Everything you need to know about fado music in Lisbon

Fado is often compared to the blues, with good reason. While it may not be everyone’s favorite type of music, there is no question that it represents Portugal. It is part of the culture, and UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Tradition in 2011. Below, I have a guide to experiencing fado in Lisbon.

What is Fado?

Fado is a style of music that originated in Lisbon in the 1830s. 

It is characterized by mournful or melancholy lyrics, often about working-class people in their day-to-day lives.

A few of the songs are joyful and upbeat, but that is not the general theme.

The word itself may be descended from the Latin word “Fatum” which means “fate, death, or utterance.”

Everyone had a hard life back in the day, and then there was the drama of relationships on top of that.

Maria Severa

Maria Severa was the most popular fadista, or fado singer, in the 19th century. 

She was a prostitute who eventually had a relationship with one of Portugal’s most powerful men, Francisco de Paula Portugal e Castro, 13th Count of Vimioso.

Shortly after that, fado went from being lower-class to widely accepted and loved by the important people as well.

Maria died of tuberculosis at the age of 26.

Amália Rodrigues

Amália Rodrigues is known as the Rainha do Fado (The Queen of Fado).

She is the best-selling Portuguese artist of all-time, and is known for putting fado on an international stage, as she had a lot of performances abroad.

She lived from 1920 – 1999, enjoying a career that lasted 50 years.

At times she was promoted as a national symbol of Portugal.


Mariza and Carminho are popular modern performers.

Normally fado is accompanied by the guitarra portuguesa and viola (a type of guitar). 

The Portuguese guitar has 12 strings.

Carlos Paredes is regarded as the best Portuguese fado guitarist.

He is the son of a famous guitarist and began playing as a child.

Today fado performances may be accompanied by a string quartet or even a full orchestra.

Fado de Coimbra

There are two styles of fado music.

One originated in Lisbon, and the other originated in the university town of Coimbra. 

The Coimbra style is exclusively sung by men, and the singers and musicians wear the traditional academic outfit, traje académico, which includes a dark robe, a cape, and leggings.

You will not see much of this in Lisbon.

Below is the sad and powerful ballad, “My Mother.”

Below is another nice example of fado de Coimbra.

Where to see a fado performance in Lisbon

There are several Fado Houses – casas de fado, which have been open since the 1930’s to 1960’s.

They are often located in very solid, historic buildings that resemble a wine cellar or medieval storage facility, with vaulted ceilings and arches – which tend to provide great acoustics.

These establishments can be reasonably priced – or very expensive.

Some expectations you should have:

  1. You will spend a minimum of $30 per person, but possibly up to a minimum of $50 per person. This might include a cover charge to enter, a minimum drink order, or you must buy a meal depending on the establishment.

2. In Portugal, usually the first items of food that arrive at the table – likely olives, bread, olive oil, (sometimes on the menu listed as the Couvert) come with a price tag of $3 -$10. If you don’t want them, send them back. They will be added to your bill if you accept them.

3. You will need a reservation.

4. Once the music begins, there is no talking.


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A Severa

A Severa

Rua das Gaveas 51

T 351 213 428 314 Email: info@asevera.com

Located in Bairro Alto, A Severa is the oldest family-owned fado house in the city held by the same family.

It opened in 1955.

The restaurant is named after Maria Severa, the most popular fadista of the 19th century.  

The show is free, but there is a minimum consumption of 35 euros per person. Most of the meat or fish entrees will put you at the minimum.

Arrive by 9pm.  Closed Wednesdays. Hours 8 pm – 2 am.

The Severa? Restaurant t?pico | Fado House (asevera.com)

Clube do Fado

Rua São João Praça 86

Bus 37 or tram 12 or 28

Hours: 8 pm – midnight every day

T: (+351) 218 852 704 clubedefado@fadoandfood.pt

Start | Restaurante Clube de Fado

Appetizers $10 – $18, Main courses $25 -$35. The magazine Sábado named them the best casa de fado in Lisbon.

