Once we were all comfortably seated, we were ready to set sail. The wind was on point so we were lucky to almost not use the engine.
Nuno has a passion for sailing in his veins and you could really sense that. He’s very passionate about sailing, about his boat and about the city of Lisbon. So if you’re interested in these topics, be ready to learn a lot! Even us, Portuguese living in Lisbon learned some interesting historical facts with Nuno. And some of us even accepted the challenge to help a bit with the sailing.
Nuno gave us the choice of a more touristic route in the River towards downtown or to go out to the sea. As we had already sailed in the Tagus River, we were super excited with the option of sailing towards the Atlantic.
We had a great time onboard. We prepared a delicious picnic to share onboard and also brought our drinks from home. Nuno also has a refrigerator available and is happy to share some of his rosé or “green” wine.
We cruised in the direction of Carcavelos beach and were lucky enough to spot some wild dolphins! These were incredible moments. Seeing these magical mammals in their natural habitat is always special.
Regarding the weather, despite having good wind, we were not so lucky with the clouds that showed up later and made the sunset not so stunning as usual. As such, we’ll go sunset sailing in Lisbon again soon, and try to capture the amazing colors in the sky.
We strongly recommend this sailing experience in Lisbon. It’s a great way to enjoy the city from a different point of view. And, in these crazy times, to be outdoors with a small group of friends, away from the crowds.
Lisbon is probably one of the most booming cities in the south of Europe. No wonder – with the colorful mix of culture, cuisine, sea and sun it’s the perfect destination for a city trip. The fact that you can get cheap flights from pretty much every other European country facilitates it even more! And there’s more! Wanna know what? Here are our top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter!
Lisbon’s colors by night
There are fewer crowds at the tourist attractions in Lisbon in Winter
The first and probably most obvious one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter is the fact, that there are a lot fewer tourists in the city! This way, you can visit all the main tourist attractions without having to wait for too long in the queues and take pictures of the monuments without many people around!
The tower of Belém, Jeronimos monastery, São Jorge castle and the famous Cristo Rei are just some of the main attractions in Lisbon you can enjoy and admire during your short trip to Lisbon in Winter without them being overcrowded! If you want, you can also join one of our sightseeing boat tours in Lisbon. In our opinion, it’s the best way to explore the main attractions from the River Tagus!
Get aboard of “Évora” for a sightseeing cruise
Sitting on the deck of a comfortable boat in the sun, sipping on a coffee and at the same time admiring all the historic attractions of Lisbon while cruising past them – there’s no better way to relax! Who said boat tours are only fun in summer? In winter you get to enjoy them just as much, we promise!
The mild weather
Did you also know, that Lisbon has 3x more hours of sunshine during the winter months than the average of northern Europe? And that in the coldest month, which is January, the average temperature is between 11°C and 19°C. Doesn’t sound too bad for winter, hey? Surely if you come from Nothern Europe, these mild temperatures will be a total plus for you and one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter!
On some days, you can even enjoy a coffee in the sun wearing only a t-shirt!
Walking around the cute little streets of Lisbon without a big coat and a lot of layers to keep you warm sounds pretty inviting, don’t you think!? If you visit Lisbon in winter, you can enjoy your “bica”, a small coffee, and the delicious pastry Pastel de Nata sitting on the terrace of a cute café in the sunshine. If you sit there long enough, you’ll even be able to get a little tan in the sweet sun of Lisbon! Surely this is a great alternative to those dark and cold winter days!
Stall along Lisbon’s narrow streets or catch the tram
Another reason for the mild weather being one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter is that you can actually walk around the city without getting too hot! The temperatures in summer can get pretty high in Lisbon! All those hilly streets don’t look too inviting if you’re pouring down sweat! In winter you can explore the city walking, and don’t start sweating like a pig!
More affordable accommodation and meals
Obviously, most of the prices for hotels, etc. are lower during the off-season than they are in high season! So if you look around, you might find some pretty amazing deals for your short break in Lisbon in winter! From flights, hotel, to boat tours and any other kind of activity, like dolphin watching for example – mostly you will find cheaper prices and pretty good deals during the winter months!
