16 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Lisbon
Portugal may seem an unlikely candidate for World Heritage status, but it has managed to retain something very special: the ability to captivate a traveler with its irresistible charms.
Set against the backdrop of some of Europe's finest scenery, Lisbon is a city that fuses medieval and modern cultures with its rolling hills and glorious beaches. At the same time, Lisbon is perhaps most famous for the people: the city is home to some of Europe's best-known personalities, who have bequeathed the city with a unique aura.
Beyond its bright, pretty pastel-colored houses and warm, welcoming people, this captivating city has a heady mix of top attractions for tourists: beautiful parks, quirky neighborhoods, delightful cobblestone streets, and an array of unforgettable sights, such as Alfama's 700-year-old castle and the flowery splendor of the Seteais Forest. It's easy to see why so many people consider Lisbon to be among the most enjoyable destinations in Europe.
With its fascinating history and an irresistible mix of charm and modernity, Lisbon is truly a destination that has something for everyone. Discover the best places to visit in the city with our list of the top tourist attractions in Portugal.
Praça do Comércio
The broad, Pombaline plaza is bordered by the Castelo do Belém and the Sinagoga. It's a grand setting for Portugal's largest town square. A fresh coat of whitewash brings it to life in summertime, and the several fountains and potted palms add color. A colonnaded open-air corridor, the Carretera Sacra, runs the length of the square, a grand architectural structure constructed as a memorial to King João VI by his brother-in-law, the Duke of Loulé. Largo do Comércio is where the city's markets are held. On the northwest corner of the square stands the Mausoleo dos Descobrimentos (1602), a memorial to the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama and his crew, who were the first Europeans to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and reach the East Indies.
Parque Eduardo VII
Parque Eduardo VII is an unspoiled green park located on the Tagus River. Designed in the early 20th century by the noted landscape architect Horta (with the support of Viscount of Sanfins), Parque Eduardo VII is a relaxing respite in a busy metropolis. The park has ornamental gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, fountains, woodland and over 500 species of trees, including exotic cedars and thousands of flowering plants.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
This beautiful church in Lisbon has been compared to the more famous Sistine Chapel in Rome. The Jerónimos convent and monastery, a splendid Gothic church built around the monastery of Jerónimos, originally dates back to 1499. Built on a hill overlooking the Tagus River, it was dedicated to the Trinity, and at the time, was the world's most famous monastery. The last remnant of the building was destroyed in 1755 and reconstructed in 1785 and the restored church, with its dome and numerous chapels, can now be visited. Notable items include the chandelier, stained-glass windows and paintings. Dedicated to St. Jerome, the monastery has a number of chapels and souvenir shops.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
Museu Nacional dos Coches is housed in a sprawling 16th-century building on a hill in the centre of Lisbon. The immense glass-and-wood structure was built as a Jesuit College. One of the highlights is the National Coaches Museum, home to around a dozen models, including Napoleon's carriage, the 'White Elephant' and the 'Little Prussian Horse'. Also available is a library, including works on painting and photography, as well as a temporary art gallery featuring works by Camille Pissarro.
São Jorge Castle
This former Moorish castle, built in the 16th century, rises high on the site of a former 9th century castle, at the highest point in the center of the city of Lisbon. Although the present-day fortress is actually the result of a baroque redesign during the 17th century, it still offers a clear view of the River Tagus and the city. If you want to spend a couple of hours at the top of the castle looking over Lisbon, do it on the last Saturday of the month. The castle opens at 9am and the open-air theater starts at 10am. A visitor center offers audio-visual presentations on the history of the castle.
Palácio Nacional da Pena
Palácio Nacional da Pena is a regal castle in Portugal's capital city. Dating back to the reign of the king Dom Pedro I, this richly decorated mansion was built between 1694 and 1710. In addition to being a museum, the palace is used by the Portuguese government to host state and diplomatic events, including the most recent G20 summit. It's still a working palace and today is used for numerous cultural and diplomatic events. Inside the palace are an impressive collection of paintings by José de Queiros, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Henri Fantin-Latour.
Palácio da Bolsa
The splendid Palácio da Bolsa is the third largest palace in Europe and is the site of a truly unique political institution: the Portuguese Stock Exchange. Opened in 1480, the Bolsa is housed in the upper floors of the building, allowing visitors the chance to explore a truly unique and spectacular building. The palace's original rooms were restored by architects, and visitors are able to enjoy what was originally a 16th-century theater, complete with acoustics of a concert hall. A small auditorium allows visitors to watch stock prices and trades. For visitors, this is an opportunity to step into a rare world of politeness, gentility and power that took place right here in Portugal.
