- 1. Jerónimos Monastery
- 2. Belém Tower
- 3. St. George's Castle
- 4. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
- 5. MAAT
- 6. Coaches Museum
- 7. Parque das Nações
- 8. Tile Museum
- 9. Ancient Art Museum
- 10. Berardo Collection Museum
- Discoveries Monument
- Rua Augusta Arch
- Portas do Sol Viewpoint
- São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint
- Santa Justa Elevator
- Santa Luzia Viewpoint
- Ribeira das Naus
- Lx Factory
- MuDe - Design & Fashion Museum
- Royal Palace of Ajuda
- São Vicente de Fora Monastery
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Igreja de São Roque
- Igreja de Santa Catarina
- Graça Viewpoint
- Santa Catarina Viewpoint
- Senhora do Monte Viewpoint
- Bica Funicular
- Ribeira Market
- Docas de Santo Amaro
- Cristo Rei
- Carmo Convent
- National Pantheon
- Basílica da Estrela
- Fronteira Palace
- Edward VII Park
- Jardim do Príncipe Real
- Vasco da Gama Bridge
- Pink Street
- Lisbon Museum
- Orient Museum
- Medeiros e Almeida Museum
- Maritime Museum
- Tropical Botanical Garden
- Águas Livres Aqueduct
- Amoreiras 360º
- National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado
- Military Museum
This World Heritage monument is a marvel of Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) architecture. It was built in 1502, and features magnificent stonework inspired by the sea and the East, particularly in the cloisters. Paid for with the profits from the spice trade, it’s the resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama, whose tomb is found at the entrance of the church.
See the Jerónimos Monastery Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon’s most iconic monument rises from the river, where it served as a beacon to the many explorers who departed from this site in the 15th and 16th centuries. Also protected as World Heritage, it looks like a small castle out of a fairy tale, and is a symbol of the Age of Discovery.
See the Belém Tower Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon’s highest hill has been crowned by fortifications for literally thousands of years. The first ones were built by the Visigoths in the 5th century, then the Moors expanded them in the 9th century, and Portugal’s first king remodelled them in the 12th century. The medieval castle became a royal residence until the 1500s, and what stands today is the restored version of the Moorish and medieval construction. It houses a small archaeological museum, but is mostly visited for the breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
See the St. George's Castle Visitor's Guide.
Businessman and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian was one of the world’s wealthiest men in the mid-20th century, and created a foundation in Lisbon to promote the arts and education around the globe. He put together one of the world’s greatest private art collections, and a museum was built next to the foundation’s headquarters. He only acquired masterpieces, so everything on display is outstanding, from paintings by old masters such as Rembrandt and Rubens, to Egyptian antiquities and unique pieces of Lalique jewelry.
Exhibitions related to modern art, architecture and technology are presented in an iconic building of curved lines that descends into the river. Even if you don’t visit the art inside, you may walk around, and even on top of, this waterfront landmark, as it serves as a viewpoint, looking out to 25 de Abril Bridge.
See the MAAT Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon’s most popular museum became even more so when it moved to a bigger building across the street from its original home. Its collection of magnificent carriages (unique in the world) is now displayed in a modern building designed by Pritzker Prize architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and includes vehicles dating back to the 16th century, ridden by Portuguese and other European royals.
See the Coaches Museum Visitor's Guide.
Eastern Lisbon was transformed into a futuristic ocean-themed neighborhood when it was chosen as the site of 1998’s World Fair. It’s now home to office and apartment buildings, but also to one of the city’s greatest attractions, the Oceanarium, which puts all of the world’s ocean habitats under one roof. From there, visitors walk along the pleasant waterfront promenade towards Vasco da Gama Bridge (Europe’s longest) and the Vasco da Gama Tower (the city’s tallest building).
See the Parque das Nações Visitor's Guide.
