Updated: February 9, 2023
Are you looking to know more about the gay scene in Portugal? Or do you simply want to discover the best gay areas in Lisbon? Portugal has a high LGBTQI+ acceptance and progressive gay-rights legislation. Lisbon, in particular, boasts a reputation for being one of the most gay-friendly European cities.
In this guide to the best gay areas in Lisbon, we’ll run over the history of the LGBTQI+ scene in Portugal, the gay community, and the legal situation with regard to same-sex couples. Following this, we’ll present you with an overview of some of the best gay areas in Lisbon, before providing you with some key pointers regarding the real estate market in the sunny Portuguese capital.
LGBTQI+ history in Portugal
The Carnation Revolution, also known as the 25 April, was a bloodless revolution that ended the military dictatorship of Salazar in 1974. Indeed, civilians offered soldiers carnations and, if you do a quick Google search, you should see pictures of soldiers with these flowers poking out of their guns – viewed as a symbol of peace over war.
Just one month after the revolution, Diário de Lisboa published a manifesto for the “liberation of sexual minorities”, leading to the establishment of the LGBTQI+ movement. However, it was not until 1982, eight years later that homosexuality in Portugal was decriminalized.
Since then, the country has become increasingly progressive. You can see this in its legal rights policies, general attitudes, and the abundance of gay-friendly bars in the major cities. Today, Portugal is considered one of the best locations for LGBTQI+ rights and the LGBTQI+ community.
The LGBTQI+ community today
So, what are the local attitudes towards the LGBTQI+ community in Portugal today? Lisbon has the biggest gay pride marches in Portugal that take place every summer, with over 70,000 pride enthusiasts taking to the streets. Porto, the gem in the north also has a superb gay pride march. If you are ever in this part of the country, you are sure to have a good time. There are many annual gay events spread across the country, particularly in the larger cities. In the Portuguese capital, you have Lisbon bear pride, the Queer Lisboa gay and lesbian film festival in September in Lisbon, and many drag shows and gay parties organized specifically for the LGBTQI+ community. If you are looking into gay events, you could not be better placed than the Portuguese capital.
Gay Rights in Portugal
What are your legal rights in Portugal?
The Portuguese state first recognized unions for gay couples in 1999 and, in 2010, Portugal was the eighth nation in the world and the sixth in Europe to officially certify same-sex marriages. In 2016, same-sex couples were also granted the right to legally adopt children. In terms of LGBT rights legislation, Portugal was placed ninth out of 49 European nations in 2022 by ILGA-Europe.
Gay couples are guaranteed the same rights as heterosexual couples in all respects. To give you an example, this means that laws on marriage in regard to visas are the same. The policy on inheritance, adoption, IVF and other matters are also the same as for heterosexual couples.
Gay marriage to a Portuguese citizen
Gay marriage to a Portuguese citizen is the same as heterosexual marriage. If you are married, you will not automatically be entitled to citizenship. First, you must apply for residence in Portugal. Then, after three years of marriage, you will be able to apply for citizenship.
Same-sex marriage visas
Again, this is the same whether you are in a heterosexual or homosexual marriage. If your spouse in Portugal has a permanent residence in the country, you will be able to apply for a two-year residence permit. Then, after two years, you will be able to renew the permit.
If your partner has a temporary residence, then you are still able to join them on the grounds of family reunification. However, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.
If you are looking to invest in Portugal then you will be able to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa (provided that you meet the criteria). If you have a same-sex partner, they will also receive a residence permit so long as their documents are submitted alongside yours.
LGBTQI+ adoption rights
As of 2016, LGBTQI+ couples will have no problems adopting a child in Portugal. To adopt a child you should check out the Portuguese government’s requirements for adopting. Bear in mind that the Portuguese adoption procedure can be quite arduous. The process may even take three or four years to be completed.
There is no inheritance tax for spouses of heterosexual or homosexual marriage, including close relatives and children.
IVF for LGBTQI+ couples, and other healthcare in Portugal
The same legislation is in place for LGBTQI+ women, heterosexual women, and cis-gendered women. You will have the same right to IVF.
Regarding sexual healthcare, you’ll find STD clinics are usually easy to find in Portugal. You will also find specific gay screening clinics in Lisbon, and other parts of the county.
Best gay areas in Lisbon
As a city, Lisbon is very LGBTQI+ friendly. However, there are certain neighborhoods that seem to be more popular amongst the LGBTQI+ community.
