Christmas in Lisbon : Lisbon’s Christmas Traditions
Christmas in Lisbon is a mixture of religious and cultural celebrations. Here are some of the traditions that you might experience during the holiday season:
Christmas lights: Lisbon is known for its stunning Christmas lights that illuminate the city’s streets and buildings. The lights are usually switched on at the end of November and stay on until January. Praça do Comércio, Baixa, Rossio Square, the Chiado neighborhood, and Avenida da Liberdade all sparkle during the Christmas season.
Christmas markets: Lisbon has several Christmas markets where you can buy traditional gifts and decorations, such as handcrafted ornaments, sweets, and toys. The most famous market is the “Feira de Natal” (Christmas Market) held in the square in front of the Rossio train station.
Midnight Mass: On Christmas Eve, many churches in Lisbon hold a midnight mass, known as the “Missa do Galo.” It is a traditional Catholic mass that celebrates the birth of Jesus. You might try to attend mass at the cathedral, the church of São Domingos near Rossio Square, São Roque church, or the Basilica da Estrela.
Nativity Scenes: The “Presépio” is a Portuguese tradition of setting up a nativity scene that includes figurines of the Holy Family, the Wise Men, and other characters from the Bible. Lisbon has several nativity scenes on display during the holiday season, including one at the Belém Cultural Center.
In Portuguese, Chrsitmas is Natal. Feliz Natal! Merry Christmas!
What is the weather like in Lisbon at Christmas?
Don’t expect snow in Lisbon at Christmas. Temperatures are mild, between 8 and 15 deg C (46-59 F). It may be cool or rainy, but Lisbon does get more than 300 days of sun per year.
Is Lisbon open on Christmas Day?
Public transportation is available on Christmas day but with reduced hours.
Most museums and shops are closed on Christmas day. Many restaurants close, but you will find quite a few restaurants that are open. Reservations will be essential.
Where can I eat in Lisbon on Christmas Day?
Although many restaurants will be closed on Christmas day, I have contacted several restaurants and the following have stated that they will be open on Christmas day.
If you investigate and wander around, you will find others that are open as well. Reservations will probably be necessary.
BAHR and Terrace
Praça Luís de Camões, 2, fifth floor (Chiado) The Bairro Alto Hotel Restaurant and Terrace is one of the most popular options for fine dining in Lisbon.
Known for great service, outstanding cocktails, interesting architecture, and a great terrace with waterfront views, BAHR will prepare a special Christmas menu. Reservations are always necessary. Official site: https://www.bahr.pt/pt/
A Cevicheria is open on Christmas Day
Rua Dom Pedro V, 129 in the Príncipe Real neighborhood
One of the most unique restaurants in Lisbon, Chef Kiko Martins’ restaurant is known for its sleek modern decor. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a large octopus that hangs over the central bar and chef’s work station.
The menu is centered around ceviche, a popular Peruvian dish made with raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spices. A Cevicheria offers a wide variety of ceviche dishes, as well as other seafood specialties, such as grilled octopus and shrimp.
The bartenders also make fantastic Pisco Sours. Official site: https://www.acevicheria.pt/
Delfina- Cantina Portuguesa is open on Christmas
Praça do Município, 23 (located in the Almalusa Hotel, just west of Praça do Comércio)
Delfina Cantina Portuguesa is a popular Portuguese restaurant located in the heart of Lisbon. It is known for its traditional and authentic Portuguese cuisine, which includes a wide range of dishes such as seafood, meat, and vegetarian options.
The restaurant has a cozy and rustic atmosphere, with a warm and welcoming staff who are dedicated to providing excellent service. Delfina Cantina Official site: Homepage – Delfina Restaurant (almalusahotels.com)
Rua São José, 105, Centrally located between the Avenida Metro Station and the Elevador do Lavra, this Indian / Nepalese Restaurant is an excellent option for vegans, vegetarians, and those seeking to eat gluten-free.
Are you willing to step outside of the box on Christmas day and try something like onion Bhaji, chicken tikka masala, korma, or chicken curry?
For reservations go to their official site, https://new-himalaia.business.site/ or visit their Facebook page.
La Paparrucha Steakhouse is open on Christmas Day
Rua Dom Pedro V, 18 -20, This Argentine parrilla is one of the top steakhouses in Lisbon. To learn more about Lisbon’s best steakhouses, read my Best places to eat steak in Lisbon
La Paparrucha has tentative plans to serve Christmas dinner only.
If you join them on any day other than Christmas, you will find a standard menu that includes various cuts of meat as well as fish, pasta, vegetarian dishes, and an extensive dessert list.
In addition, there is a weekly menu, with offerings changing every day. For more information, their official site is: https://lapaparrucha.com/
Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1 (in front of the Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint) Pharmacia Felicidade is located in the Museum of Pharmacy building. The interior is charming and set up to resemble a late nineteenth or early 20th-century pharmacy.
If the weather is nice, the outdoor seating is in a beautiful garden overlooking the river.
Given its location at the Pharmacy Museum, the designer cocktails follow a medical theme and include names such as Hipnótico, Hipertensor, and Cardiotónico.
