visit the Fado Museum in Alfama ahead of time, to learn more about the history of this unique soulful sound.
Lisbon clubs are hopping all year long. So whether you’re after the best international DJs, old-school pop, hip hop or anything in between, Lisbon’s clubs have got you covered.
The more exclusive places have strict dress codes and door policies, with some requiring reservations ahead of time. No matter which club you're planning to visit, dress to impress, don’t expect anywhere to be open before midnight -- and prepare to party until the sun comes up.
A few hot spots include the Music Box in the red-light district of Cais do Sodre, Dock’s Club down near the bridge in Alcântara. You can also check out the posh and hip high-end venues — with prices to match — like Lux on the waterfront.
Tip: Bring your best buddies, cash and plan to walk or grab a taxi for the ride home (if you don’t have a designated driver).
Go to a concert
Although Lisbon doesn’t attract as many internally-known acts as larger cities like Madrid or London, there are still many fantastic musical options around town. As with anywhere else, reserve in advance for a popular show, because aside from the larger MEO Arena, most venues are relatively small, so tickets often sell out quickly.
One must-visit venue is Lisbon’s stunning opera house, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos, which is located in the Chiado neighborhood in the heart of the city. Music by famous composers (such as Wagner, Mozart, Stravinsky) is regularly performed in this tiny but beautiful, theater that dates back to the 1700s.
While it’s possible to book online, you can usually get seats for all but the most popular shows just by showing up at the box office a few days in advance. If you’re staying at a hotel, your concierge may be able to help obtain tickets if needed.
Tip: Like most concerts, select a few music venues in advance of your visit. You never know which singer or band may be in town!
Cheer on the local football team
Football is an obsession in Lisbon, and with Portugal winning the Euro championships for the first time in 2016 (and the local team Benfica earning a fourth straight league title the following year), the sport continues to attract many avid fans in the city.
If you’re a sports fan of any kind, it’s fun to attend a football match while in town. Unless there’s a local derby during your stay, it should be relatively easy to get tickets for a home game featuring one of the local teams during the lengthy football season.
Both stadiums are located close to the city center, too. In downtown, Benfica’s large Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light) is just a few miles away from the other stadium that’s home to the rival team, Sporting Lisbon.
Tip: Before you go, be sure to purchase a team scarf, hat or shirt to show your allegiance, and head over to the stadium early to make the most of the atmosphere. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these experiences are always memorable – no matter the result of the game!