Although anywhere in the city should be a good place to start, here we provide some that stand out as excellent options. Indeed, if you are looking for Lisbon Portugal real estate to consider making the country your home, consider these neighborhoods.
If you are looking for beaches in the city, there are no specific gay beaches. If you are looking for a gay beach, then try some of the most popular beaches close to Lisbon, such as Carcavelos and Costa da Caparica. Carcavelos is a short train journey by the River Tagus and, to get to Costa da Caparica, you’ll need to head to the other side of the river.
If you are looking for a UNESCO world heritage site, Lisbon has three, Jerónimos monastery, a landmark tower perched on the Tagus river, and (on the tentative list) the historic Pombaline District.
Best gay areas in Lisbon: Arroios
Time Out magazine announced that Arroios was the coolest neighborhood in the world a few years ago. This is some accolade for a neighborhood that falls, for the most part, off the beaten tourist track in Lisbon. The neighborhood seems to have just moved from strength to strength since then. There are more quiet streets for those looking for a more secluded stop, and then you have the bustle of restaurants, gay bars, and open-spaced seating.
Woven into the streets of Arroios, you also have many parks that are perfect for relaxing in, with coffee kiosks and ice cream shops. With splendid, sometimes hidden, miradouros (viewpoints) spread across this neighborhood, you are also onto a winner.
Arroios is also well-known for being LGBTQI+ -friendly, particularly amongst younger gay men and women. There are many bars and cultural associations that promote diversity.
Best gay areas in Lisbon: Misericórdia
Misericórdia is home to some of the most famous neighborhoods in Lisbon, such as Bairro Alto, parts of Chiado, and Príncipe Real. Indeed, Príncipe Real is where the Gay Pride march begins and it’s traditionally known as Lisbon’s primary gay neighborhood.
Situated in the very center of the city, you have extremely good access to the city. This includes fantastic views of the river, traditional houses, and a bustling nightlife where all the most famous gay bars are located.
Bairro Alto, a stone’s throw away from Príncipe Real is also very popular for LGBTQI+ expats looking for a nighttime buzz. Downtown Lisbon and Bairro Alto, particularly the street of Rua da Barroca, have many of the best gay bars to dip into. Check out Bar Cru in Príncipe Real, a welcoming bar in the heart of the city that is considered Lisbon’s sexiest gay bar, which is a terrific place to grab a few drinks.
Visit our Ultimate Guide to the Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon for an overview of these areas.
Best gay areas in Lisbon: Estrela
To find the perfect house for you to move to Portugal and find a calmer part of Lisbon, look no further than Estrela. With a beautiful park, this could even be a great place to move to with a family.
With a local atmosphere that still has its fair share of expats, Estrela is not far from the city center. The Basílica da Estrela, overlooking the Jardim da Estrela offers a historical touch, where locals can be seen sipping an early morning coffee.
You also have Campo do Orique close by, with its meandering streets and charming narrow streets.
Best gay areas in Lisbon: Cascais
Although not in Lisbon, Cascais is also a perfect place for expats and LGBTQI+ couples. A short 30-minute car journey from Lisbon, the town offers a luxurious resort, quaint beaches, and stunning seafood.
You also have top schools for children, so Cascais also offers the perfect retreat for families. Outside the bustle of the city, but with the capital still close at hand, you will be able to relax with more space.
The seaside town also boasts many excellent gay-friendly bars, cutting-edge restaurants, and an intriguing art scene. You can see more about Cascais in our Cascais real estate guide.
Real estate rent prices
In this part of our Where Are the Best Gay Areas in Lisbon article, we’ll run over some information on renting a property in Lisbon and property rental prices in the capital.
The property market in Lisbon has long been flourishing, with prices continuing to spiral upwards. Properties across the entire city are being restored, new buildings are appearing, and startups and tech companies are relocating to the cosmopolitan capital of Portugal. Following the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese economy looks like it has turned a corner, attracting foreign talent and significant investment. Indeed, the government has actively attempted to pull in digital nomads, young professionals, and entrepreneurs to the country.
