The Digital Nomads Guide to Lisbon: LGBTQ+ Version (2024 Update)

I started considering Lisbon and being a digital nomad around the mid-2010s when Portugal’s Golden Visa took off. But Lisbon has always felt like the key to being a global citizen. It has an international feel from the moment you step out of the airport.

Lisbon is bursting with international travelers. The whole city feels like a warm, welcome inn at the end of a wet, tired trip home. With a smile on their faces, it seems the Portuguese are always ready to welcome you for your stay with a toasty fireplace and a warm drink.

Now that I’m in the city working on this guide to Lisbon, I’m seeing what matches my expectations, what surpasses them, and what doesn’t.

Lisbon at night - Guide to Lisbon

Getting To Lisbon & Side Note on Booking Travel

Even though Lisbon is one of the closest cities to parts of the United States, I found it incredibly annoying that I couldn’t get a direct flight without paying double the price of the flight where you make a connection. We could only get the cheap flight by booking through Heathrow Airport as a connection. That’s the world of flying for you. 

I saw a TikTok where you could spoof your GPS for a cheaper flight. That failed, but I had only downloaded a “Fake GPS” app to test it. I think that the airlines use the location of the IP address, which means that both cellular network and getting on any kind of wifi won’t work. 

Now that I have researched more, I found that the NordVPN network can more fully spoof your IP address. My plan for my next flight is to try that instead.

A Rich History

When I asked if Lisbon was known as a digital nomad capital, I discovered this was probably in my head! Instead, people generally cited Lisbon’s history as a party capital of Europe. 

Lisbon bridge
25 April Bridge- the iconic red bridge of Lisbon

Many people don’t know that Portugal was once a world power in its own right. A lesser-known European force, Portugal held its own in its heyday. The city’s sites reflect that. History seeps from the stone walls as you walk through the beautiful cobblestone streets. 

LGBTQ+ Attitudes

Portugal is famous as a safe haven for the gay community. I never once felt judged for holding my husband’s hand or looked at for being different. The clubs, the bars, and the city’s life seem like a very normal, healthy integration of the gay community. Gay marriage has been legal in Portugal since 2010. 

In 2018, Portugal’s Parliament voted for Trans & Intersex rights in a groundbreaking new law (at the time). Through the process created by the law, people can change their legal gender through a process of self-determination. Young people, starting at age 16, can make this change. 

And trans people will no longer need to be diagnosed with gender identity disorder to make the change. Wonderful news from Portugal. Honestly, it’s no surprise, given the beautifully accepting Portuguese people.

The LBGTQ+ Digital Nomad Guide to Lisbon:

Best Neighborhoods to Stay In

Alfama

Lisbon Lego street art
Street art decorates the streets of Lisbon. Photo Credit: Nerd On The Run

This time, we are staying in the wonderful, historic Alfama neighborhood. It’s the oldest district in Lisbon and sits on the hills up against the pier that follows the water. There’s no real beach along the waters of Alfama. It is all a concrete pier from end to end. From the historic district where we stayed, we couldn’t see an accessible beach.

The cute winding streets and cobblestones of Alfama make this a perfect, picturesque spot for even the avid Instagram photographer. I highly recommend it for a good mix of quiet neighborhoods with great views. The endless maze of back alleys and side streets makes for endless exploration. I could walk around this neighborhood for days.

woman hanging her laundry outside her window in Lisbon
Locals drying their clothes in local alleys. Photo Credit: Nerd On The Run

Barrio Alto

If you want a more lively experience, try the Barrio Alto area! It’s a newer and more modern area of Lisbon than the historic Alfama. The Barrio Alto area is your more classic fine dining and shopping district. This neighborhood comes to mind when I think of a more traditional shopping district with high-end shops and fancy restaurants. 

Barrio Alto, Lisbon Portugal

Within this zone, there were multiple high-end neighborhood gay bars, endless clothing stores and boutiques, and restaurants galore. We had a delicious Mediterranean meal at Stasha. The food was amazing. We never had a meal we didn’t like in this town. The portion sizes were generally smaller than in the US, but not so small that you were hungry after finishing.

Things to Do

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think of visiting a museum here for even one second. Some cities like Berlin or Panama City are full of famous incidents or historic moments known across the world. But for me, Lisbon is about the culture.

My favorite thing about Lisbon is the people. And to enjoy the people, I spent time where the people go. My husband and I visited bars, clubs, coffee shops, and some of the best restaurants in Lisbon. We went to small, nameless parks peppered between street corners. And we loved it!

Every person you meet is so kind and friendly. We never heard a harsh word mentioned while we were there. The kind people make every restaurant and bar experience give you a full heart.

