54 Rua Jau, Belém
Once the estate of a cocoa baron, the Pestana Palace has been converted into a hotel and brought back to its former glory, which greets you immediately in the form of an opulent stained glass entryway and the estate's surrounding tropical gardens. Guests get the royal experience here, free to lounge in the indoor and outdoor pools, or dine in the two restaurants that serve Portuguese cuisine with a French twist. While the grounds feel private a secluded, the hotel is near the center of town—it's just seven miles from the Lisbon airport, and close to all the famous monuments of the Belém District.
Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia
Av. Brasília, Belém
Situated right along the riverfront, the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) is one of the most recent additions to Lisbon's historic Belém District. Designed by the British architect Amanda Levete, the oval-shaped building is strikingly modern, allowing for individuals to walk along the top and take in the views; the new structure sits beside the Tejo Power Station, an older building that exemplifies Portuguese industrial architecture from the beginning of the 20th century and has housed a museum of electricity for many years. The schedule at MAAT is refreshingly eclectic, offering both standard contemporary art exhibitions and hybrid presentations that explore everything from music to performance art to the history (and future) of technology. Suitable for all ages.
Praça do Império, Belém
Halfway between the Tower of Belém and Jerónimo's Monastery in the heart of the city's Belém District, this museum houses the collection of Lisbon businessman José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, with a particular emphasis on Portugal's finest contemporary artists. The permanent collection contains the works of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, and Andy Warhol (which are always on view on the second floor), but they also organize rotating, temporary exhibitions that bring in works outside the collection. There's a lot for kids to enjoy, and admission is free.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Praça do Império, Belém
Secular since the 1800's, Jerónimos Monastery is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the incredible Manueline-style architecture, all done in limestone over the course of more than one hundred years. It's a required tourist destination because it's so photogenic (sculptures and intricate design elements are carved into every detail), but the grounds are enormous, so particularly if you come by on a weekday, you'll have plenty of moments to yourself. Photos: Paulo Valdivieso, Shadowgate
Pastéis de Belém
84-92 Rua Belém, Belém
No trip to Lisbon would be complete without a visit to its world-renowned confectionary shop, the Pastéis de Belem. The bakery serves delicate custard-filled tarts (pastel de nata) with a storied history: The recipe—conceived by the monks of Jeronimo's Monastery in 1837, and unchanged to this day—remains a carefully guarded secret, passed down from generation to generation, so you won't find them anywhere else. There may be a line, but it’s worth the wait—don’t forget to top it off with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Av. Brasília, Ala B, Belém
As a part of the Champalimaud Foundation’s medical science research center, Darwin’s Café shares the fabulous architecture and waterfront views of their new building. Mod leather seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and cool artwork (inspired by Charles Darwin's original drawings) look out onto the terrace, which takes full advantage of the location and panoramic scene. The food is great, too—be sure to try one of their inventive risottos.
Solar Dos Nunes
70 Rua dos Lusiadas, Belém
This cozy, rustic little spot has occupied a corner in Belém for years, with the same décor—the walls are packed with framed, edge-to-edge positive reviews and write-ups stacked above blue-and-white tiles. The fresh, gorgeous seafood is a good bet order-wise, and each meal starts with appetizers that the waiter brings to your table automatically (a huge benefit when you're exhausted and starving from a day of sight-seeing).
Torre de Belém
Av. Brasília, Belém
This 16th-century tower, one of the city's most iconic landmarks, sits along the Tagus river. While the four-story structure was originally built to defend the capital against invaders, it has also welcomed Portuguese sailors home since the age of the great explorers; now, you can wander through its sparse inner chambers (littles, especially, will have fun exploring) and drink in the stunning Moorish architecture.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
136 Av. da Índia, Belém
Locals weren't universally pleased when the long-standing Coach Museum moved from its beloved location in an 18th-century riding arena to a sleek, modern new building across the street last year. Though the new building brought much-needed space for the impressive collection, many worried that the stark surroundings served to sterilize the opulent gilded carriages on display. Despite the (ongoing) debate over the architecture, it's a mistake to skip this unique museum, devoted to transportation before cars. Inside, you'll find incredible carriages, cabriolets, and even some sedan chairs that housed Portuguese royalty dating back to the 1600's. Die-hards can visit the old riding arena across the street, which still houses a small collection.
You may also like