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Monumentos, Atrações, Torre de Belém
©Arlindo CamachoTorre de Belém

18 of the best attractions in Lisbon

With a collection of must-see monuments, unmissable museums and more, here’s our guide to Lisbon’s best attractions

Written by
Time Out Lisbon editors
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As one of the greatest cities in the world, frankly it's a wonder that we managed to narrow down all the best things to do to a list of just 52. Think of our selection as a taster – something to satisfy your initial cravings and leave you wanting more.

Take Belém Tower, for instance, this waterfront landmark makes for a great introduction to Lisbon's numerous nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites. Or climb up to Miradouro da Graça to take in one of the city's many magnificent views. And don't forget to visit the Time Out Market, of course, for a literal taster of the delicious culinary offerings. 

Recommended: Need a place to stay but can’t decide? Find your perfect getaway spot with our guide to Lisbon’s best neighbourhoods.

18 of the best attractions in Lisbon

  • Attractions
  • Campolide

Lisbon’s aqueduct was built to supply the capital with fresh water from the hills north of the city. Construction was funded by special levies on meat, olive oil and wine. The structure started functioning seven years before the 1755 earthquake – and survived it well. The main span runs some 940 metres and comprises 35 ogival (pointed) arches, the largest rising 64 metres above the ground. From the top, you get stunning views of the city and Monsanto’s luscious trees. Public access and guided tours are the responsibility of Museu da Água.

Tue-Sun 10am-5.30pm. Admission: €4; concessions €2; free for under-17s.

  • Attractions
  • Chiado

Considered by many to be Lisbon’s loveliest church, this convent hasn’t had a roof since it fell in during the 1755 earthquake. A lawn now covers what was once the main nave. At the back, you’ll find the museum Museu Arqueológico do Carmo, a ragbag of finds from around Europe.

May-Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Oct-Apr: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. Admission: €5; concessions €4; free for under-14s.

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  • Attractions
  • São Vicente 

The church itself is worth a look, but the old monastery remains the main attraction. Its cloisters are richly decorated with early 18th-century tile panels, some of which illustrate the fables of La Fontaine. Inside, you’ll also find the royal pantheon of the Bragança family, Portugal’s last dynasty.

Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (last entry 5pm). Admission €5; concessions: €2,50; free for under-12s.

  • Attractions
  • Ajuda

Construction began in 1802, but it was interrupted in 1807 when the royal family high-tailed it to Brazil to escape Napoleon’s armies. The palace was never finished and still looks sawn in half. Nevertheless, it served as a royal residence in the late 19th century. Some wings are open as a museum, while others house the Ministry of Culture.

Mon-Tue & Thu-Sun 10am-5.30pm (last entry 5.30pm, no access to the second floor). Admission: €5; concessions €2,50; free for under-12s.

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  • Attractions
  • Chiado

Igreja de São Roque was built for the Jesuits with the assistance of Filippo Terzi on the site of an earlier chapel dedicated to São Roque. Most of the single-nave structure was built between 1565 and 1573, although it was roofless for another decade. The ceiling is a wonder of sorts. The original architect had planned a vaulted roof, but in 1582 a decision was made to build a flat wooden roof, and sturdy timber from Prussia was richly painted. The paintings in the inner sacristy are worth admiring, but the main attraction is the side chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist. Notice the lavish ivory, gold and lapis lazuli, which attest to Portugal’s colonial wealth and extravagance. Built in Rome and shipped to Lisbon in 1749 after being blessed by the Pope, it took four years to reassemble, not least because of the detailed mosaic above the altar. The neighbouring museum contains items from the chapel, including Italian goldsmiths’ work, paintings and richly embroidered vestments.

Apr-Sep: Mon 2pm-7pm, Tue-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu 10am-8pm; Fri-Sun 10am-7pm; Oct-Mar: Mon 2pm-6pm, Tue-Sun 9am-6pm (break for mass Tue-Sat 12.15pm & Sun 12.30pm). Admission: church free; museum €2,50, concessions: €1, free for under-12s.

  • Attractions
  • Belém

The tower was built to guard the river entrance into Lisbon’s harbour, following orders from King Dom Manuel (1495-1521), during whose reign Portugal greatly expanded its empire, namely by reaching Brazil and finding a sea route to India. The tower has stonework motifs recalling the Discoveries era, such as twisted rope and the Catholic Crosses of Christ, as well as Lisbon’s patron saint St Vincent and a rhino.

Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6.30pm (last entry 6pm); Oct-Mar Tue-Sun 10am-5.30pm (last entry 5pm). Admission: €6, concessions €3, free for under-12s.

