Lisbon in winter: 13 brilliant things to do

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Planning a European winter break? Look no further! We’re gonna let you into one of Europe’s best-kept secrets: Lisbon in winter.

So, what’s to love? Firstly, the weather. Lisbon has relatively mild winters and an average temperature of 15° C in December. You might be able to sit out in the sun enjoying a pastel de nata in a t-shirt only!

There are plenty of opportunities to work off those creamy, calorific cakes in this famously hilly town. (Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills). You’ll appreciate being able to hike up to the spectacular miradouros without working up as much of a sweat! 

Once you arrive at Lisbon’s top sights, you’ll get straight to the action more quickly, as you’ll find far fewer tourists in the winter months. This means you might avoid endless queues snaking around the block. AND, take better pictures without crowds of people in the way. 

As well as all this, you can enjoy eating, drinking and being generally merry in Lisbon’s best eateries without having to book. Pass the frango!

So, read on for our rundown of what to do in wintery Lisbon!

Things to do in Lisbon with children this winter

1. Oceanário de Lisboa

Baby, it’s cold outside! Start your family adventure at the Oceanário de Lisboa. Come in from the crisp Lisbon air and submerge yourself in the dark warmth of this cavernous aquarium.

You’ll come face-to-face with all sorts of ocean dwellers. These include brooding sharks, graceful rays and a kaleidoscope of colourful fish. Your kids will absolutely love seeing the super-cute sea otter’s playful antics: somersaulting, playing and frolicking!

2. Telecabine cable car

Go from the depths of the ocean to the top of the world on the Telecabine cable car. You might want to pop your coat on for this one, as it could get nippy! This breathtaking ride takes you high above the dazzling Tejo River. You and your brood will get treated to panoramic views of Lisbon’s dazzling skyline.

With the wind in your hair and the stunning 25 de Abril bridge beneath you, it’s an unforgettable experience. You and your kids will be talking about it for years to come!

3. Sintra and the Palacio da Pena

One of the most popular day trips from Lisbon in winter is the stunning storybook town of Sintra. It really is like stepping into a fairytale. Grown-ups will enjoy Sintra’s unique architecture. From royal palaces to Moorish castles and ruined monasteries to tranquil convents, Sintra has it all. And its magical landscapes will appeal to the whole family.

One of the standout buildings among all this beauty is the Palacio da Pena, one of the seven wonders of Portugal. Your children will flip out over this frankly bizarre building. A jolly, turreted palace that’s half canary yellow and half pillar box red.

This singular building began life as a monastery in the 15th century. It was reduced to rubble in the great earthquake of 1755. Centuries later, a young King Ferdinand fell in love with the area. He decided to transform it into a summer palace, letting his imagination run free.

Let your brood run free around the grounds. They’ll be able to live out their fantasies of slaying dragons, jousting and letting their hair down! Meanwhile, you can walk the gorgeous grounds of this former sixteenth-century monastery.

4. City Sightseeing bus

For something a bit different, why not hop on our City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus to explore the city?

You and your crew can sit up on the top deck of our double-decker bus on a sunny afternoon. And you can retreat to the bottom deck for comfort and warmth when it gets a bit chilly or rainy. Perfect!

We’ve got four lines around the city that take you straight to all of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks and liveliest neighbourhoods at your own pace. Hop off to pop into a cool bar, then hop back on again to reach that spectacular miradouro. You’re in control!

Plus, everyone knows it’s fun to sit on the top deck of a shiny red bus!

5. Pavilion of Knowledge

Another family-friendly activity in Lisbon in winter is the Pavilion of Knowledge. This centre is perfect for budding scientists! On a cold day, step inside and ignite your kids’ curiosity. It’s full of interactive displays, mind-boggling exhibitions and fascinating games.

From giant bubble-making to watching a tornado form and programming robots to riding a bike along a high wire, your science-loving squad won’t be short of things to see, do, touch and play with here.

What to do with friends in Lisbon during winter

6. Tasting local wines

Now, if you’re on a Lisbon winter break with amigos, we’ve got some more adult-friendly suggestions for you! First off, raise your glasses and toast the good life in one of Lisbon’s tasting rooms! The Portuguese capital is famous for its delectable Portuguese wines and ports.

From the robust reds of the Douro Valley to the sweet indulgence of Port wine, you’ll find your perfect Portuguese tipple in Lisbon.

