Lisbon in Winter: what you need to know
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I’m going to go there: Lisbon is the coolest European capital. It’s got so much to offer, from street festivals to beaches, cosy cafes for digital nomads to world-class museums perfect for city trippers.
It’s a well known secret that Lisbon is a great place for digital nomads, but it’s also perfect for people travelling around Europe or those wanting a quick mini break too. It’s well worth taking some time to explore Spain and Portugal properly by rail, as they both have so much to offer.
But what about Lisbon in winter? It’s still well worth visiting. The weather is good – not as hot as the summer, of course, but better than most of Europe – and there’s a lot going on, especially during the festive period.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Lisbon in winter!
What temperature is Lisbon in winter?
Lisbon in winter can be decent weather – when I was there in January it reached 17 degrees one day! But it can also rain – and when it rains in Lisbon, it really rains. It is a bit down to luck, but you’ll likely at least have some different weather on your trip to Lisbon. If it rains, you can check out some of the things to do in Lisbon in the rain (see below for details!).
- Lisbon in November: expect an average high of 18 C and a low of 12 C, with around 9 days of rain.
- Lisbon in December: you’ll likely see a high of 15 C and a low of 9 C, with around 10 days of rain
- Lisbon in January: highs in January are 15 C and lows are 8 C, with roughly 10 days of rain.
- Lisbon in February: you’ll get highs of around 16 C and lows of 10 C, and roughly 8 days of rain.
What should I pack for Lisbon in winter?
You’ll want to be prepared – I’d recommend taking a coat unless you’re at either end of winter and the weather is looking really good. You’ll probably be alright without a hat, scarf, and gloves – but maybe take some in case, especially if you’re visiting Lisbon in December, January, and February!
I found I was ok wearing just a light jacket while in Lisbon in January – a couple of times I was only wearing a t shirt! (I’m British though, 15 degrees is scorching to me). But do check the weather for your trip, and be prepared!
I visited in different years, so can’t really compare them, but to me Lisbon felt much warmer than Madrid in winter.
Where to stay in Lisbon in winter
Budget Hotel – Chalet D’ Avila Guest House
This is a great little budget hotel. Although the rooms are cheap, they are decorated in boutique style, awash with natural light. Bathrooms are all shared, which help the hotel stick to its low prices! Click here for more information.
Mid Range Hotel – Empire Lisbon Hotel
This hotel is conveniently situated right in the centre of the city. The hotel has spacious, bright rooms and free WiFi and breakfast on site. Click here for rates or to reserve your spot.
Luxury Hotel – Iberostar Selection Lisboa
The Iberostar Selection Lisboa Hotel is a 5* property in the heart of Lisbon, close to Eduardo VII park. The rooms are stunning, with comfy beds and floor to ceiling windows. On site are two swimming pools, a restaurant and a gym. Click here for more information about the property.
Historic Hotel – Corpo Santo Lisbon
Another luxury pick, this hotel offers 5* accomodation in the Muralha Fernandina, which dates back from the 14th century. There are also 17th century noble households nearby. The rooms echo the historical grandeur of the place, with all the modern amenities you’ll need. On site is a restaurant and bar. Click here for more information.
Things to do in Lisbon in winter
Lisbon’s famous Pink Street is a popular Instagram location (it’s quite literally a road that’s painted pink). There are also lots of bars lining the road; it used to be the Red Light District, but is now one of the best party areas in the city. It’s definitely worth visiting in the day time for its photogenic-ness, and at night for the party scene!
Basilica da Estrela
The Basilica da Estrela was ordered by Queen Mary I of Portugal, who was on the throne in the 18th century. It was built after the Queen gave birth to celebrate having an heir to the throne, but sadly her son died before it was finished. It is one of the grandest churches in the city, and both the Queen and her son are buried there.
The Basilica da Estrala is styled in a baroque and neoclassical way, typical of Portuguese architecture of the time.
The Basilica da Estrala is located on the west of Lisbon and is fairly easy to reach from the city.
There are lots of Miradouros, or viewpoints in English, dotted throughout Lisbon. They are all great places to catch an epic view of the city, and some have hills where you can grab a refreshment. Here are some of them:
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol has epic lookouts of Alfama and other parts of the city.
- Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is one of the loveliest miradouros, alongside a beautiful castle.
- Miradouro Da Graca is well shaded and has epic views toward the castle.
The Alfama region of Lisbon is one of the most historic and interesting areas of the city. It used to be an area that was known for poverty, but it is now a trendy and fashionable area that’s popular with residents and businesses in the area.
It has a lot of modern culture, but also some historical attractions. While you’re walking around Alfama, look out for the following:
- Se Cathedral, the main cathedral of the city.
- Castelo de Sao Jorge, a castle dating from 1st Century BC.
- Panteao Nacional, a striking and unique church ..
- Igreja de Santo Antonio, an 18th century church built where St Anthony was born.
If it’s raining, or you think it’s a bit too chilly to be exploring Lisbon in winter, take tram 28. This historic tram connects the main tourist areas, so it’s a great alternative transport – but riding on the tram is an experience in itself!
It passes through Estrela, Sao Bento (look out for the Portuguese parliament building!), and the authentic area of Graca. Here’s a blog post with some more informatio about tram 28.