The menu is inspired by the Algarve region, and might include items such as steak, duck croquetes, pork cheek, cod, or fried octopus.
For reservations, email email@example.com or try their page at https://www.facebook.com/restaurantepharmacia
Rua Rodrigues de Faria, 103, (Located in the LX Factory complex, near the 25 of April Bridge). Open kitchen and industrial decor, located in the LX Factory complex.
On a typical day, the offerings include ravioli, risotto, gnocchi, fish tartare, pork belly, steak, sea bass, and a variety of salads. Main dishes are typically 20€~ 25€, plus cocktails and wine, of course.
Official site: https://www.1300taberna.com/contato
Varanda de Lisboa
Centrally located in the Hotel Mundial at Praça Martim Moniz, 2.
The restaurant has a panoramic view as well as one of the best rooftop bars in Lisbon. The menu changes every day, but you might find codfish cakes, hake fillets, duck rice, fried pork or roast beef. Official site: https://www.phchotels.pt/pt/hotel-mundial/restaurants-bars/varanda-de-lisboa/
If you can’t get a reservation anywhere, you should always be able to find a doner kebab and some fries.
What can I do in Lisbon on Christmas Day?
Visit the miradouros. Lisbon’s beautiful scenic viewpoints are always open, and they are free! For more information, read my Lisbon’s Best Miradouros and Scenic Viewpoints – A visitor’s guide
Visit the Lisbon Oceanarium. One of the two largest aquariums in Europe, it has more than a million visitors per year. Christmas day is a great time for a less crowded visit! To learn more about the oceanarium, see my Lisbon Oceanarium | Plan Your Visit to the Oceanário de Lisboa
Visit the Lisbon zoo. Open every day of the year from 10 am until 6 pm. Tickets are 26€ for adults, 16€ for kids, and 18€ for seniors. Easy access via the metro. Official site: Jardim Zoológico
Have a great meal at one of the restaurants mentioned above.
Attend a Christmas concert.
Take a river cruise.
Enjoy Bolo Rei and other Christmas treats
Bolo Rei (Kings cake)
Bolo Rei, which means “Kings Cake” in Portuguese, is a traditional dessert served during the Christmas season in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries.
This cake is typically round and decorated with dried fruits and nuts, and is often topped with a paper crown to symbolize the three kings who visited Jesus on the night of his birth.
The cake is made with a sweet bread dough that is mixed with nuts, raisins, and candied fruits, and is usually flavored with port wine and brandy.
One of the best bakeries for Bolo Rei is Confeitaria Nacional, located in Baixa at Praça da Figueira, 18B.
Another traditional Portuguese Christmas treat is the rabanada. It is similar to French toast, or a torrija española, but not exactly.
Milk, sugar, and cinnamon sticks are heated, and then slices of stale bread are bathed in the milk. Then the slices of bread are dipped in an egg bath, and fried in olive oil or sunflower oil.
Next, the golden bread slices, or fatias douradas, are dredged in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Finally, they might be finished with honey, as opposed to maple syrup.
Sonhos de Natal (Christmas Dreams)
Sonhos de natal, or Christmas Dreams – are light, often hollow, fried balls of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar.
Sometimes they are filled with a sweet egg cream or jam.
The light, airy dough is made with ingredients such as flour, eggs, milk, sugar, lemon zest, and butter, and is usually left to rise for several hours before being shaped into small balls and fried in hot oil.
Finally, they are dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, or coated in syrup.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire – that’s the smell of Lisbon at Christmas time.
The scent of the roasting nuts fills the city’s narrow streets and alleyways, particularly in popular tourist areas like Chiado, Rossio Square and Praça da Figueira.
The chestnuts are cooked in large drums over an open flame, giving them a delicious smoky flavor and a crisp, caramelized exterior.
They are usually served in small paper bags with a dozen chestnuts (uma dúzia de castanhas) for 2€.
Enjoy Lisbon’s Christmas Markets
Wonderland Lisboa Dec 1- Jan 2 in Parque Eduardo VII, You will find a Christmas Market, ferris wheel, warm cabins with vendors selling all kinds of goodies, and have the chance to visit with Santa Clause.
Rossio Square has a fantastic Christmas Market as well.
Campo Pequeno bull ring more than 100 stalls plus an ice skating rink. They sell many local items including, jewelry, clothing, and vintage items.
One of the world’s largest Christmas trees in Lisbon
At Praça do Comércio, you will find one of the largest Christmas trees in Europe. Fireworks mark the lighting of the tree, and then this square sees another fantastic night of bands and fireworks on New Years Eve.
Before and After Christmas in Lisbon
São Silvestre 10k Road Race. Takes place at night and starts and ends on Avenida da Liberdade. The race takes place at night on December 17. A walk and a children’s run are also part of the event. More than 12,000 runners will participate. For more information go to the official site: https://www.saosilvestredelisboa.com/site/?ln=en
New Years Eve in Lisbon
People gather in Praça do Comércio for the countdown to the new year on the large clock. Expect concerts and fireworks as well. Be sure to make reservations for dinner on New Year’s Eve. Feliz Ano Novo!
I am not associated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article however, if you buy something through a link on this page, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for reading Christmas in Lisbon: A Quick Guide.