Fado Music in Lisbon’s oldest fado houses
Experiencing Fado music in Lisbon is a cultural treat and something that should be on your itinerary. This local guide to the city’s best Fado houses and tours will help you plan a great night out on your visit.
In this beginners guide to Fado we will explain Fado’s origins, introduce you to it’s most famous singers, show you the best Fado houses to hear Fado in Portugal, as well as how to choose the best Fado tour for an unforgettable Portuguese experience!
Discover Portugal’s answer to the Blues? Come learn about Fado with us!
- Fado Origins
- Fado and History
- Fado Famous Singers
- Where Should You Go to Listen to Fado Music in Lisbon
- Why choose a Lisbon Fado Tour?
- Who should choose a Fado Tour?
- How to choose the best tour?
- 1. Fado Vadio Tour with Tapas
- 2. Live Fado & Alfama Tour with Traditional Dinner
- 3. Fado Music of Lisbon 3-Hour Cultural Walking Tour
- Best Live Fado Show in Lisbon: “in Chiado” Tickets
After a few days in Portugal, you can’t help but notice that music is everywhere and that Portuguese culture expresses itself in song and dance. The most important (and thriving) cultural expression of Portugal is Fado. And like many of the greatest forms of music, it began amongst the poorest people but came to be loved by all Portuguese. Fado music is a genre deeply rooted in Portugal’s culture and way of living.
Deriving from the Latin word for destiny, it’s a cry of the soul for longing, profound emotions, nostalgia, and “saudade”. You can’t leave Lisbon without wandering the narrow streets and night and stopping i for a night of traditional food and fado!
Fado is such a deeply ingrained part of Portuguese culture and way of life that it is on the UNESCO “World Intangible Cultural Heritage” list.
Fado emerged in 19th century Lisbon, its themes essentially about everyday life, deep feelings, and relatable life situations to the regular folk in a social context.
The first fado singers were, in actuality, people of poor backgrounds, and Fado was badly seen by those of nobility. Maria Severa is an example of such a background of the authentic Fado. Passing down in the history of Fado as one of the first Fado singers. She is regarded as the first famous Fado singer. Her lyrics could connect to the hearts of many as she sang about her romantic affair with a noble aristocrat and the throes of forbidden love.
Fado and History
As time went on and Fado became popular in festivals and through the theater, singers started to be accompanied by a musician (nowadays usually two) playing the Portuguese guitar. Not only that, but Fado’s once loose verses gained a more poetic form.
Through the centuries the music changed alongside Portuguese history and branched into several styles: Fado do Marinheiro, Fado de Coimbra, Fado de Lisboa, Fado Corrido, Fado Vadio, Fado Menor.
Initially, only sung by those of low social class, it eventually became an integral part of Portuguese culture, being a must in social parties, always playing on the radio, to sparking the start of Casas de Fado (fado houses) in the 1930s, and finally gaining international acclamation with Amália Rodrigues in the 70s.
Until her death in 1999, Amália Rodrigues was an icon of national culture who shined the attention on the authentic Fado of Portugal to the four corners of the world.
You can learn more about its cultural impact, and its history at the Fado Museum in Alfama.
Fado Famous Singers
Considered Portuguese musical heritage, Fado gained attention from the recording industry and saw the emergence of a new generation of musicians: some fadistas, other singers immensely influenced by the genre, such as António Variações or José Mário Branco.
Since then, famous Fado singers still perform the traditional style but have also adapted the context of Fado to stay current. Some current famous artists are Camané, Mariza, and Raquel Tavares, among others.
Where Should You Go to Listen to Fado Music in Lisbon
We have shared what we think are some of the best fado houses in Lisbon, some are also fado clubs and fado restaurants. Despite being a bit pricey, know they are well worth it, with well known fado singers, and delicious traditional food.
Call to book your ticket and reserve your table in advance. On performance days, it gets quite busy, so arrive early.
Adega Machado Bairro Alto
Located in Bairro Alto, this 3-floor famous fado house has a stylish, cozy, and romantic environment. Besides the dining areas, the space has some other areas of interest: on the intermediate floor you can find the wine cellar; down and through a tunnel, an intimate space for small groups; and also a terrace, the perfect place for a glass of wine.
Being one of the best fado restaurants, the strong roster of young fadistas and instrumentalists dive deeply into the urban roots of the music and mold it for contemporary interpretations. Adega Machado has Marco Rodrigues, Isabel Noronha and Pedro Moutinho as its weekly guests.
Where: Rua do Norte
From the same family group as Adega Machado, Café Luso is another fado house and restaurant in Bairro Alto at Travessa da Queimada street, with a resident cast specialized in traditional Fado.
