Planning a trip to Lisbon?
A trip to Lisbon is an opportunity to see the nightlife, enjoy the Mediterranean climate, unique cuisine, and a rich historical and cultural heritage.
Lisbon has 545,733 inhabitants, nine tourists for each inhabitant, and is an attractive city for tourists all over the world.
It has to be said that Portugal is becoming more and more popular. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of tourists visiting the Portuguese capital grew from 6.8 to 18.2 million!
In this article, we'll look at the best times to visit Lisbon, when you can go for cheap, and when there's a lot going on in the city!
Visiting Lisbon in the Low Season and Having a Cheap Getaway
While the winter months are often thought of being cold, Lisbon has a nice climate throughout the year.
In the low season, from November to February, it’s calm and it’ll be cheaper than in the summer.
Lisbon city centre, and the historic centre, in particular, will provide you with fantastic views of certain popular neighbourhoods like the Alfama, the city’s oldest area. Of course, the winter months are also cooler and more humid. There’s an average of 415.9mm of rain across the four months whereas there’s only 58.6mm of rainfall between June and September. The average temperature in winter is 16.7°C and it’s rare that it drops lower than 5°C at night.
Though you probably won’t be visiting the beaches nor will you be swimming in the Atlantic, winter is a great time to discover Lisbon’s most famous monuments, two of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. You also won’t have to wait in long queues with all the other tourists you’d usually find in summer and you’ll be able to see the sights in your holiday photos. Going to Portugal in the winter is a great way to pay less and enjoy a more authentic experience of the city.
Lisbon is one of Europe’s cheapest cities, meaning that a night out in the Bairro Alto won’t cost an arm and a leg. If you’re on a modest budget, the low season is the perfect time to spend a weekend in Lisbon. Not just for the cheap flights you can find on Skyscanner but also because the cost of accommodation in Lisbon is less.
Would you like to save money on restaurants, hotels, and museums?
Opt for the Lisboa Card. It’s valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours (at a cost of €20, €17, or €14 per day respectively) and is valid for public transport and a number of tourist attractions:
- Palace of Ajuda
- National Museum of the Azulejo
- The Roman Theatre
- Le Jerónimos Monastery
- The Tower of Belém
- The Pena National Palace in Sintra
- Castelo de São Jorge
Make sure you also take the famous Line 28 tram that dates back to the early 20th century.
Visiting Lisbon in the High Season
In spring and summer, it’s drier than in winter.
However, with so many tourists choosing to visit Lisbon between May and September, the prices for accommodation and flights jump up. Finding hotels in the centre of Lisbon in July and August can be challenging. Furthermore, you’ll struggle to find anything cheap. The best rooms go like hotcakes.
You should also be aware of pickpockets operating in museums and on the trams. Generally, spring and summer are thought to be the best times to go to Lisbon. The average temperatures are 21,4°C in May, 24,8°C in June, and 27,5°C in July and August.
It rains very little between May and September, making this the ideal time for spending evenings outdoors. Spring and autumn are the best times of the year since the climate is quite mild and you can enjoy walking around the old parts of the town like the Alfama, Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodre, Praça do Comércio, or head to the Botanic Gardens.
The busy tourist period reaches its peak in July. In April, there’s the Estoril Open that welcomes tens of thousands of tennis fans and players, making staying in Lisbon trickier.
In autumn, the rainy season starts and it rains enough that it could ruin your trip. That said, there are plenty of museums and indoor activities to enjoy in Lisbon.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of the Azulejo, the Chiado Museum, the Museum of the Fado, the Lisbon Museum, the Convento da Ordem do Carmo, the National Archeology Museum, etc., are all also great places to visit when it gets too warm.
If you don’t mind crowds, the summer can be one of the best times to visit.
Find out how long it takes to visit Lisbon.
Essential Things to Do and See in Lisbon
Not sure what to do in Lisbon?
Keep in mind that you’ll need a while to explore everything the city has to offer.
The Castelo de São Jorge is often cited as the top of the list of things to do.
Here are some of the city’s other attractions:
- The Tower of Belém
- Jerónimos Monastery
- Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries)
- The Santa Justa Lift
- The Line 28 tram (Lisbon’s famous yellow trams).
- Portuguese cuisine (sardines and other fish, pastries, etc.)
- The cities various viewpoints (Miradouro).
- Outside of Lisbon: Sintra, Cascais, Praia do Guincho, Almada, and Costa da Caparica.
A lot of the city’s monuments were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake including the cathedral and the convent. The massive earthquake struck the city on 1st November 1755, leaving between 50,000 and 70,000, was felt as far as Finland, and caused tsunamis as far away as the Caribbean islands.
Despite the destruction of 85% of the city’s buildings, the Alfama neighbourhood, with its narrow streets and flowery balconies, survived.
Cultural Events in Lisbon
Visiting Lisbon isn’t just about going to museums and learning about Portuguese history. There are also plenty of cultural events in Lisbon.
Before booking your flights to Lisbon, you might want to make sure that there aren’t any cultural events that take place throughout the year, affecting the price and atmosphere during your holidays.
It would be a shame to arrive in Lisbon when nothing’s going on or arrive expecting nothing and not being able to go anywhere because of an event.
Here are some of the events that take place in Lisbon:
- Carnation Revolution (25 April)
- Popular Saints Festivals in Lisbon (June)
- Festivities of Lisbon (Festas de Lisboa) (June)
- Feast of Saint Anthony (13 June)
- Lisbon Tango Festival (May/June)
- Feast of Saint John (23 June)
Most of Lisbon’s events take place in June.
The capital also organises a number of events throughout the year. For example, “Somersby Out Jazz” is taking place from 5th May to 29th September 2019. There are concerts every Sunday at 5:00 pm in Lisbon’s parks.
The south of Portugal isn’t the only place you can party on the beach, either. The FMM music festival in Sines takes place just a couple of hours from Lisbon. It’s the largest world music festival in Portugal.
In 2019, the event will take place between 18th and 27th July.
So when is the best time to visit Lisbon?
Probably between 1st January and 31st December.
Maybe you’ll come back speaking Portuguese!
Looking to learn some Portuguese before you go?
Get help from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available on the site: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. There are pros and cons to each and the best one for you really depends on your situation.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most personal and have you and your tutor working together for the whole session. Of course, this bespoke service comes at a cost, making it the most costly type of tutorial available. If shyness has been getting in the way of your language learning, this is probably the best option. Additionally, the tutor can tailor each lesson to exactly what you need to learn or what you've been struggling with.
Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face tutorials with the main difference being that the tutor isn't physically in the room with you and you're more likely to find native Portuguese speakers as you can broaden your search to anywhere in the world!
Finally, there are group tutorials. In these types of tutorials, there are several students and just one tutor. With all the students sharing the cost of the tutor's time, these tutorials are usually the cheapest per person per hour but each student won't get the bespoke tutoring or one-on-one time that they would in the other types of tutorials. However, you will get plenty of opportunities to practise your language skills with the other students in the class.