Delicious ways to beat the summer heat in Lisbon
As we always like to stress, there is no best time to travel to Lisbon, because every season of the year has its particular appeal and there is always something going on in the Portuguese capital. But one thing is for sure, if you are not a fan of the warm weather, you have to keep in mind that, during the summer, Lisbon does indeed get pretty hot! Temperatures during the day in peak season will easily reach 35°C, which is 95°F.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Lisbon, even on the hottest days. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should stick to staying indoors either, with the fan or AC on the maximum setting. You can still go out and about, but you must play it smart and choose your activities wisely, so you don’t melt away.
For starters, you can head out for Portuguese style breakfast when it’s still relatively early in the day and, before the temperatures peak around noon, around areas with shade. The oldest district of Lisbon, Alfama, has plenty of shady streets, which were built like this on purpose by the Moors from northern Africa who inhabited this area between the 7th and 12th centuries. Because they couldn’t simply stop going about their lives when the weather got hot, they were strategic and built buildings relatively close together, in order to ensure that the streets would get shade most times of the day. Of course, this means that nowadays cars can’t get through many of these narrow alleys, but they are indeed ideal for walking around!
You don’t need us to say this, but staying hydrated is key. Generally speaking, unless you are in a particularly old building with bad plumbing, Lisbon’s tap water is not only potable but of high quality. As such, you don’t need to buy bottled water and you can save your pocket money for other more interesting things (such as Portuguese edible souvenirs) while protecting the environment too. If you crave other refreshing drinks rather than plain water, we have some suggestions for non-alcoholic Portuguese beverages which you are unlikely to come across outside our country.
If the weather gets unbearable, opt for indoor activities such as visiting Lisbon’s top museums or exploring our local food scene at covered food halls such as Time Out Market (Av. 24 de Julho 49) or the gourmet market of Campo de Ourique (Rua Coelho da Rocha 104). But if your adventurous foodie spirit doesn’t give you a truce, don’t worry, as we have come up with a bunch of deliciously creative ways which will help you beat the summer heat in Lisbon:
1. eat LOTS of ice-cream (but choose Portuguese flavors)
Ice-creams are a perfect treat during hot days, whether it’s here in Lisbon or anywhere else in the world. So if you feel like a scoop or two, considering you are in Portugal, allow us to suggest selecting a local flavor. Sure you also get chocolate, vanilla or strawberry across Lisbon’s classic and contemporary ice-cream parlors, but there are so many other flavors you could try: check it our in our Instagram!
If the weather feels too hot for a fresh-out-of-the-oven Portuguese custard tart, try a pastel de nata ice-cream instead! This is a flavor available at several ice-cream shops in town, including but not limited to Geladaria Artisani, which has several locations around the city. Other local flavors include those which are prepared with fresh seasonal fruits, such as Rocha pear with cinnamon at LucDuc (Rua de Campolide 57 A), or Reineta apple from Alcobaça also with cinnamon, which you can order at Nannarella (Rua Nova da Piedade 64A). For even more Portuguese flavors, head to Geladaria Portuguesa (Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo 15) for a Port wine scoop. Now that we come to think of it, it would be great if we could actually pair a scoop of this fortified wine ice-cream with another one inspired by Portugal’s decadent range of conventual sweets. At FIB (Av. Padre Manuel da Nóbrega 13E) they capture the essence of egg yolk based Portuguese sweets with an irresistible ovos moles (egg jam) ice-cream, and Casa dos Ovos Moles em Lisboa (Calçada do Sacramento 25) even has a pudim Abade de Priscos (a typical bacon pudding from the north of Portugal) in ice-cream form.
Seriously, if you still choose to have vanilla after you know about all of these Portuguese flavors, you may want to start considering how come you are reading a food blog…
2. travel to Sintra to enjoy the microclimate and the pastries
Welcome to Sintra, where the cool Atlantic air and the warm Mediterranean air become one. In fact, Sintra’s microclimate is responsible for the town’s initial development, as this was the chosen place back in the 19th century of royals and the bourgeoisie to escape the heat of Lisbon’s summers. No wonder you’ll find plenty of regal homes and even castles around here – these were the summer homes of the rich and famous from back in the day.
We wouldn’t be telling you to go spend the day in Sintra if there was nothing interesting to munch on around there. Of course the idyllic surroundings of this picturesque town with unique architecture are worthwhile on their own, but we did promise you delicious ways to beat the summer heat, didn’t we?
