Ahh, spring. The air warms up and the stretching daylight hours invite you to stay out in the streets a little bit longer. Other cities have their own thing going on, but nothing compares to Lisbon during this time of year. Here are 13 things students should do in Lisbon in the spring:
1. Climb up to a miradouro and have a beer
You can’t beat a Lisbon sunset, especially at a miradouro (viewpoint). Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills, so whenever you’re going up to a miradouro, you know your legs are in for a steep climb. Check the Senhora do Monte miradouro, order an imperial, a fresh fruit smoothie, or a bica (our word for espresso). Head down to the Graça miradouro and order some more until the sun goes down.
2. Find a bargain at Feira da Ladra
If you’re into flea markets, everyone will point you to Feira da Ladra. The name (which can be translated to “thief market”) was first mentioned in the 17th century. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday, and it’s the place to go to find cheap second-hand products, such as clothes, CD’s, vinyls, books (mostly in Portuguese), coins, antiques, furniture, and so much more. Don’t forget to haggle the price!
3. Stop by a ginjinha in Rossio
Ginjinha, or simply ginja, is a sweet cherry-like liqueur. It is most known in Lisbon and in the small town of Óbidos, where they drink it in an edible chocolate cup. Most
tourists people go to A Ginjinha, but try Eduardinho for a change. It’s less than 100 metres away and it won’t be as crowded. Perfect to end your day and start off the evening.
4. Visit the oldest bookshop in the world
Yes, indeed it is in Lisbon! Since 1732, Bertrand is the oldest operating bookshop in existence, certified by Guinness World Records. If you can’t miss a good bookshop, this one is a must-stop. Most books are in Portuguese, but you’ll likely find a few in English.
5. Study in the Gulbenkian gardens
Tranquility in the middle of Lisbon’s hustle and bustle. It’s one of the city’s most beloved gardens and very close to Nova University‘s different faculties. It’s the perfect background to study in — if you don’t get distracted by the 42 different bird species that live here!
6. Party in Pink Street and only stop in Adamastor
Lisbon’s “pink street” in Cais do Sodré, named one of the best streets in Europe by the New York Times, is home to several clubs and bars. Start with a cocktail at the burlesque Pensão Amor or stop by the cavernous Music Box before climbing all the way up to the Santa Catarina miradouro, more commonly known as Adamastor, and chill until the sun comes up.
7. Spend your weekends listening to music and lying on the grass
Every weekend from May to September, you can lie down in the grass in a different place every month, such as the Belém Tower gardens, Parque Tejo, Jardim da Estrela, and Jardim do Campo Grande. The OutJazz Festival is already on its 11th edition, and even though it’s become pretty crowded and has slowly been shifting away from jazz, it’s still a great way to spend a warm afternoon with a fresh cider.
One of the biggest rock and pop festivals, Rock in Rio, takes place in Lisbon every two years at the end of May/beginning of June, and it’s a great opportunity to see international as well as Portuguese artists.
8. Watch a football match
Loads of people live and breathe football in Lisbon. The city’s two main football teams, rivals Sporting CP and SL Benfica, still have one game left this season on April 23. A must-see for spring — or at least for football lovers.
9. Party at Semana Académica de Lisboa
Every year in May, Lisbon’s Academic Association organises the Academic Lisbon Week (Semana Académica de Lisboa). There are concerts every night by some of the biggest artists in Portugal (and sometimes international ones come too), and lots of beer. Get your tickets for this year’s edition, which will happen between May 15 and 20.
10. Have a Pastel de Belém in Belém
Belém is the perfect backdrop for a warm afternoon. Walk along the Tagus River and gaze at the 25 de Abril bridge and Cristo Rei’s (Christ the King) wide open arms. This whole area has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém.
While you’re there, check out MAAT, the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, and the Berardo Museum in the Belém Cultural Centre, where you can gaze at artworks by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. And don’t forget the essential: a steamy and crunchy Pastel de Nata from Pastéis de Belém.
11. Eat in an esplanada in Parque das Nações
And go for a stroll in the area. It’s the most modern neighbourhood in Lisbon, a visible contrast to the older parts of the city. It was built for Expo 98 and since then has become one of the go-to spots for a walk on a sunny day. There are many restaurants and bars to choose from in the long strip by the river.
You can also have a quick bite in one of Lisbon’s typical quiosques — try one in the city’s main avenue, Avenida da Liberdade! The Saldanha area has recently been revamped, so it’s also a great place to eat al fresco on a spring afternoon — stop by Avenida Duque d’Ávila.
12. Hit the beach in Guincho
If you want to see the Atlantic in all its — freezing — glory, head a half hour from Lisbon’s city centre until you reach Guincho. It’s one of the windiest beaches in the area, so it’s great for surfing and windsurfing (only for pros, though!) and not that much for sunbathing and dipping in the ocean unless you’re very lucky. But it’s always worth seeing, no matter the weather.
13. Welcome summer during St. Anthony’s
Starting in June, Lisbon changes. The whole city comes together to celebrate the beginning of summer with music, sardines, beer, and very bad music. St Anthony’s, Lisbon’s patron saint, is the biggest night of the month — it’s just a few days before summer, starting on June 12 and going into the wee hours of the 13th. The perfect way to say goodbye to spring!
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What else do you think is worth doing in Lisbon in the spring? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.