Feira de Ladra
Literally meaning market of thieves (although the name actually comes from the word ladro, which is the name for an antique-based flea), Lisbon’s flea market is a great place to visit on a cooler winter’s day.
It’s a historical spot – there is said to have been a market here since the 12th century. The current Feira de Ladra originates from the 17th century.
Visit every Tuesday and Sunday, from early morning until just after lunch, to browse the stalls or purchase goods. On offer are books, coins, CD’s, antiques and historic furniture.
Portuguese food tour
Portuguese certainly isn’t the most famous European cuisine – Spanish paella and Italian pasta knock it out the park – but it’s still worth doing a food tour while in the city. Doing a tour with a local will help you not only taste some delicious Portuguese dishes but also see another side of the city!
Lisbon walking tour
There are lots of walking tours in Lisbon, some of them free! I always do SANDEMANS tours in Europe, you can check out their Lisbon tour here.
They run on a tips basis – at the end of the tour, you can pay what you think the tour is worth. SANDEMANS also offer (paid-for) walking tours around other areas of Lisbon, and trips to Sintra and other locations.
Things to do in Lisbon in the rain
Fado is the traditional Portuguese music; a slow-paced song accompanied by various instruments. If you’re visiting Lisbon in winter and want something to do in the rain, try a Fado concert. You can purchase Fado tickets here.
Museu do Fado
And, if you’re interested in Fado after this performance, check out the Museu do Fado! These interactive displays will help you understand the story that is Fado. It’s a unique part of Portuguese culture, so it’s definitely a must-do while in the city – and you can definitely visit if you’re looking for things to do in Lisbon when it’s raining!
If you’re a football fan, you might want to look around the Luz Stadium. This is a multipurpose stadium, but is used for the home games of S.L. Benfica. You can look around the museum, which discusses football history in Portugal, and even check out the stadium itself!
The MAAT is housed in a contemporary building and it is a collection of Lisbon’s art, architecture and technology. It’s a compelling exhibition of these three subjects, and focuses on the link between them. It has a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions, and is one of the best museums in the city.
National Museum of Natural History and Science
Another must-visit is Portugal’s biggest museum focusing on the natural sciences. The National Museum of Natural History and Science has been a place of education since the 17th century. On site are various exhibitions about Portuguese and global nature and scientific endevaours.
Day trips from Lisbon in the Winter
Sintra is probably the most popular day trip from Lisbon. Try to visit on a dry day if you can – it’s worth going to take as many photos as possible! Sintra is a small town, not too far from Lisbon, famous for its Moorish/ Maudeline National Palace.
There is also the remains of a Moorish castle in the area alongside plenty of other beautiful buildings and places of interest. If you only do one day trip from Lisbon, make it Sintra.
Cascais is about 30 minutes from Lisbon centre, but a world away in atmosphere. It’s a historic Portuguese fishing town, with beautiful beaches and seaside activities. It’s got some beautiful architecture, including the historic 15th centre citadel.
Cabo de Roca
Cabo de Roca is an area on the Lisbon coastline that is the westernmost area of the European continent. Here you can enjoy epic panoramic views and see the rugged cliffs of the area.
Wine Tour from Lisbon
There are lots of wine regions around Lisbon, so you can do a tour around the best vineyards and try some traditional Portuguese wine and cheese.
Belem is technically still a part of Lisbon, but it is also a popular day trip from the centre of the city. The most popular attraction in Belem is the UNESCO world-heritage listed Belem Tower, which was the centre of Portuguese maritime culture for hundreds of years.
Things to do in Lisbon at Christmas
If you’re staying in Lisbon at Christmas, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the best Christmas markets in the city. Some of the best include the large one in Rossio Square and Sao Pedro de Alcantara, which is based on a viewpoint.
The entire city has a fun, festive atmosphere in the build-up to Christmas. Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, and while it isn’t as religious as some other countries in Europe, they do still love Christmas!
If you are staying in Lisbon at Christmas, it is best to book accommodation with cooking facilities. Some bars and restaurants close on Christmas Eve, and not many are open for Christmas day.
If you are invited to Portuguese Christmas celebrations, you will be able to feast on Christmas Eve supper, which is traditionally potatoes, cabbage, and cod, as well as bolo rei, a Portuguese dessert. Christmas Day dinner is a traditional turkey dinner or a vegetarian alternative.
Things to do in Lisbon at New Years
On New Years Eve, there is a free street party in Lisbon. Beer and wine are sold at pop up stalls, and there is plenty of live music! There are also many Christmas markets still running.
Clubs and bars need to be booked on new years eve, as they get very busy.
Where to eat in Lisbon
- You’ll find plenty of cafes with coffee and pastels de nata, famous Portuguese custard-filled desserts, all over the city.
- Jardim das Cerenjas is a delicious vegan buffet with some delicious meat-free dishes. The Food Temple is also a great veggie restaurant.
Where to go from Lisbon
There are plenty of places to visit in Lisbon – most travellers go up to Porto, which is chilly in the winter but still has plenty to see, or down to the potential sunny weather of the Algarve.
Or you could head over to Spain. There are lots of places to visit in Spain during winter, including its capital Madrid, the Costa del Sol and Costa Brava, and of course its islands.