So you want to listen to fado, but all you see are overpriced shows in touristy restaurants? Don’t worry, free fado in Lisbon exists, and you don’t have to look hard to find it!
While listening to fado is a must-do when you visit Portugal, it can also be an expensive affair.
If you’re on a budget, we suggest looking for tascas with Fado Vadio, fado sang by amateur singers. Unlike most fado restaurants in Lisbon, you don’t have to get a full dinner here or pay a minimum fee, you can simply order a drink and a few petiscos to share.
We know how easy it is to get ripped off with fado shows, so to avoid all that, we made it a list of our favorite places where you can listen to free fado in Lisbon. Enjoy!
1. Tasca do Chico
Ask any local where to listen to free fado in Lisbon, and they’ll point you to Tasca do Chico. Open since 1993 this tasca is a beloved fado institution. You never know who’s going to sing here, but that’s part of the fun! They have fado shows every night starting around 8 p.m. While you wait, you can order a drink or share a round of petiscos. If you don’t have a reservation, make sure to go early as it gets quite busy! They have another location in Alfama, but we still prefer the original one in Bairro Alto.
Insider’s tip: They don’t accept cards so draw some cash before you go.
2. Tasca do Jaime
Who said fado shows had to be a night event? At Tasca do Jaime, it’s an afternoon thing. Every weekend after lunch, locals and amateur singers gather up here to show off their skills or listen to fado. Not many tourists venture to the Graça neighborhood, but if you find yourself in the area and want to listen to free fado, this is the place to go.
Insider’s tip: Head here early if you want to sit down otherwise you might have to stand outside!
3. Devagar Devagarinho
Just a few steps from Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s main shopping boulevard, you’ll stumble upon Devagar Devagarinho. This traditional tasca serves a variety of dishes, including delicious grilled fish. Head here on Wednesdays and Friday nights around 9 p.m., and you might get a fado show with your dinner.
Insider’s tip: The restaurant is a bit small, so we recommend booking a table in advance.
Margarida and António lived in Bairro Alto for nearly twenty years, when they decided to turn their home into a restaurant. That’s how Solidó was born. Now, this two-floor restaurant serves typical Portuguese petiscos to anyone who climbs the steps of Calçada do Duque. At dinner, there’s always a free fado show that starts around 8 p.m.
5. Associação do Fado Casto
Walk past Associação do Fado Casto during the day and you probably won’t even notice it, but at night, this place turns into a live fado venue. The owner, Pedro de Castro, is a famous Portuguese guitar player, and when he’s not running the show, you can catch him performing with the fadistas too. While you can book a set menu for €45, we suggest going a bit later and sharing a few petiscos instead.
Insider’s tip: It doesn’t matter if you go for the dinner menu or the petiscos, make sure to book a table in advance!
Amidst the busy nightclubs and bars of Cais do Sodré, Povo caters to a different crowd: a crowd of fado lovers. Throughout the year, this local restaurant organizes musical residencies for young fado singers. The goal is to discover new voices and help them develop their careers. You can catch them on stage for free from Tuesday to Sunday between 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.
7. A Nini
You’ll find most fado venues in the center of Lisbon, but not this one. When it comes to fado, A Nini is still a hidden gem, even for many locals. Usually, the restaurant is only open for lunch, but on Thursdays, they host a fado night too. The show is free, so you only pay for what you order.
8. Grupo Desportivo da Mouraria
Mouraria is the birthplace of fado, so of course, you would find a fado school here. Grupo Desportivo da Mouraria provides all kinds of activities to locals, including fado lessons. But that’s not all. Every month they organize a free fado show, and everyone is welcome to join. If you want to support the younger generation of fado singers, pay them a visit!
Insider’s tip: Check their Facebook page to know the date of the next show!
Bonus: A Fado Van and a Record Store
Walk along Rua do Carmo in Chiado, and you’ll probably spot an old green van playing fado tunes. Inside, there’s usually an old man selling fado records! But what if you want to see more? Then you should visit Discoteca Amália, a record store specialized in fado music. While it’s not the same as listening to a live singer, visiting these places is a great way to get familiar with old fado legends like Amália Rodrigues and new ones like Mariza and Carminho.
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Joana is a Portuguese travel writer based in Lisbon. On her blog City Odes, she writes about the hidden gems of Portugal, fun road trips and train rides worth taking. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you can find her drinking an IPA on one of Lisbon’s latest craft beer bars.