The year is almost gone. The countdown for Christmas has already begun, and although we will have a lot of restrictions related to the COVID -19 State of Emergency in Portugal, Christmas was not cancelled.
In Lisbon, you can still feel the Christmas vibe. From the Christmas lights decorating streets and shop windows to the typical Christmas Portuguese food that are in the spotlight of the bakery counters, we can feel Christmas in the air. Maybe letting ourselves dive in this festive mood, might give us a breath to hold on tight until the end of this odd year.
How is 2020 Christmas season in Lisbon?
This Christmas season in Lisbon has been far different from the usual Christmas seasons pre-covid. The busy Lisbon, packed with tourists, gave place to a quieter city.
Most of the traditional Christmas markets and themed concerts were cancelled to avoid people gathering. Although some smaller initiatives of local markets and small concerts organized by bars or restaurants are taking place, that big Christmas fuss will not happen this year.
The Portuguese Authorities have already published all the rules for Christmas holidays, and you can check it below.
Besides all the restrictions, I believe that you can still have a pleasant time with your family during the Christmas holidays in Lisbon.
I elected three thing s to do this December in Lisbon this Christmas to keep you and your family in the Christmas mood.
These are my choice for what to do during the Christmas holidays in Lisbon.
1.Walk around Lisbon to check out the Christmas lights.
Walking the city to see the Christmas lights is my favourite thing to do in Lisbon during the Christmas holidays.
Besides all the crisis the world is facing, Lisbon City hall did a great job decorating the city this year. Although I haven't gone there yet for my traditional Christmas stroll for photographing Lisbon Christmas lights, I have already seen part of the decoration and is stunning.
Last year I made this complete post describing my walking tour from Praça Marques do Pombal to Baixa and Chiado, click here to check it.
2.Experience the Portuguese Christmas sweet specialities
When talking about food, Christmas in Portugal in general, and in Lisbon is not different, is all about the sugar.
The most traditional specialities that you must try are:
Bolo Rei(Kings Cake) - A kind of Portuguese version for the panettone. This fruitcake is made with crystallized fruit, but its taste and consistency are more like bread.
Bolo Rainha (Queen’s cake) – it is like Bolo Rei, but instead of crystallized fruit, it has dried fruit like nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Rabanadas - a Portuguese version of french toasts. A piece of bread soaked in milk, then in eggs and then fried till golden, topped with sugar and cinnamon.
Sonhos (Dreams) - Deep-fried balls made of a dough like choux dough, covered with sugar and cinnamon.
To try some of them, and many others, visit one of the traditional bakeries around the town, like:
Confeitaria Nacional – Praça da Figueira, 18B -1100-241 Lisboa - (+351) 21 342 4470
Pastelaria Benard - Rua Garrett 104 - 1200-205 Lisboa - (+351) 213 473 133
A Padaria Portuguesa – Branches all throughout Lisbon.
3.Have dinner with your family in a nice restaurant.
When you think about Christmas in Portugal the first dish that may come to your mind is codfish. You are right, codfish is the king of Christmas meals in the Portuguese Christmas, but it doesn’t reign alone.
Octopus is another star on the Christmas table of many families in Portugal, especially the ones from the North of the country.
When planning where to eat those savoury dishes, this year you should, more than ever, double-check restaurants hours and make reservations. Staying tuned to the measures determined by Portuguese authorities is also a good idea!
Like everywhere else, Lisbon restaurants have been suffering a lot due to the pandemic. With no tourists, many restaurants, bars, and cafés in touristic areas like Baixa, Alfama and Graça closed down.
But some of them keep resisting and are making their best to keep doors open, following the safety rules imposed by the Government to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and reinventing themselves.
Trying to attract clients back, some restaurants have launched special discounts. Search for promotions on platforms like The Fork and Zomato to discover the best restaurants with good discounts. It can be a nice opportunity to take the whole family to have dinner at that famous restaurant you have been dreaming about for a while.
If you have any other doubt about spending Christmas holidays in Lisbon, don't hesitate to share your thoughts on comments or sending an email.
Thank you for stopping by! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!