Adega Machado

This fado house opened in the 1930s and has seen all of the legends of the genre.

The audience here has included philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian (there is an art museum in Lisbon that is named after him), the Count of Barcelona, ​​Don Juan de Bourbon, King Humberto of Italy, Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom, and other state figures, including the President of the Republic of Portugal, Ramalho Eanes as well as four Brazilian presidents.

Rua do Norte 91

T. (+351) 213 422 282 adegamachado@fadoandfood.pt

Adega Machado – Fado & Food Group

Adega Machado offers a short, early sample of a Fado show in their basement every night starting at 5 pm. For 17 euros, you get a glass of wine, an appetizer, and a 45-minute show by professional musicians.

For the early show, register in advance for what is called, “Fado Inside the Box.”

Cafe Luso

Travessa da Queimada 10


T. (+351) 213 422 281

Café Luso – Fado & Food Group (cafeluso.pt)

Opened in 1927, this fado house moved to its current location in Bairro Alto in 1939.

They currently occupy the former cellars and stables of the Palace Brito Freire, also known as the Palace of St. Roque.

Amália Rodrigues got her start here and performed here regularly throughout her career.

Fama D’Alfama

Rua do Terriero do Trigo 80

Open every day, 10 am – midnight

+351 925 428 317

Restaurante Fama d’Alfama – Home – Lisbon, Portugal – Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews | Facebook

Local food is served at local prices, for locals (mostly).

O Faia

Rua da Barroca 57, Bairro Alto

Opened in 1947 by Lucília do Carmo, one of Portugal’s most famous fado singers. In 2020 O Faia was named a Trip Advisor Traveller’s choice award-winner.

Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7:30 – 11:00 pm

T: 351 213 426 742 Email: info@ofaia.com

O Faia – Casa de Fado, Fado Restaurant, Fado House in Lisbon

Parreirinha de Alfama

Beco de Espirito Santo 1, near the Fado museum in Alfama, and 0.3 mile from the Castelo

:::: Parreirinha de Alfama – Typical Restaurant – Where Fado is Tradition ::::

(+351) 21 886 82 09 booking@parreirinhadealfama.com

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8 pm – 1 am, Closed Mondays

Cash only. Expect to spend $50 – $60 per person.

Reservations will be necessary.

Parreirinha de Alfama is a Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice establishment and is highly recommended by both locals and visitors. 

This Alfama casa de fado has hosted some of the best fadistas since it opened in 1939.

Try to arrive at or before 8 pm, and stay for the last act.

The restaurant is small and intimate with excellent acoustics, and 80-year-old singer Maria Amelia Proenca is a crowd favorite.

Fado Vadio – Amateurs entertain

A cheaper option might be to go to a tasca or tavern with Fado Vadio – fado sung by amateurs.  Here you won’t have to get a full dinner or pay a minimum fee.  Just order a drink and petiscos.

Tasca do Chico

Rua do Diário de Noticias 39, Bairro Alto

T: 351 965 059 670

Hours: Every day 7 pm – 3 am

Tasca Do Chico – Home | Facebook

Anthony Bourdain stopped here and had the chouriço assado – grilled pork sausage served on a clay dish

Tasca do Jaime

Rua de São Pedro 40, Alfama

+351 21 888 1560

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 7 pm-midnight, Closed Monday

Tasca Do Jaime D’alfama – Lisbon, Portugal – Portuguese Restaurant | Facebook

Tasca do Jaime, Rua da Graça 91, Graça neighborhood

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9 am – 8 pm, Closed Monday

They offer a daytime show every weekend at 4 pm.

Locals and less-known singers gather here.

Get here early.

