Another recently revived Lisbon gem is Miradouro Panorâmico de Monsanto, built half a century ago as an exclusive modernistic restaurant overlooking the city from its highest peak. It was left to rot for decades until rediscovered by urban explorers, who adored it for its hulky UFOlike frame covered with elaborate street art, not to mention its incomparable panoramic views of the city. Since 2017 the Miradouro has been safe and legal to visit, (though a bit tricky by public transport, so take an Uber). For the past two Septembers, it’s hosted Lisbon’s edgy art and music festival Iminente (www.festivaliminente.com). The Miradouro also recently served as a shooting location for Madonna, who was a Lisbon resident for a few years. Madge moved on this past summer and left the queenblessed city to us mortals.
True Madonna devotees may want to snag a room at her former digs at Palacio Ramalhete (Rua das Janelas Verdes 92, Lapa. Tel: +351 213 931 380. www.palacio-ramalhete.com) in the tony Lapa neighborhood. But Lisbon also offers an ever-growing bounty of superb hotels, in a wide variety of styles and price ranges. On the top end is the brand new The One Palácio da Anunciada (Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 112-134, Baixa. Tel: +351 210 412 300. www.h10hotels.com), set in the city’s most exclusive area, just steps from Avenida da Liberdade, Praça dos Restauradores and Rossio Square. Barcelonabased Chilean designer Jaime Beriestain provided the complete contemporary redesign of this 16th century palace, with original hand-painted ceramic pieces (a Lisbon staple) gracing the walls of its comfortably elegant 83 rooms. The property’s elaborate and stunning 27,000-squarefoot gardens include a protected centuryold dragon tree.
Funkier, more affordable, and with an excellent Alfama-adjacent Baixa location is the Pestana CR7 Lisboa (Rua do Comércio 54, Baixa. +351 210 401 710. www.pestanacr7.com), the second of superhot Portuguese soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s CR7 sub-brand of the Pestana hotel and resort family. Squarely aimed toward millennials, the boldly-styled CR7 Lisboa offers modern necessities like lightning-fast WiFi (with free access to hotspots around the city), as well as Apple TV and Android Streaming.
For a stylish stay with a decidedly gay aesthetic, there’s The Late Birds Lisbon (Travessa André Valente 21-21A, Bairro Alto. Tel: +351 933 000 962. www.thelatebirdslisbon.com), an all-male “gay urban resort” that opened in 2015 along a quiet alley in busy Bairro Alto. Portuguese architect Pedro Domingos transformed a heritage 18th century building into 12 guest rooms (including three suites) featuring custom pieces by local designer Marco Sousa Santos, all overlooking a gorgeous courtyard and pool.
Lisbon’s LGBTQ nightlife scene has flourished in recent years, but as in most cities around the world, it’s constantly in flux, so be sure to ask around once you arrive. A few of the best new bets in town are bear bar (but all-welcoming) Shelter (Rua da Palmeira 43A. +351 212 323 183. www.shelterbarlisboa.com), and super-fun weekend queer party spot Posh Club (Rua de São Bento 157. +351 915 814 224. www.facebook.com/poshclublisbon).
The preferred local beach for (legally nude) lounging after a night of gay partying is Praia 19 (or Beach 19). It’s reachable by public transport, but not very easily, and it’ll take you a good two hours each way. A better bet is to book a 29 euro roundtrip bus excursion with Lisbon Beach Tours (www.lisbonbeach.com/tours/lisbon-gay-beach).
Lisbon also offers a number of fun and very popular annual queer festivals that you may want to book your visit around, including June’s Lisbon Pride (www.ilga-portugal.pt/lisboapride), locally called Arraial Lisboa Pride, and the biggest Pride event in Portugal; Lisbon Bear Pride (www.lisbonbearpride.com) in May; and Queer Lisboa (www.queerlisboa.pt), one of Europe’s best LGBTQ film festivals.
Whenever you come to Lisbon, you’ll find an enchanting city full of gracious inhabitants, a stunning Old World European capital that’s still effortlessly tied to its traditions, but one that’s rapidly transforming into a thoroughly modern haven of art, culture, cuisine, and inclusivity.