Belem Walking Tour (Self Guided), Lisbon

Known as Santa Maria de Belém, Belem is a district of Lisbon located not far from the city center. It became famous as the departure point for renowned Portuguese explorers. It was here that Vasco da Gama set off for India. This small district has a lot of fascinating historic and cultural landmarks. Some of them, such as Torre de Belém, are iconic. Take this tour and enjoy Belem at its best.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Belem Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Belem Walking Tour
Guide Location: Portugal » Lisbon (See other walking tours in Lisbon)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Forte do Bom Sucesso
  • Belém Tower
  • Museum of Folk Arts
  • Monument to the Discoveries
  • Belém Cultural Center
  • Berardo Collection Museum
  • Navy Museum
  • National Archaeology Museum
  • Jerónimos Monastery
  • Ultramar Garden
  • Antiga Casa dos Pastéis de Belém
  • National Coach Museum
  • Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)
Forte do Bom Sucesso

1) Forte do Bom Sucesso

The Forte do Bom Sucesso is a fort that was once used to defend the city of Lisbon from enemies. It is located near the Tower of Belem and houses a small military museum and monument to Portuguese soldiers who served overseas.

The Forte do Bom Sucesso was constructed under the directions of General William of Velleree as a defense post and completed in 1782. The fort has been fitted with different types of artillery to strengthen its defense capabilities since its establishment. The ground floor has a tunnel that gives easy access to the beach of Good Success. In 1994, the monument to soldiers who served overseas was installed. The League of Combatants run a museum dedicated to the three branches of the armed forces within the fort.

The small museum has rooms filled with military memorabilia. The atmosphere in the museum is unique because visitors view exhibits inside a preserved military fort. The area dedicated to the Portuguese air force is inside a well preserved bunker under a wall that faces the sea. Beyond the courtyards at the back is a room with photographic displays about the overseas exploits of the Portuguese armed forces. There is also a valuable collection of military art and offices where official visitors are received.

Museum hours: 10:00-17:00
Belém Tower

2) Belém Tower (must see)

Belém Tower or the "Tower of St Vincent" is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. The structure was built from Lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and the 30 m (100 foot), four-storey tower. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.

Unless you arrive at a time of an unexpectedly short line, it's best to admire from the outside garden versus investing too much time in line to enter.
If you insist on getting inside, buy your ticket online or at a kiosk in the adjacent park – you will be able to bypass the lengthy queue.
If you have a Lisbon Card you must queue with everyone else (but at least you don't have to pay the entrance fee!).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museum of Folk Arts

3) Museum of Folk Arts

The Museum of Folk Arts displays arts and crafts made by artisans from different parts of Portugal. It has a large collection of folk art that was displayed at the Portuguese Popular Art Exhibition held in Geneva in 1935.

The Museum of Folk Arts opened for public viewing in 1948 displaying collection of art exhibits made in different provinces of Portugal. Many of the crafts have stood the test of time and the crafts have been handed down from generation to generation for over a hundred years. Before the establishment of the museum, the collections were displayed at many international exhibitions and at the, ‘People’s Section of Life’, at the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940.

The first building that housed the museum was designed by architect Veloso Reis for the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940. It was remodeled and expanded by Jorge Segurado in collaboration with ethnographer Francisco Martinez and artist Thomas Mello in 2003. Exhibits are arranged according to the regions they come from and also according to their utility. There is an impressive collection of agricultural implements, pastoral art, musical instruments, carts, furniture, textiles, costumes, ceramics from Minho, baskets from Trassos Montes, pottery from Alentejo and fishing implements from the Algarve.

Operation Hours: Sun - Fri: 10:00 - 12:30, Sat 14:00 - 20:00
Monument to the Discoveries

4) Monument to the Discoveries (must see)

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) is a monument that celebrates the Portuguese who took part in the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, of the 15th and 16th centuries. It is located on the estuary of the Tagus river in the Belém parish of Lisbon, where from ships once departed to the frequently unknown destinations.

The monument consists of a 52-meter-high slab of concrete carved into the shape of the prow of a ship. The side that faces away from the river features a carved sword that stretches the full height of the monument. It was designed by Portuguese artists, architect Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida, as a temporary beacon for the Portuguese World Fair held in 1940. The Monument to the Discoveries represents a romantic idealization of the Portuguese past that was typical during the regime of Salazar.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the great symbols of Lisbon and an impressive part of Portuguese history.

