The country hosts several LGBT events each year and you can find many gay-friendly bars, nightclubs and beaches all over the country.
LGBT in Portugal, it’s all positive
Gay marriage was officially legalised in 2010 and soon after in 2016, same-sex couples could also legally adopt children. Portugal is also one of the very few countries in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Because of this, Portugal is considered a very ‘gay-popular’ destination. The most organised gay scene in Portugal is in its capital city Lisbon, particularly in the lively Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real districts, and the nearby town of Cascais.
Lisbon hosts the annual Pride parade, which attracts around 50,000 people of all sexual orientations, which is definitely the highlight of Portugal’s LGBT calendar, but far from the only event. You will also find a lively gay scene in Porto and the Algarve region in cities like Albufeira and Portimão.
We have selected some LGBT events and the best bars in each city for you to consider when visiting Portugal.
LGBT events in Portugal
Queer Lisboa is an International Film Festival dedicated exclusively to screening gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual themed films. The goal of Queer Lisboa is to create a relevant programme for a worldwide audience and compensate for the usual restrictions surrounding queer cinema.
The event showcases all types of films including feature films, short films, documentaries and more. Festival-goers can also take part in workshops, visit exhibitions and installations.
Lisbon Gay Pride is officially known as ‘Arraial Lisboa Pride’, this event actually takes place over two different days in June. It features a Pride Village with bars, food trucks, DJs and a dance floor. The parade begins at Jardim do Príncipe Real in Bairro Alto and ends at Praça do Comércio passing by the Tagus river (“rio Tejo”).
During the week leading up to the main day, Lisbon Gay Pride also throws parties, special exhibitions and events throughout the city.
Best gay bars in Lisbon
As mentioned, Lisbon offers the best and busiest gay scene in Portugal. Lisbon’s gayest neighbourhoods are Príncipe Real and Bairro Alto. Whether you are looking for drag shows, dark rooms or even events where the dress code is ‘no clothes’, you will find the type of party you are looking for here.
- Contruction is an LGBTI and heterosexual-friendly club in Príncipe Real. The club offers a mix of house and electronic music as well as 80s themed nights and holiday-themed parties.
- Portas Largas is one of the most popular bars in Bairro Alto. It has a combination of live music and electronic music for later in the evenings. The bar also has a great selection of cheap (and large) cocktails, perfect for a fun night with affordable drinks.
- Purex is another of Bairro Alto’s most popular gay bars. It is almost always packed out of the door, which can sometimes make it difficult to find a table or space on the dance floor. But they do throw good, if not some of the best, parties in the area, so it is worth waiting in line.
Best gay bars in Porto
While the gay scene is not as lively as in Lisbon, Porto still has lots to offer the LGBT community. Each year in July, the city celebrates Porto Pride. There are also plenty of smaller events throughout the year and bars for any occasion.
- Pride Coffee is a gay café by day and bar by night. It is the perfect place for meeting other LGBT travellers. The venue schedules regular events and DJs for later in the evening.
- Café Lusitano is one of Porto’s favourites among the LGBT community. This bar offers a sophisticated cocktail and wine selection which compliments its 1950s Parisian decor. The weekends here are wild and fit for a night full of dancing.
- Bar Labirintho is an ideal place for a combination of art, music and culture. This bar hosts events with classical music, live jazz, DJs and more, which often attracts a mixed crowd. There is also a beer garden perfect for a relaxing cocktail or chilled after-work beer.
Best gay bars in the Algarve
Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve region is considered a very active and open community. The gay scene is somewhat organised, with most towns having at least one bar. Albufeira and Portimão are the most popular coastal towns for gay bars.
- Connection Bar is the main hangout for local LGBT people in Albufeira and a great place to enjoy some drinks with friends, socialise with travellers or dance the night away at their weekly themed parties.
- The Loft is Portimão’s most popular gay dance club. The venue is divided into three sections with a dance floor, VIP room and a lounge. They offer a range of events from stage shows by local and international artists to DJs, themed parties and everybody’s guilty pleasure – karaoke.
Gay-friendly beaches in Portugal
It is not just the cities in Portugal that cater to the LGBT community. Portugal has hundreds of beaches, resorts and coastal towns packed with gay men every summer. There are also many nudist beaches that are frequently visited by gay travellers.
- Beach 19 which is also known as ‘Praia de Bela Vista’, is the largest nudist beach in Europe and considered the best gay beach in Portugal. It is located at Costa da Caparica, nearby Lisbon and is easily accessible by car and public transportation. You can book a full day trip from Lisbon and meet some new friends on the way for only €29 per person.
- Praia da Manta Rota, in the Algarve, is a very popular beach not only for its white sand but also its many restaurants, beach-side stalls and plenty of kiosks nearby.
- Praia Verde is generally recognised as a family friendly beach, but at the very western end of the coastline, you will find the ‘unofficial’ hotspot for men looking to socialise. This beautiful beach is also located in the Algarve and offers high-quality restaurants nearby.
More for the LGBT community in Portugal
Portugal has so much to offer LGBT visitors to the country and its own community already residing here. Whether it’s a fabulous cocktail-filled night you’re looking for or a relaxing beach getaway, Portugal has it all.
Now you know the gay-friendly hotspots for nightlife and beaches – start packing your bags.
Did you find what you were looking for? Do you have any experiences to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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I'm a freelance copywriter and free-spirited traveller from Australia. I fell in love with Portugal when I arrived here and hope to share with you all the reasons why.