The Best Clubs and Nightlife Spots in Bairro Alto, Lisbon

A bar sits ready waiting for the night's revelry in Lisbon's famous Bairro Alto
A bar sits ready waiting for the night's revelry in Lisbon's famous Bairro Alto | © Hugh Mitton / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Matthew Hancock
4 August 2020

While hip areas have come and gone in Lisbon, the Bairro Alto remains the city’s perennially best destination for a good night out. From live jazzat the Páginas Tantas to DJ sets in a former palace at the Galeria Zé dos Bois, Culture Trip have picked the best spots to go for a night out in the area.

A tight grid of cobbled streets sloping down towards the river, the ‘high district’ is packed with bars and clubs, mostly smallish venues on the ground floor of historic townhouses. It’s relatively sedate before midnight, then the bars eventually start to fill up. People drink and dance into the early hours, with many revellers spilling out onto the narrow streets. There is no shortage of places to try.

Maria Caxuxa, Lisboa

Cocktail Bar, European, Portuguese, Mediterranean, Pub Grub, $$$
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General view inside of the Maria Caxuxa bar at Bairro Alto  downtown in Lisbon,Portugal.
© Paulo Amorim / VWPics / Alamy Stock Photo
Named after the building’s original cake-making owner, this bar has a cool, alternative vibe and displays some of the machinery from its 1940s’ role as a bakery. There’s a long list of cocktails from around €7 (£6.35), shots and very generous measures of spirits. You might even feel like watching the world go by sitting at its outdoor tables.

Portas Largas, Lisboa

Bar, Portuguese, Beer, $$$
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Drinking in front of Portas Largas Bar, Rua da Atalaia 105, Barrio Alto, Lisbon, Portugal
© Martin Thomas Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
This long-established bar has not changed for decades and is all the better for it. In summer, its portas largas (big doors) are thrown open so that the street becomes an airy extension. It’s not a large space, but there’s always room for one of the frequent live acts, usually a band playing an African or Latin American beat.

Páginas Tantas

Nightclub, Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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One of the larger venues in the Bairro Alto is the area’s main jazz bar. Páginas Tantas hosts live music sessions most evenings, accompanied by an equally exciting selection of cocktails and snacks. The eye-catching decor and soothing jazz makes this one of the coolest places to go on a night out in Lisbon.

Tasca do Chico, Alfama

Bar, Wine Bar, Portuguese, $$$
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This alluring bar is a cosy space draped in soccer scarves serving good wines and a range of petiscos (snacks). The bar really comes into its own for twice-weekly live fado sessions. Forget the big venue fado clubs nearby – this is the best place to get up close and personal to singers of the traditional Portuguese music. Get there early to secure a seat though, as it’s very popular.

Pavilhão Chinês, Lisbon

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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The historic Pavilhao Chines
© Roberto Nencini / Alamy Stock Photo
A former 19th-century coffee merchants, this place is certainly unique. With waiter service, a billiards table and an endlessly long list of drinks, it’s the sort of bar where you end up staying for longer than you planned. And that’s before you get lost in the mirrored cabinets filled with an assembly of collectibles. The museum-like displays include ceramic heads, model trams, fans, dolls and toy soldiers. An unforgettable, unusual experience.

Alface Hall

Bar, Cafe, Pub Grub, Portuguese
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Below the hostel of the same name and once an old print works, Alface Hall is now a great shabby-chic bar hosting regular live music. With high ceilings, mismatched furniture and big comfy bean bags and sofas, it attracts a laid-back young crowd. Have a caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail) or two and wait for the live acts, usually jazz or blues, from around 9pm.

CINCO Lounge, Lisbon

Cocktail Bar, European, Contemporary, Mediterranean, Portuguese, $$$
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Sophisticated CINCO Lounge is credited with kickstarting the popularity of cocktails in Lisbon. Its British owner has certainly ensured that it remains the cocktail king, with regular new additions on the menu to sample. Each is made with aplomb by its fleet of bartenders and mixologists. Expect some unusual ingredients – think Earl Grey tea with Cointreau and others mixed with beetroot and bell peppers.

Galeria Zé dos Bois

Nightclub, Cocktails
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You’re never sure quite what to expect at this amazing arts cooperative, home to various innovative spaces inside an old palace. Regular events include dance performances, live indie bands, films, theatrical plays and DJ sets. It even has its own hidden terrace bar. Check out the website for upcoming acts.
These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.