Ceramic tile art dates back to ancient Egypt and is found all over the Mediterranean, but nowhere else in the world did it evolve as much or as imaginatively as in Portugal. Here, tiles became more than just geometric figures decorating walls, they also depicted historical and cultural scenes to cover palaces, street signs and shops. There is only one place on the planet where you can follow the history and evolution of this art form, and that’s Lisbon’s Tile Museum. Set in a magnificent 16th-century convent, this is the city’s most beautiful museum. It’s a unique gallery with a collection of tilework that ranges from Moorish-influenced pieces from Seville to modern examples by contemporary artists. In the splendid church dripping with gold is also a series of Dutch panels, from a time when Europe started imitating Chinese ceramics.
See the Tile Museum Visitor's Guide.
It has paintings by masters like Bosch and Dürer, but the main reason to head to this museum is for a lesson in how the East and the West influenced each other, thanks to the Portuguese “Age of Discovery.” Highlights include Japanese screens illustrating Japan’s first encounter with Europeans as the Portuguese arrived on their ships, a monstrance made with gems brought back by Vasco da Gama, and the 15th-century masterpiece “Panels of St. Vincent” depicting Prince Henry the Navigator and other personalities of the time.
See the Ancient Art Museum Visitor's Guide.
Located next to Jerónimos Monastery, this museum presents a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. It belongs to Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo, who collected works by major European and American artists like Picasso, Magritte, Paula Rego, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
See the Berardo Museum Visitor's Guide.
40 OTHER MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
This massive monument is shaped like a ship with 33 people aboard, led by Prince Henry the Navigator. The other colossal sculptures are of other personalities related to the Portuguese Age of Discovery, such as explorers, poet Luís de Camões, and painter Nuno Gonçalves. Inside are temporary exhibitions and an elevator that takes visitors to the terrace at the top, which offers a breathtaking view of the neighboring monuments. Outside, on the ground, is a vast compass with a map of the world tracing the routes of Portugal's heroes of the sea.
See the Discoveries Monument Visitor's Guide.
The triumphal arch that once welcomed those arriving in Lisbon by boat, now offers visitors one of the best views of the city from the top. From the feet of its gigantic sculptures is a bird’s-eye perspective of Lisbon’s grandest square opening to the river, the cathedral, and downtown’s cobbled streets.
See the Rua Augusta Arch Visitor's Guide.
The most stunning view of old Lisbon can be admired and photographed from this terrace by the castle. This medieval part of the city looks more like a Mediterranean village or a Greek island than a capital city, with white church towers, domes and colorful houses tumbling down the hill towards the waterfront. In the surroundings are several cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating.
This terrace at the top of a hill was landscaped in the 1800s and is one of Lisbon’s most romantic spots. Locals and tourists take photos of the postcard view, and gaze across to the castle as they enjoy drinks from a kiosk café. It’s found next to the terminal of one of the city’s iconic funiculars, the Elevador da Glória.
A monumental wrought-iron elevator, designed in Gothic Revival style by one of Gustave Eiffel’s disciples, was inaugurated in 1902 to facilitate the climb of one of Lisbon’s hills. It connects Baixa (downtown) to Chiado and Bairro Alto at the top of the hill, but is now mostly a tourist attraction, as it also offers a panoramic view.
See the Santa Justa Elevator Visitor's Guide.
A pergola frames a perfect view of Alfama’s domes and rooftops descending the hill towards the river at this romantic terrace next to a small church. It’s incredibly picturesque from its two levels -- the landscaped upper level with lush bougainvillea is adorned with tile panels, while the lower level has a reflecting pool.
This promenade connects the Baixa and Cais do Sodré districts, and turns into something of an “urban beach” in the summer. It’s the favorite sunbathing spot in the city center for locals and tourists (who lie on the steps that descend to the water or on the lawn behind them), and the terrace of its kiosk-café is one of the most popular spots for drinks on the waterfront. It’s also one of the best places to catch the sunset in the autumn and winter months, when the sun disappears on the horizon on this more southern location of the city.
See the Ribeira das Naus Visitor's Guide.
An abandoned factory complex dating back to 1846 became one of Lisbon’s trendiest places to be, when it started housing offices, shops, cafés and restaurants in 2008. It’s one of the top destinations for dinner throughout the week and for brunch on weekends, when it also hosts outdoor markets selling everything from locally-grown vegetables to crafts, fashion, and accessories. All of the interiors have kept their industrial architecture and vintage pieces in their décors, and the exterior is a true street art gallery.
