With famously gorgeous weather and almost 300 days of sunshine a year, the best time to visit Lisbon is whenever your heart desires. The crowds come in summer, lured by scorching sunshine and big events, but fall and spring have a gentler magic, and even the winter has its own quiet charm.
Spring and summer are Lisbon’s warmest seasons. Prices rise in line with the daily temperatures, and the city is at its liveliest, with lots of outdoor events and music festivals. The pace of life slows down in fall and winter, with children returning to school and local people heading back to work. The colder and shorter days attract fewer tourists, and accommodation prices drop, making this a great time for budget-conscious travelers who want to experience a quieter side to the Portuguese capital.
Here’s a guide to the best times to visit Lisbon.
If Lisbon’s hills are an ordeal, just board the funicular © Alexander Spartari / Getty Images
Shoulder season is the best time for exploring the city on foot (Easter to May and September to October)
Lisbon welcomes visitors with pleasant weather all year long, but spring is the season when it hits the sweet spot. Trees are blooming, days are getting longer, and occasional rainfall keeps the parks green, making Lisbon just that bit more romantic. The weather is just warm enough, but not yet too hot, to explore the city on foot. Easter is the busiest period, with crowds of tourists visiting from neighboring Spain and elsewhere in Europe, and accommodation prices increase slightly.
Fall has its own magic. Even into late September, it can still be summery enough to hit some of the beaches near Lisbon, and there are high-profile film festivals in September and October covering a wide range of genres and tastes. It’s also back-to-school season, so expect busier weekdays on public transit during the daily commute.
As October rolls on, the crisp, sunny mornings are a sign that winter is around the corner. Tourist crowds slow to a trickle as the end of Daylight Saving Time approaches and days get shorter. But prices fall, and a welcome calm settles over tourist sites.
High season is the best time for festivals and outdoor events (June to September)
The packed calendar of events every summer in Lisbon can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s lots to do, and it’s fascinating to mingle with locals at music festivals and the arraiais (improvised outdoor parties at tavern-style restaurants with live music) that fill the streets in June in honor of St Anthony. On the other hand, the crowds bring high prices and lots of competition for hotel beds and tables in restaurants.
With schools closed, many locals leave the city to vacation on the beaches of the Algarve, and it’s not uncommon for more traditional restaurants, cafes and shops to shut their doors for at least half of August. However, Lisbon landmarks and museums are open for business as usual and often have extended opening hours. High daytime temperatures in July and August can make walking up Lisbon’s hills a tiring ordeal.
From spring to fall, nightlife in Lisbon spills onto the streets © minemero / Getty Images
Low Season is the best time for budget travel (December to Easter)
Lisboetas get busy making plans for a busy holiday season during the winter months. For travelers, it’s the low season and a time of year when not much is happening, which can feel like bliss after the summertime crowds. Expect many holiday-themed events, street markets and festive menus at restaurants. Accommodation prices are at their lowest too, and crowds thin out dramatically – even at the top sights.
When to go to Lisbon, Portugal
After Lisbon has welcomed the New Year, it’s time to take inventory of New Year’s resolutions and enjoy the last days (and leftovers) of the holiday season. For shoppers, it’s a great time to check out the post-holiday sales.
Key events: New Year’s Concert at Centro Cultural de Belém
Often rainy and chilly, the shortest month of the year is a welcome interlude between the busy holiday season and upcoming spring events. On the weekend before Shrove Tuesday, some Carnaval parades take over the streets, but the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations happen outside of Lisbon in nearby towns like Sesimbra and Torres Vedras.
Key events: Carnaval
Daylight Saving Time officially begins on the last Sunday of March, but the first hint of spring (with longer and warmer days) comes earlier. Sunshine and mild temperatures attract people to the parks and riverside cafes with outdoor seating.
Key events: Moda Lisboa, Monstra
The streets fill with people in June for the Popular Saints festivals © rfranca / Shutterstock
Spring is in full swing, with warm days interspersed with occasional showers. Of all events happening in April, no date is dearer to locals than April 25, the national holiday celebrating the end of the dictatorship in 1974.
Key events: Carnation Revolution national holiday, Indie Lisboa Film Festival (lasts into May)
In May, summer feels just around the corner, and temperatures begin to climb. Sunny days call for time at the beach, but most stick to sunbathing as the water is still too chilly for comfort.
Key events: Workers’ Day National Holiday, OutJazz Festival (lasts through September), ARCO Lisboa
The scent of grilled sardines fills the air, and colorful flags decorate the narrow, cobblestone streets of historical neighborhoods as Lisboetas prepare for the month-long Santos Populares (Popular Saints) festivals. June 13 is St. Anthony’s Day, dedicated to Lisbon’s patron saint. As the festivities hit their peak, crowds fill the streets for a night out that starts with a simple dinner of grilled sardines on bread with a glass of wine or beer and ends with free concerts by amateur bands. It’s officially the first month of summer and the beginning of the beach season.
Key events: Popular Saints festivals, Portugal Day
As the temperatures fall, climbing Lisbon’s hills becomes much more enjoyable © Loic Lagarde / Getty Images
The hottest month in Lisbon, July is also when the days are longest, with the sun shining for almost 11 hours. Plan for long days at the beach, lots of al fresco dining, and festival-hopping in and around Lisbon.
Key events: NOS Alive, Super Bock Super Rock, EDP Cool Jazz
Most locals leave the city in August for summer vacations in southern Portugal or abroad. Nevertheless, Lisbon doesn’t feel empty as most tourists decide to visit at this time of year.
Key events: Jazz em Agosto, Lisbon Book Fair (lasts into September)
The end of summer and the beginning of the school year for most families. September in Lisbon sees residents returning home and readjusting to their daily routines. Mornings and evenings are chillier, but not so cold that you can’t enjoy time outdoors.
Key events: MOTELx, Santa Casa Alfama, International Queer Film Festival
There’s never an off-season for custard tarts and coffee © minemero / Getty Images
Fall sets in, and smoke and the scent of roasting chestnuts fill the city as street vendors switch from selling ice cream. Lisbon’s weather in October is not too cold and not too warm – still inviting enough to spend plenty of time outdoors.
Key events: Moda Lisboa, Festa do Cinema Francês (lasts into November), Doclisboa
Typically the rainiest month of the year, November in Lisbon is cold rather than freezing, but life moves indoors. One of the largest tech industry events in Europe takes over the city at the beginning of the month, and after hours, nightlife hotspots get crowded.
Key events: Web Summit, Lisbon & Sintra Film Festival, Olhares do Mediterrâneo, Super Bock Em Stock
Christmas music, lights and decorations take over many streets, cafes and shop windows as Lisbon embraces the holiday. Despite the slightly colder days, Lisbon is a reasonably jolly and warm city this time of year.
Key events: City-wide Christmas markets and concerts, New Year’s Eve concert at Terreiro do Paço