Average summer temperatures in Lisbon are only about 28C/85F, even in August. But an average is just an average, and there are always a few days, or even a week or two, when the city broils in 30+C heat (mid-to-high 90’sF). So what is there to do in Lisbon when it’s hot?
- Take a siesta: Because of the sea breezes and proximity to the water, mornings and evenings in Lisbon are often cool and comfortable, even when it’s sweltering at mid-day. If you know it’s going to be hot out, take a leaf from the Spanish: get up early and do your sightseeing in the morning, then rest after lunch, when it’s hottest. If you’re close enough, come home and take a nap (all our houses have air conditioning). If you’re farther afield, plan an indoor activity. After things have cooled down again (often around 5 pm) head outside for a drink at one of Lisbon’s outdoor cafe kiosks or any esplanada. The city comes alive on summer nights, with whole families out past midnight, so stay up and join the fun. Who needs a bedtime when you’re on vacation?
- Spend the day at the Expo: This area on the east side of Lisbon was built for the
1998 World’s Fair (Expo’98), and is the perfect place to practice your mid-day-rest planning. The large park, with bike rentals, a riverside promenade and a “sound garden” for the little ones, is perfect before the temperature starts to soar. Then after lunch, while it’s really hot, hide indoors at the Oceanario, Pavilion of Knowledge Science Center, or even the Vasco de Gama Shopping Mall. End your day enjoying the beautiful views of the river Tejo from one of the many cafes and bars that stretch along the bank.
- Escape to Sintra: Sintra’s microclimate means it almost never gets too hot. It also means that
the whole area is lush, green and shady, even on the warmest days. Forcenturies Lisbon’s royalty escaped the heat of the capital by spending their summers in Sintra. Testament to this are the many palaces there (including Pena Palace, Sintra National Palace, the Moorish ruins and the Quinta da Regaleira). Many of these palaces are (at least partially) air-conditioned as well. Do expect crowds on hot days, as the natives flee the heat with you!
- Go to a museum: All that artwork has to be tempurature-controlled, which means that museums are kept at a comfortable temperature all year ’round. Take advantage of the days when it’s so hot you don’t want to be outside to see some of the many, many museums Lisbon has to offer. From art to fashion to electricity to science, Lisbon has something to help everyone beat the heat!
- Go shopping: If you’d like to do some shopping while you’re in Lisbon (shoes, for example, are often a good deal), take advantage of a day that’s too hot to handle, since you’ll be indoors most of the time. The Colombo centro commercial (shopping mall) is impressive in its size and variety, with small local stores mixed right in with the global brands. Along with the stores, the mall has several small indoor play structures for children, a food court and a movie theatre. Colombo is situated right over the the Colegio Militar/Luz metro station, making it very easy to get to. (Amoreiras mall is a more upscale option, but you’ll need to take a cab to get there.)
What’s your favorite thing to do in Lisbon when it’s hot?