Things to Do in Lisbon in December

Updated: 10 noviembre 2023

This post provides information about some of the most interesting and unique activities you can enjoy in Lisbon during December.

As local tour guides, we compiled this list based on our own experiences, but also answering your questions.

We lead thousands of people each month through the streets of Lisbon, and on every tour, we are asked about things to do in the city.

Lisbon doesn’t typically experience harsh winters, so December is for most people a pretty nice time to visit.

The days are cool and the nights tend to be cold in Lisbon during December, however, the temperature has never fallen below freezing this month.

The only problem is that the days are shorter, so you won’t have as much time to enjoy the sun if it’s out.

Even if you do experience some inclement weather, there will still be plenty to see and do throughout the month.

Check out our post on the weather in Lisbon in December for a more detailed forecast.


1. Take a Free Walking Tour

In Lisbon, you can join a cost-free walking tour to discover the city’s intricate history and culture.

The free tours are especially detailed, offering various routes that cover different parts of Lisbon. 

Lisbon Walking Tours

What sets this experience apart is the knowledgeable tour guide who brings each location to life with stories and facts.

While the tour itself doesn't require payment, gratuities for the guide are welcomed and considered a nice gesture.

In addition to guided walking tours, audio tours are also available for those who prefer a more flexible schedule.

You can explore the city at your own pace while receiving narrated information and insights from our audio tours. 

To see what’s on offer and check availability, please read our post covering free Lisbon walking tours.


2. Visit a Christmas Market

Lisbon turns into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season, and markets like Lisbon Wonderland provide the perfect backdrop for the festivities.

Picture a vibrant setup with twinkling lights, artisanal goods, and delicious local treats, filling the air with the scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.

These seasonal markets turn into celebration hubs where locals and visitors congregate.

Besides Lisbon Wonderland, other markets also contribute to the magical atmosphere. 

Shops are selling handcrafted goods and holiday accents, making it a great place to find original presents for loved ones.

The experience becomes a sensory feast, offering an authentic slice of the Portuguese yuletide spirit.


3. Attend an SL Benfica Match

For football enthusiasts, attending an SL Benfica match can be electrifying.

There is a palpable energy in the stadium, where ardent supporters are chanting and cheering.

The intensity of a live game is an experience you can't replicate through a television screen.

Being in the crowd as fans sing anthems and cheer for their team is a unique Lisbon experience.

The exhilaration is contagious, even if you’re not a lifelong fan of the club or sport. 

SL Benfica has a rich past, and seeing them play on their home ground captures the essence of Portuguese football culture.

Check for tickets or learn more.


4. Experience a Live Fado Show

The emotional and traditional Fado music genre has its origins in Lisbon.

For an intimate look at local culture, attending a live Fado show is essential.

The Lisboa Em Fado venue, located in Baixa-Chiado, offers performances that encapsulate the soul of Portugal in song form.

Here, professional musicians pour their souls into performances that often leave audiences deeply moved.

Typically, a vocalist is accompanied by a classical guitar, creating a melodic yet melancholic atmosphere.

A Fado show is not just a musical event but an emotional journey, providing a deep understanding of Lisbon’s cultural richness.

Skip-the-line tickets are available to streamline your entrance and enhance your experience.


5. Go on a New Year’s River Boat Cruise

Tagus River New Year's River Boat Cruise offers you a vantage point like no other for watching the New Year's Eve fireworks.

The ship positions itself to give you an unobstructed, panoramic view of the sky as it fills with colorful bursts of light.

Beyond the visual spectacle, the experience is heightened by other luxuries.

As the new year begins, raise a glass of sparkling wine in a celebratory toast, adding an elegant touch to the festivities.

You're free to savor the crisp outdoor air on the ship's deck or opt for the comfort of the indoor seating area if the wind picks up.


6. Learn How to Make Pastel de Nata

Joining a class to Craft Pastel de Nata, a beloved Portuguese pastry, is not merely a cooking session but a serious dip into local gastronomy and culture.

Under the guidance of an expert instructor, you'll get hands-on experience making these custard-filled treats from scratch. 

You also get to taste local beverages during the class, adding another layer of richness to the experience.

What truly makes this experience unique are the little touches. 

You're not just learning a recipe; you're soaking up Portuguese culture one bite at a time. 


7. Enjoy a Portuguese Wine Tasting Session

For wine enthusiasts, a Portuguese wine-tasting session is a must-do activity in Lisbon.

As you sample three distinct wines, you'll also get educated about the unique terroirs they originate from. 

More than just tasting, this experience helps you comprehend the nuanced connection between Portuguese culture and wine.

During the session, an expert will guide you through the subtleties of each wine, discussing the differences between grape varieties and the particular characteristics of Portuguese wine regions. 

This enriching experience not only tantalizes the taste buds but also expands your knowledge about Portugal’s wine culture.


