In this Portuguese city, travel back to times of global discovery. Tour this historic launch point for explorers seeking distant riches. 

Belém district defines Lisbon as a historic gateway for voyagers beginning quests for precious goods from distant lands. Hop on trams snaking through the area or walk the black-and-white tiled sidewalks known as calçadas. Belém means Bethlehem in Portuguese.

Lisbon’s history revolves around the ocean and the Tagus River, which runs past Belém. As you wander along the riverfront, notice the 25th of April Bridge. Arrive at a towering marble monument dedicated to Portugal’s seafaring importance. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument) shows the country’s principal Age of Discovery figure Dom Henrique leading notable people toward the ocean and distant shores.

Walk beyond the monument to a small castle along the riverbank. The Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) fortification defended the area from attacks by sea.

Go inland to the Jardim da Praça do Imperio (Imperial Square Garden). Admire the magnificent fountain at the center. Look across the park at the sprawling 16th-century Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, one of the city’s most visited sites. The monastery was erected with funds from the lucrative spice industry.

Also near the park is El Centro Cultural de Belém, housing the Coleção Museu Berardo, one of Lisbon’s finest museums. Travel beyond this popular area toward downtown and look for the large pink building surrounded by trees, Belém Palace, the residence of the country’s presidents.

A short distance farther is the Museo Nacional dos Coches (National Museum of Cars) with a collection of carriages used by European royalty and popes. Try Portugal’s national pastry, the pastel de nata, first made at the beautifully blue-tiled Pastéis de Belém bakery. Lines can be long but the custardy tarts are worth the wait.

Any visit to Lisbon must include Belém. Take the tram to this area quite easily. Alternatively ride the bus, which is often less crowded and not as likely to have pickpockets.

Top hotels in Belem

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
5 out of 5
Doca Do Bom Sucesso, Lisbon
£165
per night
9 Dec-10 Dec

Located in Belem, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. 25th of April Bridge is 1.9 mi (3 km) away. Lisbon Belem ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (304 reviews)

"Beautiful modern property in perfect walkable location to local museums and sites. View from our bedroom overlooked the marina and waterfront. Delicious full breakfast was included"…"

Reviewed on 29 Oct 2019

Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
Palácio do Governador
Palácio do Governador
5 out of 5
Rua Bartolomeu Dias, 117, Lisbon
£138
per night
6 Dec-7 Dec

Located in Belem, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. 25th of April Bridge is 2.1 mi (3.3 km) away. Lisbon Alges ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (267 reviews)

"Good overall. But the staff can use more attention for the customers. Front desk staff never cracked a smile or ask to help when our eyes met."…"

Reviewed on 8 Nov 2019

Palácio do Governador
Hotel Jerónimos 8
Hotel Jerónimos 8
4 out of 5
Rua Jeronimos, 8, Lisbon
£72
per night
23 Nov-24 Nov

Located in Belem, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Pasteis de Belem and Jeronimos Monastery. Belem Tower and 25th of April Bridge are also within ...

4.3/5Excellent! (352 reviews)

"The staff was very welcoming. Check in and check out we’re very easy."…"

Reviewed on 3 Nov 2019

Hotel Jerónimos 8
Pensão Setubalense
Pensão Setubalense
2 out of 5
Rua de Belem, 28, Lisbon
£65
per night
5 Dec-6 Dec

Located in Belem, this pension is within a 10-minute walk of Pasteis de Belem and Jeronimos Monastery. Belem Tower and 25th of April Bridge are also within 2 ...

4.2/5Very Good! (233 reviews)

"Clean, quiet place in cool location. Staff were very helpful and kind."…"

Reviewed on 12 Oct 2019

Pensão Setubalense
Geronimo Guest House Belém
Geronimo Guest House Belém
3 out of 5
R. 2 3, Lisbon, Lisboa
£94
per night
9 Dec-10 Dec

Located in Belem, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower. 25th of April Bridge and LxFactory are also within 2 mi (3 km). ...

5/5Exceptional! (6 reviews)

"VERY CLEAN. THOUGHTFUL DESIGN. WISH WE COULD'VE STAYED MORE THAN 1 NIGHT."…"

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2019

Geronimo Guest House Belém
Terrace Lisbon Hostel
Terrace Lisbon Hostel
2 out of 5
Rua dos Jeronimos 16, Lisbon

Located in Belem, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of Pasteis de Belem and Jeronimos Monastery. Belem Tower and 25th of April Bridge are also within 2 ...

4.1/5Very Good! (19 reviews)

"Gostei da localização do hostel e da sala de estar"…"

Reviewed on 9 Mar 2019

Terrace Lisbon Hostel

Popular things to do in Belem

Belem Tower
Image for Belem Tower

Belem Tower

4.5/5(690 reviews)

Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the northern bank of the Tagus River in the Belém district of Lisbon.

Jeronimos Monastery
Image for Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery

4.5/5(455 reviews)

See where monks once worshipped at this beautifully decorated monastery and where Lisbon’s famous custard-filled pastry is said to have been invented. 

