Lisbon in a day
- take a tram ride
- try a pastel de Belém
You can see the key points in the Portuguese capital in one day – museums, monuments and views that are an eyeful.
Start with a view from the top. From the walls of the São Jorge Castle, you can take in the whole city, the hills, the Tagus, the rooftops. Lisbon is revealed at its most serene from the top of this stronghold conquered from the Moors in 1147 by the first Portuguese King.
Walking down the hillside, you can take Tram 28 at the Portas do Sol viewpoint, and stop off at the Romanesque Cathedral, located on the former site of a mosque. Besides the church, you can also visit the Museu do Tesouro (Treasury Museum) and the cloisters. Getting back on tram 28, you arrive at the city centre, which you can see on foot. Walking up to Chiado it’s time for lunch. Whether in a pavement terrace or a more refined restaurant, the choice is wide and varied.
In the afternoon, follow the sun, heading west. Set aside some time to visit the National Museum of Ancient Art, one of the most important in the country, with a remarkable collection of sculpture, jewellery and Portuguese and European painting from the 14th to the 19th centuries, the highlight of which are the Painéis de São Vicente (St. Vincent Panels). The museum tour continues to Belém, to the Coach Museum, to see a collection that is unique in the world and includes carriages used by both the Portuguese and European courts.
Next on the tour is the imposing Jerónimos Monastery. Listed as World Heritage since 1983, it is a real book of stone on the golden period in Portugal’s History. After admiring the south portal in detail, it is worth visiting the cloisters and the church where Luís de Camões and Vasco da Gama are buried.
On the western edge of Praça do Império, an imposing modern building will attract your attention. This is the Belém Cultural Centre, a powerful fixture in the city’s cultural scene, with an interesting programme of cultural events. This is where the Berardo Museum is housed, with its collection of contemporary art.
To finish your day in the setting sun, pay a visit to the Belém Tower, a fortress erected in the 16th century with the aim of defending the entrance to the Tagus from sea attacks – although its elaborate decoration makes it look more like a textbook on Manueline style than a military structure.
Your tour may end at Belém or, returning to the historic centre, at Bairro Alto, one of the city’s liveliest districts, with a good choice of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.