Lisbon is famous for its pleasant weather and its breathtaking views – perfect conditions for enjoying a drink or two during sunset in the evening breeze in one of the city’s many rooftop bars. A quick Google search will show you numerous best-of lists with detailed descriptions of the best bars with the most stunning views. And there are so many all over the city, from fancy to hip to low-key, you’ll have a hard time choosing!
This post is NOT an exercise in copy-pasting these undoubtedly amazingly helpful collections.
Instead, I am sharing with you my three favourite offbeat rooftop bars in Lisbon, which are not quite so easily spit out by search engines from the omniscient vastness of the Net.
The first gem in my little treasure box is Galeria Zé dos Bois. It lies in the middle of Lisbon’s party district, in Bairro Alto. If you feel like a much needed escape from partying Erasmus Students, this is one of the best places to go in this part of town (In point of fact, broadly speaking, I would actually contend that it is one of THE best places in town).
It’s a beautiful hybrid of art gallery and bar. In the first two floors you can explore the always changing temporary art exhibitions and on the last floor you’ll stumble into a beautiful bar with a cosy terrace. Here, however, you don’t hang about because of the view (there is none worth mentioning) but because of the artsy, low-key atmosphere.
Check out their website for events and exhibitions.
Galeria Zé dos Bois
R. da Barroca 59, 1200-049 Lisboa
Monday thru Sunday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
At Grupo Desportivo da Mouraria, you’ll find a piece of old Lisbon. The Cultural Association in Mouraria, founded in 1936, moved to its current location in the old Portuguese Palácio dos Távoras in 1973. The palacio also houses a Fado school, thus a place where singers can learn how to perform the powerful Portuguese musical lament.
Its entrance is hidden in a charming patio, shaded by an orange tree and a banana plantain. Climb up the stairs on your left to enter the building. Then follow some more stairs and corridors until you find the little bar. The small room with barrel vaulting is all covered in antique Portuguese tiles.
The old Portuguese bartender is most likely busy making bifanas (traditional succulent Portuguese pork
sandwiches). But he will also serve you a cold beer that you can take with you to the terrace, which opens up to a view of the castle and Lisbon.
Despite being so much of a traditional place, the crowd here is rather young, mostly between 20 and 30 years old, all enjoying the taste of authenticity.
Grupo Desportivo da Mouraria
Tv. da Nazaré 21, 1100-012 Lisbon
Monday thru Sunday, 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The last treasure I want to share with you is the Secret Garden LX. If you find the enchanted ring of this bar’s name alluring, I whole-heartedly invite you to follow its sound, you won’t be disappointed. It is truly magical and only for the initiated.
Find your way to the viewpoint terrace Miradouro da Senhora do Monte in Graça. The stunning view over the city you have from this part of Lisbon might distract you from your mission.
Now you are looking for a small garden door in the fence surrounding the Miradouro viewpoint. It looks like it leads to private property. But get over the feeling that you are trespassing and follow the stairs down to a closed metal door. Open it and find yourself in the little world of Secret Garden LX unfolding behind.
In the garden stretching over several terraces on the hill, you’ll find cosy corners and great views. There might be music wafting through the air of one of the concerts or DJ sets that occasionally take place. A small house in the Garden’s heart doubles as an art gallery and bar.
Don’t miss out on their Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail that will teleport you straight to Copacabana!
Secret Garden LX
Largo Monte, 1170-253 Lisboa
Monday thru Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Read more about Lisbon here in Dispatches’ archives.
Miriam Thaler is a PhD student in Culture Studies in Lisbon. Exploring foreign places and getting to know different people, their stories, ways of life and worldviews has always been her passion. After finishing school she lived and worked as a volunteer for one year in the South of Chile.
Her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology brought her to Munich and Paris. Iceland called her during her Masters for an ethnographic research stay and the shooting of a documentary.