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Gay travel guide to Lisbon for first-timers

Stefan Arestis
Gay travel guide to Lisbon for first-timers

Dive into Lisbon's gay scene with us, as we spill the tea on the best gay hotspots and share savvy tips for an unforgettable adventure in the City of Seven Hills.

Lisbon is a lot of fun. It's totally underrated – a hidden gay gem in Europe.

Not only does Lisbon have a fun gay scene, the city is a joy to explore, beautiful beaches surround it, and not once did we ever have a bad meal here. It's also inexpensive.

The Portuguese capital is begging to dominate your Insta feed. It's a hilly city with pretty tight cobblestone streets, buildings that date back hundreds of years, and trust us: you've not lived until you tried a freshly made pastel de nata straight out of the oven!

The gay scene of Lisbon is mainly congregated across two neighborhoods: Barrio Alto and Principe Real. On weekends, the crowds spill onto the streets outside creating a carnival-like vibe, much like the unique gay scene of Milan. The city also has its share of gay hotels to check out as well as a gay beach, called Praia 19, just 30 minutes away.

And then there are the men…we've no idea what they put in their water but the Portuguese men are smokin' hot!

Trust us, you'll have a lot of fun in gay Lisbon!

Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥

Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys with rainbow fan.

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1. Is Lisbon safe for gay travelers?

Absolutely! We felt very safe in Lisbon as a gay couple, which is why we rate it as one of the gayest cities in the world.

We had no issue booking a double bed anywhere (although Lisbon has a handful of gay hotels to check out). Public displays of affection were also never an issue, particularly in the central areas. Perhaps in more ‘straight' areas like Pink Street, which is full of drunk Brit stag dos in the evening, we'd err on the side of caution.

Gay couple travel book Nomadic Boys Out in the World

It's no surprise. The LGBTQ rights of Portugal are super advanced. Gay marriage was introduced in 2010, adoption laws in 2016 and it has the full range of anti-discrimination laws including protection against hate crimes. Conversion therapy was banned on minors in 2024, and when it comes to transgender laws, Portugal is ahead of the pack with the right the change legal gender by self-determination (and without forced sterilization). Naturally, we find Portugal to be one of the most gay friendly countries in the world.

Stefan and local gay Portuguese friends.
Stefan showing Lisbon is super safe for gay travelers

2. Where is the gay area of Lisbon?

Whilst Lisbon doesn't have a specific gay area or street like you'd find in say Old Compton Street, Soho in the gay scene of London, or Oxford Street, Darlinghurst in the gay scene of Sydney, it has a whole bunch of places in the Bairro Alto and Principe Real.

When we explored the gay scene of Lisbon, we found the bulk of the gay scene on the road called Rue da Barroca in Bairro Alto, particularly by Purex, Side Bar, and Maria Caxuxa. These bars are all close together. On weekend evenings, the crowds from these bars spill out into the street outside creating a fabulous street party carnival vibe. All the small streets around Rue da Barroca have crowds drinking in the street, but Barroca is gayer because of the higher concentration of gay bars.

Just north of Bairro Alto are Construction Bar, Friends, and XXL Lisbon Club. To the West of Bairro Alto is the Principe Real neighborhood which also has a handful of queer hangouts like Trumps Club, Posh Club, Construction Club (not to be confused with the bar with the same name), Bar 106, Woof x, and Finalmente Club.

Rua da Barroca the main gay street of Lisbon.
Rua da Barroca is the main gay street in Lisbon

3. Consider booking a gay hotel in Lisbon or stay with a gay host

Whilst we are witnessing a decline in gay hotels and hostels around the world, thankfully there are two gay hotels in Lisbon still standing proud! The first is The Late Birds Lisbon gay guesthouse, located right in the heart of the main gay scene in Principe Real and just around the corner from the gay street of Bairro Alto. The second, slightly further out in the northern suburb of Areeiro is Rainbow Guest House in the northern suburb of Areeiro.

On some of our Lisbon trips, we've stayed for longer periods so it made economic sense to book a Misterbnb or Airbnb. It allows us to cook meals together – chilling watching Netflix, giving us the chance to have a more local experience. There are a heap of gay hosts on Misterbnb offering either an entire apartment (if you want your privacy), or a room in their home. We love staying with gay locals because it's not only a great way to make a new squirrel friend but he can also show you the gay scene as well as give you invaluable tips.


Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.

Cyclist showing off in the main square of Lisbon.
Nothing beats having an awesome gay host as your new squirrel friend!

4. What are the best gay bars in Lisbon?

Lisbon packs a punch when it comes to gay bars. Impressive for a city of its size!

The starting point would be to head to Rue da Barroca in Bairro Alto. On weekends the gays take over the area of the street between Side Bar, Maria Caxuxa, and Purex. It's a mixed crowd due to the large number of straight bars down the street, but this section is mainly gay men.

Heading north of Rue da Barroca is the ‘straight-friendly' Construction Bar, which has fun events on weekends with live shows. Friends Bar is a few blocks away, which is popular with students – teens and early twentysomethings.

