One of my post popular posts on Lisbon is Lisbon Pink Street which is a favourite for Instagrammers so thought I would take you on another little tour of Lisbon’s Belem district by way of Belem Lisbon attractions, things to do in Belem, covering Tower of Belem (aka Torre de Belem), Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and many other cool spots along the river one of which you may have already seen a post about on my MAAT post.
We will also cover how to get to Belem Lisbon, what to see and do as well as the many Lisbon Tours that allow you to include Belem into your itinerary. You can easily pin any of the images to your Pinterest boards to refer back to when planning your visit to this beautiful city in Portugal.
Tourists flock to the old town of Belém daily on the port that launched the historic Discoveries in the mid-1400s. This is also where you will find the Monument of the Discoveries aka Padrão dos Descobrimentos, on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese “Age of Discovery”. Portuguese caravels departed into the unknown from the Tower of Belém to return with new foods, spices, and conquered lands.
In the heart of the Belem Lisbon neighborhood on the banks of the Tagus river you have Padrão dos Descobrimentos on one side and the architectural wonder of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos on the other, with the Centro Cultural de Belém and the new Coach Museum as its end pieces. The pink palace of the Portuguese President is yet another landmark worth visiting when exploring Belem, as are the Lisbon marina and restaurants on the streets and riverside. In addition, the Pastéis de Belém cafe, that is home to the famous custard tarts that are still made with the family’s ancient, secret recipe.
- 1 Belem Lisbon Tourist Tips
- 2 A Day In Belem Lisbon
- 3 Belem Lisbon Attractions | Things To Do In Belem Lisbon
- 3.1 Belem Tower
- 3.2 Belem Cultural Centre
- 3.3 Cultural Centre of Belem – MAAT
- 3.4 Belem Palace | Palácio de Belém
- 3.5 Discoveries Monument | Padrao Descobrimentos
- 3.6 Ajuda Palace
- 3.8 Ajuda Botanical Gardens | Jardim Botânico
- 3.9 Jeronimos Monastery
- 3.10 Coaches Museum
- 3.11 Tropical Garden | Jardim do Ultramar
- 3.12 Santo Amaro Docks
- 3.13 25 de Abril Bridge
- 4 Belem Lisbon Places To Eat
- 5 Where To Stay In Belem or Lisbon
Belem Lisbon Tourist Tips
Note: You can enter the majority of the sites below and use the tram and metro for FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Benefits of The Lisbon Card:
- Free travel: Unlimited free travel by bus, metro, tram and elevadores.
- Free entry: Visit Lisbon´s best museums and attractions free of charge.
- Deals & discounts: Save money on transport, attractions and tours.
- Free guidebook: Complimentary tourist guide full of helpful city info.
- Convenience: No need to buy separate tickets for each attraction.
- Free day trips: Free travel by train to Sintra and Cascais.
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A Day In Belem Lisbon
Belem is such a fantastic district to explore with plenty to see and do in a day when visiting Lisbon. If you cannot spend a whole day here I would highly recommend visiting Belem from early after visiting explore until sunet.
Belem Lisbon sunset is a Lisbon itinerary item on its own. There are boat tours that bring you by Belem that you can incorporate into your Belem day trip from Lisbon. Check out Get Your Guide tours in Lisbon as well as those coming to Belem as part of an overall tour. Another place for a great selection of Lisbon tours on Viator.
Belem Lisbon Attractions | Things To Do In Belem Lisbon
There are plenty of things to do in Lisbon that you will definitely need a couple of days to fully take it all in but for when you only have a few days to spare, below is a guide to this beautiful and an unmissble side of Lisbon.
Built in the XVIth century, on a small Island, the Tower defended the entry into Lisbon. Entrance to Belem Tower starts from the stairway in front of the Tower, at the basis of which is you will find the rhinoceros which was offered to King Manuel I.
The lowering of the water level left on the River Tagus has left Belem Tower on the river bank, which allows a better view of this city icon built in the manuelino style. The design shows of balconies of Venetian inspiration, gothic porches, Byzantine domes and varied Christian symbolism.
Belem Ticket Price: 6€; 3€ (students and > 65); Free for under 12s |FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Location: Avenida da India, Belem.
Opening Times: 10AM-5PM (Oct.-April), 10AM-6:30PM (May-Sept.), Closed Mondays
Belem Cultural Centre
The Belem Cultural Center was built to host Portugal’s presidency of the European Union in 1992. The building was also controversial for its striking modern architecture next to the historical Jeronimos Monastery.
