Alternative Lisbon guide

Where are the alternative places in Lisbon ?

To visit Lisbon today is to approach a city that has made its tourist transformation, which is turned towards a global environment. At, we offer alternative walking tour in Lisbon, which invites you to travel. Pushing open the doors to show you the real Lisbon.

Lisbon alternative things to do, a Lisbon off the beaten track.

When writing this article, I asked myself the question of the definition of alternative. Avant-garde artists ? Berlin-style dark-rooms in the cellars of Lisbon ? Street-art in abandoned neighbourhoods ?  I chose this definition : which is produced and distributed outside of the market. In this case, outside the tourist routes.

So if you start to read me and you hope that I’ll tell you a little bit about Lx Factory, Village Underground… well you’re going to be disappointed ! If many blogs are mentioning them, they need to review their papers. These are completely mainstream places that remind me of Amsterdam, London. Lx Factory in particular is a hype complex owned by Swiss investors. Chill bars, street-art, modern kitchens… It’s part of Lisbon’s must-do.

If the artistic side is present, the concept is completely business-oriented. Lisbon has evolved enormously over the last decade and artists, who used to come here in large numbers to seek inspiration, have started to move outside the centre. 

The underground scene in Lisbon is intense and mainly located in the Arroios and Marvila districts

So, where can we find the alternative Lisbon ? Go where the crowds don't go.

Arroios district, the most alternative neighborhood in Lisbon

If there is one district that makes Lisbon talk, it is the young and multicultural district of Arroios. Time Out magazine chose it as one of the coolest in the world. It is home to a good number of art galleries, cultural associations and many nationalities (more than 100 !).

If you’re looking for world cuisine restaurants, there are many must-see spots, such as the Retro Gusto pizzeria or the Arabic cuisine of Mezze. For Asian restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice !

In Arroios and in the neighbouring districts, you can finally find cultural associations where you can enjoy tasty dishes, listen to alternative music scene, take part in social meetings.

The most famous ones are :

Sunset on Arroios, the world's coolest and most alternative neighbourhood in Lisbon

1- Regueirão dos Anjos (RDA), famous for its Sunday pizzas and early morning celebrations on Saint Anthony’s Day (13th June).

2- The very famous Nucleo A70 (ex Anjos70), with its jam sessions, markets and « matinées ».

3- The very old Zona Franca nos Anjos. A cultural and feminist association which proposes a very good cuisine at lunchtime and many events.

4- Mob – espaço associativo. A meeting place for all alternative music scene lovers. They are fully open to lend their space for any event.

5- Disçraça. Punk, anarchist community in the neighbouring district of Penha de França.

6- Sirigaita. Association which offers a rich alternative bookshop and some weekly events. Meeting place for Lisbon activists.

Chinese clandestine restaurants, the underground cuisine in Lisbon

Very well known, Chinese underground restaurants are widespread in the Intendente / Martim Moniz area. This illegal side maintains the reputation of these districts which have always been more or less abandonned.

Ring the bell at a flat and try it out ! If you have come to Lisbon, it is probably not to eat Chinese food… But be aware that it is an integral part of the city’s urban culture.

Climb the creaking stairs until you see a half-open door and are greeted by the smell of fried food (don’t plan to date that evening or plan to change your clothes before going for a cocktail like at the Café Klandestino).

No menu in English. Trust the pictures and write down the numbers of the desired dishes on a piece of paper. Don’t worry about your stomach, we’ve tested them all !

Illegal clandestine Chinese restaurant located in the Mouraria district of Lisbon

Lisbonne alternative nightlife

The underground Lisbon reveals itself at night and reveals places that seem to be discreet during the day :

1- Aposentadoria (Alfama). Quite warm place with hot music. We sweat.

2- Arroz Estudios (Beato). A cultural centre on the banks of the Tagus. Good pizzas are eaten there. Also open during the day.

3- Bus Paragem and its festive concerts (Anjos). Manu Chao came one summer evening unexpectedly to sing for the people of the neighbourhood. We were there ! Latin music, afro-beat, funk. They have table football.

4- Crew Hassan and its huge basements (Anjos). A place known for its bookstore of vinyls. Electro, afro-beat, funk or experimental music.

5- Desterro with its famous dark-room (Intendente). Electro music.

6- Damas (Graça), a nightlife mecca for locals. Electro, afro-beat, funk or experimental music. Fantastic restaurant.

7- Fabrica Braço de Prata (Marvila). Old factory, cultural centre for latino and afro concerts. Splendid place that invites us to stay until the end of the night.

8- In Bloom (Arroios). Underground bar founded by Italians, mainly electro music.

9- Kimbo Bar (Penha de França). Formerly a bar for prostitutes, nowadays it has become the meeting place for party-goers after the closing of Damas… and for those who don’t have the patience to wait in line at the LUX Fragil.

10- Nada Temple (Marvila). Located in a warehouse in Marvila, Nada Temple is a cultural and artistic space during the day, an electro mecca at night and until noon. For hardcore party people. At night this place is the new EKA PALACE. It is the same team that manages it.

11- Secret Garden LX (Graça) is a garden located below a point of view that is very popular with tourists. Only the bravest among you will dare to push the door when the great sound rises into the heavens. A perfect place for the early evening.

12- After Hours (Graça). Bar for the stragglers, those who want to remake the world or simply for those who don’t want to go to bed. Ideal after an evening in Damas (again !). Discretion required.

Lisbon by night offers an extensive underground scene that allows you to party until the early hours.

Where is the artists' neighborhood in Lisbon ?

There is no artists’ district in Lisbon. Although they are still present in large numbers, some creators have already left the city because of its evolution. A studio open to the street is the guarantee of being constantly approached by tourists and thus losing all concentration and inspiration. The feeling of annoyance can set in. Where do they go ? There are still havens of peace in Lisbon and the surroundings.

Especially in Barreiro, opposite Lisbon, ADAO is a completely underground artistic and cultural association.

It uses a former warehouse to promote the arts and offer artists a space where they can express their talents. Every semester, you can discover their works during the Open Days. If you have an interest in the arts, Open Day is a must-attend event to discover great Portuguese creators.

But also to enjoy the many musical artists who play throughout the holy day.


ADAO is an artistic and cultural association that is part of the alternative Lisbon.

Lisbon seen through the prism of street art.

There is no more underground than street art. These graffiti reflect the history of a city, of a neighbourhood. Its day-to-day problems. From the vandal to the artist, the street is a space of freedom where everyone can express themselves. If Lisbon is today one of the most famous cities for street art, it is undoubtedly due to the new wind that blew after the fall of the fascist dictatorship in 1974.

Through the Urban Art Gallery (Galeria de Arte Urbana | GAU), Lisbon City Council allows creation by authorising more and more walls. Each year, a district of Lisbon is chosen by the GAU collective, highlighting it.

Are you a bunch of friends ? Do you like street art ? Come and test your artistic skills for 2h30-3h. Under the guidance of a pro, you will learn the basics of street art and you will be able to create your own artwork…in the street !


Graffiti street artist in Lisbon where you can see street art in most of the city centre

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© – 2021

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© – 2021

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