Jacarandas in Bloom. The ultimate guide for a purple Lisbon.

When the days get warmer and Europe walks in a steady pace towards summer, something beautiful gets place in Lisbon: Jacarandas start to bloom.

Between end of May and beginning of June Lisbon gets new exuberant colours. That is one of the many reasons Lisbon is one of our favorite summer destinations.

Jacarandas blooming everywhere give the city a splash of joy with their ephemeral purple flowers.

Come discover more about this surprising show that certainly changes de way we experience this city.

A little bit of History

When I talk about jacarandas to my international friends a lot of them asks why they never saw these trees in other European cities.

Other than the climatic conditions, the main reason is that Jacarandas are not originally from Europe.

This beautiful tree that announces the arrival of summer came to us only in the beginning of the XIX century.

In Portugal you will find mostly the Jacaranda Mimosifolia.

Original from South America, specially from Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, the first seeds of Jacarandas planted in Lisbon were brought from Brazil.

They arrived in Lisbon first to integrate Lisbon’s Botanical Gardens collection, apparently by the designs of Botanist Felix Avelar Brotero.

Jacarandas acclimated so easily that soon their purple mantle covered the city.

The introduction of the plant precedes the return of the Court from Brazil, at a time when blue spectrum pigments were invaluable.

For royalty, however, this plant, due to its exoticism, had a non-tradable value: it was a way of demonstrating royal power. The proof that the Portuguese Court owned tropical and distant lands across the ocean.

Fun Facts

  • one of the reasons why Jacaranda Trees spread across Lisbon was the fact that people asked for seeds and Felix Avelar Brotero gave them for free.
  • Nowadays Lisboetas complain that Jacarandas dirty the whole floor and cars, and that they are everywhere!
  • King D. João VI decided that the Botanical Garden should offer free access to everybody, every Thursday, during jacarandas’ blooming season so these trees could be admired.
  • the two Jacaranda trees in the Botanical Garden, the first ones to be acclimatized to Lisbon, are the last to bloom in the city. They often bloom more exuberantly than the others, which once sprouted from them.
  • Jacarandas lose all their leaves before blooming. That’s why the purple flowers are so visible and impressive.
  • A second blooming season takes place in September but this time the trees don’t let fall their leaves.
  • A Jacaranda Tree can live up to 200 years. That’s why the first two trees planted in Lisbon are still alive and can be seen at Ajuda Botanical Garden. 

When to visit

Jacarandas may start blooming around mi-April if the weather is warm and the blooms can last until end of June.

Like every other natural phenomenon, it all depends on the weather and can hugely vary each year.

If you really want to enjoy this amazing show, I definitely recommend visiting around mid-May.

At the end of June, you can witness the poetic Purple Rain (just like Prince’s music) when the flowers start to fall.

Where to go: 10 spots to enjoy jacarandas

Though you will find Jacarandas all over Lisbon, to fully appreciate their blooming it really helps to know where to go so you can optimise your time and get the better of this season. Specially if you are traveling with young kids.

Here you will find the list of the best spots with impressive Jacarandas in Lisbon.

We will be giving you all the details and advise based on our experience as a local family.

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Detailed guide to the best places with amazing Jacaranda Trees in Lisbon  

1.      Avenida Dom Carlos I

This avenue full of History shines bright when Jacarandas bloom.

Avenida Dom Carlos I links the Palacio de São Bento (Portuguese Parliament) to Avenida 24 de Julho, one of the busiest arteries in Lisbon.

You will find an impressive number of Jacarandas in the first section of the avenue, between the Palacio de São Bento and the Chafariz da Esperança.

Mom and daughter walking in Avenida Dom Carlos I in Lisbon under jacarandas trees in purple bloom

2.      Alameda Edgar Cardoso

It may not be one of the most touristic streets of Lisbon, but in fact Alameda Edgar Cardoso runs around the city’s biggest park: Parque Eduardo VII.

Running from Marquês do Pombal Square up to Estufa Fria, this avenue gets purple when the sunny days arrive.

