Portugal, and particularly Lisbon, has always been a fairly gay-friendly destination, but it’s rarely featured as one of the “must visit” destinations. All that has begun to change, however, particularly since Portugal hosted the Eurovision in 2018 and planted Lisbon firmly on the gay map.
Portugal’s gay-friendliness stems back centuries. In the late 18th Century, English novelist fled the considerably less tolerant England and moved to Sintra instead. Although Portugal went through a troubled time underneath the dictator Salazar, it has come through to the other side as one of the most open and welcoming countries in Europe.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1983 and gay marriage has been legal since 2010: Portugal was actually the 6th country in Europe, and the 8th country in the world, to make gay marriage legal.
Now it can be. Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple from Amazon.
Portugal is a very tolerant and LGBT-friendly country overall, and that especially applies to Lisbon (although Porto is always a close second to everything Lisbon does, and the Algarve is very welcoming as well). It’s also home to a wide variety of gay accommodation, tours, bars, clubs, saunas, beaches, and even a sports club.
If you’re looking for your next gay-friendly destination, you can’t go wrong with Lisbon.
Gay-friendly accommodation in Lisbon
- The Late Birds Lisbon – Set in an 18th Century building with twelve guestrooms, a lounge, garden, and swimming pool, The Late Birds Lisbon is probably Lisbon’s most popular gay urban resort.
- My Rainbow Rooms Gay Men’s Guest House – Hostel-style boutique accommodation with bunkbed dorms and private rooms, this is another popular place to stay in Lisbon. It is situated near the Saldanha metro stop, and the attractions, shops, and nightlife of the city centre are less than 20 minutes by metro or 30 on foot.
- Hotel Anjo Azul – Hotel Anjo Azul is a small, boutique hotel that attracts a large number of gay guests. Although it often advertises itself as a gay hotel, the clientele is usually a mix of both gay and straight couples.
- GayHomestays.com – Gay Homestays is a specialist website that lists gay or gay-friendly homes where you can stay with the owner.
- MisterBandB.com – Airbnb, but for gay-owned and gay-friendly accommodation. Has several rooms and apartments in Lisbon.
Other accommodation options
Of course, you don’t have to stay in accommodation that’s specifically orientated towards gay customers. Lisbon, as mentioned, is extremely open and welcoming, and has hundreds of great hotels, guesthouses, and B&Bs for every budget and taste.
- H10 Duque de Loulé – Beautiful boutique hotel with a roof terrace that offers fantastic views of Lisbon.
- Intercontinental Lisbon –
- Pousada de Lisboa – Located in one of the most beautiful spots in Lisbon, this small luxury hotel offers an indoor swimming pool, sundeck, sauna, spa, and fitness centre.
- Bairro Alto Hotel – A 5 star luxury boutique hotel that has been featured in publications like Condé Naste Traveler.
- Palacete Chafariz Del Rei – Combining modern touches with period details, this elegant hotel promises an unforgettable stay in Lisbon.
In terms of neighbourhoods, Principe Real is probably the main gay neighbourhood. That is simply to say that it’s quite upmarket and has a high number of gay residents.
Chiado and the Bairro Alto, both close nearby, are also very popular with local Portuguese and visiting gays while Alfama, the oldest and most traditional neighbourhood in Lisbon, is probably the most popular neighbourhood with visitors overall.
Lisbon is very walkable and, wherever you stay, you’ll be able to easily get to the main attractions, bars, and restaurants fairly easily.
(Some people love Lisbon so much that they end up moving here. If that happens to you, be sure to read our guide to finding long-term accommodation in Lisbon.)
Lisbon gay tours
Lisbon Gay Tours – Specialist gay tour company that offers sightseeing tours of Lisbon, Sintra, and the beach districts of Cascais and Estoril. Longer distance tours to Óbidos, Évora, and Fátima are also available.
Annual Gay Events in Lisbon
- Lisbon Bear Pride – Organised by Bar TR3S, Bear Pride usually happens a few weeks before the main pride parade. Expect music, gastronomy, and, of course, bears.
- Lisbon Pride – Like most major cities, Lisbon hosts an annual Pride Parade (Lisbon Marcha do Orgulho LGBT) which takes place every year in June. The march itself is separate to the Pride Village party (Arraial Lisboa Pride), which usually takes place a week later. Both are worth attending, but the second event is the bigger party while the first event is often more political.
- Arraial Lisboa Pride – Usually the week after Pride, there’s a large party in Praça do Comércio that has a lot of bars, entertainment, and more.
- Queer Lisboa / International Queer Film Festival Portugal – September sees the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Queer Lisboa, come to Portugal’s capital. Along with Queer Porto, the sister event, this film festival is dedicated to LGBT-themed films, and movies that tackle themes like gender, identity, and bodies.
Gay bars & clubs in Lisbon
- Trumps – The largest gay nightclub in Lisbon, Trumps features several different floors of music. Like most nightclubs in Portugal, Trumps doesn’t really get going before at least 2 am.
