With its Mediterranean climate, stellar choice of bars, clubs and restaurants and array of visual delights, Lisbon is a traveller’s dream. In fact, the Portuguese capital was voted the best destination for a city break by the World Travel Awards, and it is unsurprisingly popular with hen parties looking to celebrate their BFF’s last weekend of freedom.
However, with so many things to do in the city, it can be difficult to decide exactly how to spend your time in Lisbon. Though, as pointed out by hen party organisers Maximise: “Compared with other European destinations, Portugal’s capital is also quite small”. This means that you should be able to tick off plenty of activities on your itinerary in a single weekend. But to help you choose exactly what to do, as well as settling on necessities like accommodation, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to booking a hen do in Lisbon.
Where to stay
We all know that hen parties tend to be wild, booze-fueled affairs, and if this sounds exactly what you want your own weekend to be like, you’ll probably want to stay somewhere in the heart of the action. Look for accommodation in either of the Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodré regions, which are considered Lisbon’s two prime party hotspots, and both within walking distance of the city’s best bars, pubs and clubs. With its cobblestone pavements and range of historical buildings packed into narrow alleys, Bairro Alto is more emblematic of Lisbon, while Cais do Sodré is a cheaper alternative, but just as fun.
However, if you’re in the market for Lisbon’s liveliness, but actually want to get some sleep during your trip, opt for somewhere in Baixa or Chiado. The former region is Lisbon’s shopping hub, surrounded by the squares of Rossio, Figueira and the grand riverfront Praça do Comércio, while Chiado is the historic centre of the city. Both are in close proximity to the city’s nightlife, but far enough away for a quieter stay, and both are also filled with restaurants, shops and landmarks. Alternatively, to really immerse yourself in Lisbon’s culture, stay in Alfama, an old-world neighbourhood that offers a reminder of times gone by, featuring ancient houses, shops selling traditional Portuguese wares, and Fado establishments.
Where to drink
To get the party started we’d recommend a trip to the brilliantly-named Monkey Mash, a classy cocktail bar known for its experimental approach to mixology. Monkey Mash serves signature cocktails based on tropical cane and agave distilled spirits in a chic, cosmopolitan setting with a distinctly tropical, festive feel. For somewhere a little more rough and ready, head to the unique Pensão Amor bar in Bairro Alto. Situated in the region’s former red-light district of Rua Nova do Carvalho, Pensão Amor was formerly a brothel, and is adorned with posters from burlesque and peep shows. As well as being the perfect place to sink a few drinks, the bar also runs regular pole dancing lessons in its dedicated pole dance room.
Once you’re ready to hit the dancefloor, your first port of call should be MusicBox. Opened in 2006, the nightclub, music stage, lounge and bar has a cavernous feel which, combined with its arched entrance and video wall, gives the club a particularly quirky vibe. MusicBox is renowned for its eclectic booking policy, with live acts and DJs spanning all genres, meaning you’re sure to find a night to fit your tastes. Another place not to be missed is Lux, perhaps Portugal’s most famous nightclub. Head here for electronic music, multiple dancefloors, and a rooftop terrace that’s perfect for watching the sunrise.
What to do
Taking priority on your to-do list should be exploring the views of this hilltop haven. One of the best vantage points is the Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewing spot. Situated by the Tagus river, this is the perfect place to see the sun go down over a few drinks. Alternatively, from the medieval Castelo dos Mouros, you can sometimes see as far as the Atlantic, while the Elevador de Santa Justa is ideal for witnessing the city lit up at night.
No trip to Portugal would be complete without sunbathing on a beach, and luckily for you there are plenty around Lisbon. Just 30 minutes away by train is Carcavelos Beach which, despite its immense popularity, is unspoilt by any nearby tourist developments. There is always something happening here, with volleyball nets, cafés and bars aplenty. For somewhere a little more off the beaten track, head to Adraga Beach. Characterised by its stunning scenery of cliffs and caves, it is considered one of Portugal’s best beaches. When you’re not basking in Lisbon’s breathtaking views or chilling by the sea, be sure to check out some of the city’s iconic landmarks, with highlights including Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery and the National Sanctuary of Christ the King.