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10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the summer

It's never a bad time to go to Lisbon, but summer is a time when the light reaches every corner. Do you want to discover it?

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

12 min read

10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the summer

Cascais | ©Courtney Boyd Myers

Are you going to Lisbon in summer? I'm so envious! It is a very pleasant season when people go out to the streets to celebrate the good weather and the culture of the city. They organize open-air concerts, festivals and even a trip to the beach.

Although the summer heat can reach high temperatures, there is always a way to combat it by taking advantage of all there is to see and do in Lisbon. I have compiled my favorite plans so you can enjoy them too. There is a lot of music, but also quieter activities to stroll around and let the sun shine on you.

1. Enjoy the sunset on a cruise on the Tagus River

Cruise on the Tagus| ©wolli s
Cruise on the Tagus| ©wolli s

On those sunny summer afternoons in Lisbon, I promise you that there is no better plan than a ride on the Tagus. When you get on board and start plying the waters of the river, watching how the glow of the sunset paints the banks, you will understand why I say so. The views are much better when there is light, which is why this experience is much more enjoyable in the summer months. In addition, the gentle breeze on deck is appreciated on the hottest days.

If you feel like seeing Lisbon from a different perspective, you have to do it from the Tagus. The boat will make a tour so you can see the Cristo Rei, the Jerónimos Monastery or the Belém Tower, one of the most famous attractions of the Belém neighborhood. In addition, to make this tour even more refreshing, it usually includes a drink on board, so take the opportunity to have a glass of Portuguese wine!

Be careful, as it is summer, the sun can be dangerous, so don't forget to bring sunscreen and even a sun visor. If you book the sunset excursion, check the temperatures and bring a light jacket just in case.

Book a cruise on the Tagus

2. Enjoy the culture at Festas dos Santos Populares

Festas dos Santos Populares| ©Miguel Viterbo
Festas dos Santos Populares| ©Miguel Viterbo

Who doesn't feel like carnival all year round? The good thing is that if you travel to Lisbon in summer, you can celebrate it during practically the whole month of June. The good weather, the music, the colors... The city becomes one big party during St. Peter, St. John and St. Anthony. The commemorations of these three patron saints come together in the so-called Festas dos Santos Populares- you won't want to miss them!

The most important day, or rather night, is June 12. That's when the big parade takes place along Avenida Liberdade, one of the most central and largest avenues in Lisbon. Be prepared to endure between dances, bonfires, verbenas and barbecues until the wee hours of the morning.

Stroll around Lisbon and discover its color

The different neighborhoods of Lisbon are decorated to try to win the contest held every year, so don't miss the chance to walk through all of them and choose your favorite. Each area also has its own music groups and choreographies, which can also win a desired prize.

On the other hand, in each neighborhood during the two weeks of the Festas there are stages on which a band performs every night. Admission is free and you will be surprised to see how Lisboners of all ages come out to dance to the sound of songs that are quite suggestive, and therefore very funny.

The traditions of the Festas

If there is one food you have to try in Lisbon's summer, it is roasted sardines, which legend has it that St. Anthony used to feed an Italian village. This is not only the patron saint of the city, but also of newlywed couples, so you will see many on the streets on June 12, as it is a day when many weddings are celebrated at the same time.

Finally, don't be surprised to see thyme in the stores. They are called "manjericos"; it is typical to buy them during the Lisbon carnival, insert a message of love and give it to a loved one.

3. Admire the street circus during the BaixAnima festival

Enjoying the activities of the BaixAnima festival| ©Jose RJD
Enjoying the activities of the BaixAnima festival| ©Jose RJD

Lisbon's summer is lived in the streets, no doubt about it, that's why the BaixAnima is celebrated during the three months it lasts. Acrobatics, circus, sport, dance, music, theater... In short, a lot of art fills the neighborhoods of the city thanks to this festival. The best thing is that all these shows, which are organized on weekends from July to September, are free. Are you going to miss them?

The urban center of the Portuguese capital, especially the Baixa neighborhood, near Rua Augusta, is the place where the BaixAnima Street Festival is held. Although you can find performances of all kinds, my favorites are the circus ones. Many jugglers and acrobats make tourists and Lisbon locals alike stand with their mouths open.

The weather is good, as the festival can go on late into the night, but it's not too cold. Remember to bring some colorful clothes in your suitcase, as it is very common to dress up for the occasion, so you won't be out of place!

