Lisbon On a Rainy Day: 12 Things To Do
Lisbon has a pleasant climate year-round, with mild winters and long, hot summer days, perfect for beach-goers and anyone who seeks thrilling outdoor experiences. Residents enjoy nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, so you’ll have plenty of time for different open-air activities to keep you busy. But there can also be heavy downpours of rain in Lisbon, especially in the winter months and even in spring, which can easily dampen anyone’s spirits.
Since many of the city’s main attractions are outdoors, a rainy day in Lisbon can mean you won’t be able to participate in an exciting walking tour or go to the beach. You can’t fully explore its charming streets, have a rooftop party, wander around the São Jorge Castle, and enjoy its viewpoints. However, it doesn’t mean you should be cooped up in the house all day to wait until the rainy days are over.
Whether you are in Lisbon for 3 days or 3 weeks, a wet day can be an excellent opportunity to discover Lisbon and explore places you might’ve otherwise overlooked. There are Fado houses to visit, chances to immerse yourself in the soul of Portuguese music and one of the world’s best aquariums to check out. You’ll also find different artisan studios, museums, art galleries, and other famous cultural attractions that will deepen your understanding of the city and country’s unique art, tradition, and history.
So there’s no such thing as unpleasant or good weather when exploring this Portuguese capital. Its beauty and distinct charm stand out both on gray days and in weeks of sunshine. And if you’re worried about getting your bags soaked while you find things to do on a rainy day, use a reliable luggage storage facility in Lisbon. That way, you can go places and do whatever you want without carrying a suitcase or heavy items around.
Ride Tram 28
There’s probably no better way to discover the city’s hidden gems than riding the Tram 28. It’s a classic tram journey that passes through several popular tourist spots and neighborhoods, including Baiza, Alfama, Graca, and Estrella. While it remains a top-rated attraction, locals also use the tram as their primary transport, so expect long queues, especially during the peak season.
Fortunately, Lisbon, on a rainy day, doesn’t get as many visitors as it does in summer. You can easily spend time on the tram without the crowds. It follows a scenic route, providing one of the city’s best tours. When you ride the tram, you don’t have to worry about getting soaked in the rain while exploring the city’s iconic landmarks.
One of the significant landmarks along the Tram 28 route is the Basilica da Estrela, a royal basilica and convent built around the 18th century. It features twin bell towers embellished with numerous statues of saints and different allegorical figures. You’ll also pass by the Lisbon Cathedral, The Castelo de São Jorge, The Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and more. The tram is open every day from 6 am to 10 pm.
Marvel at the Marine Animals at the Oceanário de Lisboa
The Lisbon Oceanarium is a large public aquarium, home to over 15 thousand creatures from more than 450 different species. It is located in a futuristic neighborhood, the Parque das Nações, and is Europe’s second-largest aquarium next to L’oceanografic in Valencia. It attracts about 1 million visitors each year, making it one of the country’s most famous cultural spots.
Being in Lisbon on a rainy day may seem disheartening, but a visit to the Oceanarium will prove otherwise. It’s a great attraction if you’re visiting with kids. They will marvel at the hundreds of species and incredible marine animals, including manta rays, stingrays, sharks, and colorful tropical fishes. It also hosts excellent exhibitions for a unique and memorable experience. It is open every day, from 10 am to 8 pm, but the last entry is 7 pm.
Go on a Shopping Spree
Never let a rainy day in Lisbon get you down. Instead of being stuck in your hotel, go out and enjoy a shopping spree. The city is brimming with shopping centers, unique shops, boutiques, and designer stores to enhance your wardrobe. It has many large indoor malls that provide a one-stop shopping experience if you want to shop in one place. Most of them are not far from downtown and accessible on public transportation.
Check out an iconic shopping complex in Lisbon, the Amoreiras Shopping Center. It was inaugurated in 1985 with distinctive architecture and houses numerous shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. One of the biggest shopping centers in the Iberian Peninsula is also worth a visit. The Colombo Shopping Center is a tourist point of interest accessible by the metro station (blue line.)
Another large indoor mall you can explore is the Vasco da Gama, with easy access to the Oriente metro station (red line) in Park the Nations district. But if you’re looking for the best selection of renowned brands at a special price, take a trip the El Corte Inglés, Lisbon’s largest department store. The nearest metro station is the São Sebastião metro station, which has an entrance to the store.
Watch a Fado Show
You can’t visit Lisbon and not watch at least one Fado show. Fado is more than just a music style that originated in the city of Lisbon; it’s a part of the culture that represents the country. It is performed in concerts by renowned artists, but you can also watch a fado show in multiple venues and settings. These include cafes and restaurants that allow you to discover an authentic tradition of classic Fado.
Bairro Alto and Alfama are the two neighborhoods to visit if you want to watch great Fado performances. You’ll likely stumble upon a Fado show at night as you walk into these areas. The vibrant performances can be offered with food at a restaurant, but other Fado houses may only host a show without dinner. With or without food, watching a cultural Fado show is undoubtedly a worthwhile activity to do in Lisbon on a rainy day.
Visit The National Tile Museum
The National Tile Museum is a notable national museum with an outstanding collection of decorative tiles dating back from the 15th century to the present day. It is housed in Madre de Deus Convent, a former convent founded in 1509. It’s not the closest cultural facility to the city center, about a mile (1.5km) east of Santa Apolonia train station.
