3 Top Jazz Bars in Lisbon
Fado is a musical genre that filters through the streets of Lisbon on a nightly basis. Seeing a fado performance is considered a bucket list experience on one’s first visit to the Portuguese capital.
The melancholic nature of the music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however, and there is still a huge demand for alternative live music in Lisbon’s nightlife.
Live jazz is a much loved pastime in Lisbon’s entertainment districts. From Santa Cruz down to Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s jazz culture will take you on a whirlwind of blues and soul, in collaboration with great wines, fine whiskeys and all the cachaça you can drink. Here are three of the best.
1. Hot Clube de Portugal in Lisbon
If you find yourself wandering the streets of Bairro Alto, bored by the repetitive reggaeton clubs and promises of one euro tequila, continue to make your way north into the suburban outskirts where you’ll find Lisbon’s most historic house of jazz.
The Hot Clube de Portugal was opened in 1948, and is Lisbon’s oldest and best live jazz performance venue. It has also won numerous titles of being one of the best jazz venues in all of Europe, boasting both international and local talent.
In a very small window of just four hours, the club opens its doors and the magic ensues.
The performances take place in the cellar like space, and there is also an outdoor garden terrace in the back where people can drink and smoke.
Take note that doors only open at 10pm, and the performances run in two sets. The first beginning at 10:30pm sharp, and the second around midnight.
Depending on who is performing there may or may not be an entrance fee. Weekdays are usually free entry (unless there is a big name international on the bill), and weekend you’re likely to encounter a €10 entry fee per person.
Note that you must pay for everything at Hot Clube de Portugal with cash only. Drinks are affordable once you get inside and they do great cocktails as well as hard tac.
There is only space for around 60 people per evening so get here as they open to ensure entry and a table.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 10pm to 2am
ADDRESS: Praça da Alegria 48, 1250-004 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Avenida
2. Foxtrot in Lisbon
If Hot Clube de Portugal is on the northern outskirts of Bairro Alto, then Foxtrot is situated directly to the west of the district .
This is another famous jazz house in Lisbon, known for its Art Nouveau cellar, outdoor garden and transportive atmosphere. This is Lisbon’s best rendition of a speakeasy bar in this city center.
The only downside at Foxtrot is the allowance of smoking indoors, which does become overwhelming if you’re there from opening until closing.
Foxtrot’s cocktail menu is one of the most Instagrammed range of drinks in Portugal. They are artisanal creations that test the boundaries of cocktail making; one of them is served right out of a terra-cotta pot plant complete with a spillage tray.
The drinks at Foxtrot are slightly pricier than what you’ve probably come to expect from Lisbon. When you consider that they do not charge an entrance fee for performances, it bemuses completely worth it.
Foxtrot also offers a great dinner menu that is served all evening, which is good for late night dining. It’s not the friendliest menu for vegans and vegetarians, though there are a few salads on offer in addition to their Portuguese steaks and seafood plates.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 6pm to 2am
ADDRESS: Tv. Santa Teresa 28, 1200-405 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Rato
3. Páginas Tantas in Lisbon
Now that we’ve scoured the outlying streets for jazz music, we can visit the only one actually inside of Bairro Alto worth the time and money.
Let is be known that there aren’t a lot of things that bring locals of Lisbon into the alleys of Bairro Alto for a night out. Fighting the tourist crowds and chaotic nightclubs just isn’t fun for them, so the fact that Páginas Tantas is always filled with an equal mix of locals and travelers says a lot.
This is a laid back, ambient and cosy little live music venue in the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife. Strolling past the venue during the day on a free guided walking tour wouldn’t pose even an inkling of the wonders this venue holds by night.
The Páginas Tantas jazz bar offers live jazz bands every day of the week. It’s a spacious venue with ample table seating, a bar area and a smoking lounge.
Like most places in Bairro Alto, smoking is allowed inside which is unfortunate. Thankfully the venue is pretty well ventilated and all the doors and windows are open in the summer.
Another point to note before you head to Páginas Tantas is that they are only able to accept cash; absolutely no card facilities available.
The evening’s performance is the luck of the day. The bands seem to work on a rotational basis throughout the week; so far I have established that Thursday and Friday evenings are the best nights to go. A Monday is good too if you need a calm space in which to converse with someone, like on a first Tinder date perhaps.