- Society – Self described as the only lesbian and queer bar in Lisbon.
- Construction Club – A gay and hetero-friendly nightclub that specialises in Teck-House, House, and Electronic music.
- Purex – A popular gay and lesbian bar that’s popular with the alternative and arty crowd, Purex has a small dancefloor and sometimes has live DJs.
- Finalmente – Opened in 1976, Finalmente has been Lisbon’s premier drag show club for several decades. Shows are on daily at 3 am.
- Drako – A gay cruise and fetish club with private cabins, a BDSM zone, showers and naked staff.
- TR3S – Lisbon’s premier bear club, and organisers of the annual Lisbon Bear Pride.
- Woof LX – A bear-orientated bar that mainly plays pop and house music.
- Espaço 40e1 – Situated in the Bairro Alto, this is quite a small but welcoming bar that’s famous for its cocktails.
- Bar 106 – A fun music bar that’s situated in the Principe Real neighbourhood.
- Side Bar – A small gay cocktail bar located in the Bairro Alto district.
- Viking Bar – Located in Cais do Sodré, Lisbon’s former red light district, this lively bar is famous for its nightly strip show which takes place between 1 and 3 am.
- Bar Cru– One of the most popular gay cruise clubs, Bar Cru hosts regular themed parties and fetish nights.
- Friends Bairro Alto – A relaxing and easy-going bar which offers a place to relax, connect to the Wi-Fi, or take advantage of the bar’s book exchange program.
- Conga Club – One of the largest alternative parties in Lisbon, Conga Club features a mix of gay and gay-friendly clientele.
- Together – One of the biggest events in Lisbon, a Together party is always one of the hottest events in any gay Lisboeta’s diary.
- Trombeta Bath – Probably the most popular gay sauna in Lisbon, this Bairro Alto establishment has a dark room, lots of cabins, a massage service, steam room, and hot tub.
- Olissipo Bath – A new, but small sauna with a bar, hot tub, massage service, and sex shop.
- Oasis Sauna – Situated on Rua do Salitre 85, this is quite a small sauna that has a dark room, dry sauna, steam room, and a small workout area. It’s particularly, although not exclusively, popular with older men.
- SaunApolo 56 – This is not specifically a gay sauna, but a very gay-friendly sauna that is aimed at people who are open to new experiences. In practice this means you’ll find gays, lesbians, and straight men and women although it’s mainly a mix of gay and bisexual men.
Gay Beaches near Lisbon
Lisbon doesn’t have as many gay beaches as the Algarve, and maybe that’s a good thing because it means that everybody goes to one beach: Beach 19.
- Beach 19 – Named because it’s the 19th stop on the train. During the day, the focus is mainly on tanning while it becomes more cruising focused in the evenings.
- Praia do Meco – Located in Sesimbra, around 45 minutes from Lisbon, this is one of the most main naturist beaches near Lisbon and it’s popular with both gay and straight visitors.
Other things to do in Lisbon
- Boys Just Want to Have Fun Sports Club – An LGBT sports club in Lisbon where you can take part in sports like rugby, volleyball, swimming, football, and other sports.
- Meetups – There are several LGBT meetup groups in Lisbon: there’s a meetup for hiking gays, surfing, nude hangout, and several general LGBT meetup groups. These groups aren’t always active, but it’s always worth checking to see if something is happening while you’re visiting.
Community services & health clinics
- Centro LGBT – An NGO striving for equality against discrimination based on sexuality or gender that has been operating in Portugal since 1995, Centro LGBT is one of the most important LGBT institutions in Lisbon. It hosts regular meetings and events, and aims to be a resource for the gay community in Lisbon.
- CheckpointLX – A community-based centre for men who have sex with men (MSM), CheckpointLX offers free screening of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as sexual counselling, information, and referral to health care.
- Centro de Saúde da Lapa – Offers screenings for STDs, which are confidential and free of charge.
LGBT Safety in Lisbon
Although Portugal spent many years under a dictatorship, and that created a very oppressed society, the Portugal that followed has always been really open and welcoming.
Portugal is also one of the safest places in the world to visit, gay or straight, and ranks alongside countries like Iceland and New Zealand for safety.
Lisbon is the capital city as well, and capitals tend to be a lot more open-minded than other parts of the country. It has plenty of gay bars, clubs, and even neighbourhoods like Principe Real.
Although there is intolerance everywhere in the world, the closest thing you’re likely to come across is staring. Portuguese people have no qualms about staring, and will stare at anybody gay or straight.
This isn’t so much the case in Lisbon, but more so in other parts of Portugal. Lisbon is a multicultural capital city that attracts all kinds of people from all over the world, including plenty of gay and lesbian travellers. In more rural parts of Portugal, however, someone who isn’t a local Portuguese straight person is more likely to stand out.