Winter sun in Europe can be as elusive as a unicorn. Even destinations you might expect to stay warm, like the Amalfi Coast and Istanbul, can be blanketed in fog or even snow. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I traveled to Lisbon in December, but I needn’t have worried. Thanks to the city’s location on the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, it is blessed with an abundance of sunshine year round. A light jacket and maybe a scarf were all I needed most days. True, the bougainvillea might not be blooming, but the mild climate and sidewalk cafes more than make up for it. Here are some more reasons to visit Lisbon in winter.
Visiting any destination during low season makes for easier sightseeing, and Lisbon is no exception. During the peak summer months, you could wait for up to two hours to enter Jeronimos Monastery, one of Lisbon’s top attractions. But in the winter you can breeze right in!
The monastery is located in Lisbon’s Belem neighborhood, which I find much more pleasant to explore when the temps are cooler. It’s a long walk to the Tower of Belem, a 16th century structure that was once part of the river’s defensive system. (The monastery and tower make up Lisbon’s sole UNESCO listing.
The striking fort is best appreciated during an early winter sunset with a glass of Portuguese wine from Wine With a View. This cute drink truck is open year-round, but good luck snagging a seat during the summer.
While you’re out exploring Belem, don’t miss the Monument to the Discoveries. This 56 meter high stone sculpture pays homage to Portugal’s great seafarers, Henry the Navigator chief among them. You can find him standing front and center, staring out to sea with a ship in his hands.
Another great neighborhood for a winter walk is Alfama. Streets snake their way up steep hills that will have you panting at the top, both from the exertion and the spectacular views. Be on the lookout for signs that say “miradouro” as these indicate scenic overlooks. Atop one of the hills you’ll find the Castle of St George. Strolling along the ramparts of this 11th century Moorish fortress is a must!
The Alfama is one of the oldest parts of Lisbon, and also one of the most colorful. Many buildings are covered colorful tiles, while others are splashed with street art.
Lastly, if you’re visiting Lisbon in winter, specifically late November or early December, don’t miss the Lisbon Christmas Market. There are several different markets selling local handicrafts and food specialties, plus an abundance of holiday lights making the city even more beautiful than usual!
Are you ready to visit Lisbon in winter?
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