Purple flowers of Jacarandas in Bloom at Alameda Edgar Cardoso in Lisbon Portugal

3.      Avenida da Torre de Belém

Going straight from Jardim Ducla Soares to Torre de Belem, this Avenue offers one of the most beautiful views over the emblematic tower with the Tagus River in the background.  

All the jacarandas that flank Avenida da Torre de Belem are the perfect allusion and connection to all the boats that navigated the Tagus, in and out, exploring the world.   

Avenida da Torre de Belem with jacarandas in bloom in Lisbon Portugal
Mom and Girl walking at Avenida Torre de Belem Lisboa Portugal

4.      Avenida 5 de Outubro

Situated in Lisbon’s business district, this avenue isn’t exactly a touristic attraction.

However, amid some unsavoury modern buildings, you will find some pretty examples of a more classic architecture that gain a new life when framed by the purple flowers of the numerous Jacarandas planted all along this avenue.

Near by you have one of our favourite museums and gardens in Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkan Foundation, and the Campo Pequeno Complex.    

5.      Avenida 24 de Julho

Considered one of the trendiest areas of the city, Avenida 24 de Julho runs from Cais do Sodré up to Museu do Oriente in the beginning of Docas de Santo Amaro site.

This 4.5 km avenue will take you to what seams an endless list of Lisbon must visit spots from museums like Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, night life hubs like Largo de Santos and the iconic Mercado da Ribeira where Time Out Market Lisbon is located.  

6.      Rua Dom João V (near Largo do Rato)

This street may not present one of the most striking concentration of trees, but here the Jacarandas’ purple flowers pop against a red wall getting even more vibrant.

Being here you don’t want to miss a visit to Amoreiras Mother of Water Reservoir!

Jacarandas blooming at Avenida D. João V, Largo do Rato in Lisbon Portugal

7.      Praça D. Pedro IV (Largo do Rossio)

The Rossio is the perfect meeting place in Pombaline Downtown. It has been just like that for for centuries.

Some of the cafés and shops of this emblematic square date from the 18th century, like the Café Nicola, where poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage used to meet friends or and the Ginjinha, where you can taste this typical Lisbon spirit.

Take your time to full appreciate the ambiance, the architecture, the beautiful Portuguese cobblestone work.  

Here you’ll find more than 40 Jacaranda Trees flanking the Square and framing the most iconic buildings.

8.      Largo do Correio Mor

Small but full of History this square has more to it than one could imagine.

Besides being one of our favourite spots to enjoy Jacarandas in bloom, Largo do Correio Mor offers a time travel trough XVIII, XIX e XXI centuries testimonials.

Here you will find the Palácio Conde de Penafiel, a beautiful example of Pombaline Architecture, the Fountain of the Moors (Chafariz das Mouras) and the Cavaleiros do Correio-Mor mural from the well-known street artist Nuno Saraiva.  

9.      Largo do Carmo

Without a doute one of the hidden gems of Lisbon, this small quiet square is a must see when spring start to fade into summer promises.

Let the tourists flock around Santa Justa elevator and the Carmen Convent. Take your time to enjoy the birds singing under the jacarandas’ shades in this Lisbon quintessential spot.

Read a book in the terrasse of the typical kiosk, with a good coffee or orange juice, while your kids run behind the pigeons. I can assure you won’t be disappointed.

10.  Campo Pequeno

Designed in a neo-Arabic revivalist style, this building, originally built as a bullring, is nowadays a multipurpose complex with a shopping mall, a museum and a venue for markets and cultural events.

In the public garden surrounding que main building you will glimpse some purple flowers when summer arrives, vibrating against the deep green of the other trees in a more subtle display of Jacarandas’ beauty.   

Tips for the best photos of Jacarandas in Bloom

The best time to shoot.

Jacarandas in bloom is beautiful but this show from mother nature isn’t widely know as other (I’m thinking about Sakura in Paris or Japan for example). So, it doesn’t gather a lot of people, yet.

On the other hand, the best spots are public squares and busy streets, so you’ll have a lot of people walking around.

