Lisbon Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Lisbon gay travel guide to hotels, restaurants, beaches, gay bars, clubs & saunas.
The Gay Travel Experience: Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon has a ton to offer gay travelers—as long as you do it right! Portugal’s capital city is largely discovered and booms with tourists from all around the world every summer. For the best experience, you’ll need to plan carefully.
What Lisbon lacks in authentic Portuguese culture from so much tourism, it makes up for with a huge gay scene, plenty of gay nightlife, gorgeous architecture, and an epic gay beach. The city is also in close proximity to some of the most stunning oceanfront cliffs in the world.
The size of Lisbon’s gay community and the number of gay travelers in the city were pleasantly surprising, which was also the case in Porto. Gay travelers love coming to Lisbon—and there are tons of them, especially Americans, Spaniards, French, and British.
It’s super easy to make new friends here. Whether you explore the gay bars in Lisbon’s gay district or use an app like Grindr, you’ll have no problem finding someone new to hang out with.
Gay Lisbon: Hotels & Where to Stay
Most gay travelers will choose hotels relatively close to the Lisbon gay area, Bairro Alto. With narrow, mostly cobblestone streets, there are very few hotels directly within Bairro Alto. If you prefer standard hotels, the recommendations below will suit you perfectly.
On the other hand, vacation apartments in Bairro Alto are plentiful, not to mention affordable. These are great for more space and cozy historic vibes.
Lisboa Pessoa Hotel
Lisboa Pessoa Hotel is one of the most charming mid-range hotels that is both highly rated and only a short walk from the gay area of Lisbon. I love the cozy interiors, updated bathrooms, and the little terraces that come with some of the rooms.
The hotel has a large spa, modern gym, rooftop bar, and pool among other amenities. It’s easily one of my top recommendations for gay travelers.
The Late Birds Lisbon: Gay Urban Resort
Late Birds Lisbon is the only true gay resort in the city. While gay resorts in other destinations can be pretty inexpensive or run-of-the-mill properties, Late Birds Lisbon is strikingly luxurious and highly rated.
It’s only a few blocks from many of the gay bars, located in a quieter and more residential area than most other hotels. Their rooms are modern, and the hotel has a gorgeous swimming pool and garden area. Everyone also mentions how amazing the staff is.
I stayed at 9Hotel Mercy during my trip to Lisbon and absolutely loved it for the same reason most gay travelers do—there’s a great tradeoff between location and price. 9Hotel is only a block from the Lisbon gay neighborhood, is affordably priced, and was super comfortable.
The room was spacious, had great blackout curtains (great for sleeping after a late night out), and I had a direct view of the street below. They also have a cute rooftop bar with nice views of the city. It’s easy to see why gay travelers so often choose 9Hotel Mercy.
Monte Belvedere Boutique Hotel
Monte Belvedere Boutique Hotel is a four-star hotel just to the south of Bairro Alto. It’s perched over the hillside, offering stunning views of Lisbon. There’s even a little park and lookout point next to the hotel.
Their interiors have a modern but authentically charming feel. The rooftop bar and restaurant is another reason Monte Belvedere is so popular.
Solar dos Poetas
Solar dos Poetas is a regal guesthouse-style accommodation with an unbeatable location. It’s affordable, well-decorated, and super cozy!
Situated adjacent to a historic plaza that’s conveniently close to the local gay nightlife. Everything you’d need is nearby, including transit access, parking, and the best areas to walk around Lisbon.
Compared to the prices of the standard hotels nearby, Solar dos Poetas is quite a bargain!
Lisboa Carmo Hotel
Lisboa Carmo Hotel is a lavish, upscale property located between the Bairro Alto gay area and the popular shopping district of Rossio.
Aside from the elegant rooms and popular restaurant, the staff and service at Lisboa Carmo are what travelers talk about most. If you want to feel well taken care of, this hotel is for you.
My Story Hotel Rossio
I love the playful and modern interiors of My Story Hotel Rossio. This hotel is an excellent option for gay travelers who may not care so much about being close to the gay area.
Compared to the hotels I mentioned above, My Story Hotel is more affordable than other standard hotels and is farthest from Lisbon’s gay neighborhood. The area is still gorgeous and centrally located, though. You’ll find restaurants, shops, and places to visit all around.
Lisbon Gay Travel Experiences
Take a walk up to Lisbon’s Castelo de Sao Jorge, where you can get a great view of the city at the Recolhimento Viewpoint. Up at the Castelo, you’ll be on a heavily trodden tourist path, but once you head toward this scenic lookout, you’ll start to weave away from the crowds.
