While Lisbon enjoys blissfully warm weather for most of the year, the Portuguese capital isn’t immune to the odd shower or two. However, when the clouds loom large, there’s plenty to do under cover. From exploring grand galleries and historic architecture to dining on local delicacies and soaking up the sounds of fado, here’s how to take respite from a rainy day in Lisbon.
Start your rainy day in Lisbon with a tasty caffeine and pastry fix in one of Lisbon’s legendary pastelarias. Pair your coffee with the city’s famed pastéis de nata custard tarts. A rich, unctuous golden centre is encased in the crumbliest of pastry with a browned-to-perfection crown. Duck past the take-out queue and settle in amid pretty blue and white tiles in the historic Pastéis de Belém café that’s been serving them since 1837 or squeeze into the tiny Manteigaria and watch white-hatted chefs prepare their daily bakes.
When the heavens open in Lisbon, take advantage of the rain to unpack some of the city’s incredible culture. From ancient Egyptian and Asian artifacts to paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Rubens, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation houses an astonishing archive of 6,000 landmark works. For sleek 20th century fashion and design, MUDE showcases couture by Gaultier and McQueen plus furniture by Eames and Gehry. Children will adore Ciência Viva, a fun interactive science museum with immersive exhibits.
The covered Time Out Mercado is Lisbon’s best place to unearth and savour local flavours without getting wet. A food court lined with stores and vendors serving superior regional produce and street food galore. Settle in at one of the high wooden stalls and tuck into deep-fried soft-shelled crab, roasted octopus and Portuguese croquettes. Don’t leave without stocking up on some handcrafted chocolate from Bettina Corallo and tinned seafood from Conserveira de Lisboa as souvenirs.
Everywhere you turn in the City of Seven Hills are Roman, Gothic and Baroque architectural masterpieces. On a rainy day in Lisbon, take cover inside the city’s magisterial buildings. Located in Belém, Jerónimos Monastery is a fine example of Manueline architecture. Inside, its towering spires and ornate carvings dazzle. Lisbon is packed with churches but none so atmospheric as Igreja de São Domingos, a burnt-out place of worship consumed by fire in 1959. Its charred interior is deeply ethereal.
Lisbon has a burgeoning arts scene and its trendy credentials are crystallised at the LxFactory. Under the one roof of this repurposed old factory you’ll find artisan studios, beautiful gift shops selling art, clothing and jewellery and cool independent restaurants, all wrapped up in imaginative street art.
If it’s still drizzling after dark, settle in for the evening in the snug confines of a cellar bar. Here, you’ll witness the soul-stirring Lisboan tradition of fado. The highest concentration of these cosy enclaves is in Bairro Alto. Unwind with a large glass of Douro and warming plate of bacalhau while listening to the dulcet tones of Lisbon’s most emotive singers.