See the Lx Factory Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon has one of Europe’s best design and fashion collections, and it’s displayed in the former headquarters of a bank, in the city’s main pedestrian street. There are creations by many of the world’s leading designers from the mid-1800s to the present, like Charles & Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Philippe Starck, Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. Most of the pieces were amassed by a local businessman, but there have also been donations, including an outfit by Tommy Hilfiger himself.
See the MuDe Visitor's Guide.
Portugal’s last royal palace was built at the top of a hill in 1795. It was to be one of Europe’s largest palaces, but was abandoned and the project left unfinished during the French invasion of Portugal and later when the country became a republic. However, the neoclassical building is grand enough, and the royal family left behind the crown jewels and a collection of decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, which are displayed in the magnificent rooms.
Across the street is the royal botanical garden, laid out in 1768. Split into two levels, it has exotic trees and plants, 18th-century sculptures and fountains, and a beautiful view of 25 de Abril Bridge.
See the Ajuda Palace Visitor's Guide.
The world's largest collection of baroque tile panels, including several illustrating La Fontaine's fables, can be seen inside this monastery from 1582. Those panels were added in the 1700s, and line the cloisters and much of the interior. It’s possible to climb up to the roof, for a view over Alfama.
Lisbon’s fortified cathedral is the city’s second-oldest monument, after the castle. It’s a robust building from 1147, and most of it survived the 1755 earthquake. Its cloisters reveal archaeological remains of the city’s past 3000 years, while the treasury presents a collection of priceless sacred art.
See the Lisbon Cathedral Visitor's Guide.
Built in the 1500s, this was one of the world’s first Jesuit churches, with a very plain façade but with a number of extraordinarily gilded chapels inside. One of them is a unique masterpiece of European art, and said to be “the world’s most expensive chapel.” Built in Rome in 1742, using only the most precious gems (ivory, lapis lazuli, gold, silver, marble, gilt bronze, agate, porphyry...), the chapel was shipped to Lisbon to be assembled in this church, where it can now be seen together with other side-chapels equally rich in ornamentation.
See the Igreja de São Roque Visitor's Guide.
The magnificent baroque and rococo interior of this church is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful sights, but it remains a little-known treasure. It dates from 1727, and most of it actually survived the 1755 earthquake, unlike the majority of churches and everything else in the city. It’s therefore a rare example of Lisbon’s wealth up to the 18th century, with a monumental organ that’s a masterpiece of gilded woodwork and a stucco ceiling that’s considered one of the most outstanding of its kind in Europe.
A pine-shaded terrace at the top of one of Lisbon’s tallest hills is a meeting place for locals, who love to admire their city as much as tourists do. No one can resist taking a photo of the view of the castle and the rooftops below it, and stopping for a drink served from a kiosk standing in the shadow of a baroque church.
See the Graça viewpoint Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon’s favorite sunset spot is one of its most central viewpoints. It’s a terrace located close to many of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants, so it’s where many start their night out. There’s a kiosk serving drinks to be enjoyed on the amphitheater-like steps, where bohemian locals and tourists get together in a chill-out atmosphere. They’re overlooked by a sculpture of Adamastor, a mythical sea monster imagined by Portugal’s great 16th-century poet Luís de Camões.
It rivals the Santa Catarina viewpoint as the favorite sunset spot, but here there are no cafés and the view is more breathtaking. It’s a quieter viewpoint, but has become quite popular, as it offers a panorama of almost the entire city. It’s faced by a small 18th-century chapel and an image of the Virgin which gave it its name (“Lady of the Mount”).
It perfectly frames a view of the river, so Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo would always be one of Lisbon’s most photographed streets, but what makes it such a picturesque and irresistible place (and arguably the city’s most beautiful street) is the presence of a charming funicular. It has been going up and down the hilly street since 1892, connecting the Bairro Alto district to the waterfront. Its journey takes just 5 minutes, and it carries up to 23 passengers, but it’s now mostly used as a backdrop for selfies.
