Lisbon offers a fantastic combination of historical and cultural heritage as well as bohemian character. The city is packed full of great venues for eating, drinking and socializing – here we look at 10 of its most beautiful bars.
True to its name, The Love Inn used to be a brothel in Lisbon’s former red-light district of Cais do Sodré. Yet they’ve managed to turn their seedy 18th-century beginnings into a mark of pride. They wear it on their sleeve, and have become one of Lisbon’s most popular bars in the process. The decor is burlesque, with wallpaper and furniture coming in deep, visceral tones of red, while mirrors, ornamental lighting and ceiling frescoes add to the rococo effect. Come here for a relaxed, yet thoroughly sensual, drinking experience.
Few other bars can claim to be quite as magical as the Pavilhão Chinês. Upon entering you can be forgiven for wondering whether you’ve passed through some sort of looking glass, as you wander among five cavernous rooms filled with literally thousands of curiosities from around the world. There are toy soldiers, ceramic and porcelain dolls, along with pictures, posters and other vintage bits-and-bobs. There are two pool tables in the back room, where smokers can relax, and add to the hazy, surreal atmosphere generated by the dim lighting. Pavilhão Chinês used to be a grocery store in the 19th century, and serves a wide variety of cocktails, along with teas and other drinks.
Adorning the top floor of the grand Sheraton hotel, Panorama offers one of the most luxurious experiences in Lisbon, with extraordinary views of the city all from the comfort of this sleek bar. Rich mahogany tables blend with velvet armchairs and stainless steel to create a breathtakingly elegant establishment, all 25 stories above the city. It is the perfect place for a sophisticated cocktail, or indeed a meal—the gourmet restaurant is headed by celebrated chef Henrique Sá Pessoa. Visitors can even take advantage of an audacious deal combining gin with sushi.
Vestigius is a wine bar decorated with an eclectic mix of furniture and fittings over a cool marble floor, and resembles a design museum as much as a bar. Located in a former warehouse in the trendy Cais do Sodré district, the bar opens right onto the water. It incorporates a maritime theme, with shipping rope and naval curiosities adding to the atmosphere. Vestigius stocks hundreds of different varieties of wine, including numerous Portuguese specimens. It also doubles as a cultural space, putting on exhibitions, cinema screenings and features its own library, with a collection of antique books available to the public.
‘The Parody’ is an old-fashioned saloon bar, elegantly decorated with vintage posters and paintings. Opened in the early 1970s, A Paródia used to be an antiques shop, and has long been the haunt of Lisbon’s bohemian crowd. The bar is so-named in a tribute to the work of satirical artist Rafael Bordaro Pinheiro, whose work is displayed across the walls. Specializing in wine and cocktails, this is the great place to pass a relaxing, atmospheric night with friends.
One of Barrio Alto’s classic nightlife spots, Páginas Tantas is a must for any jazz lover in Lisbon. In addition to the regular performances, showcasing local jazz talent, the walls are covered in giant images of musical legends from around the globe. Quirky decorations and moody lighting complete the atmosphere. Come to drink a cocktail and listen to some music.
At the very least, Pharmacia is one of the boldest concepts for a bar-restaurant around, as it’s like a blown-up Damien Hirst artwork. It is located in a former pharmacy, part of Lisbon’s Museum of Pharmacology, and the owners have gone to great lengths to recreate a clinical, surgical experience at every step. The ornate 19th-century glass cabinets have been filled up with bottles, pill jars and pharmaceutical jugs, and are used to serve food and drink. Meanwhile members of the staff wear the white uniform of clinicians. To add to their quirkiness, there is a lawn in front of the bar, with a select few tables set upon it. Is it a ‘beautiful’ bar? Well, it certainly leaves you pondering.
In the heart of Lisbon’s Barrio Alto district, this car park rooftop has been transformed into a trendy bar, with lots of greenery and an elegant, soft, wood finish giving Park the feeling of an urban garden. There could be few cooler places to watch the sun go down over the magnificent Lisbon skyline. Enjoy the tower of neighboring Santa Catarina Church hanging over you and the magnificent 25 de Abril Bridge in the distance—all while DJs play late into the night. Park is also open for food during the day.
Inside Lisbon’s 18th-century Ludovic Palace, O Solar do Vinho do Porto specializes in Portugal’s most famous drink, port. Running since 1946, this classy bar has recently been refurbished by Portuguese designer Paul Lobo and turned into an ultra-stylish venue—a must for any design junkies. The space itself is a feast for the senses, with rooms colored in soft pastels of green and blue, contrasted with exposed brick and Portugal’s distinctive azulejo tiles. Sleek leather armchairs provide maximum comfort, elegant floor lighting adds to the atmosphere, and cabinets are full to the brim with Portugal’s finest wines.
Named in homage to Clint Eastwood’s ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,’ very little, if anything, about this bar reflects the gritty ‘Wild West’ world of the film. O Bom, O Mau, e O Vilão is a relaxed and charming cocktail bar. A collection of small, idiosyncratic rooms, decorated with paintings and an abundance of armchairs to give it a homely, comfortable feel. There is often live music, and the drinks themselves are taken seriously—they stock 21 types of gin alone.