Enjoy a walk along the monuments in Belém without too many tourists
In fact, January is actually the time of the year where you can get the cheapest hotel rooms! Flights are generally the cheapest in November, but really they are still super cheap in January! If you’re lucky, you can, for example, fly from Germany to Lisbon and back for only 20€! That’s definitely a reason for a short trip to Lisbon, right!? As we saw, you can actually enjoy the city better than during summer and spend a lot less money!
Even some restaurants and cafés have the low season and high season prices. And compared to northern european countries, the cost of eating out in Lisbon and Portugal in general is a lot cheaper! So if you visit Lisbon in winter and save money for hotel and flights, you actually can spend more money on yummy food and other fun stuff! Why not try surfing in Lisbon with the extra money?
Surfing in Lisbon is done all year round
As you can see, Lisbon is a perfect destination for a little winter getaway! These were our top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter, but we can assure you that there are maaaaany more!
Summer has come to an end. You’ve probably already been on holidays this year, but why not go again?
In between summer and Christmas, is a great time to go on holidays, even if it is only for a few days. In this article we will share why we think Portugal is a great holiday destination during autumn.
High season in Portugal is, with no doubt during the summer months of June, July and August. September can be quite busy still to. When October arrives, the flow of tourists decreases a lot. In the Algarve, during the months of October and November it is usually very quiet and then in December, some people come over to enjoy a warm Christmas and New Year. In Lisbon and other regions of the country, which are less depended on coastal tourism, you’ll continue to see some city-break travelers around.
There are several advantages about travelling to Portugal during the fall:
• First of all, money. Everything is cheaper. Let’s start with the flights, low cost airlines like Ryanair,EasyJet and Transavia fly from most European airports to Lisbon, Porto and Faro. As soon as high season finishes, so after September, rates drop drastically before rising again during the Christmas holidays. You can already book a return flight from major European airports to Portugal from 100€ and sometimes even less! Things to do in Lisbon.
• Also accommodation and car rentals are much cheaper during low season. In some cases, prices can even fall to half. In the most touristic regions, like in the Algarve for example, even restaurants may become cheaper during the low season.
• Local people tend to be friendlier. It’s a fact, we notice this quite clearly. For local people, like people from the restaurants, taxi drivers or touristic guides tend to be nicer and friendlier during low season. The reason why is quite simple. There’s less stress and less hectic situations (in restaurants, traffic or tourist attractions) and as such people have more time to dedicate to you.
• No queues. As mentioned before, during fall there are not many tourists anymore, which is great for travelers who do not like massive tourism and hectic situations. If you travel to Portugal during fall, you can expect no queues for touristic attractions and no overbooked tours. Regarding tours and activities, we still recommend you to book in advance, not to avoid overbookings, but to make sure the tour or activity wanted will actually take place.
• Empty beaches. For nature lovers, this time of the year is great. The stunning beaches of the Portuguese West coast become even more stunning when they’re not packed with people.
• For the ones who like trekking, hiking or trail running, fall is great because the trails and sights are more beautiful and the weather is more pleasant for exercising.
• The weather. Ok, if you’re looking for a beach holiday, autumn in Portugal might not be the ideal plan, but to wander around a city or to discover new places it is. Summer in Portugal can be very hot, sometimes too hot for certain activities.
During fall, weather is milder and can be ideal for outdoor activities as long as is does not rain. The autumn climate in Portugal really depends on the region. The Algarve is usually milder than Coimbra, for example and the North can be chilly and wet.
• For surfers, fall and winter is the best time to enjoy Portuguese waves. In fact, for surfing, waves usually are better during this time of the year, both on the South coast of the Algarve and the whole West coast.
Even on the islands of Azores and Madeira, waves are better during the fall/winter season. Another reason why surfing in Portugal is better this time of the year is the crowd. In summer, many tourists try surfing for the first time and the waves of Portugal become rather crowded.