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  • Attractions
  • Estrela/Lapa/Santos

The ornate white dome of Basílica da Estrela is one of Lisbon’s best-loved landmarks. Construction took ten years (1779-89), with statues sculpted by artists from the Mafra School. The inside of the church is richly embellished by Portuguese marble, although many of the paintings were made by Italian masters. Climb the 114 steps for fine views of the city.

Church: open every day 7.30am-7.45pm. Admission: church free; roof terrace €4, concessions €2.

  • Attractions
  • Santa Maria Maior

Don’t be surprised if you see a group of openmouthed New World tourists in front of the cathedral. This Romantic-style building is very, very old. Construction started in 1147 and ended in the first decades of the 13th century. The project, which includes three naves and a triforium, a protruding transept and a pew with three chapels, is very similar to the catedral in Coimbra. Did some of these terms sound odd? Don’t worry. You can always just see this venue as the place where, year after year, in June, young couples swear to love each other forever. If, however, you like history, dive head-first into all the changes the cathedral went through over the years, all according to the preferences of each of Portugal’s rulers. The Gothic-style cloister, for example, dates back to the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325), while his successor, Afonso IV, modified the rear area of the building. In the first half of the century, a large-scale restoration project was undertaken to bring the building back to its original form.

Church: Mon & Sun 9am-5pm; Tue-Sat 9am-7pm. Admission: church free; cloisters: €2,50, concessions €1,25, free for under-11s; treasury €2,50, concessions €1,25; free for under-12s; joint ticket cloisters & treasury €4, concessions €2.

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  • Attractions
  • São Vicente 

The dome of this church was completed in 1966, a mere 285 years after the building started being built – hence the local expression “a job like Santa Engrácia”, which means something that takes forever. The church is on the site of an earlier one, which was torn down after being desecrated by a robbery in 1630. A Jewish suspect was blamed and executed, but later exonerated. Before his death, he is said to have prophesied that the new church would never be completed because an innocent man had been convicted. The first attempt at a new Santa Engrácia duly collapsed in 1681 (a construction mistake, compounded by a storm, may have been to blame) and work restarted the following year. The new plan, by master stonemason João Antunes, bears many similarities to Peruzzi’s plans for St Peter’s in Rome, and the interior is dominated by marble in various colours. In 1916, the Republican government decided Santa Engrácia, which was still roofless then, would become the national Pantheon, a temple to honour dead Portuguese heroes. Among those since laid to rest, there is General Humberto Delgado, an opposition leader killed by secret police in 1962, fado diva Amália Rodrigues and football legend Eusébio.

Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (last entry 5.40pm); Oct-Mar: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (last entry 4.40pm). Admission: €4, concessions €2, free for under-12s.

  • Attractions
  • Belém

Ordered by Manuel I in memory of Infante Dom Henrique of Portugal (Prince Henry the Navigator), this monastery has been a national monument since 1907 and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. Built in the 16th century, it was donated at the time to the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome, and in 2016 it became part of the National Pantheon. The monastery’s church (Igreja de Santa Maria de Belém) holds the tombs of Luís de Camões, Vasco da Gama and Sebastião I, whose remains were brought there by Filipe I in an attempt to put an end to the popular belief that Sebastião I would return to save Portugal. But few people actually believe that these remains are those of the Desired King. And let’s not forget: the famous Pastéis de Belém are only 500 metres away from the monastery.

May-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; Oct-Apr: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Admission: church free; cloisters €10, concessions €5, free for under-12s.

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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Castelo de São Jorge

The hilltop was fortified even before the arrival of the Roman legions; in later centuries the castle walls were strengthened by Visigoths and Moors, before Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, seized them in 1147. You’ll see his statue in the square just past the main gate. The castle itself has undergone numerous transformations. Back in the 1930’s, several government offices and a firehouse were removed from the grounds, exposing the walls, which were duly topped with supposedly authentic-looking battlements. There have been several makeovers since. The battlements of the Castelejo (keep) have ten towers, which you can go up, in one of which there’s a camera obscura (10am-5pm) from which you can see key city monuments and spy on people downtown, and you can learn how the contraption works. Beyond the keep is an area where labelled displays trace out dwellings from prehistoric times and the late Islamic period, as well as the ruins of the last palatial residence on this hill, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.

Mar-Oc: every day 9am-9pm; Nov-Feb: every day 9am-6pm. Admission: €10, concessions €5, free for under-12s.

  • Attractions
  • Princípe Real

The shaded walkways of the botanical garden were laid out between 1858 and 1878 and contain about 10 thousand plants. Highlights include palm-ferns that have been around since dinosaurs were.