Devagar, Devagarinho

Travessa Larga 15

 T 210 137 982 info@devagardevagarinho.com reservas@devagardevagarinho.com


Monday and Tuesday – 12 pm – 3 pm (lunch only)

Wednesday to Friday – 12 pm – 3 pm / 7 pm – 2 am

Saturday – Only by reservation

Sunday  Closed

Restaurant DevagarDevagarinho | Food and Fado

Off of Avenida da Liberdade, they do not have fado shows every night. 

Check their site to see when something is scheduled.

Reservation suggested.

The menu changes every day, and you can see what the plan is each day on their website.


Calçada do Duque 35

351 21 343 3024

Hours: noon – midnight

Solidó – Home – Lisbon, Portugal – Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews | Facebook

This local couple Margarida and Antònio turned their Bairro Alto home into a restaurant.

Shows every night starting at 7 PM.

Excellent location with a nice terrace.

The most expensive entrees on the menu are 16 euros.

Associação do Fado Casto

Rua de São Memede 8A

T 351 967 324 643

Opens: 8:30 pm


Associação do Fado Casto – Home – Lisbon, Portugal – Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews | Facebook

Owner Pedro de Castro is a famous guitar player who often performs here. 

He offers a set menu for €45, but you can arrive later and just nibble on petiscos.

Either way, book in advance.

Povo in Cais do Sodré

Rua Nova do Carvalho 32

T 351 213 473 404 povo@ctlisbon.com

Hours: Lunch buffet Monday – Friday, noon – 3 pm, Dinner Sunday – Wednesday 8 pm – 2 am, Thursday – Saturday 6 pm – 4 am, Sunday – Wednesday 6 pm – 2 am, Thursday – Saturday 6 pm – 4 am.

POVO – Restaurante Povo Lisboa

The mission of this club is to recognize and develop new fado singers. 

Free shows Tuesday through Sunday between 8:30 pm and 11 pm.

Book a table for 8 pm.

A Nini

Rua Dom Francisco Manuel de Melo 44A

Hours: Opens at noon. Closes at 3:15 pm Monday, Thursday.

Closes at 3:30 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday,

Closes at midnight on Friday.

Not open on weekends.

T 51 960 071 251

Restaurante A Nini – Home – Lisbon, Portugal – Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews | Facebook

Restaurant is only open for lunch usually, but they host a free fado night on Thursdays at 7 pm. 

You just pay for what you consume.

Museu do Fado

Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1

Metro Station Santa Apolónia

Buses 728, 735, 759, 794

T: 351 218 823 470 info@museudofado.pt

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm

This small museum explains the history and evolution of fado.

They have lots of opportunities for you to listen to different singers, and purchase souvenirs in the gift shop.

Admission is five euros, discounted with the Lisboa Card.

Make sure to use the free audio headphones. For more information, read my article Lisbon’s Fado Museum – Everything you need to know

The fado truck

Like a food truck, in Chiado on Rua do Carmo, and sometimes in the Baixa neighborhood, you will find an old green van playing fado over a loudspeaker. 

The van sells fado records and CDs.

Also, check out the music store Discoteca Amália,

Rua do Ouro 272 in Chiado, near the Convento do Carmo.


The above link is an affiliate link. If you choose to purchase an experience there, I will receive a small commission. That does not affect the price you pay.


Fado is a unique piece of Lisbon’s culture and history.

According to :::: Parreirinha de Alfama – Typical Restaurant – Where Fado is Tradition :::: ,

“Fado’s themes are the City and its daily life, Love, Destiny, and Longing.

The idea of Destiny as “a story that is told, sung, and felt” is fundamental to it.”

If you are looking for other ways to occupy yourself at night, see my articles A quick guide to wine bars, wine tours, and wine tastings in Lisbon

and Old and new friends on Lisbon’s Booze cruises and party boats or you could spend the

evening in a local’s kitchen learning how to prepare their favorite meal. Five food tours and cooking classes in Lisbon

For information on other live music venues in Lisbon, see my article Where to see live music in Lisbon I hope you enjoyed this article about Lisbon’s Fado tradition.