Lisbon is a year-round destination, though the best times to visit Lisbon are March – June, and September – November. Arguably the worst time is August, as it’s the most crowded with tourists and accommodation prices are at their highest.
Since I’ve lived in Lisbon for a few years now, I can offer some first-hand information on the best time to visit Lisbon. Each time of the year has something else to offer.
Be sure to also check out my guide to the best things to do in Lisbon.
The best time to visit Lisbon
Lisbon has a mild climate, with temperatures not getting too low in winter (typically around 10°C) and not getting too high in summer (peaking around 35°C on some days, but more like 30°C on average).
I think it’s great to visit in the shoulder seasons in spring and autumn, as you can benefit from fewer crowds, lower accommodation prices, and mild weather.
These are the average temperatures throughout the year:
Visiting Lisbon in winter
Is winter the best time to visit Portugal?
Objectively speaking, no. But is it a good time to visit? Definitely!
In fact, I highly recommend coming in winter. As long as it’s not raining (keep an eye on those weather reports), you can enjoy mild temperatures and an unhurried atmosphere. It might well be the best time for a cultural city break that’s not just all about catching some sunshine.
December and January can get rainy sometimes, but there are also fewer tourists. You may well get onto the famous Tram 28 without queuing for ages. Lisbon expats like myself adore the winter as this is when the city is truly for the locals.
Rainy days are a possibility, though there are countless museums and historical buildings you can visit, not to mention the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
On most days, you can still sit outside while wearing a summer coat and enjoy a ginjina (a Portuguese cherry liquor) or vinho verde (a green wine which is a typical Portuguese drink) at one of Lisbon’s typical kiosks. The castles of Sintra are amazing in winter as they can be enjoyed completely without crowds.
I’ve been to both Lisbon and Porto in winter and I can recommend either city if you’re looking for a low-key escape. Even in the heart of winter, Portugal is a bright and lovely place that will make you easily forget the darkness of northern Europe.
Visiting Lisbon in spring
Spring is an excellent time to visit, and arguably the best time of the year. The average number of rainy days drops from around 12 in March and April, to 8 in May and just 5 in June.
If you’re lucky, you can already feel like you’re in summer at the start of spring. This year I had my first beach day in mid March, when on one day temperatures reached 26 degrees C. In April, I already spent time around the beaches in the Algarve in the south of Portugal, though realistically most weeks were still too cold for beaches, with the warm season kicking off in earnest in May.
From about late April or early May, the city of Lisbon is at its most beautiful time of the year, as Jacaranda trees begin to blossom and many of its squares and avenues turn purple. Outdoor activities begin to dominate the city life again, with people having drinks outside in the cobbled streets of Barrio Alto and along the Tagus river.
You may also want to visit Lisbon in June, as this is a month filled with festivities around the Popular Saints. There is music in the streets, colorful buntings everywhere, and vendors selling grilled sardines.
The biggest night is St. Anthony’s day (early June) and the week leading up to it is a pretty big deal as well, though the entire month sees all sorts of festivities.
Visiting Lisbon in summer
Summer is a beautiful time to visit, especially if you’re keen on going to the beach!
Keep in mind the Atlantic waters around Lisbon are very cold even in summer, but the air temperatures reach the right levels to properly enjoy those icy baths. Day time temperatures will regularly reach up to 35°C.
As anywhere in Europe, it makes sense to avoid the month of August if you can. For some people, this is the only time to take a holiday, but if you have any flexibility, the other months will give you a better experience. August is just a little too crowded. On the other hand, the beaches are easiest to appreciate during this hottest month of the year.
Visiting Lisbon in autumn
Autumn can be a lovely time to visit. You can have bright and pleasant days well into October and even November. You can walk around in just a t-shirt or a light summer coat.
It’s especially a great time to visit Sintra, where the gardens of Quinta de Regaleira become even more photogenic thanks to the colourful leaves and the late afternoon autumn glow from the sun.
The biggest crowds have passed now, so you can have a less hurried time in Lisbon. If you’re looking to go out in Barrio Alto or Pink Street, you’ll find the streets much more easy to navigate, and a more chilled out atmosphere outside of the bars.
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