Lisbon in September is that time of year when school’s in but summer is not quite out yet.
Summer in Lisbon lingers well into September, with days that are still long enough for al fresco drinks and weekend trips to the beach.
It won’t start feeling like fall for another month or so, and throughout September, tourist crowds grow smaller, and lisboetas return to their daily routines. If there’s ever a sweet spot between tourist season and authentic city life, you’ll find it in Lisbon in September. Here’s what’s on our agenda this month.
1. Get Spooked at MotelX
During the second week of September, all horror movie fans will want to head to Cinema São Jorge for MotelX. This is the film festival they’ve been waiting for all year. For one week, the silver screen showcases the rising stars of horror filmmaking through new features, short films and documentaries.
Every year there are also special retrospective sessions featuring classics of the genre and the masterminds behind them. In 2019, look out for “Alien” and “Friday the 13th.”
2019 dates: September 10–15
2. Experience Fado at Santa Casa Alfama
Fado is Lisbon’s most popular music genre, so it’s only natural that there is a festival entirely dedicated to it in the city’s most iconic neighborhood.
Since 2013, Santa Casa Alfama’s goal has been to bring fado to all kinds of audiences at all kinds of venues. For two nights at the end of September, the festival hosts new and seasoned fado singers at performance venues throughout Alfama ranging from museums to churches to outdoor spaces.
After the concerts, stick around and enjoy dinner at one of the many fabulous restaurants in Alfama.
2019 dates: September 27–28
3. Dance in the Park at a Music Festival
Music lovers, this one’s for you. The Lisb-On festival is a huge late summer block party, with a fantastic view of the city. It takes over Lisbon’s most iconic park, Parque Eduardo VII, for three days of electronic music concerts lasting from 2 p.m. to midnight.
Whether you go to soak in the atmosphere or to dance your socks off, there’s plenty of room for everyone. Bring your own blanket for the afternoon sessions, and if you’re traveling with kids, bring them along! Admission is free for children ages 3–14.
2019 dates: September 6–8
4. Immerse Yourself in Portuguese Heritage
Every year, the European Heritage Days present a unique opportunity to learn more about Portuguese heritage far beyond a trip to the top museums. Free entrance at monuments, special tours of never-before-seen collections and night events at museums are some of the activities you can expect during these three days in Lisbon in September.
2019 dates: September 27–29
5. Grab a Bite: What to Eat in Lisbon in September
All these energy-packed events in September mean you’ll need to recharge on the go. Although we’re fond of sitting down for meals on most occasions in Portugal, that doesn’t stop us from switching the long sit-down lunch for a quick bite at a food truck during a festival.
A bifana is a good compromise between hearty meal and afternoon snack. Don’t be fooled though—more masterful technique goes into this unfussy pork sandwich than meets the eye. And whatever you do, don’t go overboard with the sauces—a dab of mustard is more than enough.
For longer meals and lingering conversations, a restaurant with outdoor seating is perfect for those late summer afternoons. Bonus points if you choose a Lisbon restaurant with a view. In September, the days still call for chilled wine and grilled fish with a drizzle of olive oil—enjoy.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Lisbon? Just add your email address in the form below!
Sandra Henriques is a freelance web content writer and travel blogger born in the Azores and based in Lisbon for 20+ years. Since 2014 she’s been blogging about travel, culture, and the people she meets in between at Tripper, a blog on sustainable cultural tourism.