See the Bica Funicular Guide.
Lisbon’s main market since 1892 became the city’s top food destination in 2014, when it added a food hall managed by Time Out Lisboa magazine. It’s a lively place from morning to night, with stalls offering some of the most creative dishes by some of the city’s top chefs. They’re enjoyed at canteen-style communal tables inside, or outside, facing Dom Luis I Square.
See the Ribeira Market Visitor's Guide.
The best close-up views of the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge are from the warehouses-turned-restaurants below it. They face a marina, and are the starting point of a promenade that leads to the Discoveries Monument and the many other attractions of Belém. This is a popular destination at lunch and dinner time, as well as for afternoon drinks. It’s also the departure point of sightseeing cruises. The bridge is often compared to the Golden Gate in San Francisco, but it was actually modelled after the Bay Bridge in the same city. One of the pillars (across the road from here) has a glassed observation deck at the top, and houses an exhibition explaining the mechanisms that make a suspension bridge work.
See the Docas de Santo Amaro Visitor's Guide.
A gigantic image of Christ standing on a tall pedestal was inaugurated across the river in 1959, as a way for the episcopate to thank God for having spared Lisbon from World War II. An elevator takes visitors up to the terrace by the feet of the statue, from where there's a panoramic view of practically the entire city. From the landscaped surroundings there’s a close-up view of 25 de Abril Bridge, which stands right below.
See the Cristo Rei Visitor's Guide.
The roof of this 14th-century church, which was Lisbon’s greatest medieval building, collapsed in the earthquake of 1755, but its Gothic arches still stand. It was never restored, to serve as a reminder of the disaster, but it remains one of the city’s most impressive monuments. The former sacristy is a small archaeological museum with an eclectic collection of treasures, from Portugal and elsewhere, including a Visigothic pillar, a Roman tomb, and eerie South American mummies.
Behind the building are the Terraços do Carmo, terraces now occupied by an open-air café and bar, offering a view of the castle and of the Santa Justa Elevator, which can also be accessed from here.
See the Carmo Convent Visitor's Guide.
A domed church that took 300 years to complete is now the pantheon holding the tombs of Portugal’s most illustrious personalities (from 15th-century explorers, to Presidents, to legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues). The marble interior is a fine example of baroque architecture, but it’s mostly visited for the terrace surrounding the dome, which overlooks Alfama and the river.
See the National Pantheon Visitor's Guide.
Inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome and Mafra Palace outside Lisbon, this royal basilica was built according to the wishes of the queen in 1790. The imposing dome stands out in the city’s skyline, and it’s possible to get a close-up view of it from the terrace, which overlooks the city. The marble interior includes a remarkable nativity scene, created by Portugal’s leading baroque sculptor. Across the street is one of Lisbon’s most delightful parks.
See the Basílica da Estrela Visitor's Guide.
It’s way off the beaten path, outside the city center, but it’s worth making the effort to see this palace from 1670, as it’s a fine example of aristocratic architecture. It was influenced by the Renaissance, and has one of the world’s richest collections of decorative tiles, which can be admired inside or in the magnificent gardens.
See the Fronteira Palace Visitor's Guide.
Lisbon’s sloping “central park” offers a view of downtown Lisbon, with symmetrical box hedging pointing to the river. On one side is a beautifully-tiled pavilion which hosts special events, and on the other are small lakes and a greenhouse filled with exotic species of plants from tropical climates.
See the Edward VII Park Visitor's Guide.
The center of Lisbon’s trendiest district is a romantic garden laid out in 1863. It’s shaded by different species of trees, including a gigantic parasol-like cedar. It’s surrounded by mansions, including the exotic Ribeiro da Cunha Palace, which is now a monumental shopping gallery. There are statues of 19th-century poets and a memorial to the victims of homophobia, as well as kiosk cafés serving refreshments throughout the day.
