Lisbon in Winter – Dreamy Days in Portugal’s Capital

My favourite time of year to travel is fall or winter, and Lisbon is no exception!

Lisbon in winter is not just Christmas markets and crisp mornings, there are a lot of great things about Portugal’s cooler season!

Pinterest Pin reads "Lisbon in Winter" over a background of Lisbon photos

If you haven’t already, be sure to visit my full Lisbon itinerary.

Why Visit Lisbon in the Winter?

Fewer People

To put it bluntly, fewer tourists has a trickle down effect that makes a LOT of your trip better.

Here are a few ways that the lack of crowds during winter in Lisbon can kick your experience up a notch!

The black and white coloured cobbles of a square in central Lisbon, framed by yellow houses

Quieter Restaurants

When we picture an idyllic cafe experience we are hardly ever picturing an adjoining crush of tourists.

Central Lisbon is very walkable, which is fabulous until everyone ends up in the same area.

Being able to get a window seat or a cozy outdoor corner to people-watch is much easier in the winter.

Some restaurants can be very hard to get into during high season, so winter is a great time to try the best cuisine that Lisbon has to offer.

Shorter Lines (and emptier attractions)

I hate waiting in lines.

I am far more likely to skip it altogether and miss out on something if it is a hot and crowded summer day.

(That’s the beauty of Slow Travel, we don’t feel pressure to see anything.)

During Lisbon’s winter you can see everything you want to, and really make the most of your time!

Santa Justa Lift - an eiffel inspired steel elevator in central Lisbon at dusk in winter with nobody around

(Although I will say that the Santa Justa Lift is almost always busy!)

More Accommodation Choices

I feel like the Belle of the ball when I’m booking accommodation in the off season! Not only is there so much more available, it’s all reduced too.

You can get a great deal AND a better location by visiting Lisbon in the winter.

A historical building with ornate juliette balcony above a vintage light up sign that reads hotel

Perfect Weather

Lisbon is one of the milder places that you can visit in Europe during the winter.

Portugal boasts 300 sunny days a year, and Lisbon never gets very cold.

(I’ll cover the weather in more detail in just a minute!)

An empty park in Lisbon Portugal with yellow leaves on the trees and a fountain in the middle

Pros & Cons for Visiting Lisbon in the Winter

A quick summary of the “pros” for visiting Lisbon in the winter:

  • Less crowded
  • Quieter restaurants
  • Shorter line ups
  • Attractions are calmer
  • More accommodation choices
  • Cheaper accommodation

So what about the cons?

There aren’t a lot of drawbacks to winter in Lisbon, but here are a couple:

Reduced Winter Hours

Many places of business, most tourist attractions, and even some forms of transit, will have reduced hours in the winter.

A view of Lisbon's historical buildings and the famous Carmo convent as the sun sets on a winter day

It’s not that inconvenient, but it does require a little more thought and planning for your trip.

This is especially true if you plan to visit Sintra, where all the big sights close much earlier in the winter.

The end result of all the reduced hours, is that you may need more time in Lisbon than you realized, since your visiting day is so short.

Closed Restaurants & Attractions

In addition to the reduced hours, a lot of little restaurants and seaside attractions will be completely closed for the winter.

It’s not as much of an issue in Lisbon as other parts of the country, but still there will be some seasonal casualties.

(Especially any outdoor booths.)

Many restaurant patios will also be closed. There are still opportunities to sit outside on nice days, just not as many as during the warm months.

An empty square in Lisbon after the rain. The sky is clearing overhead but puddles have still collected on the ground.

Lisbon’s Rainy Season

Lisbon’s winter weather is mild and beautiful, but it is also their rainy season.

From November to March, Lisbon averages about 14 days per month with at least some rain.

I will say that we’ve had pretty good luck in Lisbon. We have visited twice in the winter and I can’t remember any rain.

Things to do in Lisbon in Winter

Of course when visiting Lisbon in the winter all the major attractions will still be open.

