What are the best things to see in Belém? What are the main things to see in 1 day? How to get to Belém?
In this post we describe all you need to know for your visit to Belém, one of the best district to visit in Lisbon!
Belém is a district of Lisbon located west of the April 25 Bridge, about 15 minutes by public transport from the center of Lisbon. Belém is one of the most historical parts of Lisbon, as this where the Portuguese explorers such as Vasco de Gama were departing for the great discoveries! Amazing, isn’t it?
Belém also hosts 2 monuments classified as UNESCO Heritage: The Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém. 2 absolute must-sees during a trip to Lisbon!
There are many things to see in Belém, hence we recommend spending a full day to discover this beautiful part of Lisbon. In this post we listed the 10 best things to see in Belém.
1. Start your visit at the stunning Belém Tower
Start your exploration of Belém with the Belém Tower, one of the UNESCO world heritage monument. The Belém Tower is one of the few monuments with typical 16th century Manueline architecture which survived the 1755 earthquake.
Rising above the water, the tower was built in 1514 ordered by King Manuel I. This monument also known as the “Tower of Saint-Vincent”, was built to commemorate the expeditions led by Vasco da Gama and also to ensure the defense of Lisbon.
If you buy the Lisbon Pass, which we highly recommend, then the entrance inside the Tower is free. Otherwise the entrance ticket is 8.5 EUR or 6 EUR if you buy it in advance here, which will also allow you to skip the queue.
2. TAKE A PHOTO OF THE THE MONUMENT OF THE DISCOVERIES (PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS)
Built in 1960 on the banks of the Tagus in the Belém district, this monument is truly impressive as it’s more than 50 meters high!
It was built to remember Portuguese explorers and it represents the Portuguese caravels. The boat is turned towards the sea as if ready for new adventures.
Among the sculptures that adorn the sides of the monument you can see historical figures linked to the history of the Great Portuguese Maritime Discoveries such Vasco da Gama but also Magellan, Camoes, etc.
You can easily access the Monument of Discoveries on foot from the Belém Tower by walking the promenade along the Tagus.
3. Next, CHECK OUT THE IMPRESSIVE JERÓNIMOS MONASTERY
Also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jerónimos Monastery is the masterpiece of Manueline architecture that draws many visitors to Belém.
Its construction began in 1501 and was completed almost a century later, at the height of the glory of the Portuguese Empire. It was offered by the King to the Hieronymite monks, in exchange for their prayers for his protection and the protection of the explorers who left in search of the new world.
From the exuberance of the ornamental details, typical of Manueline architecture, to the 16th century cloister and the library, the monastery is a master piece! This is one of the best best things to see in Belém.
The Entrance ticket can be bought here to avoid the long the line in front of the Monastery.
4. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GREAT DISCOVERIES AT THE MARINE MUSEUM
Right next to Jerónimos Monastery, you can visit the very interesting and beautiful Marine museum.
The visit begins with the explanation of the Great Discoveries around the 15th century, and continue until nowadays with the marine army. We preferred the first room with plenty of historic explanations, reproduction of old boats and some historical pieces.
The last exhibition of the museum is a warehouse with real size boats and planes. With such a broad collection, this museum is absolutely worth it! Besides it’s free with the Lisbon Pass
5. Ajuda National Palace is next on your itinerary
A fifteen-minute walk uphill from the Monastery will lead you to the beautiful Ajuda National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Ajuda). This neoclassical Palace was erected between 1795 and 1802. It was not until 1871 under the reign of King Louis 1st that it became the official residence of Portuguese royalty, until 1910, when the Portuguese Republic was proclaimed.
The interior of the palace reveals an important collection of pieces of decorative art from the 18th and 19th centuries, from glassware, goldsmithery, marquetry to canvases, engravings and sculptures… The chapel of Queen Maria Pia houses the only canvas of the painter El Greco in Portugal.
This is a beautiful place to visit, although often skipped by tourists…
The entrance fee is €5/€3 (adult child) and free on Sunday between 10am-2pm.
6. Enjoy the Tropical Botanical Garden of Belém
On your way out, take a moment to contemplate the view of the Tagus before descending to the Tropical Botanical Garden of Belém, a gorgeous oasis in the city and one of the best things to see in Belém.
