Best Dance Clubs in Lisbon

Lisbon's Best Dance Clubs: The Sound of Nightlife in the City

Dance clubs in Lisbon provide the city with an eclectic choice of nightlife and a thumping soundtrack of assorted musical styles. Casa Independente is a bar-club that's found favour with a young local crowd and plenty of international clubbers who know where to find this rather off-the-beaten-track nightspot. On the other hand Incognito, up in Bairro Alto, has been a fixture on Lisbon’s club scene since the late 1980s. Titanic Sur Mer, located near the city's Cais do Sodré railway station, provides a fun night out on the waterfront and is always busy. Arguably the most celebrated dance club in the Portuguese capital is LuxFrágil, located near the river in Santa Apolónia. Set over three floors, the venue caters for hedonists and socialites and there’s a top-floor terrace to chill out on. For something a little more mainstream, check out Radio-Hotel, located in Lisbon's western Alcântara neighbourhood. This place works as a nightclub, social club and live music venue. Back over at Cais do Sodré, Music Box works brilliantly as a live music venue and a respected dance club. B.Leza, also situated on the docks near Cais do Sodré, hosts live African and Brazilian music where you can move to some of the hottest rhythms in town. For something a little more edgy, try Europa. The music’s louder, more urgent and continues way past dawn. Another mainstream dance venue is Ministerium, located under an 18th-century vaulted ceiling in a building that occupies the former offices of a government ministry on Praça do Comércio. And for something out of the box, amble over to Bairro Alto and A Capela, a small club bar that's big on chill-out electronica. 



Bairro Alto/Principe Real

A Capela exudes a terrific vibe, an atmosphere that's friendly and upbeat but still laid-back enough to lend it a local, in-the-know ambiance. This modest music bar frowns upon the mainstream. Indeed, the vinyl spun here reflects owner-DJ Pedro Silva's penchant for chill-out experimentation. A Capela has hosted some of Portugal's best-known DJs, variously complemented by international guest spin-doctors including Monolake, Jerry the Cat, and Marcus Nicolai. The back of the bar is where to appreciate this funky electronica, but there's not much room! But therein lies A Capela's appeal. There's nothing over the top about this music bar-club. Instead, this is an intimate place to party over beers, long drinks, and good conversation.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: A Capela once served as a local chapel. This former place of worship is now a resurrected, born again bar-club.

Paul's expert tip: It's pretty empty up until 11pm â€" great for a quiet(er) drink with friends.

Read more about A Capela →

So named because it occupies a space in a building formerly used by the Ministry of Finance, this dance club is also makes use of some pretty nifty 18th-century architecture, not least a beautiful vaulted ceiling that lends it a classical appearance. Clever use of lighting heightens Ministerium's historical design aspect. The music, though, is as modern as it gets, with a soundtrack of seriously cool techno-electronica spun by some of Portugal's savviest DJs. Respected international DJs also guest here. Throughout the day Ministerium wears a different hat, that of a chef with its Cantina restaurant. Serving lunches and dinners, the eatery's outlook over Praça do Comércio, Lisbon's largest square, ensures a steady clientele. It's only on Saturday nights, when the club doors open, that the all-night party kicks in.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Despite its exclusive Saturday and Sunday night scheduling, Ministerium has found its way onto the Lisbon clubber's bucket list.

Paul's expert tip: There's often free entry before 2am on Sunday nights. Check their Facebook for details.

Read more about Ministerium →

Cais do Sodré/Santos

Edgy and retro, with an ever-so-slightly underworld feel to it, Europa doesn't stand much on ceremony. But this modest-sized music bar is big on drum n' bass and brilliant mixing â€" on most occasions two DJs work a pair of turntables, and the dub is stonking! Respected Portuguese DJs like Diogo Ribeiro have garnered a reputation here as uncompromising sound smiths; international guests include the USA's Troy Pierce. The Lisbon Sound Division has also appeared here. On The bar holds special Europa Sunrise parties, when clubbers arrive here at dawn from other venues to carry on dancing, which can last until 10am or even noon.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: A noted venue for alternative music, Europa is as far from mainstream as you can get.

Paul's expert tip: Door policy is fairly relaxed, and there's no need to dress to impress.

Read more about Europa →

Avenida 24 De Julho

This top-notch African music club is the place to listen and dance to artists from Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique and other countries on the African continent. The club also hosts singers and musicians from Brazil. Together they offer an irresistible combination of ethnic sound composed of drum, guitar and percussion, and it's impossible not to tap your toes. Better yet, learn the kizzomba, a sexy, gyrating dance that is the very embodiment of the African soul. Once you've mastered the basic steps you'll understand why this is one of the hottest rhythms on the planet.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Enjoying a longstanding reputation as one of the hottest dance tickets in town, this is the place to indulge in African and Brazilian live music.

Paul's expert tip: The club hosts workshops for budding dancers, styles that include African kizzomba and Latin American salsa.