Heading over to the West, to Principe Real, we found a cluster of gay bars dotted around the neighborhood, a few blocks from each other. Bar TR3S is the city's main bear bar and also prides itself on being the city's biggest gay bar! Down the road is the cozy and super-friendly Shelter Bar Lisboa, which felt like we'd stepped back in time to the 1980s – to a place like the Blue Oyster in the Police Academy movies. Bar 106 is a small cute bar round the corner from Shelter, famous for its ‘Message Party' on Sunday evenings.

Bar Woof x is down the road from Bar 106. It's cozy and smokey inside (the smoking ban is still not a thing in Portugal). Towards the back is a small darkroom. Entry is €5 and you need to ring the doorbell for access.

For something a little different we recommend heading to Drama Bar northeast of Bairro Alto. It's a queer bar and cultural space, famous for its live shows and drag bingo nights.

For non-gay-scene bars that are as gorgeous as they are gay friendly we recommend the Tennessee-themed Red Frog. It felt like being in a New York Prohibition-era speakeasy. The owners are super friendly and have a jukebox where you can request any song – we got them playing Spice Girls all night long… Another local recommendation for a plush gay friendly bar is SEEN by Olivier. It's a rooftop bar, famous with (ahem!) influencers who come to snap themselves amidst the lavish decor!

Stefan at the The Side Bar gay bar in Lisbon.
The Side Bar: nothing beats a splash of ABBA to label a place, ‘fabulous'!
Outadventures gay tour in Portugal with gay group and rainbow flag in front of Lisbon tram.

Gay Portugal Tour: Lisbon, Porto & the Douro Valley

Coastal gems, sun-drenched vineyards, and a castle in the clouds await on this gay Lisbon tour. Savour the soul of Portugal, where centuries-old architecture fuses with contemporary artistry amidst a mosaic of terracotta rooftops. Discover historic Porto and the Livraria Lello bookshop which inspired the library at Hogwarts, tour the ornate Ducal Palace, cook with The Countess, then set sail on a river cruise through the spectacular Douro Valley, famous for its wineries. Explore coastal Nazaré, medieval Óbidos, and gay Lisbon, then indulge in a fairy-tale ending at Palacio da Pena, a vibrant castle and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sintra.

Find out more

5. What are the best gay clubs in Lisbon?

There are several gay clubs in Lisbon to check out. The 3 largest ones are within a few blocks of each other in the Principe Real neighborhood: POSH Club, Trumps, and Construction. Our advice, don't bother heading to a gay club in Lisbon until after 1 am!

POSH Club host famous drag queens (Nymphia Wind anyone?) as well as fun-themed parties like the Traffic Light Party (green for singles, yellow for “it's complicated” and red for engaged).

Trumps is more a queer club than a gay club – or so we were told before entering! It's a younger crowd comprised of every fabulous person in our LGBTQQIAAP family! Trumps comprises two rooms, one for pop, the other, for techno. They normally have a drag show later in the night from around 2 am, which is when it starts to get busy! Entry is €15 plus one drink.

Construction Lisbon is your good old-fashioned shirts-off kind of gay club, particularly with the beefy, hairy, bear gays. The parties only take place on weekends – Fridays and Saturdays from midnight (specifically 11:59 pm!) until 6 am. Keep an eye on their socials for the occasional Fetish ‘pup n play' nights!

Other gay clubs in Lisbon to check out include the Finalmente Club for drag shows (located just down the road from Construction), and LuxFrágil (on the East side of the city), a large mixed club, often considered one of the best clubs in Lisbon and therefore popular with the fashionistas.

Stefan and drag queen at the Trumps gay club in Lisbon.
Stefan with Miss Wednesday herself at the Trumps queer club

6. What are the best gay saunas in Lisbon and cruising clubs?

When it comes to playtime, you've got options!

There are two popular gay saunas in Lisbon. The Trombeta Bath is located just around the corner from the R. da Barroca gay street and is open every day, midday to 6 am the following morning – on weekends it's open 24 hours. Note that Trombeta Bath is for men only.

By contrast, Sauna SaunApolo 56 is mixed. Everyone is welcome including men, women, transgender, and liberal couples. It is located on the northern edge of the city in the Pena neighborhood.

When it comes to gay cruising clubs, Lisbon has a few. The Drako Club is also located in the Pena neighborhood, just down the road from Sauna SaunApolo 56.

Closer in town in the Principe Real gay area are Bar Cru and Woof X. Whilst Woof X is more a bar (see above), it has a darkroom. Bar Cru on the other hand is the place to come for one thing, and one thing only! The dress code is naked. Once you ring the doorbell outside, you're given a bag to place all your garments in the cloakroom, and voila…you're good to go!

The Woof X gay cruising club in Lisbon.
Woof X gay cruising club…ring the bell for access!