Created in 1906, it reveals 7 hectares of vegetation with more than 700 rare species of tropical or subtropical origin. Initially known as the “Colonial Garden”, it houses pavilions built on the occasion of the Portuguese World Expo, each of them reflecting the architecture of one of Portugal’s colonies.
During the walk, it is not uncommon to come across peacocks, the only residents of this beautiful garden.
The entrance fee is 4 EUR.
7. GO BACK IN TIME AT THE NATIONAL COACH MUSEUM
The Coach Museum of Lisbon is located in the Bélem district. It is one of the most visited museums in the capital and it is not surprising because its collection is unique in the world.
Within this Museu Nacional dos Coches, you will find carriages and horse-drawn carriages used as a means of transport between the 16th and 19th centuries, mainly by wealthy and powerful people from Europe.
In particular, you can admire Baroque-style carriages dating from the 18th century that belonged to Pope Clement XI.
The visit to this museum is an opportunity to understand the evolution of this means of transport through the ages while contemplating the meticulousness of the work carried out on the cars as well as the level of detail of the most prestigious vehicles.
Again, the entrance of the museum is free with the Lisbon Pass, otherwise count 8 EUR to enter the museum.
For us this is one of the best things to see in Belém.
8. For lunch stop at Coraçoes com Coroa
When it’s time for lunch, stop at Coraçoes com Coroa, the Belém bookshop café, hidden by a garden full of orange trees! Opened on the initiative of a non-profit association which raises funds to help women in difficulty, this place is a hidden gem in Belém.
Coraçoes com Coroa serves light lunch such as salad and sandwiches set in a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere.
9. TAKE A BREAK AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE DELICIOUS PASTEIS DE BELÉM
This is one of the most visited places in Lisbon, the old bakery where Pastéis de Belém were invented!
Pastéis made in the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém are the original recipe for Pastéis de Nata sold in Portugal, known as Pastéis de Belém. They have been made since 1837 from a recipe which, until now, remains a secret.
There could be a long queue before you can buy one of those in the shop, but it’s totally worth the wait!
10. VISIT LX FACTORY ON YOUR WAY BACK TO THE CENTRE OF LISBON
The Lx Factory district in Lisbon is actually a former large Portuguese factory that has been redeveloped into a trendy area. At Lx Factory you can find many great restaurants, boutiques from local designers and stylists, a large concert halls and event spaces, as well as a library and so much more.
The simple fact of strolling through the Lx Factroy is a already fun in itself as you will discover many creative places. There are lots of street arts, posters and unique decorations all around the area.
Make sure to check Ler Devagar, a magnificent library with more than 40,000 books! The esplanade/rooftop of the Rio Maravilha bar is another awesome place which offers an incredible view at night to the bridge and the Cristo Rei!
How to get to Belém from Lisbon city centre?
Belém is located to west of Lisbon city centre.
The best way to get there is by tram or bus. The easiest way to get there is with the tram no. 15, which departs from Praça do Comércio. The journey takes about 15 minutes and the ticket costs €2.90. The journey takes about 40min.
Another unique way to get there is by boat. The departure is at the Cais do Sodré river station. It does take longer to reach Belém, but it’s a great way to discover Lisbon from a different angle. You will also pass the stunning and impressive 25 April Brigde.
Finally, for an easy and convenient option, opt for the Hop On/Hop Off bus. If you purchase your ticket here, it also includes a boat trip on the Tagus River and it’s valid for 48 hours. For more information click here.
Where to stay in Belém?
Although we recommend staying in the Alfama district, Belém could be a great alternative if you prefer a quieter area of Lisbon.
For one of the most comfortable places in Belém and in a prime location, opt for Embaixador Apartments&Suites. The apartment is very new, nice and clean. The design is modern and elegant. There are many trendy restaurants nearby and it is close to public transportation as well. Check it out here.
In conclusion about the best things to see in Belém
The Belem district is a must in Lisbon. For us it was one of the highlights during our trip!
It is in this part of the city that you will find the most impressive monuments such as the Belém Tower the Jeronimos Monastery some of the best things to see in Belém.
It took us a full day to cover the main sights in Belém. If your time is limited, then focus your visit on Belém Tower, Jeronimos Monastery and try the legendary Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
To save money visiting multiple places in Lisbon we highly recommend buying the Lisboa Card during your stay. In addition to serving public transport, it offers various discounts for visits and attractions. The funicular and tram routes are also included.
Enjoy your trip to this wonderful city!
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