During the fall, we recommend you to go to Lisbon and from there you can also explore Sintra, Cascais and Setúbal. These three cities are very close to each other, only 45 minutes by train or car.
Things to do in Lisbon Portugal
Lisbon is the ideal destination for a city break during the fall. There are many things to do in Lisbon, even when it is rainy. In our opinion, if you’ve only got a few days to spend in Lisbon, don’t spend your time in Museums, except if you’re into to some particular topic, but spend your time on the streets. Lisbon’s street are a museum itself.
Lisbon has got a strong history. By the fifteenth century, Lisbon was the capital of the Portuguese expansion. This era is also known by the Discoveries. The Portuguese had exceptional navigational expertise at the time and had set up trading routes round half the world.
In 1498, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama sailed from Belém, Lisbon, to discover the sea route to India. Sixty years later, Lisbon controlled ports from Brazil to Macau, becoming one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. With such an abundance of richness, Lisbon was able to fund extravagant buildings such as the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém. Also the emblematic palace at Terreiro do Paço dates back from then, even though, reconstructed after the Great Earthquake of 1755.
Wealth seemed endless in Lisbon with newly discovered gold in Brazil, yet this second “golden age” ended abruptly with the Great Earthquake of 1755. Marquês de Pombal rapidly rebuilt the city. Since then, the “Baixa” (downtown), is grid-patterned.
After the Earthquake, Lisbon never recovered its economic clout. Nowadays Lisbon flourishes as a great holiday destination and also among European exchange students (Erasmus), Lisbon is very popular thanks to it low costs of living, great climate, awesome parties, location near to the beach and worldwide recognized universities.
Alfama is one of the most original and authentic “Bairros” (neighbourhoods) of Lisbon, being its oldest. It lays the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tagus River. If you like walking, we recommend you to put on your walking shoes and get lost in the narrow streets of the idyllic part of the city.
By foot is surely the best way to explore Alfama, but be prepared for many hills and stairs. It might be a tiring walk, but it’s surely worth it, as you’ll find many hidden squares and breath-taking viewpoints.
Eat a local pastry and a “bica” (expresso) in one of the local cafes to recover and stay until later and have dinner in one of the many Fado Restaurants. Fado is the local music, rather melancholic, and Alfama is the place to listen to it in Lisbon while enjoying a typical Portuguese meal and wine. We recommend “Mesa de Frades” and “Bela Vinhos e Petiscos”.
Fado restaurants are usually a little bit more expensive than normal ones but so worth it. In most of the cases Fado singers start singing late, at about 21h30 or 22h, so don’t be too early in the restaurant and book a table to assure your seat.
The São Jorge Castle is located on top of one of Lisbon’s Seven Hills. It is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop with a beautiful view over the historic centre of the city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The Castle is characterized by its fortified citadel and dates from medieval period of Portuguese history. The Castle is surely one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.
If the Castle could speak, it would have a lot to tell – it was home to the Visigoths in the 5th century, in the 9th century it passed to the Moors, to the Christians in the 12th century and royals from the 14th to 16th centuries.
The Ulysses Tower is one of the main attractions of the Castle. Its “camera obscura” offers a unique 360-degree angle on Lisbon. Beyond the views, there are also a few galleries displaying relics from past centuries.
To go up to the castle and to explore the Alfama neighborhood, we suggest you to take the tram 28. Even if you don’t actually know where to go or what to do and are tired of walking, hop into this tram and let it take you around Lisbon. Its route is circular, so at some point, you’ll get back to where you started. It’s real fun (if the tram is not too full). Be careful with pickpockets.
Bairro Alto is one of the hippest districts of Lisbon, it lies on the opposite hill of the one of the Castle, being separated by Rossio square. In Bairro alto, during the day, you’ll find many small boutiques that sell unique pieces of super trendy clothes, second hand vintage shops or tattoo shops.
You can also find cosy coffee shops for the rainy days. By night, Bairro alto is popular to go out for dinner, grab a nice pizza or spend the night in a Fado restaurant, everything is possible here. Almost every day of the week, after 23h00, Bairro Alto starts to become a busy place for drinks.