8. See the Tallest Christmas Tree in Europe

When in Lisbon during the holiday season, you can't miss seeing the tallest Christmas tree in Europe, usually found gracing Praça do Comércio.

The sheer size and brilliance of the tree become a spectacle that captures the imaginations of both young and old.

The tree represents the city's festive holiday spirit and is more than just a pretty sight.

It serves as a beacon that lights up not just Praça do Comércio but warms the souls of everyone who witnesses it. 

The tree stands as a grand symbol of seasonal cheer, brightening up the Lisbon skyline during the winter months.


9. Visit the Banksy Museum

The World of Banksy Museum in Lisbon is not just an art exhibit but a thorough exploration of the mysterious and iconic Banksy. 

The immersive experience provides a window into the street artist's universe, showcasing projections and over 100 reproductions of his groundbreaking work, from his early years to his latest masterpieces.

As you move through the exhibition, you'll come face-to-face with iconic pieces like "Girl with Balloon" and "Sweep It Under the Carpet." 

These art pieces don't just occupy wall space; they challenge conventions, provoke thought, and showcase the evolution of one of the most enigmatic artists of our time.


10. Take a Christmas Lights Tour

A ride through Lisbon's festively adorned streets on a Tukxi is an experience that captures the city's holiday spirit uniquely.

Your Tukxi driver doubles as a guide, narrating stories of Lisbon's history and culture as you pass through streets illuminated by vibrant Christmas lights.

What makes this tour special is the chance to see the city’s landmarks bathed in the glow of thousands of Christmas lights.

You actively participate in the city's seasonal joy rather than just watching it from a distance.  

Throughout the journey, your driver stops at optimal locations for photographing the radiant scenery, ensuring you take home not just memories but also frame-worthy snapshots of Lisbon's holiday brilliance.


11. Go on a Tapas Tour

Taking part in a Tapas tour is a personal way to get familiarized with Lisbon's culinary scene.

As you move through the vibrant city streets at night, you'll sample a range of tapas dishes that encapsulate the essence of Portuguese cuisine. 

Complementing the food, a selection of fine local wines makes the experience even more enjoyable. 

Guiding you through this gastronomic journey is a local expert who not only introduces you to the dishes but also to the stories and legends that make Portuguese food culture unique. 

This trip blends flavors, fragrances, and insights into Lisbon's nightlife into a multi-sensory adventure that goes beyond merely tasting.


12. Grab a Drink on a Pub Crawl

Appreciating the Lisbon nightlife becomes hassle-free with a well-organized Pub Crawl.

Starting at the Sunset Destination Hostel, you are taken to different bars where the focus is on having a good time. 

With activities like drinking games at Zebra Bar and views overlooking the Tagus River, the atmosphere is set for a memorable evening.

One of the main advantages of this pub crawl is the absence of logistical concerns.

Priority entrance to clubs, five free shots, and three free beers are all part of the package.


13. Experience Sightseeing Without a Crowd

December in Lisbon offers the gift of space and time, as the typical tourist crowds are far thinner. 

It's a reasonable time to visit significant landmarks like Sao Jorge Castle, a fortress that grants panoramic views of the city, and Belem Tower, an iconic symbol of Portugal's Age of Discovery. 

The absence of queues for tickets and less bustling around the sites mean you can fully absorb the significance and grandeur of each landmark. 

Additionally, December's relative calm provides the perfect setting for a ride on the famous Tram 28.

Normally a tourist magnet, the tram is less crowded, offering a more relaxed journey through the city's hilly neighborhoods.


14. Visit the Oceanarium

A trip to Lisbon's Oceanarium provides you with an educational and fascinating look at marine life.

This is Europe's largest indoor aquarium, housing more than 8,000 sea creatures from 500 different species.

From sharks to coral reefs and even the continent's only two sea otters, the diversity on display is amazing.

The Oceanarium is also unique in that it remains open even on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

So, if you're looking for a special way to spend the holiday, learning about the mysteries of the ocean can be a rewarding experience.

  • Availability: Constant
  • Starting Time: 11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Duration: 1.5 Hours
  • Price: $26/Adult | $18/Senior | $15/Child | $0/Infant
  • Check Availablity or Learn More

15. Watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks

When it comes to celebrating the beginning of a new year, Lisbon knows how to put on a show.

The New Year's Eve fireworks are a visual feast, lighting up the sky in a multitude of colors. 

The event is well attended but never feels overly crowded, offering various spots throughout the city for optimal viewing.

The pyrotechnics are meticulously planned to provide a magical start to the new year. 

No matter where you choose to watch them, whether it's from a city square, a hilltop, or even the riverbank, the event is sure to be memorable and bring in the new year both literally and figuratively with a bang.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: noviembre 10th, 2023
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