Holiday Season in Lisbon: 8 things to do

It is the time of the year to be jolly and the city is buzzing with lights, food, shopping and fun! Come with us and discover your Holiday Season in Lisbon: 8 things to do.

Walk the streets

Lisbon’s City Hall Square.

The best way to know any city is to walks in its streets and Lisbon is no exception. From the big avenues to the beautiful squares, from the alleyways to the riverside, there are amazing spots and viewpoints to discover. And, during this time of the year, it is possible to enjoy all the good vibes. If you want to join us on a Private Lisbon Walking Tour, just reach out. Our guides are ready to create a unique experience that bring the Holiday Spirit alive! And there you have it. This is the first of the Holiday Season in Lisbon: 8 things to do.

Marvel at the lights

Rua Augusta, Lisbon’s Downtown main street.

During the Holiday Season, Lisbon´s nights are full of light. The big avenues, pedestrian streets and squares, as well as some of the city’s main buildings, shine and sparkle with millions of bright spots. This year, the City Council has installed more than 770 different displays, totaling more than 210 km of light cord. We specially love the designs chosen for the Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio, Rua Augusta, Rua da Prata and Praça do Comércio.

The celebrations also include the famous and traditional Christmas pine tree, 30m tall, installed in Praça do Comércio  and, for the first time this year, some facilities called “photocall” in some specific points of the city, with an arcade of light, a sledge and a post office.

Eat, drink and be merry

Charcuterie and cheese: a match made in Heaven.

Call us biased, but we believe that Portugal has some of the best food and wine in the World. Leading up to Christmas and New Year’s, every family starts buying ingredients and planning big feasts. In the meantime, lots of restaurants, pubs and wine bars create their own Holiday menus and you are more than welcome to join in! To make the most of your time – and to discover some favorite dishes, flavors and places – a Lisbon Food Tour is always a good option.

Port Wine: a delight unique to Portugal.

For a lot of people, Port is a synonym with Christmas. Rubys or Tawnys, Single Harvests or amazing Vintages, there is always a choice for every person. You just have to find out the ones you like better. On a Private Port Tasting, done by the experts at the Lisbon Winery, you can have five different kinds of this unique fortified wine and some great food to pair.

You rather have other kinds of Portugal’s best nectars? No problem. The guys at the Lisbon Winery have everything covered, with their Private Portuguese Wines Tasting. Whites, Reds, Roses and Verdes wines, from small producers, often with rare grape varietals and, as always, paired with some of the best food you’ll ever taste!

Check out the markets

Santa’s Cottage at the Rossio Square.

Open-air Christmas markets are not a very old tradition in Lisbon, but they have become very popular in recent years. And there are a lot to choose from:

  • Campo Pequeno – The bullring building offers a lively Christmas market with more than 140 stalls. Fun activities and workshops are available for the whole family. Sellers offer delicious food, Portuguese crafts, toys, clothing and decoration items. The event is a popular place to look for Christmas presents thanks to many artisans in one place.
  • Rossio – This is the main Holiday attraction in Lisbon’s most iconic square and, to many, the beating heart of the city. Beside the different stalls, where you can find many traditional products, people gather to taste warm Port Wine and some finger food snacks. And the children love to visit Santa’s cottage, the historic doll display and ride on the Christmas train!
  • Alvalade – A district 15 minutes from dowtown Lisbon, taking the subway Green LIne, is worth a visit all year round. During Christmas time, the streets become alive with more then 40 stalls, where you can buy from the traditional Ginja de Óbidos, to sausages and cheeses from all over the country and typical products from the island of Madeira.
  • Estrela – The Estrela Garden is one of Lisbon’s green gems and the place chosen for the Crafts & Design Market. Ceramics, photography, illustration, jewelry, fashion and plants are some of the proposals in this market dedicated to contemporary design and crafts, spread throughout the garden, on outdoor stalls.

Listen to Music

Saint Dominic’s Church has one of the best acoustics in town.

With its large scale architecture and burning scars, Igreja de São Domingos, or Saint Dominic´s Church, is one of the most impressive temples in Lisbon’s City Center. And it has one of the best acoustic in town. On the evening of the 17th of December, you will be able to enjoy it, during the Santa Maria Maior Christmas Concert, with choir singing and orchestra pieces.

On the same day, the Lisbon Museum – Palácio Pimenta hosts ‘Os Vilancicos de Natal’ from the Iberian World and the voices of the Ensemble Dan Luz Al Sol. Popular works from the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies during the 16th and 17th centuries will be performed.

However, the musical agenda starts on the 4th, at 9 pm, with a Gospel Collective show at the Church of Nossa Senhora da Graça. On the 11th, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus receives a repertoire of Portuguese and Italian composers performed by the Lisbon Chamber Choir Cantat and an orchestra specially created for this occasion, directed by conductor Cesário Costa.

Ride the Ferris Wheel

Wonderland Lisboa is the biggest seasonal fair in the city.

The most wonderful time of the year is back at the Parque Eduardo VII, above the iconic Avenida da Liberdade. The Christmas fair Wonderland Lisbon, that occupies one of the largest parks in the capital, runs until January 2nd, 2022.

Admission will be free, although some rides are paid, like the ice rink and some carousels. There will be a Christmas market with around 60 stalls and the most anticipated attraction – the Ferris Wheel. Close to the Marquês de Pombal roundabout, it provides one of the best overviews of the city.

Shop till you drop

Canned fish at the Manteigaria Silva.

On the list Holiday Season in Lisbon: 8 things to do, we have to include some shopping. The city has all the big international brands, but finding the perfect Portuguese gift is so much better! There are dozens of amazing historical stores to choose from and we can list a few of our favorites:

  • Manteigaria Silva – Charcuterie, cheeses, jams, olive oil and canned fish.
  • Luvaria Ulisses – Hand-made and high quality leather gloves.
  • Livraria Bertrand – The oldest operating bookstore in the world.
  • Araújos – Jewellery and traditional filigree pieces.
  • Sapataria do Carmo – Hand-made leather shoes.
  • Chapelaria Azevedo Rua – Hats and millinery.
  • E.E. de Sousa & Silva – Cork products

Visit the animals

The largest tank at the Lisbon Oceanarium holds 5 million of seawater.

If you are spending Christmas or New Year’s with children, know that the Zoo and the Oceanarium are open in both days. And there you have another Holiday Season in Lisbon: 8 things to do.

Opened in 1884, the Lisbon Zoo was the first in the Iberian Peninsula and, today, is known as one of the main animal preservation institutions in Europe. And its veterinarian hospital is, since 2008, considered the best in the World. You can take the subway – blue line, “Jardim Zoológico” stop – and drop off right in front of the main gate. The huge park is home to around 2000 animals, from 300 different species, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

As for the Oceanarium, or Oceanário de Lisboa, it open its doors in 1998. Since then, it has gained global recognition, not only in Lisbon and Portugal, but also across the world. Visited by approximately 1 million people every year, the Oceanário is the most popular cultural attraction in Portugal. Its main tank holds 5 million liters of seawater and is surrounded by other four marine habitats. Sharks, manta rays or sunfishes, swimming right beside you are pretty impressive but our favorites are the otters and the penguins!

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