While in Sintra, you must try the local sweet specialities: travesseiros and queijadas de Sintra. The most famous bakery in town is Casa Piriquita (Rua Padarias 1, Sintra). During high season, don’t be surprised to see lines out of the door, with folks eager to try these sugary treats. Travesseiros are shaped as long pillows (this is what the word travesseiro literally means in Portuguese), filled with egg jam and ground almond. They are quite a bomb, so while many have a travesseiro and a queijada right after the other at Casa Piriquita, we’d say come here for the travesseiro and eat a queijada elsewhere. Queijadas da Sapa (Volta do Duche 12, Sintra) is an establishment that specializes in just queijadas and they’ve been reproducing the same recipe which was popularized in 1756. With so many years of experience, you can trust they know what they are doing, and that gloriously reflects on the deliciousness you’ll get to taste as you bite into these delicate cottage cheese tarts.
3. Go to the beach and eat a bola de Berlim
Spending a day at the beach Portuguese style has quite a lot to do with food. If you’re going the traditional route, you’d be packing your snacks and even lunch, perhaps including some of Portugal’s popular savory snacks. If you don’t care about waking up earlier to make food, chances are you’ll end up hitting a restaurant near the beach, to feast on summer specialities such as assorted seafood and other foods we typically eat by the beach.
One way or another, you will most likely end up eating a bola de Berlim, that is a Berliner, which is the most typical treat to enjoy at the beach in Portugal. As you leisurely lay in the sand, you will see and hear vendors who walk up and down the sandy areas advertising “bolinhaaaaa, bolinhaaaaa!”. They will normally have two varieties: com creme, that is stuffed with egg jam, or sem creme, which is basically a plain doughnut with no filling, but still packed with flavor as it is heavily dusted with sugar on the outside.
After you swim in the ocean, nothing beats a kick of sugar, not just to recharge your energy, but also because the lingering salt around your lips will create a delicious contrast with the sugar on the outside of a bola de Berlim. This is Portugal’s quintessential beach treat so if you’re into experiencing places as closely as possible as locals do, certainly do not miss out.
4. Stay cool during a wine tasting at a cellar near Lisbon
One may argue that alcohol is not the best choice when you’re sweating away and trying to stay hydrated, but there’s no denying that spending time at a wine cellar has tremendous potential to help you beat the summer heat.
When you visit a vineyard and do a wine tasting, it will most likely take place inside the cellar where the winery ages and stores its wine. Down there, temperatures are usually cooler and controlled, as this is necessary to ensure the correct development of the wine inside the barrels. As such, as long as you keep hydrating yourself in parallel with plenty of water, it can be a great option to go for a wine tasting experience on a particularly hot day.
Some of our favorite vineyards for wine tastings near Lisbon include:
Adega regional de Colares
To sample the wines of Portugal’s smallest wine region
📍Alameda Cel. Linhares de Lima 32, 2705-351 Colares
To try Carcavelos wine, one of the four fortified wines of Portugal
📍Two addresses in Oeiras (see details on the website below)
Quinta de Sant’Ana
To have an excuse to do a road-trip towards Mafra and the coastal town of Ericeira, which is (in)famously windy but, when it’s so hot, this is so welcome!
📍Rua Direita 3, 2665-113 Gradil
Quinta da Bacalhôa
To sample sweet and complex Moscatel de Setúbal
📍Estrada Nacional 10, 2925-901 Azeitão
5. Explore the neighborhood of Marvila and its many craft breweries
We love the alternative vibes of Marvila, one of Lisbon’s neighborhoods often overlooked by tourists but that has so much to offer. Marvila is known as “Lisbon’s beer district” as this is where the first and still most relevant artisanal breweries started coming up.
Can you think of a better way to keep cool than to drink delicious chilled beers? Organize your own bar hopping experience, starting at Dois Corvos, Lisbon’s first ever craft brewery and tap room, passing by Lince and ending in the super popular Musa, which you can also find downtown as they have a store in the central neighborhood of Bica (Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 2A). Don’t stick with what you already know you like and be open to try locally developed flavors that may surprise you!
These are the addresses you should visit in Marvila as a beer lover in need of a cool one:
Musa de Marvila
📍Rua do Vale Formoso 9, 1950-277 Lisbon
Dois Corvos Marvila Taproom
📍Rua Cap. Leitão 94, 1950-052 Lisbon
📍Rua Cap. Leitão 1b, 1950-049 Lisbon
6. Do a cooking class in a kitchen with AC
You wouldn’t be wrong to associate kitchens with a hot environment, but cooking classes set up for travelers are a very different thing than busy commercial kitchens. In the kind of places where we host Portuguese cooking classes, the atmosphere is nice and fresh enough thanks to proper ventilation and cooling AC. This means you get to enjoy learning new recipes which you can replicate when you’re back home and missing our country, while also staying cool indoors.
During the summer, some of our cooking classes focus on recipes that we like eating during this time of the year, namely with ingredients that are in season. Ready to stir the pot with us? Book your experience here.
7. Eat local cold foods to regulate your body temperature
Traditional Portuguese cooking tends to be quite heavy. If there’s one thing we can say our country specializes in quite well, that is comfort food. Think about our typical boiled meats dinner, cozido à portuguesa, hearty stews such as feijoada transmontana, and more. But of course that doesn’t mean that the repertoire of Portugal’s cuisine ends at that. We have many recipes which are perfect for summer and that are still very representative of our taste and food culture.