I made an in depth post about what you should see and do in Lisbon here:

A view over the rooftops of Lisbon through some trees. The ocean is in the background. Text reads "Best of Lisbon Itinerary."

This is a list of our favourite all-season activities in Lisbon:

  • Oriente Station
  • Lisbon Oceanarium
  • Cable Car (Telecabine Lisboa)
  • Walking the City Centre
  • Santa Justa Lift
  • Carmo Convent
  • Lisbon’s Pink Street
  • Praça do Comércio
The steel tree-like canopy of Lisbon's Oriente station at night in the Winter
Lisbon’s Oriente Station

If you have more than a couple days in Lisbon, these are the “nice to see” :

  • Sao Jorge Castle
  • Belem Tower
  • Jeronimos Monastery


(Definitely try to visit Sao Jorge Castle and Jeronimos Monastery if you don’t plan to go elsewhere in Portugal.)

Belem tower in Lisbon portugal on a cold winter day. It is a light stone medieval tower in the ocean.
Belem Tower

You can read about all of these in depth in my Lisbon Itinerary post.

Most of the winter in Lisbon, you can do anything you would do in the summer.

(Besides go in the ocean, but Lisbon isn’t really a beach destination anyway.)

From late November through December however, things get a little more magical!

Visiting Lisbon at Christmas (Late November through December)

Pinterest Pin. A yellow cable car in Lisbon makes its way up the middle of a cobbled street. A cut out of the colourful Lisbon skyline sits in the foreground.

Lisbon may not be a snowy winter wonderland like other European Christmas destinations, but it does have it’s charms!

Christmas Markets in Lisbon

[Please note that these were the recurring Christmas markets prior to 2020 and any subsequent restrictions. Check before you plan your visit to see what will be returning this Christmas. Markets or not, Lisbon is still a great place to be at Christmas!]

Red bunting style garlands with little lights are strung across the streets of Lisbon at Christmas

Natalis

(Natalis has tentatively been scheduled for November 24 – 28 this year)

Natalis is less like the typical outdoor European Christmas market, and more like the craft fairs we have in North America.

Natalis takes place in the exhibition centre Feira Internacional de Lisboa. There is a shopping area, a “snack plaza,” an exhibition area, and “candy square” where parents can make Christmas treats with their kids.

You can get to Natalis by taking the metro to Oriente Station (another of my things to see and do in Lisbon.)

This is the same area as the cable car and Oceanarium, so you could easily combine all three into one day!

Also by Oriente Station is Centro Vasco da Gama, a massive shopping centre which goes all out with it’s Christmas decor.

Check the Natalis website to confirm dates.

A ferris wheel at wonderland Lisboa lit up in rainbow colours for the Christmas fair

Wonderland Lisboa

Wonderland Lisboa is a huge outdoor Christmas celebration in Lisbon’s Eduardo VII Park.

In years past there has been a traditional Christmas market setup with little outdoor booths. There has also been a skating rink and carnival rides.

Of course Wonderland also incorporates lots of Christmas lights and decorations!

To check up on Wonderland Lisboa for this year’s dates, keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram. They do have a website but it doesn’t have a lot of info on it.

A crystal ball in front of a faded background of Christmas lights and a market in Lisbon Portugal

Alvalade Christmas Market

This Christmas market takes over Avenida da Igreja. It is all outdoors and features the typical European Christmas market booths.

Santa and the elves will be there, as will hot drinks and Christmas treats!

To find this year’s dates, check their Facebook

Campo Pequeno

Located very close to the Alvalade Christmas Market (although likely to run at a different time) is the Campo Pequeno Market.

This is an indoor market in the historic Campo Pequeno (also known as “Lisbon Bullring”) and is a ticketed event.

The orange brick building of the Lisbon bullring where a Christmas market takes place every year

In past years the fee has been low: 2 Euros for adults and free for kids under 10.

Take a stroll through the beautiful halls of shops and enjoy the decor.

To find this year’s dates, check their Facebook

Rossio Neighbourhood at Christmas

One more Christmas market is located in the Rossio district, right in the heart of Lisbon’s tourist area.