Read more about B. Leza →

Cais do Sodré/Santos

This highly regarded live music venue champions the alternative music scene and regularly hosts up-and-coming local bands as well as more established World Music acts and visiting DJs. True to form, the club tends not to advertise itself and the frontage set under a bridge in the city's Cais do Sodre district is totally bereft of signage or neon. Ask a local for directions, or check the numerous flyers pasted up on nearby walls. The range and style of music performed here is refreshingly diverse and includes drum 'n' bass, electronic soul and fado, indie rock, hip-hop, jazz, dance and reggae. Music Box also showcases new media events like pod casts and video. Occasionally, non-musical nights are arranged when poetry is read. Shows and concerts usually begin around 11pm. For DJs, don't expect anything before 1am.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Cosy and intimate, this club is a great place to party with friends â€" and the music is mixed well and super cool.

Paul's expert tip: If you're in a large group arrive early. The door policy becomes a little more rigid the later it gets, when they're more picky.

Read more about Music Box →

24 de Julho & Docas/Alcantara

A nightclub, social club and live music venue, Radio Hotel appeals across a wide age range and various musical tastes. Sited in Lisbon's Alcântara district almost under the city's eye-catching suspension bridge, the club's soundtrack is for the most part electronica, with gust DJs supplementing the sound with deep house, chill-out and jazz. The split-level dance floor meanders through a cocktail lounge and VIP area. Early evening is ideal to relax with friends over long drinks. Later, the place heaves and there's little choice other than to hit the scene running.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Soft pastel hues and a chic interior lend Radio Hotel a cocktail club image; it's an attractive and vibrant mainstream venue.

Paul's expert tip: The club is only open on Friday and Saturday in Lisbon. An associated club operates every night throughout the summer on Portugal's south coast.

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Santa Apolonia

Still pulling the in crowds well after a decade, Lux remains one of Lisbon's premier nightspots. The door policy can be a bit choosy, and it's best to arrive looking sharp. Better still if you're arm-in-arm with a local. But it's worth dressing up for. The club is known for its funky and ever-changing interior decor. Lux occupies three floors of a dockside warehouse building built on concrete stilts. The ground floor mixes house with a mainstream vibe while the basement throbs to heavy techno. A favourite venue on the European DJ circuit, the club often hosts celebrity disc jockeys â€" Fat Boy Slim has played here! The club's top floor is its chill out zone and the outside terrace provides fresh air and a perfect view of the river and, if it's been an all-nighter, a beautiful sunrise.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Owned by the same team that runs Bica do Sapato restaurant, and that includes Hollywood actor John Malkovitch, Lux is arguably Lisbon's coolest night club.

Paul's expert tip: Lux is often the venue for private parties and fashion shows so it's best to check their website if you're partying on spec.

Read more about LuxFrágil →

Cais do Sodré/Santos

This appealing waterfront bar regales clubbers with an eclectic choice of music, depending on what night you breeze in. For lovers of electronic, the bar works with a decent set list of local DJs who spin to please, but the thumping soundtrack never overwhelms conversation. On other nights live bands take to the stage, anything from jazzy combos to guitar-led Indie pop. Latin Samba and African rhythm also gets played out - expect some hot, crazy moves on these themed nights. Occasionally, homegrown Portuguese rap artists get up and say their thing and the local vibe is cool and funky.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Titanic welcomes a youngish, local crowd who want to hear some decent music rather than be seen wearing the latest fashion.

Paul's expert tip: A back door leads directly onto the esplanade, a fresh sea air escape if the whole deals starts to get a bit too frantic.

Read more about Titanic Sur Mer →

Bairro Alto/Principe Real

A favourite on the Lisbon club scene for over 25 years, 1988 â€" no mean feat in the fickle world of music and fashion â€" Incógnito wears its indie badge with pride and delivers a seething mix of alternative rock and '80s synthpop to a seasoned club-set crowd. It makes full use of its shoebox dimensions by working on three levels. The dance floor is in the basement which is overlooked by a narrow mezzanine where the main bar is situated. Above that is a loft bar â€" the club's chill out zone. Despite its retro tag the bright young things that pile through the doors are a sophisticated and fashionable bunch, and very much part of today's scene â€" so much so, in fact, that weekend door policy can be a tad selective. Arrive earlier to avoid the queues.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Still ranking high on clubland's list of most exciting and original venues, this joint set the benchmark for the alternative music scene years ago

Paul's expert tip: The club is not signposted, so you'll have to ring the doorbell. (It's not called Incógnito for nothing.)

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The "independent house" is set within a grand old townhouse and at first glance looks like a private residence. Spread over two floors, the club features a number of different rooms, all individually furnished and artistically decorated. The place oozes a wonderfully bohemian vibe! Come here early evening on weekdays and you can enjoy drinks and snacks in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. On Friday and Saturday however, when the house party gets going, those same rooms quickly fill up with a mixed crowd of locals and in-the-know clubbers who prime themselves for the night ahead. Casa Independente is celebrated for its dance scene, which unfolds in the aptly named Tiger Salon. The venue hosts some of Lisbon's savviest DJs, musicians that uphold the club's artistic and cultural credentials in grand style.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Casa Independente is more private residence than mainstream club, and the homely ambiance lends it a quirky "front room" appeal.

Paul's expert tip: Casa Independente also hosts movie screenings as part of its Cinema no Pátio programme. Check their website for schedules.

Read more about Casa Independente →


Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul