June in Portugal involves music, street parties, lots of vinho, and mouthwatering (delicious, aromatic, wonderful) grilled sardines, which the Portuguese have a special knack for grilling. The reason for the month-long festa (or party, which it really does feel like) is the Festas dos Santos Populares, or Popular Saints’ Festivals, celebrated throughout the country during different weeks in June.
The three popular saints are Anthony, John, and Peter, and each Portuguese region—from the Portuguese-Spanish border in the north all the way down and through Algarve—celebrates one in particular (though some cities celebrate more than one): in Lisbon, St. Anthony (or Santo António, as the Portuguese call him) gives Lisboetas a reason to party, and in Porto, St. John the Baptist (São João do Porto) is celebrated.
The festivals of St. Anthony, Lisbon’s patron saint of blessings, are the first on the calendar and take place on June 12 and 13. These are easily the most interesting days to be in the capital city as parades, parties, and even wedding bells fill the streets and close down traffic in the oldest neighborhoods, particularly Alfama, Mouraria, and Graça. During these days, and sometimes during the days leading up, locals pour out of their homes and fill the cobblestone streets to dance, eat, drink, and be merry. The parties go on all night on Friday and Saturday evenings—heading home before sunrise is considered too early to call it a night.
The Popular Marches parade takes place down Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) on June 12; the religious procession takes place on June 13, starting from Santo António Church in Alfama, where St. Anthony was said to have been born in the late 12th century.
In addition to sardines, the street food menu includes traditional favorites like caldo verde (kale soup) and grilled chouriço (marinated pork sausage).
Lisbon also has a tradition called Casamentos de Santo Antonio (Weddings of St. Anthony), in which multiple couples get married at once.
The festivals for St. John take place with equally energetic parties in Porto on June 23–24, and the kickoff parade marches along Avenida dos Aliados. Portugal’s second largest city also has its own unique traditions, which include locals hitting each other over the head with garlic or plastic hammers and collectively releasing hot air balloons. Anyone visiting Porto will also appreciate the fireworks which fill the night sky over the Douro River.
In both Lisbon and Porto, along with some other cities, couples give each other pots of basil with cute messages hidden inside, a tradition that symbolizes “spicing” up the relationship and blessing the future.
The last cluster of parties celebrates St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, on June 29. Sintra is one city in particular that focuses its energies on this day. Typical activities include more parades and boat blessings.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.