The Perfect Playlist for Your Lisbon Holiday


The capital of Portugal is full of energy brought by the natives and the foreigners. Ranging from the mysterious nightclubs to colourful bars you can hear the most varied kind of music.

Jazz, Pop, Indie, Fado are just some of the genres that echo through the streets of Lisbon. The influences from all over the world in Lisbon are reflected not only in the music field but in the lives of everyday people.

In the 50’s and 60’s, many Portuguese left the country to look for a better life abroad. So, when they came back, they brought a piece of the country’s culture where they lived.

Those little habits they adopted from overseas helped Lisbon to become as we know it today: an open and free-minded city.

Here I present some songs which make the perfect Lisbon playlist and which represent its multicultural soul…

“Cheira bem Cheira a Lisboa” by Amália Rodrigues


Cheira bem Cheira a Lisboa is a typical Fado song with a happy tone. Originally this song was written by César de Oliveira and interpreted by Anita Guerreiro at the first show “Peço a Palavra” in 1969. After that, it was adapted and sang by Amália Rodrigues.

The first records of Fado remote to the XIX century in Lisbon but people say it started some centuries before. This theory basically says that ordinary people sang on the streets of Alfama and Mouraria. Usually, these people sang with a sad tone, which is one of the most popular Fado themes. Fado has lyrics of “saudade”, nostalgia, jealousy and little stories about the everyday lives of the Portuguese.

Fado is sang along with the Portuguese guitar which has twelve strings.

We can thank Amália Rodrigues for her international career which helped Fado grow and become recognized throughout the world.


Graffiti of Amália Rodrigues

Graffiti of Amália Rodrigues by Mosieur J. by Wikimedia Commons

“Grândola, Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso


This song is well-known for its meaning during the April 25th revolution in 1974. It was chosen by the military movement as a secret sign to the revolution which ended the Salazar dictatorship. “Grândola, Vila Morena” is about the struggle of the workers of Grândola, Alentejo.

Zeca Afonso had struggles with his finances so he released his first album called “Fados de Coimbra”. In the 60’s he interpreted some songs which become symbols of the anti-Salazarist resistance. Some of these songs were were banned, so he kept these more underground.

Grândola VIla Morena

Grândola Vila Morena by Claus Bunks by Wikimedia commons

“Canção do Engate” by António Variações


Canção do Engate is a love song sang by António Variações in the last century. He had a humble career of 6 years, during which he made some of the most popular Portuguese songs.

The blended Fado-pop music he made was inspired by his visits at some countries where he lived. Right before his death, whilst Variações was at the hospital, Canção do Engate invaded the radio stations.

“Desfado” by Ana Moura


Desfado is a perfect example of a Fado in the theme of loss but with a happy tone. The “new Fado” emerges from the generation of people who were born after the revolution.

Ana Moura is part of that generation who sing about the modern days and who broke the traditional figure of Fadistas. The old Fadistas wore black and had a really sad tone and nowadays Fado is seen as a more colourful genre of music.

Watch this video on YouTube.

“Amar pelos Dois” by Salvador Sobral

Alternative Rock, Ballad

Amar pelos dois was the winning song in 2017 at the Eurovision song contest. This song was written by Luísa Sobral and interpreted by Salvador Sobral, two brothers. They have separate careers, but both are singers in the jazz genre. Luísa was already well-known for her original and unique songs with her distinctive voice.

This song was a surprise for both Portuguese and the rest of Europe because of the simplicity and the power of the lyrics and the instrumental part of it.

It was interpreted with his full heart. Everyone who could and couldn’t understand the language, understood the message by the passion of Salvador singing and interpreting it at Eurovision.

“Ai se ele cai” by Xutos e Pontapés


This song is so popular in Portugal that everyone knows its lyrics. In 1978, Xutos e Pontapés were one of the first Portuguese rock bands.

The vibrant and happy lyrics of Xutos e Pontapés songs were a good starting point right after the Carnation Revolution. These songs helped the Portuguese to feel freer and more relaxed.

You can find Xutos e Pontapés in most of the big fairs and festivities because of their popularity. Every single person knows their songs and the spirit lived at their shows is always special.

“Pica do 7” by António Zambujo

melancholic fado

António Zambujo is a singer of the new generation of music professionals who sings Fado. His music called Pica do 7 made a huge success in Portugal. The lyrics of this music tells a story of a man who fell in love with a train. This train is called the Seven.

Watch this video on YouTube.

The artists sings about wishing it would break down, so that he could spend more time on it. It is metaphorical for the healing he seeks for his broken heart.

António Zambujo at a Concert

António Zambujo at a Concert by Diario de Madrid by Wikimedia commons

Planning a trip to Lisbon? Get ready !

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“Lisboa Menina e Moça” by Carlos do Carmo


Carlos do Carmo is a famous Fado singer who started his career in 1964. It is often said that Carlos made the transition between the traditional and the new Fado (in the 1990s).

Lisboa Menina e Moça is a song about Lisbon and involves a passion of the city. It describes some points of the city like Alfama, Graça, the sea, the castle and the river. The metaphor in the lyrics is the “girl” who he talks about is Lisbon.

Watch this video on YouTube.