By day the quiet streets of Lisbon’s hilly Bairro Alto (literally ‘High Neighbourhood’) feel unassuming. Cobbles line the streets plied by Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams and street art adorns most of the districts walls. Nothing suggests that behind the façades of this central district lies a network of bars, fado houses and restaurants that burst into life at night teeming with foodies, eager drinkers and party goers that spill out onto the steep streets. Here’s a few of our favourite spots to check out next time you visit.
Portas Largas literally translates to ‘Wide Doors’ and it opens theirs early making it an excellent place to start the night. Housed within a converted Portuguese tasca, the bar retains some of its traditional features including the azulejos (white and blue Portuguese tiles) and old wooden furniture. The bar knows how to make an excellent mojito and caipirinha and serves them accompanied by live music performances.
R. da Atalaia 105, Príncipe Real, Lisbon, +351 21 346 6379
If you tire of the busy streets below, head to the PARK Bar. Particularly good in the summer, this converted rooftop car park is now a garden terrace. The bar serves up some mean cocktails which are accompanied by beautiful views over Lisbon’s rolling topography, the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge, while daily DJs add ambiance. Try visiting in the late afternoon to see the sunset over Lisbon’s rooftops.
Calçada do Combro, 60, Lisbon, +351 21 591 4011
Tasca do Chico
This tiny bar is one of the best (and busiest) places to hear traditional fado. Tasca do Chico has been a regular haunt for locals who descend upon the bar on Mondays and Wednesdays to listen to the soulful sounds of this traditional Portuguese music. In more recent years it’s become more internationally known after being featured in New York chef Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. Its charm comes from the intimate performances where seemingly anyone from the crowd can stand and sing their hearts out.
R. do Diário de Notícias, 39, Lisbon, +351 961 339 696
Though Maria Caxuxa only opened ten years ago, it has the feel of a place that has been part of Lisbon’s bar scene forever. This much-loved bar is housed within an old bakery and the retro furniture and fittings give it a Berlinesque feel. It’s larger than most of the bars in Bairro Alto, but fills up quickly particularly on weekends. Live music is as eclectic as the décor and includes jazz, electronic and pop-rock. Like most bars, in the summer months the crowds prefer to spill out onto the streets outside.
R. da Barroca 6-12, Lisbon, +351 21 346 1311
Old Pharmacy Wine Inn
Unsurprising, this small wine bar is housed within a former pharmacy and retains its original features with the old glass cabinets lining the walls. Don’t let its tiny size fool you. This bar offers a staggering variety of Portuguese and international wines from a packed cellar accompanied by little tapas dishes – salamis, chorizo, prosciutto, sardines and olives. It’s a little more expensive than most places in Barrio Alto, but well worth the extra spend.
R. do Diario de Noticias 73-81, Lisbon, +351 920 230 989
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