Lisbon, the sun-kissed capital of Portugal, is a treasure trove of enchanting locations, steeped in history and surrounded by incredible natural beauty. From serene botanical gardens, mesmerising viewpoints, to landmarks that echo with the stories of time, there's something for every kind of traveller in this vibrant city. In this blog post, we will embark on a curated journey through eight must-visit places in Lisbon that will leave you with a genuine taste of the city’s distinct allure.
1. Jardim Botânico d'Ajuda
Botanical gardens founded in the mid-18th century
These exquisite botanical gardens (Portugal’s first ever) were founded in the 1760s by the Marquis of Pombal and designed by the Italian botanist and naturalist Domingos Vandelli. The gardens were installed in the grounds of the Ajuda Palace and served to complement the traditional education of the Portuguese princes. The patchwork of flowerbeds includes 5,000 species of plant and the upper level at the north end offers a great view of the Tagus River.
2. Jardim Botânico de Lisboa
Botanical gardens designed in the mid-19th century
Long before these botanical gardens were founded in the mid-19th century, this area on Monte Olivete had a strong connection with the study of botany – for two centuries it had been home to a Jesuit college that taught the discipline. The gardens were planted in 1873 and were designed to complement the teaching and research of the Escola Politécnica de Lisboa (Lisbon Polytechnic School). Today, they serve as a green oasis in the heart of the busy city.
3. Miradouro das Portas do Sol
Large terrace overlooking the Alfama neighbourhood
Head up to this cobbled terrace and enjoy sweeping views of the city, its many picturesque terracotta roofs, and the River Tagus. The viewpoint’s name, which translates to ‘Gates of the Sun’, is a reference to the city gates that once stood nearby. At the centre of the terrace stands Saint Vincent, Lisbon’s patron, carrying in his left hand a ship with two crows – the same image that features on the city's coat of arms.
4. Miradouro de Graça
Peaceful terrace with excellent views of the city
The challenging uphill walk to this viewpoint is well worth it. A local favourite, the Miradouro de Graça’s tranquil terrace is flanked by the gracious Baroque Graça church and convent, and offers some of the best views of Lisbon. Get your camera ready!
5. Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcântara
Renowned viewpoint in the city centre
This is one of Lisbon’s largest and most famous miradouros (viewpoints), offering an incredible panorama of the city. From here you can admire the imposing Castelo de São Jorge, framed by a dense thicket of trees.
6. Miradouro Panorâmico de Monsanto
Abandoned restaurant with great views of Lisbon
Given there are plenty of viewpoints scattered around Lisbon’s hilly city centre, visiting Panorâmico de Monsanto may seem like an unnecessary journey. However, many locals believe its mountaintop location affords the very best views of the capital. The graffiti-covered structure was once a fine dining restaurant that was eventually abandoned in 2001 after a series of poor investment decisions.
7. Parque Eduardo VII
Lisbon’s principal park, named after a British king
In 1903, British King Edward VII embarked on a tour of Lisbon, Rome, Paris and Vienna. In order to commemorate his visit to the Portuguese capital, the city renamed this late-19th-century park in his honour – it had formerly been known as the Parque da Liberdade (Freedom Park). Today, the sloping green space includes neatly manicured hedges, a pavilion that was transported to and from Brazil for the 1922 International Exhibition held in Rio de Janeiro, and the Estufa Fría (Cold Greenhouse), packed with lush vegetation.
8. Ponte 25 de Abril
20th-century suspension bridge named after a famous revolution
Inaugurated as the Salazar Bridge in 1966, in honour of the dictator who commissioned it, this enormous crossing was eventually renamed following the Carnation Revolution (25th April 1974), which marked Portugal’s transition to democracy.
And there you have it: eight remarkable locations that unveil Lisbon's rich natural beauty and offer mesmerizing panoramas of the cityscape. From tranquil botanical gardens and sprawling city parks, to viewpoints that grant breath-taking vistas of Lisbon, these places allow every nature enthusiast, serenity seeker, and panorama lover to immerse themselves in the city's charm. However, remember that Lisbon's alluring natural offerings and vistas are just the tip of the iceberg. Pack your bags and get ready to uncover more of Lisbon's verdant secrets and enchanting landscapes. Safe travels, and may nature's bounty and captivating views be with you!