8 Lisbon Landmarks: A Self-Guided Tour
This guide will walk you through a few of the most important Lisbon landmarks, taking you from west to east in a logical flow. If you’re short on time, you can see all of these sights in one day. If you’ve got more than 1 day: take your time, wander aimlessly and create your own adventure!
From the banks of the Tagus River to the hilltops of the city center, the rich history of Lisbon is waiting to be told. And if there’s one thing the locals have done consistently well for centuries, it’s commemorate this history – and the most important people that defined it – with statues, monuments & parks that live through the ages. Follow this self-guided tour and explore 8 Lisbon landmarks that help tell the story of Portugal’s capital.
In this guide:
- Belém Tower
- Monument to the Discoveries
- 25 de Abril Bridge
- Amoreiras Plaza
- Park Eduardo VII
- Marquis of Pombal Square
- St. George’s Castle
- Commerce Square
- Dining options after a long day
Lisbon landmarks map
The total distance between these 8 landmarks is 8.5 miles (14 km) which makes for some great walks, if you have 2 or more days. The hop-on-hop-off tourist bus will save you time getting from place to place. Or, just hire a taxi or tuk-tuk.
travelhelix tip: if you plan on paying the entry fee at several landmarks, monuments or museums, purchase a flexible Lisbon Card. This will give you access to 23 museums across the city, at one flat rate. It’s available in 1-, 2-, or 3-day options, and includes unlimited tickets for public transport. You can pre-purchase the Lisbon Card online.
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8 Lisbon landmarks
1. Belém Tower
What better way to start your day than at the ceremonial gateway to Lisbon: Torre de Belém. Located on a tiny island just off the northern bank of the Tagus River, this 16th-century tower-fortress was designed to welcome friends traveling by boat, and defend the city against enemies. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site greets visitors with the type of rugged beauty that says “welcome to Lisbon!” (or if you’re a 16th-century pirate, “stay out of Lisbon!”).
practical info: check online for ticket prices and other practical information.
2. Monument to the Discoveries
The Madeira archipelago (settled in 1419) is considered the first official discovery of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Lisbon has paid tribute to this pivotal era in Portuguese history with the iconic Padrão dos Descobrimentos, located less than a mile east of Belém Tower.
The monument itself resembles the bow of a ship, carrying 33 famous Portuguese navigators, warriors & missionaries: 16 on each side – lining the steps leading upward – and at the forefront: Infante Dom Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator), the single most influential figure of the time.
You can choose to simply appreciate the monument from the outside, at no cost. Or, you can explore the inside – and make your way to the top – for a small fee.
practical info: the opening & closing hours change depending on the season, so check online for the current schedule.
3. 25 de Abril Bridge
Now that you’re fully inspired to discover, make like Prince Henry and navigate yourself further down the river. As you continue walking east along the water, you’ll approach the Ponte 25 de Abril. Known to some as the Golden Gate Bridge of Portugal, this red suspension bridge spans the Tagus River and connects Lisbon in the north with Almada in the south, by both car & train.
travelhelix trivia: the Ponte 25 de Abril is often associated with the Golden Gate Bridge. They even share the same color: International Orange. But – contrary to popular belief – they were NOT built by the same company. In fact, the Ponte 25 de Abril was built by the same company that built the Golden Gate Bridge’s neighbor to the east: the San Francisco BAY BRIDGE.
practical info: due to the bridge’s expansion from 4 lanes to 6 in the mid-90’s, pedestrian access is now forbidden. That is, unless you’re taking part in the Lisbon marathon, which marks the ONE day each year you can cross on foot. Thousands of people. Millions of selfies. Hope you’re not planning on breaking any world records!
The distance we’ve covered so far – from Belem Tower to the bridge – is just over 2 miles. You may choose to spend 3-4 hours in this area, exploring the tower, framing the perfect pic of you and Prince Henry, and enjoying breakfast or lunch at one of the cafés near the riverfront. Or – see it all in 45 minutes, and continue into the city toward our next stop.
