It’s now June which means that from now until October, Lisbon will be sunny about 90% of the time. When visiting the city at this time, touring museums feels less appealing and you’ll likely be drawn to the great outdoors. Lisbon is perfect for that, with a marvelous setting: It has a river that many mistaken for the ocean, hills creating an amphitheater-like landscape best admired from the top of its castle, and terraces scattered around offering panoramic vistas. In between you’ll discover charming gardens, monuments offering views, and the approaching breeze of the Atlantic. Here are 10 ideas for what to do in the open air this summer in Lisbon:
1. RELAX IN PRINCIPE REAL’S GARDENS
The Principe Real neighborhood is one of Lisbon’s most charming residential areas, and its main square has just reopened last week after months of renovation. That square is actually a garden and you can sit under a gigantic “umbrella tree,” try one of the city’s traditional drinks at a kiosk café, and admire the architectural details of the colorful buildings of the surroundings. Go down the hill and you reach Praça das Flores, perhaps Lisbon’s most romantic corner. It’s never mentioned in guidebooks, but this small, shaded square has a couple of the city’s most inviting cafés with outdoor tables, including the new “Novamesa Snack Bar,” an extention of the recent Nova Mesa restaurant. Back up the hill is the enchanting Botanical Garden.
2. STROLL DOWN THE BOULEVARD
Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon’s mile-long “Champs Elysées,” a boulevard know for its luxury shops, theaters, and cafés. A new Prada store is opening this week in one of its most beautiful buildings, and you can do some window-shopping as you go down the avenue admiring the city’s trademark mosaic pavements and stop to take a look at the many scattered statues, all the way to the city’s biggest park. Edward VII Park goes up a hill and once you reach the top you’re rewarded with a postcard-view of the city.
3. STAND IN THE RENOVATED RIVERFRONT COMÉRCIO SQUARE
As GoLisbon reported, Lisbon’s biggest and most monumental square has just been renovated. The planned cafés will only be open in September or October, but you can sit by the river, at Cais das Colunas, a quayside area with two large columns marking the entrance to the city from the Tagus. From here you can admire the square and its triumphal arch, and sit as you watch the ferries cross the river, and see the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge and the Monument to Christ in the distance.
4. CATCH SOME SUN FROM THE ROOFTOPS OF ALFAMA’S MAIN MONUMENTS
The National Pantheon and St. Vincent’s Monastery are both located in Alfama just steps from each other, and besides both being painted in shining white, they both offer rooftop terraces for city views. You can stop to check your guidebook or simply stay admiring the city as you work on your tan.
5. GO MIRADOURO-HOPPING IN ALFAMA
Alfama is Lisbon’s most picturesque neighborhood and it’s always best enjoyed outdoors. It forces even the laziest walkers to go up and down its cobbled streets, and the reward are its terrace viewpoints. Three of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city are located within walking distance from each other, and they allow you to do some sightseeing as you enjoy your sunny summer days. Start in Miradouro de Santa Luzia, go up to Miradouro das Portas do Sol (stop for a drink at its fantastic terrace café), and continue up the hill to Miradouro da Graça where you won’t be able to put your camera down.
6. STAND BY THE LAUNCH PAD OF THE DISCOVERIES
Florida’s Cape Canaveral is the launch pad for the exploration of space today, but five centuries ago the launch pad for the exploration of planet Earth was Lisbon’s Belém district. That’s where you’ll find the city’s three biggest landmarks, the Discoveries Monument, the Belém Tower, and Jerónimos Monastery. Starting at the monastery, walk west along the waterfront to admire the architecture and stone work of the other two monuments, and picture Vasco da Gama departing on his way to discovering the maritime route to the East or Pedro Alvares Cabral on his way to discoverig South America.
7. GO BACK TO THE FUTURE IN PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES
Lisbon’s waterfront is not just about the voyages of the past. At the former site of 1998′s World Fair you now find a modern residential and business district with futuristic architecture. You may see all of it from a bird’s-eye perspective on a cable car ride, or walking along the riverfront from one of the world’s biggest aquariums all the way to a Dubai-like tower, Torre Vasco da Gama. In between you’ll see lawns and gardens inviting you for a picnic.
8. CRUISE DOWN THE TAGUS
With so many walks by the river you’ll probably end up wishing you were in it. You may do that by taking a sightseeing cruise which departs every afternoon from the center of the city and goes all the way to Belém and Parque das Nações. Be sure to take your camera, especially when you pass under 25 de Abril Bridge and see Vasco da Gama Bridge at the end of the journey. Get complete cruise details here: Tagus River Cruise
9. GO ON A PHOTOGRAPHY WALKING TOUR
By now you probably already know that Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities which is why it’s so loved by photographers. Even if you have very little talent and don’t aspire to become one, you’ll enjoy a walking tour where photographing the city is the theme. Your attention will be guided to all the details that make Lisbon so special, from the tiled façaded to the cobbled mosaics, to the surprising views along the way.
Complete tour details here: Lisbon Photography Walking Tour
10. TAKE THE CASCAIS-ESTORIL BOARDWALK
Lisbon may have a Mediterranean look and feel, but this is actually a very Atlantic city. Its river opens to the ocean from the Belém district to the seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril. Known as “the Portuguese Riviera,” these are two chic resorts which are connected by a beachfront boardwalk. You’ll find pretty villas, marinas, small coves, and Europe’s largest casino but on a sunny day nothing will make you leave the boardwalk with occasional stops for a drink at a beachfront café or some sunbathing on the sand.