Go Cliff Sightseeing
Some of the most magical oceanside cliffs I’ve ever seen are right outside of Lisbon in a region called Sintra. You absolutely cannot miss these! Rent a car in Lisbon to go there, even if it’s just for a day trip.
Cabo da Roca is dazzling near sunset. This scenic spot is probably the best view that you can get with the least amount of effort. Parking is easy and the area is well-developed.
It’s a place that has definitely been discovered, so you’ll be among some tourists. But the views are still beautiful once you reach the tip of the rock outcrop
Regional sightseeing tours can take you to Cabo da Roca as part of a trip around the Sintra region if you’re not able to rent a car.
Ursa Beach was by far my favorite stop along my cliff sightseeing journey. This place is magical. It’s much less discovered, too. It’s only a short drive from Cabo da Roca, so you can easily come here afterward.
Drive along the dirt road until you see the end of the parking area. From here, walk along the path for about 7 minutes or so toward the oceanfront. You’ll be met with a cliffside view that will blow your mind.
If you’re up for a true hike, head down to the beach itself to enjoy the pristine azure waters. Just remember, climbing up is a strenuous journey!
Boca do Inferno is one of the closest scenic cliff areas to Lisbon. While it’s interesting and worth a stop if you’ll be driving nearby, there will be loads of tourists.
If you visit during the late winter or early spring though, things might be more interesting—this is when Portugal’s coast experiences huge swells. The entire Boca do Inferno area is a wave overtopping zone, which would be cool to see.
Wherever you decide to explore, bring sunscreen and proper footwear as many paths will be rocky or uneven.
Rua Augusta is the go-to shopping street in Lisbon. It’s a nice area to walk through as you explore different areas of the city. And while there may be quite a few tourists around, it’s still a must-see! Grab a Pastel de Nata at one of the bakeries along the way.
Park and National Palace of Pena
The Park and National Palace of Pena is one of the biggest tourist attractions near Lisbon. Any gay traveler visiting the city for the first time will come across this colorful 19th-century palace listed among the top things to do.
I personally had mixed feelings about my visit, so I’ll give you some helpful tips so yours can be a little easier!
There will be 2 lines to enter the grounds. One for ticket purchases and the other for entry. Buy tickets online (about 14 Euro) before leaving central Lisbon so you don’t have to wait in the ticket queue for 20+ minutes. Note your time slot as well.
The gardens are gorgeous along the walk up to the palace. Once you’re up top, there will be yet another line. Importantly, this line is to go inside the actual building, which in my opinion is not worth it. It took more than an hour and was so crowded that it was impossible to enjoy anything.
You can walk around the outside of the palace without standing in this line. Just walk to the left of the queue. The only checkpoint is at the actual door of the building, so this is easy to do.
Lastly, it’s best to go either super early or an hour or two before closing time to avoid long lines! You’ll have a much calmer experience when it’s less busy.
Get a Massage
After trekking up and down Lisbon’s hilly cityscape or a day of trekking cliffs, relax with a soothing massage. I did it twice and couldn’t help but giggle with relief after each one!
Thai Sensation in the Chiado neighborhood was cheap and did the trick. They also have a location in Baixa around the corner if there’s no availability.
The Botanical Massage is a massage parlor that’s a little more luxurious. They fill up quickly though so book in advance if you want to go here. One other popular massage and spa worth trying is Ecomassage.
Lisbon Gay Beaches
Praia Naturista 19
Praia Naturista 19 is the official Lisbon gay beach, and it’s a ton of fun! The entire area is a clothing optional beach and you’ll find that about half of the gays here will be nude.
Lisbon’s gay beach is pretty unique. The adjacent dunes are gorgeous and alongside them are train tracks that make it easy to walk to the gay area from the nearby parking lots.
These dunes are also notorious for a lot of gay cruising. I saw a bunch of guys wandering in the dunes, as well as walking through the adjacent woods. Some people lay down their towels in tucked-away spots of the dunes closest to the water, too.
The best way to get there is by car to the Fonte da Telha area. You can easily park anywhere on the side streets in the area north of here. Renting a car in Lisbon will make the journey much more comfortable.
Once you’ve reached the shore, continue along the large sandy pathway until you see the “Paragem 19” marker sign.
Praia do Meco
Praia do Meco is a second Lisbon gay beach area that is also clothing optional. Praia do Moinho de Baixo is the part of the beach you’ll want to walk toward once you’re there.
The crowd at Praia do Meco is much more mixed. You’ll find both gay and straight beachgoers of all different ages. If you’re not super interested in a full-on gay beach experience, this area is ideal.
The best time to visit Praia do Meco is definitely on a Saturday. Parking here is super easy, too. There’s a large parking lot steps away from the waterfront.
