I wanted to write this review for potential visitors to Lisbon, Portugal. Specifically, I write this for young, fun, and party-going people seeking a place to travel to in Europe for a weekend.
Lisbon is NOT where you want to travel to for the nightlife or social scene. The people in Lisbon are generally unattractive (guys and girls) and unfriendly. Once they find out that you are American (or any tourist for that matter) expect to be ripped off at clubs, restaurants, bars, etc. They will try to charge you a cover-charge which they do not collect from any local party-goers. Once you are tagged as foreign, you will be ripped off and treated very poorly.
Having never been to Portugal, we inquired about the best places for partying. We were recommended by he hotel concierge to go to "DOCAS". So, the first night we went to Docas and had a very nice seafood meal at a restaurant called Peix Deux. After dinner, we ventured to the local bars/clubs and were truly disappointed.
DO NOT PARTY IN DOCAS .. ESPECIALLY AVOID:
1. Hawaii (low-class garbage club with meathead bouncers)
2. Cosmos (same deal as above)
These 2 bars were horrible and treated my whole group like garbage. They charged us cover charge while all the locals walked right past us. The bouncer threatened violence when I asked him why we were preferentially being charged to enter his club.
Second night was slightly better. We went to an area called "BAIRRO ALTO" which was full of people. Had a miserable dinner at some restaurant with traditional Portugese dancing. The people on the streets were thugs and trash. Every corner there is somebody offering to sell you hash, cocaine, and marijuana. This place (often hailed as being funky and trendy) is just a few steets full of low-class drunks. Not fun at all.
At about 4AM we ventured to the 'famous' Lux nightclub. This place was relatively better than the other places we went to in Portugal. However, it is nothing spectacular when compared to any hot nightclub in London or NYC. The club does not offer table or bottle service and the line-ups at the bar for drinks are ridiculous. The doormen are unfriendly (surprise!) and they also try to rip you off with a cover-charge once they discover you are a tourist! We were told that telling them you are a student at the American university in Lisbon helps.. I don't know. My advice is just not to bother going at all! lol It's really not worth the hassle.
The only nice thing about my visit to Portugal was my day excursion to "SINTRAS", an historic town with beautiful castles and a palace. I think Portugal is worth visiting for it's castles, beaches (only in summer), and coastal towns. Lisbon is NOT a city for young, fun people to go for a weekend. You'll have time to visit castles and tour small coastal towns when you're old and married. If you go to Sintras, make sure you unwind at "BINHOTECA", a nice wine bar. My group had some beautiful Portugese wine, cheese, and sausage. Don't forget to try Port wine! This winebar is located on one of the narrow little streets in the town.
Lisbon is not very safe from what I could see. On my train ride home from Sintras, a poor man was confronted by 3 youths who then smashed a full wine bottle over his head for no reason. There are drug dealers at almost every corner. There are few police protecting the party areas. As a tourist, I did not feel safe, especially when a bouncer at COSMOS nightclub (in Docas area) threatened my life. He pointed to his badge and gave me the impression that he was allowed to do as he pleased without any worry of police reprimand.
Overall, Lisbon was not a good selection for a weekend visit. I will not return to Lisbon until I have exhausted all of my other global location curiosities. The locals are nasty and rude, not to mention unattractive. I think that's why we find most Portugese people have left the country.
Take my advice and save yourself the time and money. AVOID LISBON! (at least do not go there for the nightlife! - go for the castles and coastal towns when you're old and grey)