If you are looking to rent property in Lisbon, then it can be tricky. The influx of tourists, expats, and the popularity of the southern capital, have driven up rental prices and many landlords have begun favoring short-term rentals over long-term rentals. However, it is not impossible. A T1 apartment in the city center will typically cost you around €1,000 per month, while in the outskirts of town, outside the city center limits, you should be able to find property for €800. As a rule of thumb, the further outside the city you venture, the cheaper the rent usually is. And, obviously, the price will also depend on your requirements, the size of the apartment, and so on, in addition to the location.
Real estate in Portugal
So, should you rent or should you buy? Renting a property can be a good starting point, so you can explore which neighborhoods and places you really warm to. However, in the long run, buying a property is the better financial option. Plus, with a thriving real estate market, you will be able to rent out your property in most parts of the country if you so desire. Yes, brick and mortar is a solid investment, particularly in Portugal.
The first thing that you should know about the property market in Portugal is that it can be a little difficult to navigate for foreigners. Secondly, be aware that the price of property has been increasing in recent years, due to the growing tourism sector and the recovery of the Portuguese economy, particularly in Lisbon, which has become an investment hotspot. However, although demand for housing in the capital can create problems, you should be able to find the perfect property for your needs.
Price of real estate in Portugal
Buying a property in Portugal will really depend on where you buy. The average asking price for property in Continental Portugal in 2020 was 2,514€/m2. However, if you look at Lisbon city, the cost was 5,139€/m2 and in the municipality of Lisbon, the price was 3,225 €/m2, also in 2020, indicating the significant difference between buying in the city center or the surrounding area. Note that these figures are the asking price, so the sales price can be either higher or lower than this figure. Rural areas in Portugal are much cheaper, particularly in the north and center of the country, where you can find stunning countryside villas or historic townhouses.
The property buying process in Portugal
The property buying process in Portugal can be a little complicated and it can be difficult to know just where to begin. In this part of our Where Are the Best Gay Areas in Lisbon article, we’ll provide you with an easy step-by-step guide to buying property in Portugal.
1. Build a strategy
It’s important to define what you are looking for so that you have a clear starting point to work from. You may wish to consider the conditions of the buying market and decide whether now is the right time to buy a property.
2. Choose the location
Choosing a location to buy a house will depend on your budget, and also on what you are looking for. The Portuguese real estate market is quite varied and, in larger cities, prices can be much higher. Lisbon also has its own price range, so bear this in mind when buying. Each region has its own specific benefits, and it may be useful to live in different parts of the country to determine where the perfect spot for you is in Portugal.
3. Define the property type
Some questions to ask yourself when determining the type of property you want to purchase:
- What is your budget?
- Does it need to be near an international school, healthcare facilities, or the airport?
- Are you looking to buy an apartment, standalone house, villa, townhouse, etc?
The country has many different property types, from luxury villas, and waterfront properties, to vineyards, so ask yourself what you are looking for – you will probably be able to find it in Portugal.
4. Search strategy
There are a number of websites and real estate portals that you can use for your search.
Facebook is also a good port of call and is frequently used for property listings. Alternatively, a local realtor can assist you in finding a home.
Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent that works completely on behalf of our clients, providing a tailored service based on your needs. You can book a call with us for a complimentary chat to discuss what you are looking for and kickstart your buying process.
5. Bidding and purchase
Once you have located your ideal property and are ready to make an offer, it’s important to seek the expertise of an experienced lawyer. This way, you can review the terms and conditions of the contract and arrange for the due diligence checks to make sure that everything is in order with the property. Following this, you will then sign a promissory contract. make a deposit and, finally, arrange a date for the completion of the property purchase.
The final step of the property purchase is to meet in front of a notary and sign the final contract of the sale when you will pay the remaining amount and walk away with the keys of the property in your hand.
6. Financing the property
You will have two options to consider if you are looking for a mortgage. Either you can get a mortgage in your home country or you can get one in Portugal. If you opt to take out a loan in Portugal, you will be required to put down a 30% deposit as a non-resident, and 20% as a resident. The period of time your loan lasts will also depend on residency. If you are a non-resident then expect to obtain a 25-year loan. If, on the other hand, you are a resident, you can apply for a 30-year loan.
Make sure you compare banks and gather all the necessary documentation before applying for a loan in Portugal if you go down this route. After the bank has reviewed your application, then they will evaluate the property and determine the loan-to-value. You will also need to take out life insurance in order to apply for a loan, which is worth bearing in mind. You can see more in our How to Get a Mortgage in Portugal guide.