Many small bars open their doors and people tend to grab a Caipirinha or a beer and drink on the streets. Bairro Alto is friendly to all kind of tastes, there is an “Erasmus Corner”, a “Gay Street”, karaoke bars or Latin bars. Here you can eat some tapas and taste the best cocktails in town while enjoying live music in a very cosy environment.
Rossio is the main square of the Portuguese capital. It’s surrounded by Portuguese restaurants and by one of the main theatres of Lisbon, Dona Maria II. The beautifully paved square, with typical Portuguese “calçada” had two beautiful fountains. Rossio is the location of one of our favorite “tascas” (small local restaurants), “A Tendinha”. Here, you can quickly grab a delicious soup for lunch with some nice pastries and a glass of red wine. Things to do in Lisbon.
Chiado is one of the poshest neighbourhoods of the city. In between Rossio and Bairro Alto, Rua Garret is very popular for shopping. Here you’ll find international fashion stores like H&M and Zara but also local boutiques that occupy the stunning buildings.
To rest between all the shopping, you must have a coffee at “A Brasileira”, where Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet used to get inspires.
If feel like something sweet, grab one of the best croissants at “Benard” or an ice-cream at “Santini”. Chiado is nice to take a walk after dinner and enjoy the animation by some street artists.
Praça do Comércio
The Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square in English) is located in between the city center, Rua Augusta and the Tagus River. The square is still commonly known as Terreiro do Paço because, until it was destroyed by the great 1755 earthquake, it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Palace). After the earthquake, the square was completely remodelled as part of the rebuilding of the Pombaline Downtown by Marquês de Pombal, the Minister of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1750 to 1777.
Several restaurants are nowadays located around the square. We recommend to grab a beer and a “Picapau” (small pieces of meat) with bread at the Beer Museum. Also, enjoy the view by the river where you can usually find some street artists playing music.
Avenida da Liberdade
Avenida da Liberdade (Avenue of Freedom) is the beautiful avenue that connects Restauradores (next to Rossio square) to the Marquês de Pombal roundabout.
This avenue is where all the fashion design shops are located. You can find Gucci, Dolce and Gabanna and some Portuguese designers. It’s worth it to walk up on one side and down on the other for some window shopping.
On your way you can grab a drink on one of the many kiosks or at the São Jorge Cinema, one of our favourite spots for coffee after dinner.
The project for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum was launched in 1969. The foundation of the museum was founded according to Calouste Gulbenkian’s last will, to accommodate and display Gulbenkian’s art collection belonging nowadays to the Foundation of Calouste Gulbenkian. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is a museum in Lisbon that contains a beautiful collection of, mostly ancient bus also some modern, art.
The museum itself is worth a visit but also the gardens around it are spectacular and a popular place for Portuguese families to go for a walk and feed the ducks.
Belém is a neighborhood in Lisbon’s West. It’s a very popular place for tourists two visit, many due to four main attractions that it hosts, in between beautiful gardens and typical buildings:
– Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The Jerónimos Monastery is a monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome. It is one of the most noticeable examples of the Portuguese Gothic Manueline architectural trends in Lisbon. In 1983, the Monastery was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.
– Belém Tower
The Belém Tower is a fortified tower which is a UNESCO World Heritage because of its important role in the Portuguese Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King João II to be part of a defense system and a ceremonial entrance to Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus River. As such, the tower was built in the early 16th century and is another prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style along with other architectural styles.
– Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Also known as the Monument to the Discoveries, this monument celebrates the Portuguese Discoveries (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. Along with the main statue of Henry the Navigator, on both sides of the ramps of the monument are a total of 33 figures from the history of the Discoveries, like Vasco da Gama (discoverer of the sea route to India and Pedro Álvares Cabral (discoverer of Brazil).
No words can describe how delicious these typical pastries are. Please just go to Belém an try them.