You’ll see the collection displayed in rooms set along the Renaissance cloister, a beautiful location for a museum display. It will take you through the rich history of tile from the 15th century while you marvel at the Portuguese baroque splendor of the building. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm.
Attend a Wine Tasting
The Lisbon region may not be the most well-known wine area in Portugal, but it does produce great wines you should get a sip of before leaving. You can join a wine tasting tour and meet new people or get a private table for the ultimate Portuguese wine tasting experience. This way, you can have your sommelier offer insights, explanations, and commentaries for you and your group. It’s an excellent way to relax and savor local flavors on a rainy day in Lisbon.
There are endless opportunities to taste delicious wines in Lisbon's wineries and wine bars. You can check out the Vale de Cortem Vinhos Biologicos, a small organic winery on the Lisbon region's west coast. Or visit the Quinta da Almiara, another spectacular winery set on about 160 hectares of land. So forget the unpleasant weather and let the wine experts work their magic.
Explore Art Galleries
You’ll never run out of art galleries and cultural centers to discover in Lisbon on a rainy day. If the Tile Museum is already a part of your itinerary, you can head to other art museums and galleries unique to this historic city.
Learn more about Portugal’s modern art at The National Museum of Contemporary Art (Chiado Museum). Set in the historic convent of São Francisco, the museum boasts the country’s largest collections of modern and contemporary art. The Underdogs Gallery is also worth exploring with its impressive display of artwork by many talented Portuguese and international artists. It’s an artistic jewel in Lisbon with primary references to the urban art culture in the city.
Stop at The National Archaeology Museum
Another cultural facility you don’t want to miss in gloomy Lisbon weather is the National Archaeology Museum. Founded in 1893, the museum has the largest archaeological collection in the country. Some of its items and artifacts can even be traced back from the Paleolithic era to the Medieval period. It was formerly known as the Portuguese Ethnographic Museum, occupying the western wing of another tourist attraction, the Jerónimos Monastery.
The permanent exhibitions include collections of finds and Treasures of Portuguese Archaeology and Egyptian Antiques. It also has Roman mosaics, obtained mostly from Southern Portugal. Apart from the permanent collections, it also hosts temporary exhibits covering various subjects.
Admire Portuguese Religious Art at São Roque Museum
Opened in 1905, the São Roque Museum has over 110 years of history, boasting some of Portugal’s most important religious art collections. Some of them originated from the Church of São Roque and the Professed House of the Society of Jesus, consisting of sculptures, paintings, oriental art, and liturgical objects.
A visit to the museum will give you a glimpse of the museum and the São Roque Church, with highlights of the art history from the 16th to 18th centuries. You’ll also appreciate its rich collection, including manuscripts, tabernacles, and jewelry.
Dine at the Time Out Market
What better way to spend a rainy day in Lisbon than eating? And if you’re looking for a place to dine, the Time Out Market has everything to satisfy even the pickiest taste buds. This modern food hall is located in the historic Mercado da Ribeira, which has been Lisbon’s primary food market since 1892. It’s a favorite destination among tourists and locals and a must-visit spot for first-time travelers.
Whether you’re craving fish and seafood, meat, or some vegetarian delights, you’ll find everything in this spacious food court. As you walk through the main doors, you’ll see lines of stalls selling a wide variety of local delights like street food, desserts, and drinks to appease your palate. It’s a fantastic spot to hang out and eat with friends and an ideal place for indecisive hungry travelers.
Challenge Yourself in Escape Rooms
Do you want to do something fun and exciting to kill time and boredom on a rainy day in Lisbon? Escape rooms in Lisbon will take you and your group to a different level of adventure. Leap into a new world and complete ground-breaking missions by solving puzzles and finishing different challenges before the time runs out.
There are different escape rooms with different themes and difficulty levels. But if you want a private escape room in the city center, solve riddles and hunt for clues at Escape Hunt Experience London. Here, you’ll get a dedicated game master to assist you and enjoy tea and biscuits while chatting and relaxing in the lounge. Plus, you get to wear fun costumes.
Go to the Cinema
Watching a movie may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a trip to Lisbon. But moviegoers will love to know that the city has many enchanting arthouse cinemas and movie theaters that will complete your Portuguese experience.
Stop by the traditional arthouse cinema in Lisbon, the Cinema de São Jorge. It was established in the 1950s and is located on Avenida da Liberdade. It’s an excellent place to watch documentaries, movies, film premiers, and even poetry readings. Just a few minutes’ walk from Cinema de São Jorge, you’ll find another theater, the Cinemateca. It also serves as a museum built in 1948, where you can see some old classics and recent hits.
Discover Lisbon on a Rainy Day
There’s no reason to let a rainy day in Lisbon gloom over your holiday. Sure, you won’t be able to go to the beach or explore the great outdoors. But this amazing city is filled with wonders and events to fill your schedule regardless of the weather condition. There are plenty of activities and places to see to keep you entertained and dry even in the wet season. Check out a vegetarian restaurant, attend a music festival, or wander through a museum. Don’t waste your time sitting in your hotel. Get out there and do something fun to defeat the rain!