If you visit Lisbon in the winter, there will be no missing it as you explore on foot.

an overhead view of Rossio square in central Lisbon at Christmas time. A Christmas market is spread out below amongst Christmas lights and a large tree.

Rossio square also boasts one of the largest Christmas trees in Lisbon, and many beautiful lights.

Just around the corner from Praça Dom Pedro IV (Rossio square) is the smaller Praça da Figueira, and our favourite cafe: Confeitaria Nacional.

Stop for a tasty dessert – and to people watch – in this bustling area.

Praça do Comércio

Already on my list of things to do in Lisbon, Praça do Comércio is a waterfront square in front of a historic yellow building with a beautiful archway into Lisbon’s Center.

At Christmas this square has a huge lit up Christmas tree – typically from the end of November until the first week of January.

Praca do Comercio in Lisbon Portugal at Christmas. A large square surrounded by traditional row building with a giant christmas tree lit up in the middle at dusk

On New Year’s Eve this is the place to be for watching the fireworks and celebrating with the locals.

Traditional Christmas Meal

Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese traditional Christmas meal involves fish!

It is typically served on Christmas Eve and consists of cod, potatoes, and veggies.

If not serving the cod (or in addition to) some also enjoy game such as turkey, lamb, or goat.

There is such a variety of cuisine in Portugal, I think if you asked five people you may get five different answers!

Regardless of what the locals eat, there is unlikely to be any restaurants open on Christmas Day (other than a few hotels).

If you plan to stay in Lisbon over Christmas, you may want to plan ahead.

A traditional Portuguese winter meal of codfish with potatoes and tomatoes on a blue plate

Prepare your own Christmas dinner in your apartment, and walk the quiet streets on Christmas Day.

What to Wear for Winter in Lisbon

For your visit to Lisbon in the winter you may be wondering how to dress and what to pack.

As I mentioned before, the weather in Lisbon is very mild in the winter. Dress in layers and pack like you would for a brisk fall vacation.

I have a mega post about packing light that you can read here.

For a winter trip to Lisbon I would bring:

  • A dressy coat
  • Packable puffer jacket
  • Ankle boots
  • Sneakers
  • 1 or 2 Leggings
  • Joggers
  • 1 or 2 Mid-weight sweaters
  • 2 or 3 T-Shirts

    I might also be tempted to bring a pair of jeans, depending on space.

With this combination of items you should have a lot of cute outfits!

I tend to dress in athleisure on vacation, so if you are fancier then edit accordingly.

You do want to be able to peel off layers, because mid-day can be pretty warm.

Lisbon Weather Month by Month

Here are the highs, lows, and number of sunny and wet days during Lisbon’s winter months.

The roof terrace of a red plaster house overlooks Lisbon in Winter

November

High: 18C/65F
Low: 12C/53F

Average Sun: 5 hrs per day

Rain: 14 days per month

December

High: 15C/60F
Low: 9C/49F

Average Sun: 4 hrs per day

Rain: 14 days per month

January

High: 15C/60F
Low: 8C/47F

Average Sun: 5 hrs per day

Rain: 15 days per month

A view through one of Lisbon's colourful historic streets on a sunny day in Winter

February

High: 16C/61F
Low: 9C/49F

Average Sun: 7 hrs per day

Rain: 15 days per month

You can see that it never gets really cold during the winter in Lisbon.

Also note that the rain days are days with rain, and not days of rain. Most days still have some sunshine.

I found it interesting that January and February had more days with rain but also more hours of sun!

All in all very palatable weather for a winter destination.


I hope this has you convinced to try a winter vacation in Lisbon!

Portugal as a whole is very nice in the cooler months because it’s not as busy.

(Although Porto and the rest of northern Portugal can be quite wet.)

Two pictures of Lisbon in winter with graphic of snowflakes and a Christmas tree. Text reads "Lisbon in Winter" in the centre. Pinterest Pin.

Let me know in the comments what else you want to know about this affordable family-friendly destination!

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A collage of sights around Lisbon

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