Parque das Nações
The modern Lisbon parish of Parque das Nações was established in 2012. It’s a leisure, commercial, and residential area since the 1998 World Exposition (EXPO ’98).
Parque das Nações is located in north-eastern Lisbon next to the Tagus estuary, one of the biggest and diverse estuaries of the European Continent and formerly used for mainly industrial purposes. Nowadays, Parque das Nações hosts one of Portugal’s most modern Marinas.
There are several things to do in Parque das Nações, you can go for a walk or a run along the stunning promenade to enjoy the views over the Vasco da Gama Bridge, Vasco da Gama Tower, the São Gabriel and São Rafael twin towers and the Marina. You can enjoy a concert in the huge Atlantic Pavilion concert hall or go to an event of congress in FIL.
If you appreciate nature and the ocean but the weather does not allow for a boat ride or other ocean-related activity, the Oceanarium is the place to go. The Lisbon Oceanarium is a large-scale aquarium presenting an ocean habitat with marine animals, especially large ocean dwellers such as sharks.
Parque das Nações is home to Lisbon’s Casino – “Casino Lisboa”. The Casino is a very modern building with an Arena Lounge and three Gambling Bars. Even if you don’t like gambling the “Cascino Lisboa” is definitely worth a visit to have dinner or to enjoy a show or concert. “Casino Lisboa” is open every day from 15h to 03h. On Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves, the casino is open from 16h to 04h, so you can enjoy until a little later.
For the shopping fanatics, Parque das Nações hosts one of the major shopping malls of Lisbon, Vasco da Gama Shopping Mall. The modern building has got an enormous supermarket, many international brands and smaller boutiques and a food court.
Things to do in Sintra
Sintra is a magical village located about half an hour drive from Lisbon (there’s also a train that departs from Rossio Train Station).
Sintra is known for its uncountable 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, like palaces and stunning villas. In fact, Sintra is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although Sintra’s heritage in architecture and nature is the most evident face of the historic individuality of Sintra, a whole literary heritage has made the region a mythical reference in Portuguese culture. It has become a major tourist attraction, visited by many day-trippers who travel from Lisbon.
In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are rich in royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the mediaeval Castle of the Moors (“Castelo dos Mouros”), the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace.
For the ones who like hiking, we recommend the Sintra Mountains with a broad variety in flora thanks to the local micro climate. The mountains are a granite massif of ten kilometres long – considered the Monte da Lua (Mountain of the Moon), due to the strong local tradition of astral cults.
The mountains have got several walking routes or you can go for a run with a local guide to discover the hidden trails.
For us, the essence of Sintra can best be felt in Quinta da Regaleira. Quinta da Regaliera is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra”. Along with the other palaces in the area, this is one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra.
The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious gardens that feature lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. Feel the mystery of Sintra!
After exploring Sintra, don’t forget to eat a local pastry, a “Travesseiro” before you head back to Lisbon!
Things to do in Cascais
Cascais is a coastal town just 30km west of Lisbon. You can drive there by car, with very nice route along the Tagus River and several beaches, or you can go by train, which takes the same route (about 45 min form Cais do Sodré, Lisbon). Cascais, is a former fishing village with an idyllic scenery and is now a much-loved summer destinations for Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) and also tourists.
Today, Cascais’ residents are mainly high society, yet all society comes here enjoy the stunning beaches for sailing, surfing and scuba diving.
If you’re staying in Lisbon and looking for the ultimate sporty day out, there are several surf tour available. We recommend the surfer guys from Lisbon Surf Connection who can pick you up at your accommodation to take you to the best surf spot.
The instructors know the surrounding beaches of Lisbon like no other, especially the ones around Cascais. According to the weather and ocean conditions, you will be taken to the best beach: Costa da Caparica, Carcavelos, Linha do Estoril , Guincho, Praia Pequena , Praia Grande , Praia das Maçãs or one of the many other beaches surrounding Lisbon and Cascais.
So, we recommend Cascais for surf enthusiasts but also to wander around the narrow streets of the old part of the town, grab a fresh grilled fish for lunch.
