A mournful song of injustice, sadness and resignation, you could be forgiven for thinking Fado an unworthy choice of holiday entertainment. But contrary to its less than upbeat reputation, Portuguese Fado can be surprisingly uplifting, especially when teamed with delicious food and wine.
Nowadays, Fado Houses resonate across Lisbon’s cobbled streets, and although some have unfortunately become extravagant tourist traps, there are still a handful of authentic venues.
We’ve put together a list of six of our favourite Fado Houses – four in the capital and two in Coimbra, Fado’s alternative town of origin.
Clube do Fado, Lisbon
With VIPs gracing this classy location, Clube do Fado is generally regarded as a higher-end Fado House.
Its ancient architecture, traditional food and in-house illustrious Fadista, Mário Pacheco, all make for a uniquely local experience.
Senhor Vinho, Lisbon
Senhor Vinho has an internationally renowned Fado House with unrivalled food and wine and an esteemed roll call of Fadistas.
Although pricier than most, this Fado House is one of the best in Lisbon.
Parreirinha de Alfama, Lisbon
Run by Fado legend Argentina Santos, (who often takes centre stage at the restaurant, entertaining the audience with her beautiful songs), Parreirinha de Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest Fado House.
Although it attracts its fair share of tourists, it sticks to tradition and has barely changed its décor or menu in its 50 years.
Simple, charming and a notoriously great night out.
A Baîuca, Lisbon
A Baîuca is a wonderful shoebox-sized, no-frills Fado House.
Instead of hosting professional Fadistas, this restaurant invites members of the public to brave the spotlight and sing heart-wrenching renditions of famous Fado songs.
Homely and charming, A Baîuca makes for a memorable Fado experience.
Diligência Bar, Coimbra
Diligência bar is the oldest Fado House is Coimbra. With windowless stone walls, low lighting and a wall full of its performers’ pictures, this cosy venue has a great atmosphere.
Its ever-rotating array of great Fadistas gives it a worthy reputation – meaning it’s best to turn up early to be in with a chance of getting in.
Fado ao Centro, Coimbra
This cultural centre is dedicated to celebrating and keeping the tradition of Fado alive in Coimbra. If you miss out on the daily show (they are available to watch if you reserve a place in advance), there are always public rehearsals to sit in on.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose London guide covers all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas