Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and one of the most powerful cultural and economical centers in Europe. Being one of the oldest cities in the world and nestled into a picturesque postcard setting, Lisbon definitely has something to offer every visitor: from ancient monuments to gardens full of lush vegetation and from vibrant nightlife with the common bar hopping to excellent options of practicing water sports. Being a capital with a very affordable standard of living, Lisbon is very friendly and popular among students and tourists with low budget. The hotels in Lisbon are very good; you will find very easy a hotel to your liking no matter the purpose of your visit.
Lisbon itself is very compact and well arranged and you will easily get around the city, but the great array of tourist attractions in Lisbon can give you headaches. Lisbon is full of museums, galleries, exhibitions, narrow cobbled streets and winding roads filled with cafes, parks and great places to eat.
Find below top 10 tourist attractions in Lisbon you shouldn’t miss.
Jeronimos Monastery is one of the oldest architectural monuments in Lisbon and the greatest architecture of Portugal during the Age of Discovery. Known as the Hieronymites Monastery, Jeronimos Monastery was founded in 1501 and is one of the finest examples of Manueline style, however you can observe here the Gothic, Moorish and early Renaissance styles as well. In 1983, it was inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List. The south portal is overseen by Henry the Navigator and represents the main entrance of the monastic church. Here are buried several members of the Portuguese royalty including King Manuel I, Vasco de Gama and poet Fernando Pessoa.
Belem Tower or Torre de Belem is the visit card of Lisbon. Located at the entrance of the River Tejo, Belem Tower is built in Manueline style - a Portugese late-gothic style characterized by a rich and often fantastical use of ornamentation. It is mainly about incorporating maritime elements and symbols of discoveries by the famous voyagers Vasco de Gama and Pedro Cabral. The tower has four stories and a hexagonal ground plan. The main façade faces the sea. On the walls visitors can admire beautiful firearms embrasures positioned so that they seem to be ready to fire against enemies any time. Since 1983 Belem Tower is part of UNESCO World Heritage.
3St. George Castle
St. George Castle is a strongly fortified citadel occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the capital city of Lisbon and the River Tejo. Due to this strategic location, the castle is seen from almost everywhere in the city. St. George Castle or the Castle of São Jorge is built in Moorish style and dates back from the medieval period. It served as a royal residence until 1147 when Afonso Henriques – the first king of Portugal - captured it with the help of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was called in honor of St. George, the patron saint of England and became the royal palace until another one was built in today's Comercio Square.
4Sao Roque Church
Sao Roque Church is the oldest Jesuit churches in Portugal and one of the oldest in the whole world. It was built in the 16th century and boasts one of the city's richest interiors. The church has several chapels most in the Baroque style of the early 17th century, but the most spectacular is the Chapel of St. John the Baptist built in the 18th century. This chapel was designed by Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli and is the most expensive chapel in the world. While the interior is rich, the exterior is extremely sober; once you enter through the central portico, you'll be welcomed by an abundance of marble and gilded sculptures, large paintings, gilded woodwork, azulejos and precious relics. The wooden ceiling is richly painted with religious scenes and trompe l'oeil domes.
5Monument to the Discoveries
Monument to the Discoveries is located on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary, at the marina in Belém, the starting point for many of Portugal’s explorers. It was built to celebrate the Portuguese Age of Discovery (15th-16th centuries). The monument to the Discoveries is 52 meters tall and represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart. It is decorated with more than 30 statues of people who played an important role in the discoveries including King Manuel I, poet Camões, Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Cabral. Inside is an exhibition space with temporary exhibits, an interesting film about the city of Lisbon, and an elevator that takes visitors to the top; here you can admire panoramic views over the city and river, and spot some beautiful birds.
6Belem Cultural Centre
Belem Cultural Centre is a vast building constructed next to the Jeronimos Monastery in a very modern style. It hosts numerous cultural, political and economical events. It is 149,000m² and boasts the title of the largest building in Portugal. Originally it was built to accommodate the Portugal's presidency of the European Union in 1992, but adapted to provide spaces for conferences, exhibitions and artistic venues (such as opera, ballet and symphony concerts), in addition to political and research congresses, high security meeting halls, and a 7,000 m² exhibition area.
7Ajuda Botanical Gardens
Ajuda Botanical Gardens is another top tourist attraction in Lisbon; it boast the title of the oldest gardens in Portugal and in Europe. It was built in 1768 in Baroque style at the order of King D. Jose. It was the place where his grand children learned about various collections of plants (over 5,000 specimens) from Asia, America and Africa. The lower, bottom terrace, has an Italianesque layout with a geometric pattern of paths and long hedges of boxwood arranged around flower beds. There are also a lot of trees providing shade. At the center of the lower level can be found the Fountain of the Forty Spouts – a monumental fountain dating back to the 18th century.
8Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is located within a landscaped park and is an outstanding museum that displays art from 2000BC to the early 20th century. It was built at the wish of Calouste Gulbenkian as a place where he could accommodate his art collection. Here can be admired spectacular exhibits belonging to Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian and European art. The art, which ranges from tapestry, ceramics, jewelry and glassware to paintings, sculpture and furniture is displayed in spacious well lighted rooms and divided into two circuits. The first one is devoted to Egyptian art and the second - European art, with an emphasis on French decorative arts.
Bairro Alto is a district located in the centre of Lisbon. The architecture is represented by rectangular or orthogonal blocks with a proportion of two lots wide by six or eight lots in length, with many of the length dimensions accompanying the roads, while the shorter dimensions following the lanes. During the day this district is quiet, but during the night it transforms into the city’s vibrant nightlife quarter. Here you will find a lot of restaurants serving traditional and international cuisine, bars, cafes and alternative shops that stay open until late at night.
Chiado is perfect for shopaholics. There are numerous shops, boutiques selling well known brands such as Hugo Boss, Vista Alegre, Tony & Guy, Benetton, Sisley, Pepe Jeans, Levi’s and Colcci. Bargains also can be found here. The area is also teeming with cafés, restaurants, bookshops and a dedicated shopping area “Armazéns do Chiado”.