The 5 Best Things To Do in Belem Lisbon Portugal by

The 5 Best Things To Do In Belem, Portugal

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Belem, Portugal is just four miles from the Lisbon city center. The serene riverside town is packed with charm and a boat load of history (pun intended). During the Age of Discovery, ships departed from the Belem district on the Tagus River to explore trade routes. It was during that time, when Portugal controlled the Spice Trade and the Indian Ocean, that many of the top Belem, Portugal attractions were built. The historic sights rank as some of the best things to do in Belem.


Things To Do In Belem, Portugal

Belem, Lisbon Portugal

Our recommendations of what to do in Belem, Lisbon include our favorite sights. We have added a link to a Belem map of sights at the end of the post. Also, Google Map links to each sight are also provided so that you can easily navigate to the Belem city attractions. Opening Hours are also included (which were current at the time of posting).


How To Get To Belem From Lisbon

Before we dive into Belem sightseeing, let’s chat about how to get from Lisbon to Belem. Tourists who visit Belem have ample options when it comes to getting to Belem from Lisbon, including by train, tram, boat or on foot. Our preferred method of transport is the Lisbon to Belem Tram because it stops just a short walk from our first recommended sight: Torre Belem Lisbon.

Lisbon Tram 15

From Praco do Comercio, hop on a westbound Tram 15 and ride 17 stops to the Largo da Princesa stop. The ride takes about 30 minutes. Tickets for the tram ride can be purchased from the driver (€3 cash) or paid via the Viva Viagem Transport Card (€1.30, plus the initial €.50 fee for the card, which can only be purchased in Metro stations). Find more information on the official Carris Website

This post includes heaps of information and advice on what to see in Belem. Save, Pin or Bookmark this Belem Guide so that you can easily access it during your trip to Portugal!


#1 Torre de Belem Lisbon (Belem Tower Lisbon, Portugal)

The Belem Tower, Torre de Belem, near Lisbon, Portugal

The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Torre de Belem, is one of the most iconic symbols of Portugal. Situated along the shoreline in the Tagus River, the stone fortress was built in the 16th century to provide protection to the city of Lisbon. The building is comprised of a large bastion and 4-story tower. Designed in the Manueline style (also called Portuguese late Gothic), the tower is one of the best – and last – examples of the extravagant architecture. In addition to its use as a defensive stronghold, the dungeon was used as a prison.

Visitors can go inside the Belem Tower to learn more about the history of the tower – and to take in the fabulous views from the top (just watch your head when walking up the stairs!). We recommend making Torre de Belem your first stop, as the line gets longer throughout the day (and especially long right after the cruise ship tour buses arrive!). If you also plan on visiting nearby Jeronimos Monastery (which we highly recommend, see #3!), buy the combo ticket so that you can skip the line at the monastery.

Top Tip: The views of the tower are more impressive than from the tower. For the best view, follow the shoreline a short distance to the west, where you will have views of the tower and Pont 25 de Abril bridge in the distance.

Opening Hours: Closed Mondays and some holidays (January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, June 13 and December 25). From October to May, open from 10:00am to 5:30pm (last admission 5:00pm); from May to September, open from 10:00am to 6:30pm (last admission 6:00pm). MAP


#2 Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)

Padrao dos Descobrimentos Monument to the Discoveries in Belem near Lisbon, Portugal

The 180-foot-tall monument, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, proudly stands on the bank of the Tagus River in Belem. The monument, which resembles the bow of a ship and features key figures of the Age of Exploration, marks the site where many boats began their journey to discover the world. The Monument to the Discoveries was built in 1960 – the year the marked 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The permanent structure is based on a temporary artwork displayed at the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition.

Inside the monument there is a small museum and access to the rooftop terrace. From the top, guests have 360-degree views of the Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Palace, April 25 Bridge and Tagus River. Tickets, which allow entry to the viewing platform and exhibition, are €6.

Top Tip: Don’t miss the beautiful tilework in the plaza in front of the monument. At the center is a large Compass Rose, made of red and black stones, as well as other stonework that includes nautical themes and sea routes.

Opening Hours: Closed Mondays from October to February and some holidays (January 1, May 1 and December 25). From October to February, open from 10:00am to 6:00pmpm (last admission 5:30pm); from May to September, open from 10:00am to 7:00pm (last admission 6:30pm). MAP


#3 Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monastery)

Jeronimos Monastery and fountain in Belem near Lisbon, Portugal

The magnificent Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 1500s, replacing a dilapidated church where explorers, such as Vasco da Gama, would pray before their expeditions. The purpose of the monastery was to house monks of the Order of Saint Jerome (who were to pray for the King and the sailors). Taxes imposed on new imports (from Africa and the Orient) were used to fund the project – and provided the means to create such a lavish building. Another fine example of Manueline architecture, the monastery was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Tickets are required to enter the monastery and cost €10. According to the official website, a combination ticket for €12 includes the monastery and Archaeological Museum, but not the Belem Tower. (If buying the combo ticket at Belem Tower, the €12 includes all three sites). In addition to the monastery, there is an on-site museum and church that visitors can see.

Top Tip: Visiting the attached Church of Santa Maria (marked by the elaborate south portal entrance) is free! Inside visitors will find the tomb of Vasco da Gama.

