When I first saw the decorations for Santo António, one of Lisbon’s national holidays, my first reaction was that it looks like a German Christmas market, the whole city is filled with lights, decorations and food stands. My Portuguese friends were talking about this day for months, so it had quite a reputation to live up to.

The inhabitants of the different districts of the city have been preparing for this day for weeks, if not months, and it all escalates in a popular parade on Avenida de Liberdade, a whole lot of sardines, basil plants, beer and sangria. The streets are extremely crowded, so be prepare to take some time as you sneak through narrow alleys and places filled with people eating sardines and dancing to traditional Pimba music.

The best areas to start out are in the old town districts of Alfama and Graça. When you’ve got enough of the Pimba music, and find yourself singing along to “Quem será o pai” (“Who’s the father of the child” in Portuguese), head on over to Bica and Miradouro de Santa Catarina for some electronic music and dancing until sunrise.

When planning your trip to Lisbon, try not to miss out on this legendary party – normally celebrated on the 13th of June.







Kathrine Opshaug Bakke Kathrine Opshaug Bakke, editor at Travelettes from 2009 to 2013, wrote this post. Originating from Norway, she has been living in Berlin, Lisbon, and Stockholm the past 6 years.

She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at anchoredpaperplane.com.