Inaugurated in 1998 as Europe’s longest, this bridge remains one of the largest in the world. It seems to almost vanish into the distance, and it’s possible to walk under it, following the waterfront promenade of the Parque das Nações district. There’s a park below it, where locals jog, cycle, walk their dogs, and play soccer, as very few tourists pose for selfies on the boardwalk with the bridge as a backdrop. By the promenade is a statue of Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess who became the queen of England when she married King Charles II, who named the borough of Queens in New York in her honor.
See the Vasco da Gama Bridge Visitor's Guide.
The color of the pavement gave it its nickname, but this pedestrian street is officially Rua Nova do Carvalho on the map. It’s quite a small street, but is the epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife, and the New York Times even placed it on a list of “12 favorite streets in Europe.” It hosts a street party throughout the week, mixing locals and tourists, who sit or stand outside the different bars.
See the Pink Street Visitor's Guide.
Divided into five different branches, this museum tells the story of Lisbon and explains the different aspects of its culture. The main branch is an 18th-century palace that the king built for a nun (who happened to be his mistress), and features a formal garden with live peacocks and ceramic animals. That’s Palácio Pimenta, and inside it documents Lisbon’s history, from prehistoric times to the 20th century, through paintings, archaeological finds, and a scale model of the city before its destruction by the 1755 earthquake.
Another branch is the striking Casa dos Bicos, a 16th-century building covered in over 1000 diamond-shaped stones that was one of the few survivors of the earthquake. Its ground floor is an archaeological site with traces of Lisbon life from the past two millennia, while upstairs is an exhibition devoted to the life and work of author José Saramago, featuring his Nobel Prize and multilingual editions of his books.
Another famous Portuguese personality, Saint Anthony, is celebrated in another branch, next to the church with his name, built on the site where he was born (right in front of the cathedral).
A fourth branch is found in the city’s grandest square -- in the western turret of Praça do Comércio, and presents temporary exhibitions.
But if you visit only one branch of the museum make it the Roman Theater, which is an archaeological site showing the remains of what was once a sizable theater during Lisbon’s Roman occupation. Pieces unearthed during the excavations are shown in a building next door.
See the Lisbon Museum Visitor's Guide.
As the European power with the longest presence in Asia (Macau was only handed over to China in 1999), Portugal has quite a story to tell about how its culture influenced and was influenced by the East. This museum does just that, with a permanent collection dedicated to the Portuguese presence in Asia. It includes Indo-Portuguese furniture, Japanese screens, paintings, porcelain, textiles and religious artifacts. The restored 1940s warehouse it’s housed in also presents temporary exhibitions covering a variety of themes related to the different Asian cultures.
See the Orient Museum Visitor's Guide.
A 19th-century mansion houses one of Lisbon’s most outstanding art collections. Somehow, it remains one of the city’s top secrets, often overlooked by travel guides. It’s the former home of a wealthy businessman, who displayed his treasures in 25 rooms, including a Rembrandt portrait and other paintings by major artists like Rubens and Tiepolo. It also presents one of the world’s largest collections of clocks, some of the first Chinese porcelain imported by Europe, a silver tea set that once belonged to Napoleon, and a marble and bronze fountain that originally stood in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, among hundreds of other surprising pieces.
See the Medeiros e Almeida Visitor's Guide.
Located in the western wing of Jerónimos Monastery, this museum provides a flashback to the Age of Discovery and Portugal’s nautical history. Ancient globes, models of ships, maps and astrolabes explain the pioneering role of the Portuguese in the exploration of the oceans and in aviation, displaying the plane the made the first crossing of the South Atlantic by aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922. Other treasures include artifacts found in shipwrecks, the yacht and barges of the Portuguese royal family, and a wooden figure of Archangel Raphael that accompanied Vasco da Gama on his voyage to India.
See the Maritime Museum Visitor's Guide.
If you have time for just one garden in Lisbon, make it the Tropical Botanical Garden next to the Jerónimos Monastery. Created in 1906 to show the exotic plants and trees from the Portuguese colonies, it’s now a beautiful and peaceful place to escape the crowds of tourists in the neighborhood. Busts of Africans and Asians are dotted around, and there’s a Macanese arch leading to an Oriental Garden, but there are also plants from other lands that were not colonized by the Portuguese. Giant palm trees welcome visitors, as do the peacocks, ducks, geese, swans, chickens, and other fowl that waddle around or swim on the pond.