Lisbon's Alfama is a former section of the old city of Lisbon, connected to the city center by a narrow beltway. This is a fashionable part of town and the most interesting part of the city to explore, especially when seen from the sea. While the district itself is narrow, the views from atop its hill are breathtaking, and the views along the river waterfront provide breathtaking views of Lisbon itself. Alfama was originally the Jewish quarter, with Jewish communities dating back as far as the Middle Ages. Today, it's Europe's oldest working Jewish quarter, the world's only preserved and self-sustaining Jewish ghetto, and a perfect example of Portuguese Jewish culture.
Largo do Chiado
The Largo do Chiado is one of the most beautiful parts of Lisbon, not only due to the view of the Tejo river. This neighborhood is very lively and beautiful. Lots of locals and tourists come to take a stroll through the market, the cafes and eat their tasty and cheap gourmet food. It is famous for its historic architecture and unique appearance. It's a great place to be, and also a great spot to wander around at night. Travel around the city on the vintage tram. It is the cheapest way to explore the city, and the best way to get around by night.
Palácio Nacional de Mafra
Palácio Nacional de Mafra is one of the most charming examples of European baroque. It was built for the monarchs of Portugal as a result of the plans of architect Luís de Sa in 1659. Mafra Palace's exterior is adorned with baroque style stone-carved plaster and has been attributed to Italian painter Pelagio Palagi. The palace's best-known rooms are the Hall of Mirrors, where guests can see the full length of the Long Corridor; the John of Austria Salon, where portraits of the king and his son, Duke John, hang in a series of lavish rococo tapestries; and the domed Hall of the Ultramarina Court, an impressive room decorated with carvings and paintings, which serves as an example of Portuguese Baroque art.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
This small museum in Lisbon, Portugal, houses over 70,000 European azulejos (a ceramic glazed painting tile). The collection consists of miniature ceramic works painted in a wide variety of colors and techniques, from 16th century Flemish to 20th century European. Some of the most impressive pieces were collected from the Batalha Monastery in Portugal and includes 12th century Portuguese and Flemish art, such as Hans Memling's The Last Judgment and Bartholomeus van der Helst's Night Watch. It is worth a visit to Portugal's largest city to see such exquisite art treasures, and a great place to unwind from the bustle of the city.
One of the city's greatest attractions is the Lisbon Oceanarium, which takes visitors to the Atlantic Ocean and takes them on a virtual journey through the ocean. The aquarium has an extensive collection of aquatic flora and fauna from all over the world, but is mainly about the sea and the depth of Lisbon's vast ocean. Belém's tourist information center is worth visiting even if you don't visit the aquarium. Not only does it have exhibitions and more informative displays than any museum in the city, but the building itself is an impressive building with elaborate marble flooring and colorful tiled walls. There are plenty of other things to see and do in Lisbon, from a number of important religious monuments, including the Belém Tower, to parks and even the zoo. Be sure to try some of the famous Portuguese cuisine, such as the native Portugal's tasty bean soup.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
The Palácio Nacional de Belém houses a superb collection of paintings and sculptures by some of the world's most famous artists and contains many masterpieces by Italian, Dutch and Flemish artists. The museum is also a wonderful example of 19th century architectural taste, with its Palácio Nacional de Belém and Câmara Municipal, the two buildings that comprise the complex. The two winged angels in the Igreja de São Francisco (chapel of St Francis) are also by Mestre Valentim. Inside the museum are works by Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch, Goya, Cranach, and hundreds of other paintings and sculptures. It is also home to the largest and most extensive collection of Portuguese 17th-century paintings and ceramics.
Palácio Nacional da Ajuda
Palácio Nacional da Ajuda is a beautiful building that houses one of the best museums in the city. The building, designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Rinaldi, was built in 1661. Inside is the Museu Nacional de Portugal, one of Europe's best museum collections. It boasts more than 300,000 items, including furniture, paintings, jewelry, and sculptures of all periods. In 2008, it was awarded two Golden Peacocks, a French architecture award, for its restoration and for its architecture.
Sé de Lisboa
The Palacio do Marquês de Pombal is the best example of the type of building in which the Marquês de Pombal, D. José Antonio, built his home and stately manor house in 1762, the year after the Portuguese metropolis of Lisbon gained its independence from Spain. The exterior is a strange blend of Neoclassicism and Spanish baroque with six Iberian marble columns, carved wood ceilings and paintings. However, the inside of the building is more typical of the Franco-Portuguese Baroque, full of decorative figures, arches, and more carved wood. Some of the best museums in Portugal, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museu do Chiado, are located in this region of the capital city.
Estação do Rossio
Located in central Lisbon, Rossio station, also known as Oriente station, is a premier rail terminal and location for nightlife in Lisbon. Within the station is a vast complex with distinct areas covering the history of rail in Portugal, offering a ride on a rail-mounted elevator to an elevated view of Lisbon. Among the highlights include the Concado Pouso d'Ouro, an ornate greenhouse-type structure that was used as a resting and sleeping space for the Lisbon aristocracy of the late 1800s. Other buildings in the complex offer a look at Portugal's railroad history with a tour through the history of steam locomotion in the country.