While known more for its historical monuments than its nightlife, Belém has a nice range of bars – if you know where to look. For those who prefer a tranquil riverside patio to a buzzy street, here are the best bars in this easygoing Lisbon neighbourhood.
Close to Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, an architectural tour de force covered in pristine white tiles, unashamedly posh Sud is where Lisbon’s rich and beautiful go for mutual recognition. The sophisticated decor calls for equally sophisticated dress and manners. The waterfront, just a few steps away and aided by a generous array of drinks and cocktails, washes away any possible stiffness, creating a relaxed ambience in this two-storey pavilion. The bar is also equipped with an Italian restaurant and panoramic pool.
While Belém tends to have a more low-key nightlife than Lisbon’s city centre, the exception is The View Rooftop. It’s a nightclub and bar that – you guessed it – offers a rooftop view of the Tagus. It’s not a club for wallflowers; the bar hosts weekly events with DJs and musicians from all over the world that are guaranteed to get you kicking up your heels. One of their recurring events, SHINE Half Week Sunset (yes, their English translations are slightly off, but it’s all part of the charm), features DJ sets with dance music from all over the globe, from bachata from the Dominican Republic to Afro-Latin beats from Angola.
Bananacafé is a trendy, affordable option for lunch and is part of a larger chain of locations around the city. It serves cheap drinks and accessibly priced small plates. Each location has its own flair, with site-specific design concepts, contemporary music and, at some locations, an in-house DJ in the evenings. In Belém the café/bar is run out of a vintage cable car and has outdoor seating that is situated right in between the Botanical Garden and the Vasco da Gama Garden. Plan your next adventure while you people-watch and sip on a ginjinha, a Portuguese cherry wine.
Located on an outdoor terrace near the Belém Tower and fortress (hence the name), this café boasts river views and a comprehensive casual dining menu with something for everyone. Your options are seemingly endless, with a diverse drink menu that includes caipirinhas, four different kinds of sangria and morangoscas, a Portuguese cocktail made of crushed strawberries, sugar and vodka. This is a great spot to watch the sunset on a budget, so order one of their Portuguese beers for under €3 (£2.60), sit back and watch the sky change colour over the Tagus.
The first thing you will notice about Bar à Margem (or ‘The Margin’), is its unique architecture created by local architects João Pedro Falcão de Campos and José Ricardo Vaz. It mimics the inside of a ship’s hull, in a nod to the bar’s location on the Tagus. From there, every aspect of the bar has been carefully considered by the owners, from its Portuguese wines to its light tapas menu. Craft-beer enthusiasts will love the selection of Bolina beers, one of the first craft-beer brands to hit the Portuguese market.
This is the newest addition to the TOPO restaurant family, whose trademark mix of Portuguese fusion food and trendy atmosphere has made it a big success. The first iteration, TOPO Chiado, caters to the lively crowd in the Chiado neighbourhood, with a rooftop terrace, lounge chairs and a partnership with Cine Society, a film-screening series hosted at different outdoor venues around Lisbon. TOPO Belém is located on the top floor of the Belém Cultural Centre and has a more sophisticated feel. Its menu offers a prix fixe executive menu for corporate lunches, but the focus shifts to an elegant bar with small plates and speciality cocktails after hours. If the weather is nice, try to snag a seat on the outdoor terrace to catch the views. Design enthusiasts will appreciate TOPO Belém’s look and feel, which was conceived as an extension of the Belém Cultural Centre by interior design firm Daciano da Costa, who also created the furniture for the museum.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a brisk walk up the hill to the neighbouring Ajuda district to get a personalised wine tasting from the Wine Room Lisboa’s knowledgeable staff. The sommeliers here will work with your price point to find a flight of Portuguese wines that suits your palate. Enjoy the cosy atmosphere, nibble on tapas and don’t forget to sample a vinho verde, or green wine, the signature Portuguese wine with a light, effervescent taste.
The Enoteca de Belém, founded in November 2009, is a space dedicated to experimentation, to the meeting of people and flavours in a cosy atmosphere. At the Enoteca, you’ll get a wine list with approximately 80 wines, priced at €4.50 (£3.90) per glass and €22 (£18.80) for a bottle. Enoteca was chosen as one of the 10 best hotspots for wining and dining in Lisbon in 2015 by Wine Spectator, received two forks from the Lisboa à Prova contest in 2015 and 2014 and was selected as best wine-by-the-glass bar by Boa Cama Boa Mesa. The space also serves delicious food by chef Ricardo Gonçalves.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Milan Carter.
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