The Best Independent Guide to Lisbon
Lisbon is not immune from experiencing the occasional wet and rainy day, especially during the winter months, but do not despair, there is actually a lot to do and see within the city. This article will detail the best activities and sights to visit during a rainy, wet or cold day, and includes suggestions for children and groups.
• The Oceanário de Lisboa (suitable for children)
• A ride on the number 28 tram (suitable for families)
• The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
• The Timeout Market
• A performance of Fado music and a visit to the Museu do Fado
• Escape-rooms (group activity)
• Ciência Viva-Agência (ideal for children)
• The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
• The LxFactory
• Bounce trampoline park (groups and families)
• Museu Nacional do Azulejo
• The cinema
The Oceanário de Lisboa is a wonderful aquarium, which, within its four huge tanks, represent the four ocean climates of the world. The magic of these aquatic exhibits, is that they are viewed from above and below the water line. At the surface penguins and adorable sea otters can be seen playing, while the submerged level shows the extensive marine life, including menacing sharks, stingrays and shoals of spadefish.
The oceanarium is great for adults and families alike, and is the best activity in Lisbon on a wet day. The ticket price is expensive, at €15/€10/€39 (adult/child/family), but is worth the admission, and a typical visit is 2-3 hours. The Oceanário de Lisboa is located in the Parque das Nações, which also contains the Ciência Viva-Agência and the Vasco da Gama shopping centre.
Related articles: Parque das Nações guide
A ride on the 28 tram, as it rattles and screeches through the narrow streets of the Alfama district, is one of the highlights of Lisbon. On a wet day, the tram will be significantly less busy, and there is the real possibility of a seat for the whole route, which never happens in the summer.
For a rainy day, ride the entire tram route and include the Graca district to the east and the western districts of São Bento and Estrela. While in Estrela visit the beautiful Basílica da Estrela.
Tip: Purchase the 24-hour unlimited public transport (€6.40) ticket from any metro station, for unlimited use of the trams.
Related articles: Number 28 tram guide
The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (€12.50 adult admission) houses one of the largest private art and artefact collections, and is Lisbon’s finest museum. The varied exhibits include a selection of ancient artefacts (Egyptian, Persian and Asian) and classic European art (Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck). There is a secondary museum, which exhibits Portuguese modern and contemporary works. For more information, please see the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian website: https://gulbenkian.pt/museu/en/
The Timeout Market is a bustling food court, which brings together dishes created by some of Portugal’s finest chefs. The numerous food stalls within the market provide their own signature twists on regional Portuguese dishes, and use quality local produce.
The communal seating arrangement within the Timeout Market allows patrons to sample dishes from different stalls, and this open eating style provides a relaxed and social atmosphere. The Timeout Market is housed in the Mercado da Ribeira, the traditional market of Lisbon, and eastern wing contains a lively food market.
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (€10 adult admission) is the extravagant monastery situated in the Belem district. This magnificent religious building is Portugal’s finest example of Manueline architecture, and incorporates ornate stone carving and elaborate decorative features. If you visit only one religious building during your stay in Lisbon, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos should be it, and as its all inside, it is perfect for a rainy day.
Lxfactory is the vibrant centre for Lisbon’s flourishing artisan scene, and has transformed an abandoned factory into one of the trendiest areas of Lisbon. Contained within Lxfactory are artisan studios, specialist gift shops and alternative restaurants, along with thought-provoking street art.
The Ciência Viva-Agência (€9/€6 adult/child), is a family-focused science museum and one of the hidden gems of Lisbon. The exhibits are interactive and engaging, and will entertain children of all ages. The Ciência Viva-Agência is housed in the Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Pavilion of Knowledge), in the Parque das Nações. This is close to the Oceanário de Lisboa, and when combined they provide the perfect wet day activities for families.
Fado is a traditional and emotional style of Portuguese music, which has lone female singer accompanied by a classical Portuguese guitar. The basis for this haunting genre of music, is the sorrow felt by a sailor’s wife, whose husband is out at sea, and originated in the Alfama district. Attending a performance of this powerful music is a great activity for a rain filled day. If you wish to learn more about the history of Fado, consider visiting the Fado museum; http://www.museudofado.pt/
Bounce is a huge indoor trampoline park with over 100 interconnected trampolines. This is a great, energetic activity for a wet day, and due to the sheer variety of areas is suitable for adults and children. An hours bouncing around costs €12/€39.50 (adult/family) and the park is in Carnaxide, 10km from central Lisbon. More information can be seen on Bounce’s website:
Azulejos are the traditional blue and white painted tiles that adorn countless Portuguese buildings, and the fascinating Museu Nacional do Azulejo details the history of this art form. The museum is housed in a grand 16th-century baroque convent and the exhibits display the progression of Azulejos tiles from the Moors era through to the present day.
Can you solve the puzzles and find the clues to escape the room within 60 minutes? Escape rooms are a great group-based activity for a wet day. Lisbon Escape Game has a 60-minute challenge costing €70 for a group of up to six people, (http://www.lisbonescapegame.com/). Escape Hunt Lisboa have a selection of different 60-minute games which cater up to 15 people; (https://lisbon.escapehunt.com)
If the weather has been completely dire, and you are running out of activities, you may wish to watch one of the latest movies at the cinema. Portuguese movies are commonly subtitled and have the original audio, which means for Hollywood movies, English audio. Large cinema complexes can be found in the Vasco da Gama shopping centre (Parque das Nações) or the Centro Colombo shopping centre.
The Museu dos Coches exhibits a unique collection of lavish horse-drawn carriages, which were used by the Portuguese nobility and other European royal households. The museum is spread over two buildings and the decorative older building used to be the Horse-Riding Arena of the Belém Palace.
If the weather is bad, consider late nights and leisurely days. The main late-night hub for Lisbon is Pink Street, which offers a selection of late opening clubs and bars. For live music head to Music box.