Maritime Museum
Image for Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

3/5(1 review)

The Maritime Museum’s origins date all the way back to 1863, when King Louis, the only Portuguese ruler to command naval ships, issued a decree to create a collection of documents and artefacts dedicated to the recording of Portuguese maritime history.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Image for Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Ocean cities often have monuments of their seafaring history. Visit this monolith commemorating famous explorers engaged in Portugal’s marine efforts.

Pasteis de Belem
Image for Pasteis de Belem

Pasteis de Belem

Pasteis de Belém, also known as pasteis de nata, is a Portuguese crispy, flaky egg pastries served fresh from the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. The most famous ‘Pasteis de Belém’ are the ones from the original factory, located in Belém, next to Jeronimos Monastery.

Museum of Design
Image for Museum of Design

Museum of Design

Admire haute couture gowns worn by film stars and furniture made by some of the world’s most famous designers in this museum dedicated to fashion and design.

Top activities in Belem

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Tramcar Tours
Image for Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Tramcar Tours

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Tramcar Tours

£26

This open-top bus tour lets you easily explore the city by hopping on and off at a variety of main attractions like the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém, the Monument to the Discoveries and Parque das Nações.

Lisbon Belém - Sitway Tour
Image for Lisbon Belém - Sitway Tour

Lisbon Belém - Sitway Tour

£21

A perfect area to enjoy the river and the best the city has to offer combining it with history. Belém is known as the historic district of the Age of Discovery. It was from its waterfront that Vasco da Gama and other explorers departed for their voyages, events celebrated today by grand monuments and museums in the neighborhood.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Boat
Image for Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Boat

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Boat

£26

This 48-hour hop-on hop-off combined ticket allows you to see the best of Lisbon through two distinct perspectives. Board an open-top double-decker bus and enjoy 3 scenic and beautiful routes on the Modern Lisbon, Belém Lisbon and Monumental Belém bus tours.

Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour with Optional Bus Tour Combos
Image for Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour with Optional Bus Tour Combos

Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour with Optional Bus Tour Combos

£17

Uncover the best sights of Lisbon on a boat tour of the Tagus River. Discover the city's charms as you cruise along the waterfront, hopping off at any of the stops along the way to explore on your own.

The Best Lisbon Sunset Sailing Experience
Image for The Best Lisbon Sunset Sailing Experience

The Best Lisbon Sunset Sailing Experience

£33

Sail along Lisbon's stunning shores aboard a 5-star cruise, admiring Doca de Belém's historic sites and charming port. Watch the sunset from the deck and admire the way the golden orb casts its rays across beautiful beaches and dramatic cliffs, bordered by the cold, sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

Shared round trip between Lisbon and Costa da Caparica Beach.
Image for Shared round trip between Lisbon and Costa da Caparica Beach.

Shared round trip between Lisbon and Costa da Caparica Beach.

£18

PLEASE LET US KNOW EACH ONE IS THE BEST SCHEDULE FOR YOU 1st 10:00-10:30 AM 2nd 11:00-11:30 AM 3nd 13:00-14:00 PM 4th 15:00-15:30 PM Sunset 18:30-19:00 PM

Other areas in Lisbon District

Santos
Santos, Lisbon, Portugal
trover photo by Eva Johnson

Santos

Known for Romantic, Museums, Libraries

4.5/5(18 reviews)

Santos is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, covering the Alcantra, Lapa and Madragoa areas. It’s known for possessing the perfect blend of old-world charm and contemporary flair.

São Paulo
Lisbon District which includes interior views and markets as well as a large group of people

São Paulo

Known for Rivers, Architecture, Biking

If you're spending time in São Paulo, you might enjoy attractions like Mercado da Ribeira and Santa Catarina Viewpoint. You might also enjoy the neighbourhood's great bars before hopping on the metro at Cais do Sodre Metro Station to see more of the city.

Misericordia
Parliament showing street scenes, heritage architecture and a city

Misericordia

Known for Urban, Architecture, Bars

4.5/5(69 reviews)

The great bars and beautiful river views are just a few popular features of the neighbourhood. Make a stop by Mercado da Ribeira or Parliament (Sao Bento Palace) while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Cais do Sodre Metro Station to get around town.

Santa Catarina
Santa Catarina, Lisbon, Portugal
trover photo by Roxanne Bamboat / The Tiny Taster

Santa Catarina

Known for Sunsets, Urban, Bars

Santa Catarina is noteworthy for its bars, and you can make a stop at top attractions like Pharmacy Museum and Cardaes Convent.

Principe Real
Botanical Garden which includes a garden

Principe Real

Known for Gardens, Skyscrapers, Cafés

4.5/5(64 reviews)

Gardens and cafes are highlights of Principe Real. Make a stop by Botanical Garden or National Museum of Natural History while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Rato Station to get around town.

Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Portugal

Bairro Alto

Known for Urban, Bars, Cafés

4.5/5(139 reviews)

Travellers come to Bairro Alto for its lively bars, and you can see top attractions like Camoes Square and Santa Catarina Viewpoint while you're in town.