Located in the old wineries and stables of Palácio Brito Freire it boasts an arched structure of vaulted ceilings, in stone and brick, and as a result produces unique acoustics.
Where: Travessa da Queimada, n.º 10 1200-365 Lisboa
Clube de Fado
At Alfama in Campo das Cebolas street, you can enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine, Fado songs, and the Portuguese guitar at the restaurant Clube de Fado.
In a traditional, warm decoration and a friendly atmosphere enjoy performances by fadistas like Maria Ana Bobone, Miguel Capucho, Sandra Correia, and more.
Where: Rua S. João Praça, 86 – 94 (next to the Cathedral Sé) 1100 – 521 Lisboa
Casa de Linhares
Casa de Linhares, in Alfama at Arco de Jesus street, is a fado house and restaurant occupying the remnants of an old Renaissance building.
Beautifully preserved, Casa de linhares, the once house of Count de Linhares, presents you with an array of famous fado singers like Silvana Peres, Vânia Duarte, Jorge fernando and musicians like André Dias and Bruno Chaveiro.
Other Respected Fado Houses, Clubs, and Restaurants in Lisbon
Why choose a Lisbon Fado Tour?
It’s hard to discover the best fado houses without some local knowledge of fado music in Lisbon. Joining a tour will not just take you to the best fado shows, but also on a journey to discover Lisbon and the traditional fado of Portugal.
Who should choose a Fado Tour?
Anyone that has a deep love for music and enjoys eating (yes, because most Fado performances take place in restaurants that serve delicious local food or fado houses, which have a vast array of wine choices and food too) will find a Fado tour fun. As a bonus, you get a guide to take you where the locals go and tell you all about the music’s history.
How to choose the best tour?
The best fado tours should include:
- A knowledgeable guide tour that accompanies you at all times
- Traditional Portuguese food and wines
- Quality Fado shows (of course!).
Not all tours are the same, however all of the tours we have recommended offer the following:
- Live tour guide (with the exception of the live fado show in Chiado, which isn’t a tour)
- Free cancellation – up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund
- Instant confirmation
- Reserve first and pay later (up to 72 hours before the activity starting time, at which point your credit card will be automatically charged)
- Mobile ticketing (Use your phone or print your voucher)
- Most Fado tours are not suitable for children
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1. Fado Vadio Tour with Tapas
A visit to the most typical fado houses in Lisbon’s most bohemian neighborhoods (Chiado, Bica, Bairro Alto), where you can sing along to the fado show, drink and taste traditional foods.
This is a perfect tour for solo travellers or anyone wanting to meet other with the same group size making it easy to make new friends.
This 4-hour tour includes:
- Entrance fees
- Private guide ( Spanish, English, Portuguese)
- Meals and some drinks
- Travel Insurance
Group size: Small group (up to 10 participants)
Meeting Point: Café A Brasileira (Baixa-chiado)
Note that this tour focuses on Fado Vadio (characterized by its emotional lyrics and matters of the heart).
2. Live Fado & Alfama Tour with Traditional Dinner
Visit and dine at Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama, the birthplace of Fado. After dinner, tour the old town on food and end the night at a traditional fado house to enjoy a Fado performance.
This is a good tour for
This 4-hour tour includes:
- Traditional Portuguese Cuisine dinner
- Local guide ( English, Portuguese)
- Walking tour through Alfama
- Food tasting
- Fado show
- Skip the line through a separate entrance
Note: This tour is not suitable for those with reduced mobility
Meeting Point: Reception of Lisbon Destination Hostel (2nd floor of Rossio train station).
3. Fado Music of Lisbon 3-Hour Cultural Walking Tour
Walking tour to discover Lisbon neighborhoods (Martin Moniz, Alfama, Mouraria) where Fado has old roots, all accompanied by a live Fado singer and guide that will tell you all about the history of Fado.
Get off the usual tourist path and visit typical fado houses and local taverns and enjoy a meal of Caldo Verde (traditional soup) and chouriço assado ( Spicy Sausage), served with bread and wine.
This private (group) 3-hour tour includes:
- Local guide (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese)
- Live Fado performance
- Meal (Caldo Verde Soup, barbecued sausage, bread, and wine)
- Visit authentic fado houses of Alfama
- Fado sung by your live fado singer/ guide
Meeting Point: Capela da Nossa Senhora da Saude (Praça Martim Moniz)
Best Live Fado Show in Lisbon: “in Chiado” Tickets
This is not a tour, but the live” Fado in Chiado” show where you can fully immerse yourself in the music of Fado in Lisbon and listen to Fado sung by professional fadistas.
- 50 minutes duration
- Wheelchair accessible
Meeting point: Rua da Misericordia 14, 2nd floor
Includes: “Fado in Chiado” ticket