Lisbon created one of the world’s most impressive water systems in the early 1700s, thanks to a monumental aqueduct. It’s recognized as one of mankind’s most remarkable hydraulic and engineering constructions, and its 109 arches and different reservoirs escaped the destruction of the devastating 1755 earthquake. They make up the award-winning Water Museum, and it’s possible to walk over the aqueduct’s 14 largest stone arches (the world’s tallest when they were built), rising 64 meters (210 feet) from the ground. Smaller arches, decorated with baroque tile panels illustrating human consumption of water over history, can be seen leading to the Mãe d’Água reservoir nearby, whose rooftop offers a view of the arches and of the surrounding neighborhood. Inside, it often hosts temporary art exhibitions.
Another reservoir can be visited on weekends below Jardim doPríncipe Real, while the main branch of the museum is located a short walk from behind Santa Apolónia train station, in the former steam pumping station. It preserves the iron and steel machinery in the Victorian and Neoclassical styles, considered treasures of Europe’s historical and industrial heritage.
A group of glass postmodern towers altered Lisbon’s skyline and were therefore controversial when they were built in 1985, but their shopping mall soon became the city’s favorite shopping mecca. Newer and bigger malls are now more popular, but that of Amoreiras is still a destination, as it provides access to an observation deck at the top of one of the towers. There’s a 360-degree view of almost the entire city, from the Parque das Nações district in the east to Belém in the west. The mall below has dozens of stores and an excellent food court.
See the Amoreiras 360º Visitor's Guide.
Art fans will want to head to this converted convent which houses the biggest collection of contemporary Portuguese art. It’s shown in thematic and temporary exhibitions, but there are always works by the leading national artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Almada Negreiros, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, and Paula Rego.
A drink or light meal at the café on the sculpture-filled terrace is a great way to end a visit.
Lisbon’s oldest museum recalls major battles, wars and the military history of Portugal in sumptuous rooms with beautifully-painted ceilings. The room named after Vasco da Gama shows how the country conquered and defended its colonies, while another room is entirely dedicated to WWI. Elsewhere it displays one of the world’s largest collections of artillery, swords used by kings, and replicas of 16th-century armor, among a variety of other pieces. The cannon-filled courtyard features tile panels illustrating some of the most historic battles that guaranteed that Portugal remained an independent Iberian kingdom.
See the Military Museum Visitor's Guide.
There are many places in the city to enjoy the abundant sunshine and the mild temperatures, but luckily there are also several beaches nearby. That makes Lisbon one of Europe’s most blessed cities, and you can have your feet in the ocean or be on your surfboard in just minutes from the center of town. There’s a long stretch of sand to the south, offering everything from lively seaside bars to surfing waves, to secluded spots and nude beaches, and then there’s the coast to the west, easier to reach, and therefore more popular with tourists. Wilder beaches of stunning natural beauty are found to the north, by Europe’s westernmost point. Most can be reached by public transportation, and will make you want to prolong your stay in the city.
See the Lisbon Beaches Guide.
A day trip to Sintra should be included in any visit to Lisbon. This fantasyland was Europe’s first center of romantic architecture, which has made it a World Heritage Site. It’s a magical place with several fairytale palaces and castles, but the must-see is the extraordinary Pena Palace, which looks like something that not even Disney could imagine.
See the Sintra Tourism Guide.
Top Places to Stay
Best Waterfront Hotels: Altis Belém Hotel, MYRIAD by SANA Hotels
Best Views: Memmo Alfama, Hotel do Chiado, Solar dos Mouros
Best Pools: Olissippo Lapa Palace, Palácio do Governador, EPIC SANA Marquês
Best Hotels by the Castle: Solar do Castelo, Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel
Best Central Hotels: Pousada de Lisboa, Bairro Alto Hotel, Altis Avenida, The Ivens
Best Central Apartments: Residentas Aurea, Chiado Camões Apartments, Flora Chiado Apartments
Best Beach Hotels: Farol Hotel, The Albatroz Hotel