Lisbon weekends & short breaks 2019 / 2020
Lisbon holidays are simply magical, so what are you waiting for? Lisbon’s steep hills are steeped in beautiful history waiting to be discovered in 2019 / 2020. Not far from the Algarve, the ancient city of Lisboa, considered the oldest in Western Europe, boasts fine architecture, iconic views, and some of the best beaches a city break in Europe can offer. With inexpensive flights and reasonably priced hotels, not to mention the cheap beer and food, a holiday to Lisbon makes for the perfect cheap holiday away. Check out our top hotels in Lisbon or centrally located bed and breakfast hotels to get your holiday started. You might find that a weekend getaway isn't long enough, in a week you can cram in the beautiful beaches in the surrounding coastline regions of Estoril, Serra de Sintra and the Costa de Caparica, and take a trip up the coast to the city of Porto.
Things to do in Lisbon
Stay over the weekend at a hotel in Baixa, the heart of Lisbon, a short journey from the best attractions. Visit the following sights to make the most of your Lisbon city break.
- Alfama - Wander the narrow streets of Alfama, climbing from the river up to the São Jorge Castle, by foot or by Tram 28, which offers one of the best views of the sprawling city. The Alfama district, the oldest in Lisbon, is transforming quickly into the gentrified core of a buzzing European city.
- Bairro Alto - Visit this neighbourhood and the surrounding areas of Bica and Cais de Sodre to experience some of the city’s best rooftop bars, jazz clubs and street bars where you can enjoy a beer in warm, Mediterranean air.
- Miradouro de Senhora de Monte - Lisbon is set across several hills, this particular one is the highest miradouro (viewpoint) in the city, offering beautiful views of Lisbon’s old town, especially at nighttime.
- Jeronimos Monastery - Take a trip to this gorgeous monastery and explore the surrounding picturesque Belem.
- Chiado - Lisbon’s most sophisticated district, right in the centre of old town, and you’ll find theatres, bookshops and cafes in an area where people come to dine on Lisbon’s finest gastronomy. The next big thing in the world of city breaks, A holiday in Lisbon is one of our top picks for 2018.
Places to eat
Portugal claim they’ve got one of the best cuisines in the world, and we think they’re not just tooting their own horn. There’s a lot to fit into a Lisbon weekend break. In Lisbon, you can find traditional tascas and tabernas serving the classics next door to gourmet restaurants plating up fresh pesticos – Portuguese tapas – with exotic culinary flair. Alongside the formal eating, Lisbon’s padarias – a French style of patisserie – offer a place to enjoy the classic Portuguese custard tart, a Pastel de Nata (you can try the original Pasteis de Belem at its bakery, but expect a long queue!).
Top places to eat in Lisbon include:
- Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
- Cantinho do Avillez
- Tágide Wine and Tapas Bar
- À Margem
Lisbon for Families
One of the fundamentals of Portuguese life is family. Lisbon is very welcoming to those travelling with children. Restaurants will welcome children and there are plenty of hotels with family rooms. There’s also a lot of attractions for families on a Lisbon holiday:
- Alfama - Explore the lovely streets of Alfama.
- Praia de Carcavelos - Beach near Lisbon, sandy, easily accessible and supervised by lifeguards.
- Oceanarium - Spend an afternoon in the Oceanarium (considered one of the best in Europe).
- Lisbon Zoo - A modern zoo with clean facilities and healthy animals, kids will be kept entertained all holiday long.
- Castelo São Jorge - Many of Lisbon’s streets are cobbled and hilly which can make walking up and down the streets with a pram tricky, but Tram 28 offers an easy and fun alternative, all the way up to the castle. During summer, it can get very hot (35c!) so make sure to pack sun-cream and plenty of water.
If you’re here for a long weekend break, we recommend an afternoon exploring Lisbon’s coastline, it really is ideal for family holidays.
Beaches in Lisbon
Venture out of the city and visit the surrounding coastlines because the hidden gems of Lisbon holidays are its beaches:
- Estoril - This beach is popular with families. Estoril, the Praia de Carcavelos is the most favoured beach with tourists.
- Cascais - Also popular with families. Cascais can get busy during the peak season. The nearby fishing village of Cascais is picturesque.
- Serra da Arrábida - A quieter option, and arguably offers the most beautiful beaches in all of Portugal. It’s further away from central Lisbon so a rental car is a must for this trip.