Walking around Cascais is very nice as there are many things to see. The train stops near the historical town centre and from here you can walk towards the fancy Marina of Cascais. You can also go jogging along the stunning promenades along the beaches in direction of the Santa Marta Lighthouse, Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz.
If you want to run or bike a bit more, you can head up to Praia do Guincho, 9km northwest of Cascais, along the shoreline path. This beach is known for surfing and kite surfin, definitely worth the 9km ride or run.
If you go to Cascais, don’t leave before enjoying one of the best icecreams of Portugal: Santini’s.
Another nice thing to do on a rainy day during your stay in Lisbon is to cross the Tagus River and explore Setúbal. Setúbal is only a 45 minute drive south of Lisbon (you can also reach it by train). Things to do in Lisbon.
Setúbal is one of the biggest cities in Portugal and is a rising tourism destination, mainly because of the large scope of things to do in the Setúbal Peninsula. Things to do in Lisbon.
Setúbal has several churches, fortresses and monasteries that are worth a visit. Our favorite is the “Santa Maria” Fort, located in the idyllic Portinho Arrábida, overlooking the Atlantic. This Fort was built in 1670, by order of King Pedro II, to protect the coastal zone, is surely worth a visit. This Fort has recently been turned into the local Oceanographic Museum and a center for marine biology, part of the Arrábida Natural Park. Things to do in Lisbon.
If the weather is actually OK, there are several things to de in Setúbal departing from the harbour of Setúbal. In fact, there are many boat tours from Setúbal. Most of the boat trips are related to dolphin observation since there is a pod of friendly bottlenose dolphins that are resident in the Sado River (Natural Park).
Setúbal is a great eating destination! The Setúbal Peninsula is a true sanctuary of flavours, where the local gastronomic secrets are shared on every street corner in authentic local restaurants where the sea is present everywhere.
In Setúbal, we tasted the best fish dishes and shellfish from Portugal. Some typical local dishes include “Choco frito à Setubalense” (Fried cuttlefish) and romantic Natural Oysters. If you’re not fond of fish and wine, you won’t be disappointed by the meat meals and local beers. To find out more about Setúbal, please check a more detailed article about things to do in Setúbal here.
So, if you were still doubting about whether you should or not go for a holiday break during this fall, we hope we convinced you.
Book your flight and stay in Lisbon now and if you’re looking for a kind of activity that is not listed here or need some further tips, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll do everything to help you! Things to do in Lisbon.
By Lianne, responsible for the Spanish market and content/translations at SeaBookings.
Not only I didn’t know that it was possible to see dolphins in Lisbon, but I also didn’t know how many dolphins you can find around Lisbon, I was really surprised! And we were extra lucky that day because we encountered a minke whale as well. Can you believe it? Well, take a look at the photos and videos we’ve made for you!
We saw this cute but giant Minke whale 4-5 times! (picture by Francisco, the guide)
It was a sunny day in Lisbon and Bo and I decided to do a 7km run from Príncipe Real to the marina where the boat would leave at 9am in the morning. This was a good motivation to keep on running because we didn’t want to miss the boat!
Just on time, we arrived, and everyone was ready to climb on board of the trimaran for an excursion named the “Bartholomew Dias Expedition”. This nice trimaran boat looked like a bird and is very spacious! It was a very nice boat because we could sit in the middle or relax and lie down on big nets on each side of the boat.
Because we only could find the dolphins further away in the open sea we had to sail for a while. But that didn’t matter because everyone was enjoying the sailing. I have to say that I was so relaxed that I even fell asleep on one of the nets! I felt very comfortable and I enjoyed the sun very much. All of the sudden we heard someone saying that there was a dolphin right next to the boat. Francisco, the guide, owner of the boat and marine biologist, advised us to go and sit in the front, because from his experience there will be more soon!
