The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
The vibrant neighbourhood of Cais do Sodre is one of the most fascinating areas of Lisbon.
The neighbourhood was historically a rough and seedy area, filled with docks and warehouses, but has transformed into one of the trendiest neighbourhoods while still retaining its distinctive character.
The relaxed attitude of Cais do Sodré means it has always been a centre for nightlife, which today is focused around Pink Street, with its numerous bars and clubs that party until sunrise.
By day, the district is a favourite with artisans and modern creatives who hang out at the rejuvenated Tejo Estuary waterfront, or enjoy the varied food stalls in the Timeout Market.
Cais do Sodre may be fashionable and cool, but it retains its edgy atmosphere and gritty appearance, making it one of the most unique neighbourhoods of central Lisbon.
The Timeout Market – A vibrant food market housed in a wing of the Mercado da Ribeira. Originally created to exemplify Portuguese cuisine, it has since become one of the most social settings for a lunch and dinner. It’s touristy and overpriced, but always fun!
Pink Street – Where to head for your big night out. This street, which has been painted pink (hence the name), is packed with characterful bars and venues that are buzzing late into the night.
The Ribeira das Naus – The delightful waterfront that extends along the Tejo Estuary, between the Praça Duque da Terceira and the Praça do Comércio. This is a wonderful location from which to enjoy the sunset (Nov to Jan) or watch boats sail along the river while drinking a cocktail from one of the many pop-up bars.
Pensão Amor bar – This unique bar in Lisbon is situated in a former 1970s brothel, which has retained all of its original décor, including pole dancing room, glass ceilings and risqué art.
Elevador da Bica – The historic funicular that for over 100 years has climbed the steep hill between Cais do Sodre and Bairro Alto. (A guide to the Elevador da Bica)
Mercado da Ribeira – One of the oldest markets of Lisbon, housed in a grandiose structure dating from the 1930s. This is a place to experience typical Portuguese daily life.
A ferry ride to Cacilhas – Cross the Tejo Estuary to Cacilhas by the ferry that departs from Cais do Sodré ferry terminal. This ride provides a waterside view of Lisbon while passing close to the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
The Cais do Sodré neighbourhood does not have the attention-grabbing tourist attractions of other surrounding districts (such as Baixa or Alfama), and is more an area in which to meander and embrace the cool vibe.
Most tourists visit Cais do Sodré after the Baixa district, as it is the natural continuation along the Ribeira das Naus waterfront.
A typical tour of Cais do Sodré involves visits to the Igreja de São Paulo, Rua Cor de Rosa (Pink Street), the two main plazas, the Jardim de Roque Gameiro and Jardim Dom Luis, enjoying a break for lunch at the Timeout Market.
Afterwards, most visitors head north to the Bairro Alto and Chiado districts, as there is not much else within walking distance to the west. The Rua do Alecrim is the main road north out of Cais do Sodré, but it is up a very steep hill. Much more enjoyable is a ride on the Elevador da Bica, which ends at the Rua do Loreto.
A suggested tour is shown in the interactive map below. This tour combines both Cais do Sodré (green pins) and the Chiado district (yellow pins). The route begins at the Praça do Comercio and ends at the Rua Garrett, and the Elevador da Bica is marked by pin 8.
Cais do Sodré sights: 1) Ribeira das Naus 2) Jardim de Roque Gameiro 3) Time Out Market 4) Mercado da Ribeira 5) Pink Street 6) Pensão Amor 7) Igreja de São Paulo 8) Elevador da Bica
Chiado sights: 9) Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint 10) Praça Luís de Camões 11) Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Loreto 12) Rua Garrett
Related articles: Bairro Alto and Chiado district
The Igreja de São Paulo church
The Jardim de Roque Gameiro
One of the best ways to discover Lisbon and meet fellow travellers is to join a guided tour. We have worked with Getyourguide.com for the last six years, and some of the best tours of Lisbon include:
One of the unique activities to enjoy while in Cais do Sodre is riding the ferry to Cacilhas. This short ferry ride only takes 10 minutes and provides wonderful views of the city, with the route passing close to the 25 de Abril bridge.
The town of Cacilhas has an authentic Portuguese atmosphere and is a great place for lunch, having many excellent and inexpensive restaurants. While here, you could also visit the Frigate Dom Fernando II e Glória, the last sailing ship of the Portuguese Navy, or you could catch a bus to the Cristo Rei statue, with its amazing views over Lisbon.
The Cristo Rei viewpoint is one of the best of Lisbon, and is easy to travel to from Cais do Sodre
Until quite recently, Cais do Sodre was a seedy and deprived area of Lisbon, which tourists were recommended to avoid.
The district was originally the docks of the Sodre company and home to dockworkers and sailors, and was brimming with brothels and tough bars. Even the main road, the Rua do Alecrim, skims above the neighbourhood, raised up by stone arches.
Since 2009, the area has been totally rejuvenated, and the drug dens and brothels pushed out. This rise in popularity of Cais do Sodre also coincided with the clamping down of nightlife in Bairro Alto.
The 2am closing time of Bairro Alto bars means nighttime revellers continue the party down the hill at Cais do Sodre, where the attitudes are much more tolerant and relaxed.
There have also been significant projects to improve the appearance of Cais do Sodre. The Jardim de Roque Gameiro is now a charming plaza, Ribeira das Naus is now a pleasant waterfront, and the Timeout market has brought life to the decaying Mercado da Ribeira.
