undiscovered gem

Will this relatively unknown Portuguese region become the next gay European hot spot?

man on beach in Portugal

It’s no secret that the queers love a great beach scene. Puerto Vallarta, Provincetown, and Fire Island boast some of the most popular gay beaches in the Western Hemisphere. But for those looking for a lesser-known stretch of sand and sun, an under-the-radar spot in Portugal has just become more accessible. 

Beginning May 24, United Airlines will launch the only direct US flight to Faro, the central hub for the country’s southern Algarve region. Charming towns like Olhão and Lagos offer serene solitude and a range of accommodations from historical estates to modern hotels with city views. Take your pick at Casa Mãe, which offers four buildings with aesthetics ranging from refined vintage to cozy minimalism. 

Head 20 miles east to Portimão for a taste of Portuguese nightlife, where queer locals and travelers descend on The Loft, the region’s premier gay dance club. Plan on a late night, and when you finally roll out of bed, a traditional light breakfast (pequeno almoço) will hold you over before venturing onto the resort area of Alporchinhos. 

Here, you’ll discover Vila Vita Parc, a stunning property home to the legendary two-star Michelin restaurant Ocean, helmed by executive chef Hans Neuner. The menu pays tribute to the sea and offers views to match.

Let go in Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Shutterstock

For a more cosmopolitan setting, Lisbon is a scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive north, making it a smart splurge to experience the best Portugal offers in one trip. 

StayThe Late Birds gay urban resort provides a charming oasis and quick access to some of the city’s most popular sites, including Santa Catarina Viewpoint. Many of the city’s LGBTQ+ venues — bars, clubs, and saunas — are within a 10-minute walk. 

Eat — Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024, TimeOut Market Lisboa set the stage for the modern food hall. Featuring 28 restaurants, 8 bars, and plenty of spots to pick up locally made souvenirs, the market’s origins date back to 1771, when it first opened as a wholesale food, fish, and flower market. 

Don’t Miss  — If your time in Algarve didn’t satisfy your craving for the sun, head to Praia Naturista, Lisbon’s gay-friendly, clothing-optional beach. 



Lisbon: Beaches and Nightlife

The Late Birds Lisbon

Restored 18th-century building Travessa Andre Valente, 21 · Lisbon, Lisboa 1200-024
(351) 211-9139

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