It has since become the host of numerous international exhibitions (from photography to mixed-media installations), cultural events and congresses. For years it was also home to the Design Museum, but that space is now occupied by the Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
There is a terrace café and restaurant on the first floor (with a garden overlooking the river and the Discoveries Monument) is a great place to relax.
Location: Praça do Império in Belem
Opening Times: Daily; Ticket Office hours – 1PM-7:30PM
Presenting itself as a new cultural centre in the city of Lisbon, the MAAT and revamped to help revitalise the riverfront of Belém’s historic district. Substituting the Museum of Electricity in the building of a centennial Power Station, this new museum dedicated to contemporary art brings to the riverside artistic and cultural propositions to think the society we live in.
The top of this building is walkable and allows a new privileged view to the river. The contemporary art exhibitions occupy the two buildings, which have 4 galleries each and definitely worth a visit if not admiring the view from the top.
Prices: 5€ (Central, MAAT), 9€ (Central + MAAT), 50% discount for students 18 and over 65). Also free on 1Sundayday of the month.
Location: By the river banks a short walk from Abril Bridge.
Belem Palace | Palácio de Belém
Located among gardens on a gently sloped hill, Belém Palace has been the official residence of Portugal’s president since 1910. Originally was built in 1559. It still retains its richly furnished halls, carvings, tiles, and numerous works of art that are only open to the public on Saturdays. The Presidency Museum is part of the palace and can be visited every day apart from Mondays.
Location: Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Belém Lisbon
Opening Times: Palace – Saturdays only, 10am-5pm; Museum – 10am-6pm (Closed Mondays)
Discoveries Monument | Padrao Descobrimentos
Discoveries Monument sits across from Jeronimos Monastery. Built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the Navigator, the brain of the discoveries.
Inside you will find an exhibition space with temporary exhibits, and an elevator that takes visitors to the top for some bird’s-eye views of Belem and its monuments.
The pavement in front of the monument is decorated with a mosaic that was offered by the South African government in 1960, representing a compass with the map of the world charting the routes taken by the Portuguese explorers.
Price: 3 Adults, 2 Children and 8 Family Ticket | 30% Off with the Lisboa Card.
Location: Avenida de Brasilia, Belem
Opening Times: 10am-6pm (Closed Mondays)
An impressive palace filled with decadent pieces gifted from leaders from around the world and those “discoveries” from former colonies. The most impressive are the enormous Throne Room corresponding to the entire south wing, and the Dining Room and its crystal chandeliers, silk-covered chairs, and allegory of the birth of King João VI on the frescoed ceiling. At the main entrance are marble statues, each representing a certain attribute such as generosity and gratitude, and across from the façade is a monument dedicated to King Carlos and a church tower that is all that remains of the demolished Church of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda.
Price: FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Location: Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Belém District
Opening Times: Palace – Saturdays only, 10am-5pm; Museum – 10am-6pm (Closed Mondays)
Ajuda Botanical Gardens | Jardim Botânico
Ajuda Botanical Gardens are the oldest botanical garden in the country, laid out on two levels in 1768 as part of Ajuda Palace. The collection of plants grew to reach around 5000 species, but in 1808 the Napoleonic invaders took more than 1500 specimens to Paris.
Despite this loss, today there are still plants from several of Portugal’s former colonies, some centuries-old trees, and is still an elegant place, with statues and a marvelous Baroque fountain decorated with serpents, fish, sea horses, and mythical creatures. There are also some grand views over Belem, the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge.
Location: Calçada da Ajuda, Belem
Opening Times: 9AM-6PM (Closed Wed.)
Construction in the 1500s, after King Manuel I’s decision to build the centre for Saint Jerónimo Order in the area of Belém. Its a memorial to the Portuguese sea conquests and great example of the manuelino style of buildings.
Showing 315 meters façade, with a decoration of sea motives such as ropes and shells, which reveals the late gothic style with influences from the Renaissance. It’s the resting place of kings and poets (Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, Cardinal D. Henrique, King D. Sebastião, D. Manuel I, D. João III, among others), this monument was also also classified as UNESCO’S World Heritage in 1983.
Price: 10€; 5€ (over 65); free (under 12 and Sundays until 2:00 p.m.) | FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Opening Times: 10am-5pm (Oct.-April), 10am-6pm (May-Sept.) (Closed Mondays)
A richly-decorated 18th-century royal riding school that was part of Belem Palace, illustrating the ostentation and staggering wealth of the old Portuguese elite. One of Lisbon’s most visited sights, the Coaches Museum (“Museu Nacional dos Coches”) has the largest and most valuable collection of its type in the world.
Each carriage is more magnificent than the other, showing how artisans went to extraordinary lengths to make their vehicles stand out. There are plenty of wonderful examples that belonged to several European royal families, from Spain to England, including a 19th-century coach built in London last used by Queen Elizabeth II on a state visit.