Restaurants in Lisbon
Royale Café serves delicious brunch-style comfort food with influences from around the world. The vibe is chic yet relaxed. It’s perfect for an early lunch along with a delicious bottle of wine!
The restaurant’s interior is gorgeous, and I loved sitting in their rear outdoor garden seating area. I thought the service was excellent here as well.
Head to Chú-Chú for lunch if you find yourself in Lisbon’s shopping district. They have delicious seafood dishes at a good price. I thought the Salmon was great! The service is friendly and they have plenty of covered outdoor seating available along a quieter street.
Oficina do Duque
Oficina do Duque is hands down my favorite restaurant in Lisbon. Finding a place to eat as good as this doesn’t happen that often! All the dishes were so well-drafted and had such wonderful flavors. It’s easy to see why Oficina do Duque is so popular.
Getting a table here can be difficult, especially at the height of the travel season. I recommend going earlier to avoid a wait since they do not take reservations for seating outside (which is where most of the tables are).
If you do have to wait, they’ll allow you to have a pre-dinner cocktail in the cute cobblestone street. And I’d say waiting around 20 to 30 minutes is more than worth it.
Bairro do Avillez
Bairro do Avillez was the first restaurant I tried in Lisbon, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. It’s an especially good choice for tourists who are new to Portuguese food, since the staff will help you choose an authentic dish and thoroughly explain how it’s made.
They have a large range of cuisine options along with typical Portuguese dishes and desserts like Pastel de Nata. Deserts here are particularly good too, especially the chocolate cake!
Oyster & Margarita
Seafood fanatics have to try Oyster & Margarita, a highly rated restaurant that serves a variety of fish and, you guessed it, oysters! You can get them raw, served with a set of varying sauces, or baked.
Sitting outside for an early dinner or late afternoon lunch with a glass of wine is marvelous. Both the restaurant and the surrounding streetscape are so pretty!
Vintecinco is a brand new tasting-style tapas restaurant in Lisbon. It was one of my favorites, especially for every plate’s presentation, the pace of each dish, and the happy, friendly waiters. I highly recommend this place.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of a building on the edge of the gay neighborhood and has a peaceful view of the street below.
Sitting near the windows gives such a cozy “perched” vibe. There are lots of different food options here, so trust the staff to help you pick a few of the chef’s signature dishes.
For a romantic dinner, check out A Travessa. This high-end Portuguese restaurant is actually inside an old convent. It’s perfect for a quiet, intimate meal or even a date night. A local Lisbon gay ex-pat told me he absolutely loves the space, and that the food is phenomenal.
Pestaleria Bernard is a relaxed streetside café that’s ideal for a mid-afternoon beer or snack. It has the vibe of a higher-end café that still feels informal.
Located right in the center of the Chiado neighborhood, it’s a great place to relax while browsing the nearby shops and central area of Lisbon.
Ponto Final was recommended to me by another gay traveler in Lisbon who had a wonderful experience here. They’re a waterfront Portuguese restaurant on the south side of Lisbon’s river.
Sunset time is the best time to go to Ponto Final. Going earlier is better to easily get a table.
Lisbon Gay Bars & Clubs
With so many international tourists visiting Lisbon all the time, making new traveler friends is pretty easy out at the gay bars. It’s a great destination for single gay travelers! And if you’re visiting outside the peak travel season, you’ll have a good chance of meeting some gay locals.
Side Bar is the most popular gay bar in Lisbon, loved for their central location in Bairro Alto. It’s essentially the glue that holds the gay district together!
Everyone typically stops at Side Bar for a drink before going to any other nearby gay bars, especially earlier in the evening. But the crowd only gets larger outside the bar as the night goes on. Handsome men fill the street, socializing and enjoying some cheap drinks.
Woof X is a small speakeasy-type gay bar with a friendly and inclusive vibe. The bar has a very local and unpretentious feel, with dim lighting and a mix of bar and sofa seating.
It might look a bit hidden from the street, but don’t be shy—walk up and buzz the door to be let inside. Also, Woof X is cash-only!
XXL Lisbon Club
XXL Lisbon is both a gay bar and a cruising club on the north side of Lisbon’s gay area. It may not be immediately apparent unless you’ve seen their website, but people here strip down to their underwear and check their clothes in a locker.
Guys hang out along the bar, on the upper balcony level, and of course in the darkroom cruising area upstairs. The bar is on the smaller side, and just like Woof X, you need to buzz the door to be let inside.
In my opinion, it’s best to save XXL Lisbon for the later part of the night on the weekends. Or, head there during one of their fetish parties. During a typical weeknight, the bar tends to be less busy. It’s also quite warm inside too, so you’ll get sweaty here!
