Last year, I visited Lisbon for the very first time, and I don’t think I ever fell in love with a city that quickly. It wasn’t just because of the mouth-watering pastries and captivating architecture (as if that wasn’t enough). For the most part, it was because of the warmth that I felt from the locals when they told me about their hometown. It also didn’t hurt that we were right in the middle of the spring season. The city was full of colourful flowers, people eating ice cream on benches, and a healthy dose of much-needed sunshine.
Thankfully, the seasons go round and round and spring is back at our doorstep. Are you one of those lucky people that gets to spend some time in Lisbon in the next few months? Well, I definitely have a few suggestions that you’ll want to note down. In this Lisbon travel guide, I’m sharing the loveliest things to do to celebrate spring in one of my all-time favourite cities in Europe.
Palaces and Flowers: A Lisbon Travel Guide For Spring
Visiting the Oldest Botanical Garden in Portugal
There are plenty of green and luscious spaces in Lisbon. A particularly charming one to visit is the oldest botanical garden in Portugal: Jardim Botânico d’Ajuda. The Baroque garden used to be part of the royal palace grounds, and many of the plants come from former Portuguese colonies.
From the balcony that overlooks the garden, you can admire the Tagus river and iconic 25 de Abril bridge in the distance. The garden reaches its peak in spring, when the pathways are lined with gorgeous purple flowering trees. Another highlight are the beautiful peacocks and peahen that live at the garden. These fabulous birds will be raising their adorable newborn chicks in April and May.
The garden reaches its aesthetic peak in spring, when the pathways are lined with purple flowering trees. Moreover, the fabulous peacocks and peahen that live at the garden will be raising their adorable newborn chicks.
A Fragrance Garden for the Blind (and Sighted)
Another wonderful thing about visiting the Jardim Botânico d’Ajuda is the special fragrance garden. This Jardim dos Aromas is a travel tip for any nature lover, but it is also perfectly designed for the blind. You can enjoy the plants and flowers by smelling their scents, and every specimen will have a little sign that includes a description in braille.
Strolling (or Cycling) along the Banks of the Tagus River
On a sunny spring day in Lisbon, of which there will be plenty, you should undoubtedly head to the banks of the Tagus river. I could write an entire Lisbon travel guide just about this part of town, that’s how much there is to discover along the Tagus.
The river bank has developed into one of the most relaxing, yet interesting places in Lisbon to go on a stroll. Did you know the Tagus has always played a crucial role for the city of Lisbon? Back in ancient times, the river enabled Lisbon to become an important Roman port, protected from the vast Atlantic Ocean, yet still very close to the coast.
The Tagus has always played a crucial role for the city of Lisbon. In ancient times, the river enabled Lisbon to become an important Roman port, protected from the vast Atlantic Ocean, yet still very close to the coast.
I recommend starting your walk from the historic gateway to the city; the 16th-century Belém Tower, which pretty much looks like it belongs in a fairy-tale storybook. From there, you will pass several monuments and the futuristic MAAT museum as you walk towards the eye-catching 25 de Abril Bridge. Not much of a walker? A perfect alternative is to rent a bicycle, ride along the river’s edge, and feel the wind in your hair.
Gondolas and Ice Cream at Parque das Nações
In contrast to most of Lisbon’s centuries-old neighbourhoods, Parque das Nações boasts plenty of modern architecture. Visiting this area is one of the most underrated things to do. The locals usually call the area Oriente or Expo, which stems from the neighbourhood’s origin as the location of the World Expo in 1998. You can drop by the Lisbon Oceanarium or Science Museum, although a walk around the area alone is already interesting enough.
Whatever happens, make sure to check out the gondola lift (telecabine) and the two boardwalks along Oriente’s river bank: one next to the Oceanarium and another one at the Jardim do Passeio dos Heróis do Mar. The boardwalks will be speckled with people enjoying the sun and working on their daily exercise regime.
Ice Cream at Oficina do Gelado
Just a stone’s throw away from the boardwalk next to the Oceanarium, you will find Oficina do Gelato. This is an amazing little ice cream shop. They make their own artisan ice cream flavours with organic ingredients, and their fruity scoops are a hidden gem for the foodies among us (I haven’t seen many other bloggers share this spot). It’s the perfect stop for a sugary snack on a sunny day in spring.
Planning a Day trip to the Palaces in Sintra
Now, if you have a little more time to spend in Lisbon, I would plan a day trip to Sintra. The Sintra region in Portugal is known for its enchanting allure. Unsurprisingly so, since the UNESCO-certified cultural landscape is highly gifted in the royal palaces and gothic mansions department. Sintra is easily accessible from the Rossio train station in Lisbon. The trip from Lisbon to Sintra central station should only take you about 40 minutes.
The most iconic highlight in Sintra is the 19th-century Pena Palace. Everybody obsesses over this palace, which is understandable. Pena basically looks like a magical patchwork of six different palaces. Most visitors, however, don’t realise that the surrounding Pena Park is also an outstanding spot for a hike among trees and flowers. I would personally skip the tour inside the palace and admire the sights from the surrounding land instead.
Exploring the Romantic Era of Monserrate Palace
Although most flock to the Pena Palace, the Monserrate Palace is just as intriguing. You should definitely try combining visits to both the palaces, if you have time. The 17th-century Moorish villa overlooks impressive gardens and is an important heritage site from the romantic era. Monserrate has inspired travellers, writers, and poets all around Europe. The palace’s fascinating history, however, hasn’t always been rosy. You can read the palace’s full story in this article I wrote last year. The easiest way to get to the Monsserate estate is to take bus 435 from Sintra central station.
Monserrate has inspired travellers, writers, and poets all around Europe. The palace’s fascinating history, however, hasn’t always been rosy.
Weather and Temperatures in Spring
Of course, this Lisbon travel guide would be incomplete without preparing you for the weather. Thankfully, you probably won’t have to worry about a thing. Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which means that winters are mild and rainy, and summers are warm and very sunny. Naturally, spring always falls somewhere in between.
The average temperature in Lisbon lies between a comfortable 19-25 degrees Celsius in March, April, and May. It usually rains much less compared to autumn and winter, but bringing a light jacket (with a hood) is a good idea. Mid to late spring is the ideal period in terms of blossoms and sunshine. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go!