7. You are the homeowner!
Congratulations, you can now enjoy your new home in Portugal!
LGBTQI+ friendly hotels
Most European destinations have their own distinct charm and character, and Lisbon has a unique, vibrant character of its own. When it comes to the gay Lisbon community, you’ll find that all the hotels in Portugal are very LGBTQI+ friendly and gay customers will have no issues. To find a specifically gay hotel in the city is not so common. However, in this part of our article, we’d like to provide you with some of the top locations, and some of our favorite gay hotels in Lisbon. Whatever you are looking for, whether it is a boutique hotel or cozy BnB, you will find it in the capital. . Almost all will have everything that you would expect, such as wifi, so have no worries on this front.
Airbnb is also a good option to find accommodation, including private cabins, modern apartments, and beach houses close to the capital.
BessaHotel is smart, bright, modern, and colorful and is situated on Avenida da Liberdade, with stylish private rooms. Very close to the Lisbon gay scene and nightlife, the trendy neighborhood of Bairro Alto, and only ten minutes walk to Trumps, the most popular gay dance club, where they play dance and house music all night. You’re also close to one of the best gay saunas, Trombeta Bath. This gay sauna with a stream room is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. Close to this area, Rua da Imprensa Nacional and Principe Real is also very good areas to look for hotels.
2. Tivoli Avenida Liberdade
Also located on Avenida da Liberdade, Tivoli is a great place to head to as a gay visitor to Lisbon, and gay life is excellent in this part of town. Again, you are conveniently placed to discover the best gay clubs in the city and Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto is the must-go spot to head to for a drink to start any night out on the town. A plus to Tivoli is that there is a very cool sky bar here. You will find no dark room here, with very well-lit rooms, offering you a place of tranquility in the heart of the city.
3. Bairro Alto Hotel
Gay visitors will find that the Bairro Alto Hotel is a good place to consider, as you are in the thick of the action. Lisbon is a very gay-friendly location and this part of town caters very well to the LGBTQI+ scene. You are also close to Principe Real here, where you can enjoy a quieter part of the city center and enjoy the green spaces and boutique shops.
Frequently asked questions about the gay areas in Lisbon
1. Where are the best gay areas in Lisbon?
Some of the best gay Lisbon areas are Arroios and Misericórdia. Estrela offers a calmer area, and the seaside town of Cascais is also a solid option.
2. Is Lisbon an LGBTQI+-friendly city?
Yes, Lisbon is an LGBTQI+-friendly city.
The nightlife has become geared toward the LGBTQI+ community in major cities. Also, generally speaking, with regard to LGBTQI+ rights, same-sex couples have the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.
Portugal ranked in second position, alongside Malta and Spain, and trailing only Canada in the 2021 Spartacus gay travel guide.
3. Is it easy to move to Portugal?
Portugal has very attractive tax incentives if you are moving to Portugal.
It is generally very easy living in Portugal, as there are good transport links, a high quality of education (including many top international schools), and a very good healthcare system.
The Portuguese, particularly the younger generations, have an excellent grasp of English, so living in Portugal you should have no problems with communication. In the cities, you will also see English widely spoken.
Lisbon real estate is still relatively affordable compared to other countries in western Europe. However, it is more expensive than the rest of the country. The city and surrounding areas have some excellent locations to consider buying property.
4. Is Portugal a good country to retire to as an LGBTQI+ couple?
Portugal is a very good country to retire to. With excellent healthcare facilities, good transport links, and beautiful locations across the country, Portugal has it all.
If you are considering living in Portugal in your retirement, then there are many attractions. This includes golf courses up and down the country, incredible cuisine, and tax-friendly incentives.
5. Is Lisbon LGBTQI+ friendly?
Yes, Lisbon is LGBTQI+ friendly and has become a favorite gay hangout. Nightlife in many parts of town has become geared towards the LGBTQI+ community in Lisbon and other large cities in the country. Same-sex couples who are looking to head to Lisbon will have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Portugal ranked in second position, alongside Malta and Spain, and trailing only Canada in the 2021 Spartacus gay travel guide. Portugal has also been placed ninth out of 49 European nations in 2022 by ILGA-Europe (the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association). You’ll find gay Lisbon hotels across town, including in parts of the city where you are very close to the top sights to see and the gay nightlife in the city.
The LGBT community in Portugal is infectious and you’re sure to have a great time in the city.