Newcomers to Lisbon often hit the bars around 9 pm and head home at midnight thinking that the bar scene is rather quiet. In fact, Lisbon bars don't get going until after midnight, clubs even later. On weekends, lively groups spill out of bars and stand shoulder to shoulder in the streets, especially in the lively Bairro Alto and the revamped Cais do Sodré. Many places are rather quiet from Sunday through Wednesday although, in the summer high season, bars fill every night of the week with holidaymakers who don't need to rise early the next day.
Some dance clubs charge a cover of €15 (more on weekends), which includes one drink; if you come early you may get in free. Clubs are open from about 10 or 11 pm (but only start filling up well after midnight) until 4 or 5 am; a few stay open until 8 am. Be aware that some unscrupulous door staff will try to overcharge out-of-towners; if the price seems way over the odds, walk away.
For a less boisterous evening out, visit a café-bar or a casa de fado, where professional or amateur performers sing the city’s world-renowned, beautifully mournful style of music.
Lisbon has a well-established gay and lesbian scene, concentrated primarily in and around the Bairro Alto and the neighboring Príncipe Real area, on the way to Rato.