In the morning you’ll have the best light conditions, but you’ll also have everybody going to work.

Start shooting around 10am can in fact be a good idea. This is especially true at Avenida Dom Carlos I or Avenida 5 de Outubro.

For the more touristy spots like Largo do Carmo and Praça D. Pedro IV, I recommend early morning during weekends. With the lively night joys Lisbon has to offer, nobody wakes up early Saturday and Sunday!   

If you arrive in the afternoon don’t be disappointed. I personally think that the flowers purple tones are more vibrant when sun is higher in the sky.

With a lot of patience and originality everything is possible.

Family walking to Praça do Rossio with jacarandas in bloom in Lisbon Portugal

Kids and Family photos.

If you’re visiting with your kids, you’ll notice that morning is the best time to take some amazing photos.

You’ll have the so needed space to work with a tripod and your kids will be well rested.

Talk to them about the flowers and ask them to show them to you. They will have the curiosity to point them out and even try to touch them. It will give you some interesting photos.

You can also let the children play and have fun freely.

How to dress?

Think about the colours. 

Photographing Jacarandas in bloom, you’ll be surrounded by lots of purple flowers.

Dress in orange, yellow, blue, or white to stand out and work with contrast.

Choose different shades of pink for a softer and dreamy look.

Equipment  

If you can, you should prioritise your camera over your smartphone.

Though we photograph a lot with our smartphones, we achieved the best results with our camera when photographing blooming trees.  

We encourage you to try the both of them and see what works out best for you.

Technical aspects

Keep your ISO as low as possible for more detailed photos.

Lisbon can be a little windy. Specially near the river. Branches will move and shake. So, keep your shutter speed as high as possible for better detail.

If you are looking for a ‘blurry’ background, then use the lowest aperture number you can.

Bee flying around purple jacarandas in bloom. Spring in Lisbon, Portugal

Looking for cool experiences?

Take a boat tour in the Tagus!

The most impressive view over “Purple Lisbon” can be had from the river.

Trough out the years, Jacaranda largely spread all over Lisbon. These tropical trees found their place in backyards, gardens, public squares, streets, and avenues.

It is said that you can easily go through the entire city only by jumping from a Jacaranda to another and then to the next one.  

But to have a global view and really understand the extension of the purple mantle you have to step back and look to city of the seven hills from another perspective.

Jump in a boat and you will be truly surprised!  

Jacarandas around the world

Originally coming from South America, Jacarandas nowadays lend their amazing couleurs to some emblematic cities around the world.

From Mexico City where they bloom in March, to Iberic Peninsula, South Europe, and Africa, passing by Nepal and India, Jacarandas found their place a little bit everywhere.

But there are some places, like Lisbon, where Jacarandas put up a show!  

Here’s some places where Jacarandas really make an impression:

South Africa  

Did you know that the capital of South Africa is know as “Jacaranda City”?

In October Pretoria change its colours and you can definitely see blue and purple flowers all around you.

As the Jacarandas bloom take place at the sae time as the University year-end exams, legend as it that if a flower drops at a student head, he will pass all the exams.

You can find Jacarandas also in Cape Town and other South Africa’s cities.

New South Wales

In Australia Jacarandas announce the Christmas Season. The Christmas song “Christmas Where the Gum Trees Grow” reminds us that “When the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here, Christmas time is near”.

California

Though in San Francisco Jacarandas only grow in some specific microclimates around the city, in Los Angeles for example, they spread their colours all over the city.

They bloom almost at the same time as in Lisbon and are a striking sight against the modernity of LA.

Conclusion

The Jacaranda trees in Lisbon are truly a sight to behold when they are in full bloom.

Their stunning purple flowers transform the city into a magical wonderland, and it’s easy to see why they are one of the most emblematic trees in Lisbon.

If you ever have the chance to visit Lisbon during the Jacaranda bloom season, don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness this natural spectacle.

We hope this guide has been helpful in providing you with all the information you need to appreciate the beauty of Jacarandas in bloom in Lisbon

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