Taking the Trolley

One of the highlights of Lisbon is the intricate Number 28 Trolly line! The trolley is taken by thousands of people every day. You can buy your ticket at the train station. The ticket costs around 8 euros and it’s valid for 24 hours from the moment you activate it on the train or trolley.

tram in LIsbon
Photo Credit: Nerd On The Run

I definitely recommend riding the trolley around the city. Take the full loop. If you hit the end of the line, you only need to get off, wait 5 minutes, and get right back on the same train to return to where you started. We waited with another couple who did the same thing. There were no weird looks for getting right back on at all! Haha.

Nightlife

We found the nightlife scene to be an absolute blast. The gay scene is alive and well in Lisbon!  The bar scene is full of quaint niche bars appealing to very specific audiences. 

Unlike the US, European bars are so much smaller. So they can target whoever they feel is the best for their patrons. I love this! It means that we can choose from a spectrum of interests and niches. 

Are you a leather bear looking for more leather bears? There’s a bar for you. Are you a middle-aged man looking for a quiet glass of wine? There’s a bar for you. Whatever you want, you can find it.

For us, we started at Shelter Bar, a delightful wine bar. It was about 90% middle-aged gay men and 10% their female friends. We enjoyed the final episode of the Portuguese Eurovision contest on the TV in the bar. Portugal sent their best emissary to the international Eurovision competition, as the crowd half-cheered them on and half ignored the television in the spirit of making new friends. We met a Belgian couple who are opening a vineyard in the coming year. Everywhere we went in Lisbon, we felt the international vibe of the city.

wine shop in Lisbon, Portugal
Bars owned by locals pepper every neighborhood. Photo Credit: Nerd On The Run

From there, we went to the dance club Construction. It had a younger crowd than Shelter. There is a definite distinction between bars and clubs in much of Europe. Bars are for talking and drinking wine. Clubs are for loud music and dancing. I guess we have that distinction in the States, but it runs together there. Here in Europe, it always feels very different, probably because of the size of the venue.

Construction was smaller than dance clubs in the US but definitely big enough for us to roam around and dance the night away. We stayed up way too late, but I credit that with the great music and dancing that we enjoyed. The crowd was fun and friendly, and the the vibe was happy!

Coffee Shops

Our first morning coffee was at Copenhagen Coffee Lab, a small chain of coffee shops with an incredible vibe. The best one was at the Alfama location, which has a beautiful outdoor patio. The coffee shops are too numerous to count. 

One of my favorite things about European cafe culture is the commitment to chilling and enjoying life. If you can’t stop and smell the coffee in Lisbon, are you even really doing Europe at all?

Costs

When comparing apples to apples, looking at costs between different cities is good. You can get a few things in every city: an Uber, a latte, and a glass of wine. Here’s how prices shook out in Lisbon.

Uber

We took an Uber from the Alfama district to the bars in Barrio Alto. It was 4.80 Euros to go 3.6 km. It took 20 minutes. The twisting streets of Lisboa are anything but straight. Ha! Often, it’s faster to walk, but you’ll need to catch your breath on the hills.

Latte

A Latte was 3.90 Euros at the Copenhagen Coffee shop. Standard latte prices for Europe and the States, as far as I could tell.

Glass of Wine

A glass of wine in Lisbon was 6.50 at Restaurante Santo Andre. Although I can’t find them now, I promise that as I stumbled through the city, I would randomly find a glass of wine for as little as 2 Euros. I apologize, dear reader, for not documenting these gems for you. They came most unexpectedly. But I promise I will get an update on my return trip to Lisbon.

Portugal is known worldwide for affordable wine, and you won’t be disappointed in the prices as you explore the city.

Coworking

The number of coworking places is plentiful in Lisbon. The first place I pulled up had a gorgeous view of the sea. It was Heden Coworking. Prices were $24 / day. They also had a half-day pass for $14 for 5 hours, which was plenty of time for me. 

I found a few other coworking spots that were a bit cheaper, such as Lisbon-Cowork, which was $17 / day.

Internet Speeds

I found the internet speeds to be amazing. The coworking spot I’m at right now has 147 Mbps down and 90 Mbps up. Naturally, some cafes and Airbnbs will have differing speeds. Overall, the internet has proven fast and easy in Lisbon.

Conclusion

Lisbon is the warm glow at the edge of the Atlantic that welcomes the wayward traveler. I love the welcoming attitude and the joyous, friendly atmosphere of this gentle, happy city on the water.

Interested in learning more about spending an extended amount of time in Lisbon or making it your base? Be sure to check out our guide to Portugal’s Digital Nomad Visa.

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