The original, independent guide to Lisbon
Cais do Sodre is the understatedly cool and trendy district of Lisbon, which has spearheaded the recent transformation of the city from traditional, to progressive and liberal. The once neglected area has become fashionable, as new shops, cafes and bars open, while the entire water front has undergone a much-needed rejuvenation. There is a lot for tourists to love about Cais do Sodre, with a riotous nightlife, delicious food from the Timeout market or the simple relaxed vibe of the Ribeira das Naus.
The Jardim de Roque Gameiro, the heart of Cais do Sodre
Cais do Sodre contains a diverse population and welcomes a wide selection of visitors, which simply adds to the ecliptic atmosphere of the district. During the day students and digital nomads can be found slipping coffee and exploiting the free WIFI of the cafes, while at night the party goers arise from their slumber, drawn by the banging nightlife of the Pink Street. When all of the night-time shenanigans of the Pink Street get to much, the train station leads directly to the glorious beaches of the Lisbon coastline. Cais do Sodré is effortless fashionable, but the dilapidated and chaotic appearance, eliminates any pretentiousness often associated with other cities uber cool districts. This article will provide an introduction to Cais do Sodre.
• Eat in the Timeout Market, which has gathered together the finest independent food stalls and housed them under one roof, the charismatic Municipal market……
• The Municipal market, experience daily Portuguese life in the colourful market, which sells locally grown produce, freshly caught fish and traditional handicraft.
• Drink, socialise and be very merry along Pink Street, with its cheap drinks and hedonistic nightclubs
• Sunbath (or recover) on the Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon’s newly constructed waterfront that overlooks the busy estuary (just don’t go in the water!)
• Hangout in the cafes with it’s predominantly young and dynamic crowd
• Catch the ferry and cross the Tejo Estuary to Cacilhas, which is famed for its fresh fish and part way to the Christo Rei Statue
The Tejo Estuary and ferry to Cacilhas
Quiet recently Cais do Sodre was a seedy and deprived area, which any decent guide would recommend to best avoid, but within only a few years the area has been completely transformed. This is partially due to a regeneration package of building works funded by Lisbon council, the clamping down of night life in Bairro Alto and the very tolerant attitudes of the district.
The capital projects have dramatically enhanced the appearance of Cais do Sodre; the Jardim de Roque Gameiro is now a welcoming plaza instead of some weird car park and taxi rank, while the Ribeira das Naus is now a pleasant water front, which encourages visitors to walk from Praça do Comércio.
The statue of Duque da Terceira
The nightlife of Cais do Sodre has benefited from Bairro Alto, the original nightlife district, imposing a ban on music and the selling of drinks past 2am. Lisbon nightlife has a reputation, and does, continue late into the night and a ban forced patrons to find somewhere else to drink….and seedy Cais do Sodre was perfect!
A hotel in or near Cais do Sodre is ideal for a visitor who wishes to be close everything the district stands for, both its advantages and negatives. Nightlife will be on your doorstep but the weekend noise will continue until sunrise and your fellow guest maybe excessively drunk…
The district is just to the west of the historic centre and is only a 10-minute walk to the centre of Baixa, so is well suited to explore the city. Also, Cais do Sodre is connected to the green metro line so it is easy to travel from airport or around Lisbon.
The nightlife of Cais do Sodre is centre around pink street, so called because of the pink colouring of the pavement, and is a cluster of late opening nightclubs and bars. Surround the street are numerous bars, which once were underground and trendy but are transitioning into mainstream as more tourists are drawn to the area.
The Pink Street after a morning scrub and clean.....
Typically, the nightlife of Cais do Sodré starts very late, with most revellers starting the night in Bairro Alto (or Praça de São Paulo) and then moving to Cais do Sodre at the 2am Bairro Alto shut down. Unfortunately, the progressive attitudes of Cais do Sodre have not been passed onto the door staff, where there can be unfair discriminatory admission practises (mainly to groups of men), arrogance and heavy handiness.
The old municipal market of Lisbon was purchased by Timeout (yes, the magazine) and one half has been transformed into Lisbon’s trendiest eating venue. Timeout market has gathered together the finest independent regional food stalls and set them out around the edge of the market, with communal seating in the centre.
The Timeout market sells world class food without a snobby atmosphere
This means that patrons can eat restaurant quality food, at café prices while groups are not limited to one style of cuisine. The open and communal eating encourages a loud and lively atmosphere which is not to dis-similar to the Portuguese Tasca (Portuguese restaurants) or the market next door. In our opinion, it is a great place for a lunch.
The Mercado de Lisboa is a tradition 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 to visit early in the day, as the stalls close by 2pm.
Both the Timeout market and the Mercado de Lisboa are housed in the beautiful Mercado da Ribeira, an Arabic inspired covered market, which dates from the 1890s.
The fresh produce of the Mercado de Lisboa
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.
The Ribeira das Naus
By day the Praça de São Paulo is a quiet, non-touristy plaza but at night becomes the focal point for socialising and drinking before people move onto the clubs of Pink Street. The square is named after the beautiful the Igreja de São Paulo, one of the finest Pombaline styled buildings, which was constructed in 1768 after the devastating 1755 earthquake.
The Praça de São Paulo
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 20-minute ride away. Our favourite beaches are Carcavelos (€1.90 single), São Pedro do Estoril (€2.20 single) or Praia da Conceição in Cascais (€2.20 single) for a full guide to Lisbon beaches please see this guide.
The vast Carcavelos beach only 20 minutes away by train