4. Refresh yourself on the beaches of Cascais

Cascais| ©Luiz Pantoja
Cascais| ©Luiz Pantoja

I don't know about you, but summer smells like the beach to me, so if you are in Lisbon you have to escape to Cascais. It is very easy to do it with an organized excursion from Lisbon, something I recommend you to focus only on making a relaxing visit to the Atlantic beaches of this town. Just 40 minutes from the capital, Cascais is part of the famous Portuguese Riviera, where white sandy beaches and turquoise blue become the best summer scenery.

Years ago this city was only for the rich people and the glamour was mixed with the waves of the Atlantic. Nowadays it is a destination open to everyone and with affordable prices. In fact, Lisboners and tourists take the opportunity to spend at least one day there, cool off on its beaches and eat good seafood. Of course, if you are going to spend the night, book a hotel in advance because in summer they fill up.

Beyond taking a dip when the heat becomes noticeable in the city, it is also very common to see surfers or just people strolling along the promenade. My advice is to spend at least one day there and discover one of my favorite beaches (and that of many Portuguese): Praia da Rainha. It's near the train station and it's beautiful, perfect for relaxing.

Book your excursion to Cascais

5. Dance in Lisbon's summer festivals

Music Festival| ©Hanny Naibaho
Music Festival| ©Hanny Naibaho

From June to September Lisbon is full of music and the best festivals come to the city. Surely you've heard of Rock in Rio, held in early summer, but there are many others that find in the Portuguese capital a perfect climate and atmosphere to bring music and art to the streets. Why not join in? In addition, the stages are spread throughout the city, so you also have the opportunity to get to know other areas.

What style of music suits you best? There's bound to be a festival with your name on it coming to Lisbon sometime this summer. Jazz, rock, electronic music, indie pop... I assure you that you will be spoilt for choice. Of course Rock in Rio is the best known, but I also recommend you to go to NOS' Alive or Super Bock Super Rock. Why?

NOS' Alive

The NOS' Alive is held during the first days of July and its lineup brings together great bands and world-renowned singers. Any example? A few years ago The Weeknd stopped by, as did Metallica or Ryan Adams.

Getting tickets is not always easy, as many people want to go, but you can always take a look at their website and buy them in advance if the year's line-up convinces you.

Super Bock Super Rock

Are you more into rock? In the Park of Nations, which was built for the 1998 Expo, the Super Bock Super Rock is held every July. There are several stages, but in all of them perform great rockers like The Strokes or the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

It is a festival that is always reinventing itself and has a very cosmopolitan and urban feel, so expect to see many novelties and meet different groups.

Jazz Festivals

In plural because yes, in summer Lisbon sounds like jazz. First, the Cool Jazz Fest takes place during the month of July, which has as stages the most beautiful parks of Lisbon and also has blues or funk concerts.

Later, in August, the Jazz em Agosto takes place, with a much more summery and Portuguese air, as it presents projects of different national artists.

Sumol Summer Fest

If there is a festival in Lisbon that screams summer, it is the Sumol Summer Fest. In late June and early July, for about two days, the Ericeira campsite, near Cascais, features surfing and DJs playing all day.

Festas do Mar de Cascais

Also on the beach and with a summer feel, the Festas do Mar de Cascais go beyond music. Although it is true that concerts by national artists play a major role, the city is also filled with street markets, crafts and fireworks to illuminate the summer nights in August.

6. Enjoy a tasty picnic in Lisbon's parks

Pedro IV Square in Lisbon| ©Thomas
Pedro IV Square in Lisbon| ©Thomas

There is something about summer that makes a picnic the best plan for lunch (or dinner). Lisbon also has many parks and green areas, so it is one of the favorite activities for its citizens and visitors. My advice is not only to go somewhere like Cerca da Graça, but also to take the opportunity to buy fresh, typical and quality food in one of the Lisbon markets.

When the heat arrives in Lisbon, what is most appreciated is a shade. To get it you just have to go to one of its many parks. One of my favorites is the Eduardo VII; it is the largest in the city and has plenty of space, including a picnic area. Many people go there in the middle of the day to get some fresh air. If you are traveling with children in Lisbon, it might be interesting to go to the Jardim da Estrela, which has a children's playground.

What food to bring? Luckily the gastronomy of Lisbon, and Portugal in general, leaves no one indifferent; it has high quality products and the best place to find them is in one of the markets. If you don't mind getting up early to buy freshly baked bread and fresh fruit, go to the Mercado da Ribeira; to taste the rich and famous national preserves, better go to the Conserveira de Lisboa. You'll come away with the perfect menu for the day.

7. Attend the summer concerts at Jardim Da Estrela

Jardim Da Estrela| ©Jens Cederskjold
Jardim Da Estrela| ©Jens Cederskjold

One of my favorite plans in Lisbon when summer comes is to listen to music outdoors, something that is very easy with the series of concerts in Jardim Da Estrela. During the months of July and August, mainly, shows are organized in the iron kiosk in this park.

