When is the Best Time to Visit Lisbon for Tourists?
Introduction of the best time to visit Lisbon
Lisbon, the hilly capital of Portugal, is one of Europe’s most charismatic and vibrant cities. Known for its sunny climate, historic architecture, Fado music, and delicious cuisine, Lisbon has become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years. With pleasant weather year-round, there really is no “bad” time to visit Lisbon. However, the “best” time depends on your interests, budget, and weather preferences. This article will highlight the seasonal weather patterns in Lisbon, major annual events and festivals, and make a recommendation for the ideal time for most tourists to experience this amazing city.
Understanding Lisbon’s Weather: A Seasonal Breakdown
Summer (June to August)
As a Mediterranean city, Lisbon enjoys a generally mild, sunny climate all year long. However, summer is the hottest, driest season with average high temperatures climbing into the 80s Fahrenheit. July and August are the warmest months and also peak tourist season with hotels and attractions more crowded and expensive. On the positive side, Lisbon truly comes alive in the summer with outdoor cafes, festivals, and lively nightlife. The beaches along the Lisbon coast are at their best during summer as well. If you don’t mind warm weather and bigger crowds and are interested in beach activities, summer can be a fun time to visit Lisbon.
Fall (September to November)
Fall is a delightful time in Lisbon when the summer heat mellows into comfortable temperatures in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit. September still feels like summer while November takes on a cool, wintry vibe in the evening. Crowds thin out as children return to school, hotel rates drop, and the beaches become less packed. With pleasant weather, reasonable prices, and lighter tourist numbers, fall is arguably one of the best times for sightseeing around Lisbon. Trees start changing colors in November, adding to Lisbon’s old-world charm.
Winter (December to February)
Winters are cool, wet, and mild in Lisbon with average temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit. It frequently rains in winter, particularly in December which is the wettest month. While major attractions and sites stay open, some operators run on shorter hours and outdoor attractions close. On the plus side, winter has the fewest tourists so you can enjoy iconic sites like Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery without the crowds. Hotels are also cheapest this time of year. December hosts lively Christmas markets and celebrations for New Year’s Eve. Overall, winter is the best season for budget travelers looking for Lisbon deals without hordes of tourists. However, the cool damp weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities.
Spring (March to May)
As the rainy winter fades, Lisbon blooms in the springtime with mild temperatures averaging 60-70°F. Trees and flowers blossom as the parks and plazas come alive. Spring still has fewer tourists than summer, keeping hotel rates lower. March and April can be a bit rainy, but May transitions into sunnier weather making it a prime time to dine al fresco and explore Lisbon’s charming outdoor areas without overheating. This season is excellent for walking tours, shopping expeditions, and sightseeing at your leisure before peak crowds arrive.
Cultural Highlights: Lisbon’s Noteworthy Events
The Carnival season culminates with elaborate costumed parades and lively celebrations before Lent. Events occur throughout the country, but Lisbon hosts one of the largest Carnival parties and parade.
March-April: Semana Santa & Estoril Open
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, leading up to Easter features solemn religious processions and masses at Lisbon’s churches and cathedrals. It’s a deeply reverent time for locals, and most businesses and restaurants may be closed on Good Friday.
The Estoril Open tennis tournament also takes place in April at the scenic seaside resort of Cascais near Lisbon.
June: Festas de Lisboa
Lisbon pays homage to its patron saints with the Festas de Lisboa in June. Festa de Santo António is devoted to St. Anthony on June 12-13, while Festa de São Pedro is for St. Peter on June 28-29. Expect costumed dances, street parties, grilled sardines, and sangria aplenty!
July-August: CoolJazz Fest & Super Bock Super Rock
Summer music festival season arrives with the CoolJazz Fest in July bringing major jazz stars to perform. August sees the Super Bock Super Rock festival with an alternative rock lineup. Both take place at the Parque das Nações venue.
September-October: Lisbon Marathon
The Lisbon Marathon occurs in October with thousands of runners taking part. Spectators can cheer on athletes and enjoy the energetic atmosphere.
November-December: Christmas Markets
The São Silvestre race takes place on New Year’s Eve with both serious runners and costumed fun-runners. Otherwise, downtown rings in the New Year with fireworks and parties.
Lovely Christmas markets pop up in December around Rossio square, Praça da Figueira, and other locations selling crafts, treats, and holiday cheer.
Best Time for Most Tourists to Visit
Avoid Summer Peak if You Dislike Crowds
For travelers who wish to avoid the biggest crowds and price hikes, it’s best to evade July-August if possible. While summer offers excellent weather for beach-going, sightseeing is more stressful with long lines and packed attraction sites. The heat can also be draining for walking tours. Unless you’re attending a specific summer festival or event, aim to visit during the shoulder seasons instead.
Shoulder Seasons – Spring and Fall
For the best combination of pleasant weather, lower hotel rates and flights, reduced crowds, and availability of activities, the two shoulder seasons of spring and fall are ideal. September-November and March-May both offer moderate temperatures in the 60s-70s, though spring has a bit more rainfall. Either season allows you to comfortably explore Lisbon’s neighborhoods, famous sites, food scene, and nearby areas like Sintra without battling excessive heat or crowds. Don’t forget to check if your dates line up with any festivals or events of interest, particularly in June or April.
Winter for Smaller Crowds and Budget Travel
While winter has chillier rainier weather, it offers the silver lining of the lowest hotel prices and smallest tourist numbers. For travelers on a tight budget or who don’t mind bundling up, winter permits you to see top sites like Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower without the long queues. Museums, attractions, and restaurants stay open with fewer crowds. You’ll also find charming holiday decor and festive cheer during the Christmas season in December. Just bring an umbrella, waterproof shoes and warm coat!
Conclusion of the best time to visit Lisbon
In summary, Lisbon offers wonderful sights and experiences year-round with its sunny Mediterranean climate. For the best mix of enjoyable weather, fewer tourists, open attractions and lower prices, aim to visit during the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) shoulder seasons. You’ll beat the extreme heat of summer and heavy rains of winter while still finding pleasant temperatures for strolling Lisbon’s captivating hills, neighborhoods, and antiquated streets. Prepare for crowds if traveling in June or July as well as hotel deals in the off-season winter months. Whatever time of year you choose, Lisbon’s history, beauty and old-world charm are sure to enchant you.