Apr-Sep: every day 9am-8pm. Oct-Mar: every day 9am-5pm. Admission: €3, concessions €1, free for under-10s.

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  • Attractions
  • Santa Maria Maior

The building was erected in 1523 following orders from Alfonso de Albuquerque, son of the second governor of what was then Portuguese India, but it lost its top two floors in the 1755 earthquake. The Albuquerque family sold it in 1973 (to be used as a warehouse and headquarters for cod trade). Today, it houses a foundation dedicated to the life and work of José Saramago, Portuguese Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature. It was founded in 2007 and relocated to Alfama in 2012, where it remains to this day. You’ll always have access to a permanent exhibition about the writer (1922-2010), but check their calendar for book launches, seminars and other events.

Mon-Sat 10am-6pm (last entry 5.30pm). Admission: €3, concessions €2, free for under-12s.

  • Attractions
  • Chiado

The industrial-age iron tracery of this 15-metre high lift – also known as Elevador do Carmo – is one of Lisbon’s most beloved landmarks, but it only became a national monument in 2002. It was built by Portuguese-born Eiffel disciple Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, and it officially opened in August 1901. It links Rua do Ouro, downtown, to the square next to Igreja do Carmo, a little further up the hill. At the top, up a spiral staircase, a viewing platform offers 360-degree views of downtown Lisbon. The Elevador is part of the public transport system, so if you have a travelcard a one-way trip is equivalent to a bus journey; on board, you can only buy pricey return tickets. For an alternative and more budget view, head to Pollux, a department store on the rooftop of which you’ll find a cafe and bar with good, affordable coffee.

May-Oct 7.30am-11pm every day; Nov-Apr 7am-9pm every day. Admission: €5.

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  • Art
  • Lisbon

Carpintarias de São Lázaro have been returned to the city as a multidisciplinary, contemporary creative hub. A whopping 1600 square metres in size, spread over three floors, it houses projects across areas such as visual arts, music, theatre dance, film and gastronomy. Keep an eye on their calendar through their Facebook page.

Thu-Sun 12pm-6pm. Admissions: €2-€3, depending on the exhibitions.

  • Attractions
  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Benfica/Monsanto

This stranded spaceship of a building designed by architect Chaves da Costa has recently gained new life as a viewpoint, which has frankly always been its calling. Abandoned since 2001, it was only occasionally visited by wanderers, tourists, peepers or people equipped with spray paint cans who went there to do what people equipped with spray paint cans do. It can be legally and safely explored since September 2017.

Mon-Sun 9am-7pm. Admission: free.

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  • Attractions
  • Alcântara

Markets, exhibitions, shops, cafes, gigs and parties. There’s a whole world to discover within the bounds of this cosmopolitan “factory” straight out of 1846 that completely changed the face of Alcântara since it reopened in 2008. It’s a consumer city within the city. Everything in this industrial-site-come-trendy-hub is intentional – all spots for books, clothing, decoration, drinking or dancing are carefully curated, and will likely make you want to splurge (a little).

Mon-Sun 9am-7pm. Admission: free.

  • Attractions
  • Alcântara

A viewpoint right on the bridge that you can muse at the Tagus from – while testing your vertigo. The bridge opened in 1966 and has 14 pillars, but the one that’s relevant to you is accessible via Avenida da Índia, in the back of village Underground. A vertiginous tourist attraction, it invites Lisbon visitors into the pillar and offers them a truly sensorial experience.

Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: €6

Make the most out of your time in Lisbon

  • Things to do

If you picked Lisbon for your holidays – hey, great choice! – then read the following list with free things to do in city. From free tours through Alfama, Graça and Bairro Alto, to bike rides or even free museums, enjoy Lisbon without spending a cent.

How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon
  • Things to do

Spending a weekend anywhere in the world is always a challenge, time constraints mean you have to be pretty sharp to be able to squeeze everything in without overdoing it. Here we present a guide to the eats, drinks and tourist hotpots in lovely Lisbon, where it's so easy to lose yourself in its evocative streets.

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  • Things to do

A city steeped in history, Lisbon is a cultural wonder and it's well worth spending a good solid day investigating all of its many facets, but where do you even start and how do you get around the Portuguese capital? Here are some hints and tips on how survive the wonderful city and all it has to offer.

  • Things to do

A city steeped in history, Lisbon is a cultural wonder and it's well worth spending a good solid day investigating all of its many facets, but where do you even start and how do you get around the Portuguese capital? Here are some hints and tips on how survive the wonderful city and all it has to offer.

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