Opening Hours: Closed Mondays and some holidays (January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, June 13 and December 25). From October to May, open from 10:00am to 5:30pm (last admission 5:00pm); from May to September, open from 10:00am to 6:30pm (last admission 6:00pm). MAP


#4 Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

A Portuguese custard egg tart from Pasteis de Belem in Belem, Portugal

Creamy Portuguese egg tarts are a culinary masterpiece in Lisbon – and the best tarts are made at Pasteis de Belem. The historic pastry shop uses a secret, 200-year-old recipe handed down by the monks from the Jeronimos Monastery (who, some claim, created the egg tart). Since 1837, Pasteis de Belem has been crafting the sweet confections for visitors – and today tourists wait in long lines at the original shop for the delicious tarts.

Top Tip: Avoid the long take-away line and take a seat inside the café, where waitstaff will likely bring you a custard egg tart much quicker than by waiting in the queue.  

Opening Hours: Open Daily. From October 1 to June 30, open from 8:00am to 11:00pm (except on December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1 when they close at 7:00pm); from July 1 to September 30, open from 8:00am to 12midnight. MAP


#5 Tagus River Walk

Wide Riverside path extending from Belem to Lisbon, Portugal

The wide riverside path in Belem is one of the most scenic routes in the city! Lined with benches, the shoreline walkway is ideal for a leisurely stroll. In fact, the path extends all the way to the Lisbon city center allowing visitors to easily walk the 3 miles from Belem to Cais do Sodre.

Trekkers can even make stops along the way. The MAAT Museum is at the beginning of the walk – and even if not going inside, take the ramp up to the rooftop for incredible views! Closer to the Lisbon center are two other attractions: the Pilar 7 Bridge Experience an the LX Factory Market. Tip: Just past the museum is the ferry terminal where there are toilets that are free to use. MAP

Not up for a long walk? There are plenty of places to catch a tram or train along the way! We recommend walking east along the shoreline for about a mile, where you can then catch a train (from the train station) or tram (one street north) near Hospital Egas Moniz and ride the rest of the way back into the city. MAP

Top Tip: From Pasteis de Belem, walk south through the Jardim de Belem and then access the waterfront via the over-the-road pedestrian bridge at the Belem Train Station. MAP

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More Belem Things To Do

Above, we outlined the absolute best things to do in Belem, but visitors who want to spend an entire day in Belem can add these fun Belem Lisbon things to do to their list!

See the Belem Palace

The National Palace of Belem was built in the 17th century for royalty, but today it’s the residence of the Portuguese president. The best views of the palace are from Afonso de Albuquerque Square, which features a statue of the Second Governor of Portuguese India, for whom the square is named.

Take a Belem Boat Ride

For an inexpensive boat trip that features stunning views of Belem, hop on the Porto Brandao – Belem Ferry for a short ride across the Tagus River.

Top Tip: Tourist boats (which are more expensive) transport passengers via the river from Belem to Praca do Comercio.

Visit a Belem Museum

There are numerous museums in Belem. During our time in Belem the weather was too nice to be indoors! However, on rainy days visitors might enjoy visiting top-rated Belem museums like Museu Colecaso Berardo (contemporary art), the National Coach Museum (featuring royal coaches) or MAAT (the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology).

Top Tip: The Belem Beach, Alges Beach, is a small sandy spot along the riverside. However, it isn’t very clean, doesn’t have public restrooms and the views are not great. Our advice is to stick to the riverside walking path and other Belem attractions.


Looking for more Lisbon things to do? Check out our list of 10 Free Things To Do in Lisbon

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Tips For Your Day Trip To Belem From Lisbon

We have a few more tips for your Lisbon day trip to Belem, Portugal.


Visiting Belem, Lisbon Attractions

Anyone who wants to visit Belem, Lisbon likely wants to visit the sights…not just see them from the outside. Many Belem sights are closed on Mondays. Make sure to check schedules in advance if you want to visit the attractions. On the flip side, if you are content seeing the beautiful monuments from the outside, visiting on Mondays is ideal, as very few tourists take day trips to Belem on Mondays.


The Lisbon Card

The Lisbon Sightseeing Card can provide substantial savings for your Belem trip. Both the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are included with the card as well as other Belem, Portugal things to do, like the Coaches Museum and the Pilar 7 Bridge Experience). And, public transportation is also free with the card. The Lisbon Card can be purchased for 24, 48 or 72 hours and includes top Lisbon sights, too! Check to see if you can save money with the Lisbon sightseeing card here.

Top Tip: If using the Lisbon Card, request a combo ticket at Belem that includes the Jeronimos Monastery. That way, you can skip the long line at the monastery and walk straight in!

Plan Your Complete Lisbon Itinerary!

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Belem Tour

Interested in learning more about the history of Belem? Join a tour led by a professional guide on a 3-hour Belem walk. The guide offers insight into the history and attractions in Belem. Find out more about this highly-rated tour!


Where To Stay In Belem

On our very first trip to Lisbon, we decided to stay in Belem at the posh Altis Belem Hotel and Spa. The contemporary rooms at the 5-star hotel have floor-to-ceiling windows and small balconies offering incredible views. Located right on the river, the hotel features a rooftop pool, an excellent buffet breakfast and amazing spa facilities.

Take A Lisbon To Sintra Day Trip!

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Belem, Lisbon Map

Use this link to Google Maps for our Belem Portugal Map.


We want to know: What are your favorite things to do in Belem? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!


Are you also visiting Porto? Excellent! Be sure to read our Best Porto Itinerary before you go and get our top tips for Porto Food, Craft Beer in Porto and go on our Free Porto Walking Tour!


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