- Serra de Sintra - More difficult to reach, Serra de Sintra is unspoiled by tourist development and offers a rugged coastline protected by natural park status, perfect for surfing. Its most popular beach is Praia de Guincho and the resort area of Praia das Maçãs offers a place to catch-up with a few more creature comforts.
- Costa de Caparica - A 15km stretch of golden sands with ideal surf. Costa de Caparica offers crisp beaches and a fashionable bar scene, centered around the resort town of Costa de Caparica.
When to go
The best time for a Lisbon weekend break is during March to May and September to October. During these months the weather is pleasant, hotels and flights are cheaper and there are fewer crowds. Visiting Lisbon in the summer is lovely as temperatures soar, however the downside is that you’ll come across many crowded beaches and attractions. Winter time is decent in Lisbon as temperatures are quite warm for a European city.
Average high and low temperatures (°C):
- January: 15° / 8°
- February: 16° / 9°
- March: 18° / 10°
- April: 20° / 12°
- May: 22° / 14°
- June: 25° / 16°
- July: 28° / 18°
- August: 28° / 18°
- September: 26° / 17°
- October: 22° / 15°
- November: 18° / 12°
- December: 15° / 9°
Lisbon’s nightlife is varied and distinctly separated into districts. You'll surely find yourself partying in one of these hotspots during your Lisbon weekend break. You’ll notice drinking on the street: this is perfectly legal and can make a nice change from a regular bar. During the summer months the street becomes the party-place.
- Bairro Alto - One of Lisbon’s two most iconic drinking locations, with dozens and dozens of bars and restaurants jammed into a small area. Bars here don’t close until 3 or 4 am at the weekend and, Like any great city break destination, a night out in Lisbon generally lasts well into the morning of the next day. It should be noted that there’s no clubs or discos here, only bars.
- Cais do Sodre - Another prominent destination, which boasts a similar plethora of bars and hang-outs.
- Urban Beach - If you’re looking for your more typical nightclubs they’re a bit more spread out. Urban Beach is a top destination, but its further from the center of the city, and most of the other nightclubs are spread out along the river.
Lisbon for Couples
Lisbon has a number of romantic hotels, and when you're ready to venture out of your hotel, explore the crisscrossing alleyways together before bursting out onto some stunning views of Lisbon.
- Santa Luzia Miradouro - Offers remarkable views of Lisbon, bask in the delight of viewing the city lights by night and the elegant dome of the Panteão Nacional.
- Alfama - Lisbon is a tranquil city: the subtle hum of traditional fado music, mournful and beautiful, tumbling down the cobbled streets, plenty of quaint, candle-lit restaurants to spend the evening sipping wine from a carafe and enough old-world romanticism in the Alfama district to cast you far back in time, to the grandeur of the old empire.
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - Don't forget the delicate, intertwining stone-work here and the shabby-chic buildings crammed together in colourful ranks, they’ll make your heart melt.
- Praia de Carcavelos - Lisbon is an ideal romantic destination: let love bloom in hotel room with views of the Praia de Carcavelos, fall desperately in love with delicious Portuguese cuisine (food is the route to the heart, never more true than in Lisbon)
- Belem and Baixa - These districts provide wonderful sights.
Culture and history
Lisbon is Western Europe’s oldest city. Although most of the ancient town was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, the Alfama district remained untouched by the quake and the resulting devastating fire. Venture out in the early morning to experience the city in its traditional attire, where you’ll find street-hawkers out on the street before the tourists arrive, and unearth hidden gems and quaint little cafes.
- Castelo Sao Jorge - Take a ride on the trembling Tram 28 and trundling funiculars up the hill to an old Moorish castle providing an excellent viewpoint of the Tagus river.
- Museu Calouste Gulbenkian - Lisbon boasts museums that are a little less stuffy than other European counterparts, and instead offers a vibrant and colourful take on its history and art. Visit this museum for a wide range of art on show, which is stood alongside the Centro de Arte Moderna in idyllic gardens.
- Modern Design Museum - Next door to the stunning Jerominos Monastery is the Modern Design Museum, representing the stark range of cultural delights to feast upon in Lisbon, from the ancient to the exciting and innovative. Cheap rent and lots of open spaces means exhibitions pop-up all over Lisbon, don’t forget to do your research, or instead discover them ad-hoc!