7 .Quake

From top tipples to toppling towers… watch out! The ground is about to start shaking beneath your feet. Quake is a heart-pounding experience that recreates the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755

The disaster lasted between 3 and 6 minutes, but it shaped today’s city. Cracks up to 5 metres wide opened up in Lisbon’s centre. 40 minutes after the shock, a tsunami engulfed downtown Lisbon. Up to 40,000 people were killed in the tragedy, and Lisbon was decimated, with 85% of its buildings destroyed.

Experience what it must have been like for Lisboetas during the quake. You’ll find yourselves trapped in different rooms, battling against the elements and using your wits to escape. Think of it as a real-life action thriller where you’re the stars – can you conquer the earthquake and find your way out?

8. Lisbon Cathedral

As the sun sets over Lisbon and a wintry chill enters the air, take a moment to marvel at the magnificent Lisbon Cathedral. This 800-year-old wonder is also known as Sé de Lisboa.

Every nook and cranny of this splendid building is full of history. Take in fantastic views from the High Choir, appreciate the elegant arches of the central nave and take a stroll in the peaceful ambulatory.

9. Jeronimos Monastery

The 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery has, quite rightly, been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re in Lisbon in winter, get yourself a ticket to get in out of the cold. You’ll be glad you did. Fall in love with this fantastical abbey and feel the centuries of history within its walls.

You could easily spend a day getting lost in this beauty. Check out the intricate Manueline architecture. Wander through the unimaginably pretty cloisters where monks once roamed. Pay your respects at the tomb of the legendary Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama. Just try to resist the urge to jump off one of its walls, shouting Geronimoooo!

Romantic plans in Lisbon when it’s winter

10. Dinner at a fancy restaurant

Romance is in the air! If you’re lucky enough to be going on a romantic break to Lisbon with your sweetheart, read on!

You can’t leave this special city without treating your special someone to an evening of fine dining in one of the many restaurants. From intimate Portuguese bistros serving up sublime seafood dishes to candlelit rooftop terraces with panoramic views, pamper your paramour with Portugal’s finest cuisine.

11. A fado show

When an evening chill creeps in, a cosy little fado club beckons. In case you’ve never heard of it, Fado is the hauntingly beautiful music that echoes through the streets of Lisbon.

Order some petite petiscos (Portuguese tapas) and settle in for an evening of magic, music, and emotion with your beloved. Listen to soulful singers pouring their hearts out and enjoy the melodies of the pear-shaped, mandolin-style Portuguese guitars.

12. Estufa Fria (botanic gardens)

Seeking an escape from the city buzz? Lose yourselves in the lush paradise of Estufa Fria. This enchanting garden oasis boasts an impressive collection of flora from around the world.

Stroll hand in hand under the leafy canopies, discover hidden alcoves and enjoy a romantic rendezvous in the middle of nature.

13. A cocktail at a panoramic rooftop bar

Ready to take your romantic evening to new heights, both literally and figuratively? Lisbon is brimming with glamorous rooftop bars!

Head to a rooftop terraza for astonishing views of the city and expertly crafted cocktails. We recommend going at twilight to admire the city lights twinkling and the picturesque city of Lisbon in winter below.

Take a wonderful winter break in Lisbon

So, have we convinced you? Visiting Lisbon in winter is a pleasant, relaxing experience and a brilliant plan if you’re looking for a spot of winter sun. Think chilled rather than chily.

Whether you choose to visit with family, friends, or your special someone by your side, you’ll have an amazing time. So, bundle up, embrace the chill and let a wintery Lisbon steal your heart! Adeus!


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Frequently Asked Questions

During winter in Lisbon, it is advisable to pack layers. Bring a few sweaters, jackets, some warm clothes and a waterproof coat. Don’t forget to bring a scarf, gloves, and a hat to protect yourself from the occasional chilly winds.

In Lisbon during winter, you can indulge in some delicious traditional dishes. Some typical winter specialties include Caldo Verde (kale soup with sausage), Bacalhau à Brás (codfish with eggs and potatoes), Feijoada (bean stew with various meats), and Sopa da Pedra (stone soup with a blend of vegetables and meats).

Lisbon experiences a mild winter, but it does sometimes rain. On average, it rains around 10-14 days per month during the winter season. However, the rainfall is typically light to moderate, and there are still plenty of sunny days to enjoy during this time. It is o good idea to bring a small umbrella or a waterproof jacket to be prepared for the occasional rain showers.