Trumps is the best Lisbon gay club for a rowdy and fun night of dancing. Upbeat pop music, a queer-friendly vibe, drag queens, and a neon theme make Trumps a must-visit.
The club opens just before midnight, but things don’t get super busy until around 2 AM. Everyone is usually still enjoying other gay bars until then! If you don’t like a packed club though, it’s probably better to go a bit earlier.
Bar TR3S Lisboa
Bar TR3S is the official gay bear bar in Lisbon. It’s a small, fun, and friendly place for drinks. The bar was even listed in Bear World Magazine’s list of Best Bear Bars in the World.
Even if you’re not a bear yourself, I’d still check it out. There’s always at least a small crowd there, so stop by for some adorable bartenders and to enjoy their outdoor seating area.
Open Wednesday through Saturday nights, Purex is an intimate gay bar and dance club just down the street from Side Bar. They’re popular for hosting an array of DJs, a local feel, and a mixed/queer crowd.
Shelter Bar Lisboa
Shelter Bar is a super casual hangout popular with bears, daddies, and their admirers. I stopped in here for a beer end enjoyed the tame atmosphere. It’s a great bar for happy hour drinks, too!
Lisbon Gay Saunas & Cruising
Trombeta Bath is the go-to Lisbon gay sauna. They’re a medium-sized, full-service sauna with a bar, small jacuzzi, and dark room. In comparison to gay saunas in other European cities, it’s super clean, well-ventilated, and on the smaller side.
Entry is 14 Euros, which includes flip-flops, a towel, a personal locker, and condoms. Also, make sure to bring your ID.
The common question is when exactly to go to Trombeta Bath since it’s not always easy to know how many other guys will be inside. Friday and Saturday nights are best, usually after 11 PM. The later afternoon hours on Sundays are also popular.
For the best chance at a good time, you’ll want to go either during one of the sauna’s special afterparty events or make your best judgment based on the feel of the gay nightlife scene the night you want to go. If guys seem to be leaving the bars, they very well may be on their way to the sauna.
Drako Club is a huge private gay cruising and sex club in Lisbon. It’s toward the north of the city center, but totally worth a short cab ride. Everything you can imagine a cruising club could have, Drako Club has it.
They’re open from 3 PM to 11 PM, which is ideal in my opinion. With these hours, you can experience some local gay cruising without foregoing time at the bars or clubs mentioned above!
3Sauna is a gay sauna close to Lisbon, about 30 minutes south of Bairro Alto by car. It is actually part of the local popular gay resort Villa 3 Caparica. Most visitors from Lisbon will buy a day pass to enjoy a long afternoon here.
With the resort ambiance, the facilities at 3Sauna are fantastic and sort like what you’d find in a gay sauna in Miami. There’s a blend of gay cruising, sauna facilities, and poolside relaxation. The sauna itself is open from 1 PM to 8:30 PM.
Lisbon Travel Tips
What’s The Best Time to Visit Lisbon?
The summer tourist season brings heaps of travelers to Lisbon from all over the world. The city is especially popular with Americans, Brits, Spaniards, and French.
While summer is a gorgeous time to visit, there will be more tourists. Also, lots of locals tend to leave for holidays during August, which makes Lisbon feel even more like a tourist city.
I’d recommend visiting Lisbon in June, July, or September. These months will be warm enough for the beach and being outdoors through the evening hours.
If you’re not interested in the beach or the warmest weather, then May or October will be ideal for getting cheaper rates on hotels.
Bring Walking Shoes
Many travelers are surprised at how hilly the city of Lisbon is. Just about every street you walk down will have a decent slope. Definitely wear a good pair of sneakers or some stylish hiking sandals during your days out exploring.
Rent a Car & Explore Outside of Lisbon
Lisbon is a fantastic city, but there are so many magnificent things to see not too far away. Don’t pass up a chance to visit the local gay beach or the incredible cliff faces of the Sintra region mentioned earlier in this gay guide.
Avoid Afternoon Bridge Traffic
Lisbon has an epic suspension bridge named Ponte 25 de Abril that reminds many of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. While it’s cool to look at, sitting in rush hour traffic over this 1.4-mile-long thoroughfare isn’t ideal.
Tourists visiting the beaches and attractions south of Lisbon get caught up in the bridge traffic. So, keep this in the back of your mind and time your travels well to avoid the busiest travel times.
Expect Cooler Weather
Lisbon is much cooler at night than other European cities during the summer months. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors at night, bring a pair of pants and maybe a light jacket. I visited in mid-August, and some nights were pretty chilly!