We found many many Common Dolphins (picture by Francisco)
We all went to the front and there we already saw several dolphins swimming and jumping around the boat. I think everyone was really surprised by the number of dolphins in Lisbon, incredible! Because the boat is 8m wide, everyone could enjoy these beautiful animals to the fullest. And it was like the dolphins saw us too, because they were really showing off for us. And if this wasn’t enough we also saw a whale (several times!!) appearing slowly on the surface a bit further away.
The nets were great to relax after our run to the boat
After these mind-blowing surprises we sailed back to Lisbon and during our way back we got a short workshop about the dolphins and whales we saw that day by the experienced biologist Francisco. It’s very nice to get to know a little bit more about the species, specially when told by such an enthusiast like Francisco!
You never know if you find dolphins, as they’re wild animals. We all helped in spotting them.
I think this was one of the best dolphin watching tours I did in Portugal! I can definitely recommend this tour to the dolphins in Lisbon to anyone who would like to have a nice day on the sea! Next time I’m in Lisbon, I am going again!
Lianne, responsible for the Spanish market and content/translations at SeaBookings, was so enthusiastic about her experience on the boat trip to the wild dolphins in Setúbal that she wrote a nice piece about it:
There are many places to sit on the boat: in the sun, the shade or on the nets!
If you are on holiday in Portugal, you want to do fun things. I’ve always wanted to see dolphins in the wild, and with SeaBookings, it became clear to me where I should be to spot dolphins, Setúbal!
The same afternoon I could join the tour (and that in the high season!). I took a bus from Lisbon to Setúbal. From Praça de Espanha I could easily take the bus and I was told that the cheapest would be buying a ticket for the bus. I believe that a single ticket cost me about € 4.- and within 45 minutes I arrived in Setúbal. Here you can find some more ideas on how to get from Lisbon to Setúbal.
SeaBookings arranged everything for me and I only had to take the bus and walk 10 minutes to the place where the catamaran would depart to see the dolphins. I made sure that I was there a little earlier, but I didn’t have to wait long before we could walk with the guide. We walked to the boat (which was really big and looked very safe and stable) and everyone was looking for a good place to sit.
Enjoy the stunning surroundings of Setúbal
Even though it was the high season (and I was afraid you had to fight for a place to sit), the boat was fully booked, but not fully loaded with people. Everyone had a good place to sit. You could sit on soft cushions at the edge of the boat, on benches in the middle of the boat (if you prefer to be in the shade) or on the big floor nets. The big floor nets looked a bit like trampolines and you could sit or / lie there and see the water under you. You can imagine that this is really fantastic for kids!
Green and blue…
The boat started sailing and after a short stop in Troia (which is a beautiful beach) we sailed to the spot where we could see the wild dolphins in Setúbal. Along the way, we got a very detailed explanation from the guide that there live 27 dolphins in the Sado River. The wild dolphins in Setúbal are each recognizable by their fins. We were even told that a baby dolphin recently was born! This explanation was in English and Portuguese.
The dolphins are pretty curious about the boat
It did not take long before we saw the first dolphins swimming in front of our boat. First a bit further away but later they came closer and also swam around the boat. It does not matter where you are, you can see them everyone on the boat! The view and the jumping dolphins made this trip really cool. I have been able to take many pictures of the dolphins and it seemed like they were performing a show for us!
A true live show by wild dolphins!
The boat trip to see the dolphins in Setúbal takes 3 hours and for me, this was fine in terms of time. Because I was enjoying the view and the dolphins time seemed to fly but at the same time it was enough. On board it is possible to buy food and drinks. I did not do this myself because I knew you could take your own food and drinks.
Watching dolphins in Setúbal was a very nice experience and thanks to SeaBookings and the operator everything was well taken care of. I recommend everyone to visit the wild dolphins in Setúbal and don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the view as well!
Lisbon is a gorgeous location on the Atlantic coast with amazing year-round weather. As the largest city in Portugal, it has developed as a centre of culture and activity, making it a great destination for families, backpackers and any other type of traveller.
Below is a list of 10 possible activities to do along the city and Lisbon coast, many of which may convince you to consider the city for your next great city break or long vacation.
