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.
Museums, Temples and Monuments
Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the northern bank of the Tagus River in the Belém district of Lisbon.
See where monks once worshipped at this beautifully decorated monastery and where Lisbon’s famous custard-filled pastry is said to have been invented.
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.
Ocean cities often have monuments of their seafaring history. Visit this monolith commemorating famous explorers engaged in Portugal’s marine efforts.
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.
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.
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.
Take three tours in a panoramic bus and one tour in a historical tram using just one ticket! The Tagus Bus tour, Olisipo Bus Tour and Belém bus Tour offers you unforgettable views 4 metres high over the city, passing through Belém, Baixa, Eduardo VII Park and Parque das Nações.
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.
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.
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.
Catch sight of bottlenose dolphins in the wild on this dolphin watching tour from Lisbon. Head from your hotel to the Sado Estuary, home to one of the largest populations of sedentary bottlenose dolphins in Europe.
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.
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.
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 is noteworthy for its bars, and you can make a stop at top attractions like Pharmacy Museum and Cardaes Convent.
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.
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.