4. Amoreiras Plaza
Named after the mulberry trees…that fed the silkworms…that made the silk…that drove the local silk industry in the 18th century, Amoreiras Plaza isn’t quite a historical landmark like the others we’ve covered. In fact, it’s a massive & modern shopping mall. Take the elevator to the top and you’ll be rewarded with Lisbon’s best 360° panoramic view. From this viewpoint – on a clear day – you’ll see every sight on this list.
getting there: the walk From Padrão dos Descobrimentos to Amoreiras Plaza is around 4 miles (6.5 km) and will take about an hour and a half. If you’re riding the tourist bus, it’ll take about 40 minutes, given the number of stops along the way. Or, grab a taxi and arrive in around 15 minutes.
practical info: the opening & closing hours change depending on the season, so make sure to look online ahead of time for the current schedule. A viewpoint ticket will cost between 0€-5€, depending on age.
5. Park Eduardo VII
Less than a mile from Amoreiras Plaza, you’ll find Lisbon’s largest – and one of its most recognizable – public parks: Parque Eduardo VII. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park and work your way up toward the top of the hill, where the world’s largest Portuguese flag proudly flies overhead. From there, take advantage of the perfect, downhill photo-worthy view of the entire park, with the Tagus River faintly visible off in the distance.
During our visit to the park, we happened to stumble upon Lisbon’s annual book fair, which lasts for several weeks between late May and early June. From what we observed, the vast majority of books on display & for sale were printed in Portuguese.
We decided our best move was to purchase something in the universal language: cold beer! As we sipped, we sat and observed the wonderful chaos that we didn’t know could exist within a book fair:
reflections from DnA: by far the most fascinating book fair experience of our lives! several hundred different tables, tents & kiosks…countless vendors selling books, magazines & snacks…authors & speakers giving public readings as small crowds of onlookers listened silently & intently…swarms of school-children of all ages enjoying their time outside the classroom, promptly breaking that silence with youthful innocence…and of course the noble teachers who bravely led the kids around, doing their best to keep their group organized within the chaos.
6. Marquis of Pombal Square
From Parque Eduardo VII, continue your journey back downhill (south… toward the river). In an instant, the park’s green tranquility quickly turns to metropolitan madness as you approach of one of Lisbon’s busiest roundabouts: Praça do Marquês de Pombal. The enormous statue that marks the center is a column dedicated to the 18th century Prime Minister Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo.
7. St. George’s Castle
Largely considered Lisbon’s #1 tourist attraction, Castelo de São Jorge is equal parts imposing, impressive and beautiful. Surrounded by gardens & ancillary buildings that – together – form a massive compound, this Moorish masterpiece dominates an entire hillside in Bairro Alfama and overlooks much of Lisbon’s historic city center.
While wandering the hilly streets of this area, be on the lookout for the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora and Lisbon Cathedral, which is the city’s oldest church.
confessions from DnA: unfortunately, we can’t offer you any of our own photos of the castle, as we found ourselves on the wrong end of a tuk-tuk traffic jam during one of the busiest nights of the year: free Fado music at the castle! But take our word for it: it’s beautiful, and absolutely worth the trip.
What we CAN offer you are some photos of the surrounding Alfama neighborhood just south of the castle, where we enjoyed a delicious meal at Pastel do Fado while soaking in our first live Fado experience.
8. Commerce Square
For centuries, Praça do Comércio served as a hub for artists, artisans, merchants & meal-seekers. Following the tragic Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the square was completely rebuilt. Today, it serves as a gathering place for locals & tourists to eat, shop, or take a waterfront stroll.
Depending on the time of day, Commerce Square may seem like a wide open concrete playground or a frenzied madhouse of tour groups and selfie sticks. Regardless of the environment, try to stop and relax for a moment – or an hour! – in Lisbon’s diverse & dynamic center of activity.
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Where to eat after a long day of Lisbon landmarks
It’s been a long day and you deserve a refreshing beverage and a good meal. During our 4 nights in Lisbon, our top 2 restaurants are both within walking distance of Commerce Square: da Prata 52 (5 minute walk) & Sacramento do Chiado (15 minute walk). Enjoy!
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Nice blog. I have been to Lisbon, but somehow never managed to write on it. You present a nice view of the city with those tips. Like it how you combine pictures with the paragraphs of texts. Just an honest review:
Your presentation would be perfect if you align the texts in ‘Justified’ mode and resize all the pictures to the same size (all landscapes same and all portraits same).
I try to do the same in my travel blog as well and have heard better review from my readers:
Would love to have your views on my travelogues. And please do like and follow if you like the content. I would love to do the same for yours as well. 🙂
Keep travelling and keep on blogging! 🙂
Thank you so much for the comment! Lisbon is a fantastic city. It’s never too late to write about it!We appreciate your feedback and will definitely check out your blog! Thanks again.