A Merry and Bright Christmas in Lisbon, Portugal

Pin It

When I traveled to Lisbon in December, I wasn’t sure what to expect by way of holiday cheer. Would there be enough things to do in Lisbon at Christmastime? I’m pleased to report that the answer is a resounding yes! Elegant strings of lights glinted off the city’s renowned tile walkways, colorful window displays beckoned shoppers, and decorated trees illuminated public squares. Lisbon’s Christmas markets were overflowing with smoked sausages and wonderfully stinky cheese, while hot sangria replaced the standard mulled wine. Plus, the pleasant weather made it possible to stay outside for hours enjoying the festive atmosphere. If you are looking for a non-traditional European Christmas destination, you might want to give Portugal a try!

lisbon christmas lights

lisbon christmas lights

lisbon holiday lights

Christmas lights in Lisbon, Portugal

christmas in lisbon

lisbon in december

Lisbon’s Christmas Market, or Mercado de Natal, is held inside Campo Pequeno, a lovely red-brick bullfighting arena that was opened in 1890. Several dozen artisans and vendors set up tables around the floor and visitors can browse at their leisure. I bought some wine and cheese, of course, and regretted not having more room in my suitcase for a few pieces of pottery. This neat event is unfortunately a one-off, held either the last weekend in November or first weekend in December. Daily tickets cost a nominal €2 each.

campo pequeno lisbon bullring

lisbon christmas market

lisbon christmas market

lisbon bullring christmas market

lisbon christmas market

portuguese spices

If you miss the Mercado de Natal, you might still be able to catch the Mercado de Baxia. Once a month, tents are set up in Praca da Figueira and a glorious food market takes over. The event has a Christmasy air in November and December when local artisans also sell their wares. I loved browsing with a cup of hot sangria in hand!

mercado de baxia

lisbon food market

mercado de baxia lisbon

Don’t worry if your visit to Lisbon doesn’t coincide with either of these markets. You’ll still find plenty of treats to put you in the holiday spirit. One such treat is ginja, a sweet-and-tart cherry liqueur that owes its origins to Francisco Espinheira, a Galician friar who made creative use of the local Portuguese cherries. The potent drink was first sold commercially in Lisbon atΒ A Ginjinha bar in the Rossio over 170 years ago. Join the crowd outside for a shot or two and you’ll soon be a festive mood!

Lisbon A Ginjinha Bar

Ginjinha Liquor in Lisbon, Portugal

Another centuries-old Lisbon specialty is the egg custard tart. In the 1830s, after a revolution resulted in the closure of monasteries, an out-of-work monk began selling homemade pastries to make ends meet. He operated out of a shop next to a sugar refinery in the Lisbon suburb of Belem. The venture was so successful that the bakery Pasteis de Belem was officially opened in 1837. The recipe for the famous tarts has remained a closely guarded secret ever since, known only to the shop’s master bakers. Whatever’s inside, you won’t be able to have just one!

Pasteis de Belem Lisbon

Pasteis de Nata Belem

Would you like to celebrate Christmas in Lisbon, Portugal?

PIN IT!

Celebrating Christmas in Lisbon, Portugal

4 thoughts on “A Merry and Bright Christmas in Lisbon, Portugal

  1. What a cool non-traditional place to head for some Christmas cheer! I’m down with the warmer temperatures. πŸ™‚ And that egg tart looks amazing. Question: How many times in this post does Heather mention alcoholic drinks? πŸ˜‰

  2. Lovely to see you’re spending your Christmas in Lisbon. Loved this city in the summer but it looks even more beautiful during the winter season! <3

  3. I love Portugal. So much to see. Loved those egg tarts. So good. Great blog as usual.

Comments are closed.