Particularly as you go towards the south of Portugal, the regional cuisine will present you with different examples of chilled foods which will help you beat the summer heat. The region of Alentejo, where it gets super hot during the summer, excels at this! This is where locals prepare refreshing gaspacho soup, for example, which is different from the popular gazpacho from across the border. Here in Portugal, unlike in Spain, this cold soup is not a blended one, but instead features tiny pieces of ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber and bread, seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, herbs and very cold water. So refreshing!
There are also a bunch of typical Portuguese salads which make for great light meals during the summer. One thing to keep in mind when you order a traditional salad in our country is that, unless you ask for a simple side salad (salada mista), we’re not huge into greens. Our salads are more about protein and legumes, and some of our favorites include those that bring together pinto beans and tuna (salada de feijão frade com atum) or salt cod and chickpeas (salada de grão com bacalhau).
Above every other food, for us, the ultimate summer meal in Portugal would be a mariscada, that is, an assorted seafood platter, featuring a variety of species simply steamed. This is the perfect kind of food to enjoy in a leisurely manner, as we spend quality time around the table with friends or family. You need to dig in with your hands, suck the heads of chunky prawns, pull away the shells of crustaceans to enjoy their fleshy briny meat, and the whole experience feels so wholesome.
8. Feel the breeze way up high at one of Lisbon’s best rooftop bars
Lisbon is home to such an interesting variety of rooftop bars. Whether you’d like to go for brunch with a view, stop for a refreshing drink during the day, have a full sit down meal, or dance the night away in a trendy setting, there’s always a rooftop which can tickle your fancy.
As Lisbon is full of hills, we’ve developed quite a fondness for being up high at a strategic point, to enjoy the picturesque views of the city, the Tagus river and the south bank. At one of Lisbon’s best rooftop bars, you can appreciate these spectacular vistas and, bonus, you can do so while enjoying great food and drinks.
9. Swim in a natural saltwater pool and replenish energy in Azenhas do Mar
While Lisbon is not right by the beach, we are blessed with the proximity to incredible beaches, towards Cascais, within Sintra, and on the South bank, such as Costa da Caparica, Arrábida Natural Park and more.
In Azenhas do Mar, which belongs to the lovely locality of Colares in Sintra, the ocean looks gorgeous as the waves crash against the rugged cliffs. But this translates into unsafe conditions to actually go for a swim in the ocean. But let’s not give up yet, as in Azenhas do Mar they have a striking swimming pool which blends in perfectly with its surroundings (see photo above) and it’s naturally filled with the salty water from the ocean. Like this, you get to refresh yourself in the Atlantic waters, enjoy the natural landscape all around you, but relax because the ocean won’t take you away at any second.
When you visit the saltwater pools of Azenhas do Mar you must take advantage of the adjacent restaurant which goes by the same name (Lugar das Piscinas, Colares). They are one of the best fresh fish and seafood restaurants in the entire area and, during the summer, they also open an outdoor bar and terrace, specializing in drinks and cocktails. Take a dip in the pool, ask for a beverage to be enjoyed in the shade and when you’re dry and hungry, go upstairs to the restaurant to enjoy a seafood feast – doesn’t that sound like an ideal plan for a summer afternoon?
10. Dine and wine in Cacilhas as the sun goes down.
Costa da Caparica is a coastal area across the Tagus river from Lisbon, that’s within very easy reach from the city center. You can quickly get there by car (or Uber) crossing the 25 de Abril bridge and, during the summer, they also have special buses which take you from downtown Lisbon to the beaches. This is a very good spot to take a surfing class if you’re a beginner and you’ll find several schools offering classes and board rentals by the most popular beach areas.
In reality, this suggestion for you to get active is nothing but an excuse to work up an appetite to go for dinner in the nearby area of Cacilhas, in Almada, which you can also directly reach by boat, on a 8 minute journey from Cais do Sodré. We’re convinced Cacilhas is one of the very best places to enjoy sunset near Lisbon, from where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the city, the bridge, and the sun setting west on the horizon.
Ponto Final (Rua do Ginjal 72, Cacilhas) is the most popular restaurant in Cacilhas, and for good reason, as they serve great Portuguese food and their location can’t be beaten. But we know it’s hard to get a reservation, particularly during high season, as this is a very much in demand spot during sunset hours. But don’t worry, as Ponto Final is certainly not the only eatery worth visiting in the area. Check our Cacilhas travel guide for food lovers and learn how to navigate this town of Almada and have a deliciously good time over there.
No matter what you end up doing during your travels in Lisbon, we wish you a very pleasant and refreshing stay! Have fun, eat well and please count on our regular tips which we keep sharing via Instagram. #tasteoflisboa
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