Visit the Beautiful and Sunny Lisbon Beaches
One of the biggest draws of Portugal’s capital city is its stunning beaches. There are also beaches situated in the small nearby town of Cascais, like Guincho Beach which make for a relaxing day in the sun. In addition, beaches such as Praia da Ursa and Pinhal de Leiria are great for all kinds of water activities such as swimming, surfing, sailing and more.
Lisbon Coast in Portugal
Step Back in Time at Bairro Alto
The Bairro Alto is a neighbourhood that dates back to the 16th century and features an old town feel including some amazing architecture. While the area is relatively quiet during the day, it offers an amazing nightlife scene. Over 250 bars, restaurants and clubs populate the area, making the neighbourhood a fluster of activity during the night as people hustle into popular spots such as Lust, Ministerium, and Lux.
Taste Pasteis de Belem
The Pastel de Belem is a traditional egg tart pastry that is one of Portugal’s most popular creations. In fact, The Guardian newspaper publication even named the tart the 15th most tasty delicacy in the world. While an imitation known as the Pastel de Nata exists, nothing beats the Pasteis de Belem original that is found at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the large bakery cafe that continues to keep the tart’s secret recipe under lock and key to this day.
Take a Swing on Lisbon’s Many Golf Courses
This location is also great for golfers and features many great courses along the coast of this city. Great courses can be found in the Cascais and Estoril areas as well as the Sintra hills. Lisbon Golf holiday resorts such as the Palmela Village Golf complex and the Penha Longa Golf Resort offer amazing courses, beautiful sights and exquisite accommodations that will spoil even the most experienced golfers.
Penha Longa Golf Course
Visit the National Coach Museum
Lisbon is a centre of culture and the arts and plays host to many excellent museums and art galleries. Unique among these is The National Coach Museum which features an extensive collection of historical coaches. The museum allows visitors to take a step back in time while viewing many rare items and carriages which once belonged to members of the Portuguese royal family.
Sail Along the Paths Once Taken by Portuguese Explorers
Like many Portuguese explorers throughout history, you can also set sail on the Lisbon coast, braving the rocking ocean waves in search of adventure. The waves along the Lisbon coast are perfect for a day of sailing. Clubs such as The Clube Naval de Cascais feature training, competitions and function as hotspots for visiting sailors in the area. We also recommend the sailing cruises in the Tagus river.
From the Tagus River you can get a unique sight over the city of Lisbon
Relax by the Waters Along the River Tagus
In addition to the amazing Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon also has the Tagus river which runs through the city. The Tagus river flow can be seen from old town as well as the city’s newer districts. There are lots of vantage points dotted along the Tagus all of which help the river become of the great characteristics of this gorgeous capital city.
Experience Lisbon’s Traditional Fado Music
It’s difficult to leave out a mention of Fado not least because the music has a large influence on the culture of the city. Tourists can be seen crowded into the various Fado Houses of the city enjoying the sounds of this unique musical style. For those who would like to take a more in-depth look at this important music style of Portugal, the city also features the popular Museum of Fado.
Discover Wildlife at Tapada Nacional de Mafra
For those looking to get back to nature, you can visit the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, a park of natural heritage that was founded in 1747. The park features many types of wildlife that you can view including deer, fallow deer, wild boars, birds of prey and foxes. The species coexist in a beautiful forest which spans a huge area just a small distance outside of Lisbon.
Surfing along the Lisbon coast is a fun thing to do with a group of friends
Surf Lisbon’s Amazing Waves
Well known by water sports enthusiasts the Lisbon coast offers no shortage of great surfing spots. Lisbon is a great place to take surfing lessons and learn how to ride the coast’s rolling waves. In addition to the facilities and natural surf on offer, many come to take advantage of the cool breezes and great beaches whilst getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Final Thoughts about the Lisbon Coast
The above list highlights some of the best things to do when visiting the Lisbon coast. This all year-round destination offers a huge range of activities and cultural discoveries including gorgeous beaches, watersports, amazing culture, music, food, wine and stunning views.