7. Is there a gay beach in Lisbon?

There sure is! And we rate it as one of the best gay beaches in the world.

The Praia 19 is where the Lisbon gay boys come to soak up Vitamin D – as well as to find some good D! It's a clothing-optional beach with plenty of cruising spots in the dunes and forest area… But what we love most about Praia 19 is the natural scenery. It felt so raw and untouched – a bonus for being so remote!

The Praia 19 gay beach is located south of Lisbon across the River Tagus, forming part of the wider Costa da Caparica coastline. You can grab a long complicated train ride, or in our case, we just took an Uber, which cost around €25 and took 40 minutes.

For a non-gay beach that's closer to Lisbon downtown, Carcavelos is around 30 minutes away with Uber, and Cascais Beach is around 45 minutes away. But for a real hidden gem, consider Galapinhos Beach. It's located further south and tucked away in a little hidden cove. The water is beautiful – it's often lauded as the Maldives of Portugal by locals. It takes around 1 hour to reach it by car/taxi, but it's well worth the effort.

Nomadic Boys gay book on the Praia 19 gay beach of Lisbon.
Not us showing off our gay travel book on the gay beach of Lisbon!

8. When is Lisbon gay Pride?

The Arraial Lisboa Pride is the main gay event in Lisbon going strong since its inception in 1997. It takes place every June and takes over the entire city. It's Lisbon's biggest (and most colorful) festival!

The festival includes a mix of political rallies, parties, and of course, a glorious Parade through the streets of Lisbon.

Interestingly, ‘arraial' means ‘village' in Portuguese, so the event in full translates to ‘Lisbon Village Pride', and we think that's beautiful!

For details of the latest events for Arraial Lisboa Pride and other info, check out their Facebook page.

The streets of Lisbon during the Lisbon gay Pride event.
The streets of Lisbon during Arraial Lisboa Pride

9. Where's the best place to eat in Lisbon?

Oh boy are you in for a treat! Never a bad meal was had by us in Lisbon.

The food in Lisbon is not only excellent, but it's also affordable. Its location by the coast means delicious fresh fish and seafood are always an option! All of the restaurants we stumbled on, whether they were busy touristic ones or beachfront seafood platters by Carcavelos Beach, were delicious!

Two places stood out the most to us. The Time Out Market is made up of small canteens specializing in a different dish, be it sushi, steak, coffee, or pastel de natas. We came here every morning for breakfast/brunch. Nothing beats our morning coffee at the Time Out Market with a few pastels de nata fresh out of the oven.

For something high-end, to impress a romantic date, we recommend O Jardim Sr Lisboa. It's a bit more pricey than most restaurants in Lisbon but worth every penny. The waiters are super charming (especially hottie Luís) and everything we ordered was cooked to perfection. You're welcome!

Stefan trying Pasteis de Nata at the Time Out Market in Lisbon.
Stefan trying freshly baked Pasteis de Nata at the Time Out Market in Lisbon

10. What are the main things to see and do in Lisbon?

My best advice for seeing the top tourist sites in a new place I visit is to check out what the city's free walking tour company is. The tours are run by enthusiastic locals, and you're ‘free to tip' them as much as you think the tour is worth. I always tip generously and encourage you to do the same (upwards of €20pp) – the money is going directly to a local and not to some large corporation based abroad.

More importantly, these tours show you the highlights from the perspective of a local, who will also give you practical tips about where to eat, go out, and other useful info. It's also the perfect way to connect with other like-minded travelers, especially if you're solo.

In Lisbon, the company offering these excellent tours is Free Walking Tour with Chill Out Tours. Just fill out the form on their site to book and voila!

Highlights from our tour include the cute Alfama district with its tight narrow cobblestone roads and apartments tightly woven next to/above each other! We climbed the castle for a magnificent view over the city, we visited Pink Street, which is decorated with umbrellas (ironically nothing gay about it, at night Pink Street becomes the place where the drunk Brit stag parties congregate!)

Other highlights outside of our walking tour included taking Tram 28, which takes you through the Alfama District and passes the main sites of the city. We also rode the Elevador da Bica, which is the most photographed funicular in Lisbon.

Just outside the city is the Jerónimos Monastery located by the riverfront, which is a pretty place to explore, with the Belém Tower proudly overlooking it. Near the monastery is the famous Pasteis de Belem Café, famed for being the home of the original Pastel de Nata, except here it's called Pasteis de Belem…our verdict, it's good, the inside of the Cafe super pretty (although a long queue to get it), but nothing beats the delicious freshly baked Pastel de Natas at the Time Out Market!

The famous funicular ride in Lisbon.
The famous funicular of Lisbon, a tourist highlight

Read more travel adventures like this in our book!

We've published our very own gay travel book called, ‘Out in the World'. It has all our practical safety tips, first-hand advice, and travel stories from some of our favorite destinations.

We hope it inspires you to have a fun and safe trip!

Click on the book to order:

Gay couple travel book Nomadic Boys Out in the World

For more inspiration:

Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.