Planning a holiday to Lisbon?
A holiday to Lisbon offers opportunities to enjoy the Mediterranean climate, experience unique cuisine and visit wonderful historical and cultural sites.
Lisbon, which has 545,733 inhabitants is a tourism mecca boasting nine tourists for each resident! The popularity of Lisbon is not dwindling. Between 2010 and 2016 tourism grew from 6.8 to 18.2 million.
With this in mind, you are probably asking a few common questions:
- When is the best time to travel to Lisbon?
- What are the top things to see in Lisbon?
- Where to find a list of Lisbon Historical sites?
So if this is on your mind, keep reading for a practical guide to these and other questions.
The Best Time to Travel to Lisbon on a Budget
While winter is usually a no-go zone for most holiday destinations, Lisbon’s warm climate makes it an option to tourists throughout the year!
Planning a low-season itinerary for Lisbon means that you will go somewhere between November and February. The benefits of this are that not only will it be far less crowded, but it’ll also be much more affordable than summer. So if you’re on a budget, the low season is by far the best time to travel to Lisbon!
When planning your Lisbon itinerary make sure that you include the city centre as well as the historic quarter which will offer you incredible views of popular neighbourhoods in which to stay. This includes Alfama, one of the city’s oldest areas.
Planning a trip during the winter months means that you can expect weather that is cooler and more humid. The average temperature is 16.7°C with nights at about 5°C. So while you won’t be visiting beaches or swimming, there are many top things to still see in Lisbon. In fact, a simple search for Lisbon historical sites should give you an idea of just how busy you could be. Make sure that you add the two famous monuments which are also UNESCO world heritage sites to your winter holiday Lisbon itinerary.
Another bonus is that you will not have to wait in long queues with thousands of summer tourists, which means you’ll actually be able to see the sights in your holiday pics! Planning a Lisbon itinerary for winter is a great way to have a truly authentic experience in Portugal’s capital city!
In terms of costs, while Lisbon is generally one of Europe’s most affordable cities, if you’re on a budget, winter months are better because accommodation in Lisbon can be pricey.
Another convenient and economical way to make sure that you tick off the top things to see in Lisbon is to purchase a Lisboa Card. Passes are valid for either 24, 48, or 72 hours and include transport and a few of the attractions on your Lisbon historical sites list.
You can add these Lisboa card inclusions to your Lisbon itinerary.
- The Tower of Belém
- Palace of Ajuda
- The Pena National Palace
- The Roman Theatre
- National Museum of the Azulejo
- Le Jerónimos Monastery
- Castelo de São Jorge
Don’t forget to also take a ride on the famed Line 28 tram that was first installed in the early 20th century!
A High Season Itinerary for Lisbon
During spring and summer, you can expect it to be drier than in winter.
The first thing any guide to visiting Lisbon will tell you is that there is a major jump up in accommodation prices during July and August. However, because so many tourists still visit anywhere between May and September, accommodation and flights can still be more expensive. In fact, finding a hotel in the city centre during July and August can be very challenging, especially if you are on a budget!
All this action means that professional pickpockets are in business during these months and mainly operate at Lisbon’s historical sites, museums, and trams. Generally, the hot weather of spring and summer is thought to be the best time to travel to Lisbon. These average temperatures are quite convincing:
- 21,4°C in May
- 24,8°C in June
- 27,5°C in July, August
Low rainfall from May until September, makes it the best time to travel to Lisbon if you like to spend the evening and meals outdoors. Fortunately, both spring and autumn when the climate is especially mild are perfect for seeing all the top things to see in Lisbon by foot.
If you are planning an itinerary for Lisbon during these months, make sure that you include the Botanical Gardens as well as visits to the old neighbourhoods like the Bairro Alto, Alfama, Cais do Sodre, and Praça do Comércio.
So while this may be the best time to travel to Lisbon weather-wise it is also the peak of the tourist season. Also remember that the Estoril Open which welcomes scores of tennis players and fans takes place in April, making accommodation scarce.
If you really hate the rain or want to walk the city to see the list of Lisbon historical sites in person, avoid planning an itinerary for Lisbon in autumn! Having said this, the long list of top things to see in Lisbon does include many indoor attractions like art galleries, museums, bars, and restaurants too.
Here is a list of places to add to your Lisbon itinerary for when the weather is either too hot, rainy, or cold:
- 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
But if you don’t mind the crowds or the hiked accommodation prices, then summer is the best time to travel to Lisbon.
Spending time in Lisbon is always worthwhile, but how long is the ideal visit to Lisbon?
Top Things to See in Lisbon
So besides working down the list of Lisbon historical sites, what are the really essential things to do in Lisbon?
The Castelo de São Jorge is by far one of the most popular destinations to explore.
Here are a few other attractions to add to a good Lisbon itinerary.
- The Tower of Belém
- Jerónimos Monastery
- Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries)
- The Santa Justa Lift
- The Line 28 tram
- Portuguese cuisine (sardines, other fish, pastries, and more.)
- The city’s many viewpoints (Miradouro).
- Outside of Lisbon: Costa da Caparica Sintra, Praia do Guincho, Cascais and Almada.
Sadly, many of the monuments that would be part of the Lisbon historical sites list were destroyed as a result of the devastating 1755 earthquake which was even felt in Finland and caused tsunamis as far away as the Caribbean.
Despite the devastation of 85% of Lisbon’s buildings in the Alfama neighbourhood survived!
Cultural Events in Lisbon
Yes, there’ll be much to do from the Lisbon historical sites list, but there are noteworthy cultural events to attend in Lisbon too!
Good advice would be to check Lisbon’s events calendar before booking your flights as there are certain festivities that would be a real shame to miss. Having said that, you may want to avoid some of these popular times as they will affect price and accommodation availability.
Here are some popular cultural events that take place in Lisbon:
- Carnation Revolution (25 April)
- Lisbon Tango Festival (May/June)
- Popular Saints Festivals in Lisbon (June)
- Festivities of Lisbon (Festas de Lisboa) (June)
- Feast of Saint Anthony (13 June)
- Feast of Saint John (23 June)
As you can tell, June is a busy month which may or may not be the best time to travel to Lisbon, depending on what kind of holiday you are after.
The culturally-rich city also boasts organised events throughout the year. For example, concerts are held every Sunday at 5:00 pm in Lisbon’s parks.
If you like to party on the beach, look into the dates for the FMM music festival which takes place in Sines only a few hours from Lisbon.
So, when would be the best time to travel to Lisbon?
Honestly? Any time between 1 January and 31 December and who knows, maybe you will come back speaking fluent Portuguese.
Getting a head start before you go is also a good idea. Why not try one of Superprof’s private tutors. Use the location tool to find someone near to you or take online lessons with an expert tutor from numerous other places in the world.
There are tutors and teaching setups to suit every level of ability and budget. Naturally in-person private lessons will cost more than a group or online class, but there are benefits for each option depending on your needs.
Don’t forget that one of the best ways to learn any new language is through language immersion. In this case that would mean living, working, or studying in Portuguese. But before you do that, make sure that you have a reasonable amount of conversational ability under your belt to get you started!
These days having a second foreign language to your name is incredibly beneficial, so if that is Portuguese, why not plan a language immersion itinerary for Lisbon.
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