To complete the transformation, the district is now a centre for modern creatives in the form of migrant freelancers and laptop workers.
The Praça Duque da Terceira and the statue of Duke Terceira
A hotel in or near Cais do Sodre is ideal if you wish to be close to the centre of Lisbon's nightlife and the cultural diversity this attracts. Nightlife and excitement will be on your doorstep, but the weekend noise continues until sunrise and your fellow guests may be excessively drunk.
The district is just to the west of the historic centre and only a 10-minute walk to the centre of Baixa, so it’s ideally located for exploring the city. Cais do Sodre has excellent public transport links, being served by the green metro line, trams to Belem and train services to Cascais and the beaches of the Lisbon coastline.
The art deco Cais do Sodre train station is the departure location for trains to Cascais and the beaches west of Lisbon
The nightlife of Cais do Sodre is centred around Pink Street, so-called because of the pink colouring of the pavement. Cais do Sodre is not short of bars, but they tend to go from empty with no atmosphere to overcrowded in a very short space of time. Unique bars include:
• ‘Pensão do Amor’ cocktail bar, set in a former brothel that retains the original décor.
• ‘Bom, o Mau e o Vilão’, a trendy cocktail bar and live music venue.
• ‘By the Wine’ is the promotional bar of the José Maria da Fonseca vineyards and has an interior decorated with 3,200 bottles of wine.
• ‘Sol e Pesca’, a fishing shop transformed into a bar that still has its original décor
• ‘Crafty Corner’, serving Portuguese craft beer
Insight: Drinking in Cais do Sodre can be expensive, but the 100 Montaditos restaurant that overlooks the Jardim de Roque Gameiro sells take-away large beers and sangria for €1.60.
Cais do Sodre has the highest concentration of disco bars and late-night clubs in all of Lisbon. Many of the clubs on Pink Street play commercial and popular tunes, and after 11pm the disco bars all are very similar (such as ‘Viking Bar’, ‘Liverpool’, ‘Bar Oslo’ and ‘Tokyo’). Enjoyable venues include the ‘Roterdão Club’, which is small and fun; the ‘Jamaica’ has a Caribbean feel, while ‘Rive Rouge’ and ‘Titanic Sur Mer’ are always banging.
For something slightly different, ‘Lounge’ has a more chilled vibe and cool clientele, or ‘Music Box’ has an eclectic mix of live music (always check their listings).
There are no mega-clubs in Cais do Sodre. For those, head down to Santos (500m to the west), where you have ‘K Urban Beach Club’, ‘Kremlin’, ‘Kapital’ and ‘Plateau’.
Warning: Unfortunately, the progressive attitudes of Cais do Sodre have not been passed onto the door staff. There can be unfair discriminatory admission practises (mainly to groups of men), arrogance or simply heavy handiness.
The Time Out Market is a vibrant food market located in the bustling Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodré. Opened in 2014, it transformed a wing of the traditional Mercado da Ribeira into a modern food hall, where some of Portugal's most talented chefs and restaurateurs showcase their culinary creations.
Featuring over 40 spaces, including kiosks, bars, and shops, the market presents a diverse range of options, from traditional Portuguese dishes to contemporary global cuisine. Today, it has become very tourist-focused, with prices being comparatively expensive, and it can be a scramble to find a seat at peak times. However, it is a very social setting, enjoyable for lunch or dinner, and it’s also a great place to meet fellow visitors.
The Mercado da Ribeira is a traditional Portuguese market that sells a range of food products from freshly caught fish to locally grown fruit and vegetables.
It is a chaotic and noisy market but is a great chance to experience normal daily life of the Portuguese. The market is best visited early in the day, as the stalls close by 2pm.
Both the Timeout market and the Mercado da Ribeira are housed in the beautiful Mercado da Ribeira, an Arabic inspired covered market, which dates from the 1930s.
The Ribeira das Naus is the newly constructed beach front and promenade of the Tejo estuary between Cais do Sodre and the Praça do Comércio. This rejuvenated area comprises of a stepped waterfront (ideal and popular for sunbathing) and a grassed area behind the promenade. The Ribeira das Naus is rapidly becoming a popular place for Lisbon’s residents to come and relax, as the inner city has few open green areas.
Relaxing at the Quiosque da Ribeira das Naus, with vies over the estuary
By day the Praça de São Paulo is a quiet, non-touristy plaza but at night it becomes the focal point for socialising and drinking before people move onto the clubs of Pink Street.
The square is named after the beautiful Igreja de São Paulo, one of the finest Pombaline styled buildings, which was constructed in 1768 after the devastating 1755 earthquake.
The Igreja de São Paulo follows a baroque style which is commonly seen throughout of Lisbon
Hidden beneath the arches of the Pink Street is Lisbon’s coolest live music venue, Musicbox. The small venue has a diverse selection of bands playing and then DJ music until the sun rises. To see their listings, visit their website:
(link opens new tab and is Portuguese)
The Cais do Sodre train station is the terminus for the Cascais railway that serves the beautiful coastline to the west of Lisbon.
Along this coastline are some of Lisbon’s best and most easily accessible beaches, being less than a 30-minute ride away.
Our favourite beaches are Carcavelos, São Pedro do Estoril or Praia da Conceição in Cascais.
Related articles: Lisbon beaches
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