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Best things to do in Belém

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Belém is one of the most visited areas in Lisbon and definitely not to be missed. Located on the shores of the Tagus River, it’s considered to be the Birthplace of the Discoveries because many navigators like the famous Vasco da Gama departed from here searching for a new route to India and the profits of the spice trade. We’ve made a list with the best things to do in Belém so you can enjoy the best of your visit.

Tower of Belém

This is probably the most famous monument in Portugal. The Tower of Belém was built in the early XVI century by King D. Manuel I to protect the entrance of the Tagus River but because of the incredible beautiful structure, also to impress visitors and show the power and wealthy of the Portuguese during the beginning of the Age of Discoveries.

The architecture style is very unique and it was known as the Portuguese Gothic but later historians named it “Manueline Style” (because of the king’s name). It’s a richly ornate architecture style, with sculptures and details related to maritime, nature and religious elements, carved in limestone. It has influences from different styles, such as Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Plateresque.

The Tower of Belém was named an UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983 and is one of the most visited sites in Portugal.

Entrance fee:

Adults: 6,00 euros

Children under 12 years old: Free

Students / +65 years old: 5,00 euros

Opening hours:

October to April from 10:00 to 17:30 (closed on Mondays)

May to September from 10:00 to 18:30 (closed on Mondays)

Monument to the Discoveries

This beautiful monument is 50 meters high and the biggest one in Portugal. It was originally built in 1940 for the Exposition of the Portuguese World but demolished after the event. It was so successful that the Portuguese Government decided to built a permanent version in 1960, to celebrate the 5th centenary of the death of Henry the Navigator, the father of the Discoveries (the first statue in the monument).

The monument was built in the shape of a caravel’s prowl and it has the statue of 33 personalities that were important for the Discoveries, including navigators, missionaries, kings, adventurers, cartographers and others.

In front of the monument, you’ll find the Compass Rose, a huge world map with all the places the Portuguese have arrived during the Age of Discoveries. You can also go up the monument and enjoy the fantastic view.

Entrance fee:

Adults: 6,00 euros

Children under 12 years old: Free

Young people (13 to 18 years old): 3,00

+65 years old: 5,00 euros

Opening hours:

Every day from 10:00 to 19:00 (last admission at 18:30)

Jerónimos Monastery

This massive monastery took 100 years to be ready and was idealized by king D. Manuel I. He wanted to be buried in the premises and the church became the mausoleum for his decedents. The monks living in the monastery should provide help and host sailors in need.

The massive structure was also built in Manueline Style and is considered to be one its finest examples. Nowadays, the Monastery host two museums, the Maritime Museum and the Archaeological Museum.

The church is one of the most beautiful ones in Europe, with its richly decorated pillars and ceiling. By the altar and on both sides, you’ll see the tombs of members of the Royal Family. At the back there are another two tombs. One belongs to Vasco da Gama, the most famous navigator in Portuguese history and the other belongs to Luís de Camões, the most famous Portuguese Poet, author of "Os Lusíadas", an epic poem about the Discoveries. They’re both considered to be the greatest Portuguese of all time.

The Jerónimos Monastery was also named an UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983.

Entrance fee:

The church is free of charge

Monastery cloister:

Adults: 10,00 euros

Children under 12 years old: Free

Students / +65 years old: 5,00 euros

Opening hours:

October to April from 10:00 to 17:00 (closed on Mondays)

May to September from 10:00 to 18:00 (closed on Mondays)

Last admission one hour before the closing time

Pastéis de Belém

This is probably the best reason to visit Belém, the original shop of the famous pastéis de nata and definitely, is not to be missed.

The monks living in the Jerónimos Monastery created the recipe and used to sell them in the area but in the 1830’s, the king of Portugal decided to close all the monasteries in Portuguese territory and the monks were homeless. They ended up selling the recipe to a local baker and he opened the Pastéis de Belém shop in 1837 and is still on business.

In high season, they sell more than 20.000 pastéis de nata a day so the long lines in front of the shop are a common sight. The place also offers more than 400 seats and is really well decorated with original tiles from the XIX century. You can also watch the preparation of the delicious pastries. We recommend going early in the morning to avoid the long lines.

Price for a pastel de nata: 1,15 euros

Opening hours:

Every day from 8:00 to 20:00

National Coaches Museum

This museum houses an unique collection of horse drawn carriages and is considered to be one of the best in the World, with vehicles dating from the XVII, XVIII and XIX century.

It was founded by Queen D. Amélia in 1905 to preserve the important collection of vehicles belonging to the Royal House and in 2015 was transferred to the current building.

Entrance fee:

Adults: 8,00 euros

Children under 12 years old: Free

Students / +65 years old: 4,00 euros

Opening time:

Tuesday to Sunday

From 10:00 to 13:00 (last admission at 12:00)

From 14:30 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:00)

If you are planning to visit all the sites, a good option is to buy the Lisboa Card. The 24 hours ticket costs 20,00 euros and gives you the right to visit Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém and the Coaches Museum free of charge. It also includes the usage of public transportation in Lisbon for 24 hours. For the Monument to the Discoveries, it gives a 1,20 discount.

How to get there: You have several options to get to Belém from downtown Lisbon. The fastest option is to take the train at Cais do Sodré Station and get off at the third stop (Belém).

Another option is to take the bus 728 or the tram 15 from Praça da Figueira or Praça do Comércio. It should take around 20 minutes to get to Belém.

Some other amazing places to visit in Belém are the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) and also the Palácio da Ajuda, a Royal Palace located 20 minutes walk from the area.

If you want to learn a bit more about those places and the Age of Discoveries, I'd recommend joining our fantastic Free Walking Tour around Belém, the birthplace of the Discoveries. We offer it several times a week and you can book directly on our website.


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