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Rain in Lisbon

The ultimate guide to Lisbon’s fabulous Fado Museum in the heart of Alfama

When you say Portugal, you say Fado. Therefore, a trip to the country without listening to Fado is pretty much impossible. If you want to learn more about Fado music, its history and the famous singers, the Fado Museum is the place to be!

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What to see in the Fado Museum in Lisbon

The Fado Museum in Lisbon is located in the heart of Alfama, housed in a former water elevatory station. The museum opened its doors in 1998, and the Museu do Fado hosts a rich exhibition about the history of Fado. The collection consists of instruments, clothes, phonograms, pictures, posters, and more. The basement is reserved for temporary exhibitions.

When you visit the Fado Museum, you receive a free audio guide which helps you learn about the history and the pieces on display. Along the route, you’ll listen to stories and music. The exhibits have a number, so you know exactly which number on your audioguide to play. This way, you learn about the technical and historical evolution of Fado Houses, the songs, and the Portuguese guitar. You’ll also discover more about the media coverage on TV, in theatres, on the radio, and in the cinema. Besides the free audio tour, you can also book a guided tour in Portuguese, Spanish, English or French. The guided tours cost € 3,00 and last an hour.

What is Fado?

The history of Fado goes back well over 200 years. The origin is difficult to trace, but the first stories emerged around 1820 in Lisbon. Fado themes are about daily life and are related to social subjects. Fado music was played indoors and outdoors in places like taverns, parks, and the streets. The music was transmitted orally, and Fado was sung in places where you’d find prostitutes, bohemians, sailors, and working-class people.

The word “Fado" comes from the Latin word for fate.

The songs could be just about anything but often have a melancholy about them. You’ll hear songs about sentiment, the sea, Lisboa, the life of the poor, and fate. The Portuguese word ‘saudade’ comes to mind, which means as much as longing or a feeling of loss. Fado was listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011 and is one of two Portuguese music traditions. Cante Alentejano is the other genre. Fado comes in many forms, and fado do marinheiro is the oldest. You might also come across fado aristocrata and fado boémio, for example.

Famous Fado singers

Throughout the years, some Fado singers became very famous. Examples are Mariza, Maria Teresa de Noronha, Ana Moura, Helder Moutinho and, of course, Amália Rodrigues. She was even known as Rainha do Fado, in other words, the Queen of Fado! Did you never hear Fado before? Click here to listen to a classic song by Amelia Rodriguez. This way, you’ll get a little taster of what’s to come! The song is called Fado Português.

The restaurant at the Fado Museum

If you’re ready for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink, you can visit A Travesa do Fado, the integrated restaurant with the Fado Museum. It’s a cosy place with a beautiful terrace, and you can enjoy a typical Portuguese meal here. The restaurant opens at midday and closes at 11 PM.

Where is the Fado Museum?

The Fado Museum is located in the heart of Alfama on Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, N.º 1, 1100-139. Bus 728, 735, 794, 745, 759, and 790 all stop close to the museum. The nearest metro stations are Santa Apolonia and Terreiro do Paço. From the metro stations, it’s only a 5-minute walk to the museum.

Opening hours

The Fado Museum in Lisbon is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Please be sure to buy our ticket before 5.30 PM. The museum is closed on the 1st of January, the 1st of May, the
24th, 25th and 31st of December.

Tickets to Museo de Fado

The entrance fee to the Fado Museum is € 5,00, which includes a free audioguide. The museum is relatively small, and you’ll need around one hour to visit the exhibitions. With Lisboa Card, you receive a 20% discount.

Get a 20% discount

And enjoy free public transport, discounts and free entrance to many Lisbon sights.

Other things to do in Alfama

Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon, and there is a lot to do! So don’t leave just yet and walk around the tiny streets and beautiful viewpoints like Santa Luzia. After all, sights like Lisbon Cathedral, the Pantheon, São Vicente de Fora, and Castle São Jorge are hard to miss! You can easily spend an afternoon in Alfama, and afterwards, you can complete your day with a visit to a Fado house. Are you looking for a long-lasting memory of your visit to Alfama? Book a Paparrazi Tour with a professional photographer in Lisbon, and discover the most beautiful areas of the neighbourhood.

Where to watch and listen to live Fado in Alfama

The origin of Fado traces back to the port districts of Lisbon, such as Mouraria, Bairro Alto, and Alfama. You can find Fado houses all over Lisbon, but the most considerable amount is still in Alfama. To listen to Fado, it’s a recommendation to book a table in a Fado house one evening. You’ll enjoy a fabulous traditional meal, and the fadistas will perform Fado from time to time. Please note that it’s appreciated not to speak during a performance. You’ll have a better experience also when you fully absorb the world of Fado.

Recommended restaurants are:

Fabulous food, cosy ambience, and fantastic fadistas

Next to Sé de Lisboa, a little pricy, known for the famous fado singers who performed here

Authentic Fado house in the heart of Alfama, affordable, cosy atmosphere

Will you visit the Fado Museum when you visit Lisbon? Or will you walk the charming streets of Alfama? There is plenty to see if this beautiful area, and a must-see during your visit to Lisbon. Besides, Alfama is a very beautiful area to stay in, and many hotels have stunning Lisbon views.

Visiting a museum is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. But there is much more to see and do when the weather could be better. Click here for a complete list of activities to do when it rains in Lisbon!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

8 Responses

  1. We have been to Lisbon several times but have not yet managed to see a Fado show. It would be interesting to visit the Fado museum before we do get to do a show. I am sure learning more about the history will make us appreciate the sow more.

  2. I didn’t know anything about Fado music before reading this so it was really enlightening. SOunds interesting and something that is worth exploring more on a trip to Lisbon. I like that you included some places to listen to the music live in the city

  3. Portugal has been on my list for years, especially Lisbon. As a museum lover, this article was right up my alley! Excellent read, and lots of good tips. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Those Portuguese guitars look so beautiful. I would love to visit Lisbon one day. I know that it’s a top spot for retirement, which I’m dreaming about.

  5. Fado is such an important part of Portuguese culture and yet so less talked about. Thanks for sharing this post on the museum. It sounds like a must visit places in Lisbon.

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