Portugal, the southern European gem is a neighbor of Spain and it is almost a sin to opt this jewel out of your Spanish holiday. Bordered on the west by the glistening Atlantic Ocean and on the east by Spain, Portugal is a land of storied cities and bright, sun-washed beaches.
The magic of Portugal lies in its idyllic old-world charm – with its many medieval castles and cobblestoned villages, and truly unforgettable experiences. But little do we know that Portugal is also big on its Christmas traditions. The charming country has its own fabulous traditions that make spending Christmas in Portugal not only enjoyable but hugely experiential.
So, if you have planned for a holiday in Portugal, then congratulations, you’ve pleased the travel goddess! And if you’re still looking for a European highlight, get Portugal in your immediate list and see for yourself how this medieval nation decks up around the holidays and celebrates Christmas.
Here is a guide to how to go about Portugal this holiday season to get the best of its Christmas charms.
Lisbon: For the festive season, Lisbon sparkles with Christmas lights and decorations. The capital city center also comes alive with several Christmas markets where you can pick up some original gifts and assist to live music performances, show cooking and find some entertainment for kids. Noteworthy highlight is the 30-metre-tall Christmas tree displayed in all its glory in the riverside Praça do Comércio.
Christmas Market at Campo Pequeno: From books, toys, food, pottery, jewellery, knick-knacks and several activities and workshops for all family, you will find it all at The Campo Pequeno Christmas Market.
Wonderland Parque Eduardo VII: This is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Lisbon. There are stalls selling food, clothes and gifts from local artisans but the main attractions are the Ferris Wheel, the Santa’s house, the ice rink and a stage where bands and other acts perform all day long.
Rossio Square Christmas Market: One of the main squares of Lisbon comes alive with the delicious smells of mulled wine being sold and the aromas of freshly baked pies and other sweet treats.
Natalis: Usually takes place during the first week or so of December at the Feira Internacional de Lisboa. Here, you’ll find more than 180 companies and charities selling everything you could possible need for a very Merry Christmas!
Óbidos: It is a small town about one hour drive north of Lisbon, and is worth seeing as it transforms itself into a Christmas village with ice-skating, an ice slide, a fairground, inflatables, face painting and Santa’s house. It truly resembles Santa’s home in the North Pole.
Funchal Christmas Market: This market has been already classified as one of the best in Europe. In this market in the heart of the Madeira Islands capital, one can discover a wide variety of products including exotic flowers and other traditional souvenirs, while sampling some of the typical dishes and drinks of the season and listen to choirs sing Christmas Carols. Various folklore groups dance every night. It starts on 1 December and ends on 7 January 2018.
Viseu: A Christmas market takes place every year at Rossio square in Viseu and fills this city in the center of Portugal region with lights and magic. In this market there are always warm drinks, regional products for sale, handicraft and chocolates.
The arrival of Christmas: On November 30th, Porto officially connects to Christmas. The moment is marked on its main street Avenida dos Aliados with various entertainment events such as the performances of well-known Portuguese bands. The lights and the Christmas Tree switch on at 6pm, with a multimedia show produced especially for the ceremony and it will culminate with the switch on of the lights and the inauguration of the Christmas Tree. Decorated with 31,600 LED lamps, it will be 30 meters high, weighing about 16.4 tons.
Aldeia De Natal, Vila Real De Santo António: Vila Real de Santo António normally hosts a Christmas village at the Praça Marquês de Pombal. Expect an ice rink, a fair with handicrafts and traditional foods, live music, and a visit from Santa himself.
A Capital do Natal: This year Portugal will have the first Christmas Fun Park at Passeio Marítimo de Algés. This event will feature light shows, ice sculptures, a recreation of Lapland, the land of Santa Claus, made in ice, and snow. There is even an Elf Grove and an Elf School where visitors will be able to perform various family fun activities. From November 29th, 2019 to January 12th, 2020.
Vale Do Lobo Charity Christmas Market: This usually takes place at the beginning of December in the Vale do Lobo Parque do Golfe complex with stalls selling Christmas trees, books, cakes, jewelry, and other great Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. It combines a luxury lifestyle Christmas gift market with a food and wine fair.