Where to watch the sunset in Lisbon

10 Amazing Things to Do on Your First Night in Lisbon

Ah Lisbon! Portugal’s stunning capital is one of the trendiest city destinations in Europe, and it’s certainly not difficult to see why. This vibrant city offers art, history and culture in abundance, superb gastronomy, and lively nightlife. In fact, there are so many fantastic things to do in Lisbon, your main problem will be figuring out what to do first!

Photo of undefined

Helen Flatley

11. October 2019

Lisbon comes alive at night, when the bars and restaurants are filled with families, friends and couples ready to get into the party spirit. Lisbon is a fantastic place to come to hear live music, not least the melancholy strains of fado, the sound and soul of Portugal itself. To get your trip off to the best possible start, we’ve come up with a list of suggestions for amazing things to do on your first night in Lisbon. 

1. Sit back and enjoy the view

A view over Lisbon at dusk. Lisbon at dusk. Canva/studiof22byricardorocha. 

Built over seven hills, Lisbon is known for its many miradouros, ‘viewing points’ where you can take in spectacular views over the city. One of the best things to do when you first arrive in Lisbon is to pick a viewing point, install yourself in a terrace bar, and kick back with a pre-dinner drink.

For the best view of the sunset, choose a terrace in Portas do Sol or nearby Santa Luzia, both of which offer views over the Alfama. There’s a wide range of drinks and snacks on offer, and this is a truly romantic place to watch the last rays of the day sink beyond the city.

See also: Where to Watch the Sunset in Lisbon 

2. Sample the local specialties

Portuguese tapas plates. Lisbon is a fantastic city for foodies. Canva/jackmalipan. 

Lisbon has no shortage of superior restaurants, and one of the best things to do in the city at night is to enjoy a long leisurely meal with friends and sample some local delicacies.

The Alfama, Bairro Alto and Principe Real are crammed with fabulous restaurants, many of which offer fabulous seafood. In particular, don’t miss the opportunity to try bacalhau à Brás, salted codfish pan-fried with sliced potatoes and eggs, followed by some delicious azeitão cheese or pasteis de nata, traditional Portuguese custard tarts. 

Check out a few handpicked restaurants in this Lisbon guide by one of our staff members. 

3. Listen to Fado

Fado band playing on the streets of Alfama. Canva/Jacek_Sopotnicki. 

If there’s one thing you must do on your first night in Lisbon, it’s listen to a fado concert. This soulful, nostalgic genre of music was born in Lisbon, and used to be the song of sailors and dock workers, mourning for lost loves or faraway homelands. Fado is unique to Portugal, although it has echoes of flamenco and Arabic music, and the best place to take in a concert is in Lisbon.

There are many places in the city that offer excellent food with live music, but one of the most popular is Tasca do Chico. With two branches, one in the Bairro Alto and one in the Alfama, this popular joint offers excellent wine and delicious petiscos – the Portuguese version of tapas – all washed down with some of the most haunting melodies you’ll ever hear.

4. Join a bar crawl in the Bairro Alto

A charming little fado place in Bairro Alto, Lisbon during dusk. Bohemian atmosphere in the Bairro Alto. Unsplash/Vidar Nordli-Mathiesen. 

The Bairro Alto is the center of Lisbon’s nightlife, and it springs to life when the sun goes down and the nighttime revelers descend on the city. Here you’ll find fabulous bars and informal restaurants, and plenty of places to grab a beer or a ginja, a traditional cherry liqueur that originated in Lisbon.

This is the most LGBTQ-friendly part of the city, and a lively, bohemian atmosphere prevails. Come here to while away long summer nights and enjoy the best of Portuguese bar culture.  

See also: The Best Season to Visit Portugal

5. Dance to Forró in São Bento

On Friday nights, the Jardim de Lisboa Antigua in São Bento turns into an open-air club, where locals come to dance to Brazilian forró and Angolan kizomba. These Latin-inspired dances are frenzied and exciting, and even shy dancers will soon learn to let go and throw themselves into the music!

An evening in São Bento is a fantastic way to get in to the Lisbon party spirit. The dancing starts at 8pm and goes on until midnight, when you’ll be ready to move on to one of Lisbon’s excellent clubs. 

6. Drink cocktails in the Príncipe Real

A pavement café in the Príncipe Real area, Lisbon. A pavement café in Príncipe Real. Flickr/S. Alexander Gilmour. 

The Príncipe Real is a smart thoroughfare lined with excellent bars, restaurants and antique shops. This is the ideal place to come for a trendy cocktail, especially if you’re looking for something a little smarter than the Bairro Alto.

Here you can try Portuguese tapas and local specialties, and enjoy some fabulous live music. The Príncipe Real is certainly one of the best places in Lisbon for upmarket nightlife. 

7. Tour the city by moonlight

The Alfama district in Lisbon in the moonlight. Lisbon in the moonlight. Canva/Marie33. 

Although most tours of Lisbon are confined to daylight hours, taking a nighttime walking tour can be an excellent way to see the city, especially in summer. Lisbon’s striking architecture and landmarks take on a different character at night, when many are beautifully lit up.

In particular, there are several tours on offer that culminate in one of the city’s many miradouros, where you’ll have a fabulous view of the city all dressed in twinkling lights. As you walk home, the sounds of live music and fado concerts may tempt you into one of the many hole-in-the-wall bars that line Lisbon’s busy streets.  

See also: 10 Fantastic Things to Do in Lisbon

8. Attend a concert at MusicBox

MusicBox is one of the most popular venues in Lisbon, located on the Cais do Sodré. This bar and concert hall offers an eclectic range of live music, and you’re likely to hear everything from pop to world music or electro.

Boasting a stellar reputation, MusixBox attracts international and local artists, and is a great introduction into the diverse Portuguese music scene. If you’re looking for a fun place to have a drink and a dance to live music without breaking the bank, this excellent venue is the place to come. 

9. Dance until dawn

A couple holding drinks and dancing at a club. Lisbon is a great city if you want to boogie til the break of dawn. Photo: Canva. 

Lisbon is famed for its excellent nightlife, and if you’re still full of energy when the tapas and cocktail bars close in the early hours, head to a nightclub to continue dancing until the sun rises. There’s no shortage of choice in this lively city, and you’ll find a little of everything, from salsa to trance and electro.

For a special treat, head to Lux Fragil, one of Lisbon’s most renowned clubs, partly owned by American actor John Malkovich. With its spectacular roof terrace and, and trendy clientele, this is a great place to let your hair down on your first night in the city.  

10. Watch the sunrise

The Vasco da Gama Bridge at dawn. Sunrise by the Vasco da Gama bridge. Canva/ruzgar344. 

If you have the energy, one of the best things to do on your first night in Lisbon is to stay up and watch the sun rise over the city. Many visitors note that Lisbon is characterized by its special light, and there’s no better way to experience this than by watching the first rays of the day strike the river.

If you’re stumbling out of a nightclub, or simply an early riser, head to the Cais das Colunas where you’ll have a clear view east to the sunrise. As the sun peeps over the horizon, the city begins to wake up, and you’ll start to hear the sounds of boats on the river and market sellers jumping into action. This peaceful riverside spot is the perfect place to finish your first night in Lisbon.