Price: FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Location: Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Belém Area
Opening Times: 10AM-6PM (Closed Mondays)
Tropical Garden | Jardim do Ultramar
Tropical Garden Lisbon’s beautiful tropical garden is a charming that has maintained all the ponds, towering palm trees, and over 4000 species of tropical plants that it had when it was created in 1906. Also known as “Jardim do Ultramar,” and has rare tropical and subtropical trees and plants (many of them endangered species) from all over the world, such as dragon trees from the Canary and Madeira Islands and monkey puzzle trees from South America.
Location: Calçada do Galvão, Belem
Santo Amaro Docks
A cosmopolitan area with bars and restaurants. Located below 25 de Abril Bridge along the river in Alcantara between Baixa and Belem is one of the city’s most pleasant places for a drink in late afternoon and with a lively atmosphere at night. It overlooks a yachting marina that has been transformed into a multitude of cosmopolitan bars and restaurants. The best way to get here is by train from Cais do Sodré station, exiting at the Alcântara-Mar station and walk 4 minutes.
25 de Abril Bridge
Originally named after dictator Salazar, thr suspension bridge across the Tagus River changed its name after the revolution of April 25, 1974. It’s a spectacular sight from any direction, with an overall length of 2278m (approx. 1.5 miles), and the longest central span in Europe (1013m/3323ft), longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which it resembles. Its foundations also hold the world record by going 80m (262ft) below the riverbed to stand on basalt rock.
A museum and observation deck connected to one of the bridge’s pillars was added in 2017 (accessed next to the Vila Galé Opera Hotel), allowing visitors to know about the history and engineering behind the bridge while getting a view over the city from the top.
Price: Museum is FREE with the Lisboa Card.
Location: Close to Doca de Santo Amaro.
Belem Lisbon Places To Eat
Enoteca de Belém
Located near the Pastéis de Belém, in the Chapel Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the Enoteca of Bethlehem was opened in 2009 and stands out for its excellent quality/price ratio and the strong focus on range of table wines. A small and intimate space with a simple but sophisticated menu.
Espaço Espelho d’Água
Located by the river with modern and contemporary decor. Its attached to an art gallery. The cafeteria and restaurant sits on a terrace overlooking the river. The menu travels the world, from Portuguese cuisine to Brasilian, African and Asian.
The cafeteria of the Belém Cultural Center is based on the date of gastronomic cultures of the West and the East. The menu brings together Italian and Japanese cuisine tips, from experience gained in spaces such as the SushiCafé and the Casavostra. Thus, in This West so you can see the pizzaiolo to cook tasty pizzas from the wood-fired oven, as the sushi chef to prepare the best dishes on the teppan, the Japanese plate. Divided into three-cafe/bar, restaurant and terrace.
Varanda Azul Restaurant
The restaurant has n impressive variety of group menus with options from sushi to traditional Portuguese cuisine. Offering a great mix of choices in a great place to gather friends.
How To Get To Belem
Getting to Belem from Lisbon is fairly easy to get to. As we had already been in the city a few days and had got our bearings in Lisbon. You can easily take the bus or tram from Central Lisbon to Belem. The tram stop for Belem is very obvious being called “Belem-Jeronimos” and is right next to the Jeronimos monastery.
Note: You can ride Lisbon’s metro, buses, and trams for FREE with the Lisboa Card.
The unlimited public transport ticket for 24h costs €6.15. You can buy this from any metro station. You cannot buy this on the train. We had bought the Lisbon pass which included free transport in the city and entrance some of Lisbon’s cool tourist sights. If you are unable to get on the trams, as they can be really busy sometimes, then also consider taking the bus. Take number 728 bus as this passes through Praça do Comércio and Belem, on its way to Restelo. If you dont have the Lisbon 3 days pass then a single bus ticket will costs €1.85.
Where To Stay In Belem or Lisbon
There are some cool restaurants and hotels is Belem with plenty to see and do in the area. Belem is absolutely beautiful and if you are after a quiet spot in the city which also comes with amazing views and sights then definitely check out hotels in Belem on Booking.com otherwise I also have a guide on best places to stay in Lisbon.
If you are looking for an alternative to hotels, there are some pretty cool Airbnbs in Lisbon. Check out my guide on using Airbnb as well as how to get an Airbnb discount code. My guide also includes tips on the best places to stay in Lisbon so this may also be useful to help you choose which part of the city to stay in London. Also note there are amazing places to visit in Portugal beyond the capital. Check out this Alentejo travel guide by Fashion Edible.
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