Fado is a typical music that is part of Lisbon’s culture but also part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Its name comes from the Latin fatum, which means fate, destiny. In Portuguese, it is called saudade. Fado appeared at the beginning of the 19th century and is now extremely widespread in the country. A beautiful representation of what Fado was at that time is the painting by José Malhoa (our watercolour on the cover of the page). It can be seen today in the Fado Museum.
There are two main types : Lisbon Fado and Coimbra Fado. That of the wanderer and that of the scholars. There is a gap between them, as well as the Portuguese guitars that accompany them. The Lisbon one has a snail’s head, its sister has a tear-shaped head.
Curious ? Look here for more information on the history of this musical phenomenon.
ABOVE ALL, don’t go into the first restaurant that comes along !
A tourist trap Fado place can be heard from a distance… If there is noise (cooking, cutlery, talking…), the Fado is not respected.
GET OUT quick ! Fado is to be listened to in total silence. This is the main rule, by the way.
My recommendation would be to go to the small and friendly places. Not necessarily less expensive than the big houses (€20-30 minimum per person, €40 to 60 for the big houses), I find them perfect for novices because the atmosphere is relaxed, the Fado is accessible and simple, just like the cuisine.
However, there are those who prefer excellence. Those who want to experience the real thrill have no choice but to choose a real institution. In this case, « Casa de Linhares » in Alfama is my favourite.
You choose the top.
You will have 4-5 professional fadists, a hearty menu and a table reserved for the entire show. Quality at a price I wouldn’t call expensive !
I am pleased to share with you the places I like to go to listen to fado in Lisbon !
N.B : €-€€-€€ are price indications per person (€20-40-60).
The best and biggest Fado institution beyond the famous Fado houses in Lisbon.
Everything is perfect, the price is justified. In a grandiose 18th century setting, you can enjoy fine food that has not escaped the attentive palates of the Michelin guide inspectors.
At Casa de Linhares, the fado is excellent as several professionals exchange and offer a performance tinged with their daily moods. The unique fado experience is lived in this street-side establishment. Some of the fadists I really like sing there: Vania Duarte, Fabia Rebordao, André Batista, Silvana Peres… The guitarist Jorge Fernando is not to be outdone, as he has composed 800 fados, played with Amalia Rodrigues at a young age and has contributed greatly to the current reputations of Ana Moura and Fabia Rebordao…
The greatest fadists have been here, and the new generation is here for your enjoyment. Often visiting this exceptional place, I knew Zavié the manager, who is very friendly and will be happy to welcome you.
His number: 00351 910 188 118 (he also has a whatsapp). They will also place you at an advantage to make the most of this evening.
Did you know that? Fado is best enjoyed with an excellent Port wine !
Because I love and appreciate quality and its intimacy. I have tested in Lisbon the different fado places I suggest in this post and I can also recommend others.
Are you looking for an exceptional fado performance ? Then, discover the exclusive Fado experience.
Today, Fado is exported and fills the concert halls where it is produced. If you want to organise an event in Lisbon or abroad, contact me.
To give you a taste, I suggest you watch a video of Ana Moura, considered today as the greatest fadist of her generation.
Did you like these tips ? Then, visit Lisbon with me ! Read here what the people I’ve walked with have thought. You won’t hesitate for long.
Elliot, your guide in Lisbon