Also called Guerra Junqueiro, this garden is located in the center of Lisbon, acting as its great lung. If you go to one of their summer concerts (tickets go on sale on their website when the dates arrive), I recommend you go before to have time to walk around it. Why? Because it is home to many exotic plants, as well as peacocks and swans. It also has many sculptures, becoming almost a museum in the middle of nature.

8. Experience Lisbon's long summer nights

Sunset at Santa Lucia viewpoint| ©Theo Crazzolara
Sunset at Santa Lucia viewpoint| ©Theo Crazzolara

If you haven't been to Lisbon yet, you might be surprised by the size of the bars at night. Why do I say that? Because they are rather small. That means that most of Lisbon' s nightlife is on the terraces and in the streets. In winter in Lisbon this can be complicated by the cold, but in summer it is a luxury. At night the temperatures drop just enough not to die of heat but to enjoy the atmosphere.

Besides the nightclubs in Cais do Sodré, the best bars are in Barrio Alto and Alfama, where you can also listen to live Fado concerts in the open air. However, you can also find places with more commercial music. But don't go too early, because in summer you have to wait until almost midnight for the locals to go out partying.

9. Sunbathe (and take some pictures) at Lisbon's viewpoints

The Portas do Sol viewpoint| ©Vitor Oliveira
The Portas do Sol viewpoint| ©Vitor Oliveira

If you want to return from Lisbon with a good tan, take advantage of the sun that falls on its viewpoints in summer. In addition to incredible views, many of these places have terraces for sunbathing. In fact, some of them have hammocks that you can rent, as in the Portas do Sol lounge.

I'm not going to lie to you, going at midday the heat can be overwhelming, as the sun falls directly. My advice is to take advantage of the afternoon hours to catch some rays as the sun sets; at the same time you can take amazing pictures from the heights, with all Lisbon at your feet and an enviable light.

If you don't feel like having to climb the hills of Lisbon, you can always sunbathe on the banks of the Tagus. In particular, I recommend the Ribeira Das Naus area, which becomes a landscaped beach during the summer months.

10. Protect yourself from the heat in a tourist bus

Lisbon Tourist Bus| ©laredawg
Lisbon Tourist Bus| ©laredawg

Temperatures in Lisbon during the summer months can reach 35ºC and, in the middle of the day, walking up and down the city's many hills may not seem like a good idea. When the heat doesn't allow you to walk around the city, have you thought about booking a Lisbon sightseeing bus? They are air-conditioned and are a great alternative to get from one point to another comfortably.

Although the heat of Lisbon is not always pressing, there may be times when it prevents you from fully enjoying the trip, especially if you have to walk in the sun. To avoid this, I recommend taking tickets for a tourist bus with free stops. From the top you can have a panoramic view of Lisbon and, being in motion, you will feel the wind in your face and you will not be so hot.

The best thing is that these buses connect the most important points of the city, such as the Praça do Comércio, the Belém Tower or the Eduardo VII Park. Because although everything is more or less close in Lisbon, its hills can be challenging on the hottest days, you'll see.

Book a seat on the Lisbon tourist bus

Lisbon summer temperatures

Belen Tower in Summer| ©Maxim Sinelshchikov
Belen Tower in Summer| ©Maxim Sinelshchikov

With temperatures ranging from 15ºC to 35ºC, very unlikely rainfall and up to 15 hours of daylight a day, Lisbon is a destination to enjoy the Mediterranean summer. However, the weather can be a bit stifling and very dry, especially in August. However, the liveliness of the city during these months and all the outdoor activities are well worth the effort.

If you are going to Lisbon during these months you must take into account that the heat will be noticeable, although you will understand why it is considered to be "the city of light". Lisboners and tourists take to the streets during the summer season, especially at night, when temperatures drop and the are more pleasant.

What to pack in my suitcase if I go to Lisbon in summer

Preparing your luggage| ©Kindel Media
Preparing your luggage| ©Kindel Media

What you certainly won't need is an umbrella, as the chances of rain are minimal. Otherwise, remember that temperatures can reach up to 35ºC, so pack summer clothes, such as skirts, shorts and tank tops. Of course, don't forget sunscreen, sunglasses and a cap or hat.

Although the weather is rather hot, it cools down a bit in the evenings. You will not need warm clothes, but you will need a thin jacket to take out after sunset.

I can't wait to hear about your summer visit to Lisbon, have you already decided what you are going to do?