The Best Way To See Lisbon Is After Dark
Get psyched for the long night ahead.
Visiting Lisbon during European summer is a genius idea – but with sunshine on tap, temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celcius, and more than a few steep streets to conquer, you’ll need some clever planning to ensure you getting the most out of this beautiful city.
In fact, if you want to see Lisbon at its best, make like a bat and sleep all day. Leave your hotel room or apartment rental in the late afternoon, spend an hour or so wandering the streets in the pretty (and super photogenic) golden light, maybe grab a pastel de nata (a Portuguese egg tart) or two. Then get psyched for the long night ahead.
#1 Check Out A Miradouro
Translating roughly to “viewpoint”, there are a handful of miradouros throughout the city – which is built across seven hills – and each offers a unique but spectacular vista from which to watch the sun set.
If you’re staying in the hipster Bairro Alto neighbourhood, cruise over to Miradouro de Santa Catarina. It’s a popular spot for the city’s coolest crowd, where you can pick up cheap beer at the on-site kiosk (or BYO, because drinking on the street is totally fine here). It’s one of the best places to take in the Tagus River and 25 de Abril Bridge, which is modelled on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
If you’re in town with your lover, head to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara for a more romantic moment.
#2 Hang Out In Bica
A constant challenge when visiting and partying in a new city is figuring out which area is a tourist trap and which is favoured by locals. Bica is the local haunt in Lisbon, though with so many tourists in town, it’s not exactly a secret anymore.
At the top of Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo – a street famously dubbed the most beautiful in the world – you can grab 50c happy hour beers from the hole-in-the-wall bar. Everyone stands in the street, hanging out on the stairs and doing their best to avoid the Elevador da Bica as it ferries tourists up and down.
#3 Snack On Petiscos
In Portugal, if you want to eat like a native, it’s important to know that lunch is the three-course meal and dinner is more of a selection of snacks called petiscos (Portugal’s answer to tapas). There are an infinite number of delicious spots at which to grab a table. Try Tapas Bar 52, Os Bons Malandros or Coelho da Rocha, where you can fill up on cured meat, cheese, octopus, chorizo, croquettes, even tinned sardines – which are far more high-end than the can of tuna you’re eating at work to save for this trip.
#4 Cool Off On A Rooftop Terrace
It’s still pretty damn hot well into the night in Lisbon, so you won’t want to go inside just yet. Locals will hang in the street or on a terrace until it gets cool enough to go to a nightclub, so seek out Park Bar while you wait. Right near the Bica ‘hood, this hot spot is located on the roof of a parking garage. Odds are you’ll struggle to find the entrance at first, but if you spot some confused patrons standing on the corner of Calçada do Combro and Tv. André Valente, you’ll know you’re close.
The views are worth the hassle.
#5 Hit The Clubs
Berlin may be iconic for its party scene, but Lisbonites know how to have a good time, too, and there’s a handful of cool clubs to tick off during your visit. The first is Lux Fragil, a huge waterside spot with a pumping dancefloor and outdoor terrace that’s part-owned by actor John Malkovich (worth a visit for that fact alone, if you ask us). There’s also MusicBox; a local institution which is smaller and sweatier than Lux, but less of a trek to get to.
And, if the bright lights and thumping basslines of a nightclub don’t strike your interest, or you don’t want to stay out until 6am, head directly to Hot Club of Portugal for legendary jazz.
(Lead image: David Marcu)