Brilliant views from the top observation deck (€5 fee). A good zoom is a must to capture the amazing panorama of the city: Tagus river, the 25 de Abril Bridge, the statue of Christ, Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery.
Don't forget to also take a look at the world map at the base of the monument. As one would expect, Portugal is at the center of the world!
Sight description based on wikipedia
Belém Cultural Center

5) Belém Cultural Center (must see)

Located in front of the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, the Belem Cultural Center is the largest building with facilities for events and cultural purposes in the country. It was built to accommodate the offices of the European Union when Portugal assumed presidency in 1992.

The Belem Cultural Center building was commissioned by the State Agency for Culture in 1988 and was completed in 1993. It was designed by Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti and Portuguese architect Manuel Salgado. The interiors were planned by Daciano Costa. It has three principal structures connected by structural blocks and courtyards. It won the International Stone Architecture Award at the Verona Fair in 1993.

The Belem Cultural Center covers an area of 6 hectares and a built up space of 97,000 square meters. It is connected by two inner streets and a pedestrian walk at the side. It is fitted with sophisticated equipment and other services and has specific spaces for different types of events. It has a conference center and has hosted important events like the summit meeting of the Heads of State of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a performing arts center and an exhibition center. The Berardo Museum of Contemporary Art forms part of the building.

Why You Should Visit:
Light, spacious and very airy, it makes many other major art galleries seem cramped and a bit confined in comparison.
The art collection is very unique and the temporary exhibitions are also worth a visit – and all that for free!
There is also a beautiful garden on the first floor with a great view to the Jerónimos Monastery.

Check the schedule if you want to join a workshop or go to an evening time concert here.

Ticket Office hours:
Daily: 1pm-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Berardo Collection Museum

6) Berardo Collection Museum (must see)

Over 500 artists from the 20th and 21st centuries are represented in this impressive repository of modern art. The permanent exhibits at The Berardo Museum are the collection by Portuguese millionaire, Jose Berardo, one of the biggest and richest Portuguese entrepreneurs and an avid art collector.

The museum is located at the Exhibition Center of the Centro Cultural de Belém and was inaugurated on June 25, 2007. Its present collection comprises over 1000 works of art on permanent display and temporary exhibitions.

The programming of the museum is guided by the rotation of various artistic movements that integrate the collection of works from the collection valued by the auction house Christie's at €316 million. The museum's collection is representative of the fine arts of the 20th century and early 21st century, especially European and American art. The collection covers major movements from surrealism to pop art, hyper-realism, minimalist art to conceptual art, presented in various media. It covers Portuguese modern and contemporary art in particular. There is also a museum shop where exhibition catalogs and books on contemporary art are available.

Why You Should Visit:
A good place to help you fathom the continuing enigma of modern art.
The exhibits are beautifully and imaginatively staged in an equally impressive building.
The lower floors contain nice temporary exhibits, and the upper floors contain a thorough trip through contemporary (mostly) European art history.

When you're ready for tea/coffee or lunch, visit the cafe in the adjacent conference centre, which is uncrowded and good value.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-7pm
Navy Museum

7) Navy Museum (must see)

This museum is dedicated to the maritime history of the best-known seafaring nation in the world. Portuguese seafarers not only discovered trade routes but were also the authors of the earliest form of globalization through world trade. It is a repository of the types of ships and boats developed by the Portuguese to help them make the historic voyages for which they were well known.

The Navy Museum of Lisbon is located in part of the Jeronimos Monastery. It is the most visited among Portuguese Museums. There are over 17,000 exhibits and a Mecca for lovers of boats, ships and maritime history. There is a large display covering two long halls dedicated to the 15th and 16th century, Age of Discovery that includes ship models that portray the evolving designs of Caravels developed under the directions of Henry the Navigator. The square sailed caravels were the ships that were used on the long voyages of discovery. The evolution of steamships is also on view.

The Navy Museum has a collection of fishing boats used by Portuguese fishermen in rivers and in the open sea. Another impressive collection is of Royal barges and sailboats used by the Royal family to sail on the River Tagus.

Why You Should Visit:
Wonderfully laid out & spacious museum with interesting and informative displays as well as useful English descriptions of most exhibits.
Highly recommended for those fond of ships, geography, discoveries, exploration and learning!
Free entry for everyone on the first Sunday of the month; affordable regular prices otherwise.
Usually not too busy and you don't have to queue to get in.

Make sure you have seen everything before entering the café/shop as you can't go back.
Don't miss the final pavilion with some unique full-size boats and the seaplane that crossed the Atlantic in 1922.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm (Oct-Mar); 10am-6pm (Apr-Sep)
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Archaeology Museum

8) National Archaeology Museum (must see)

The National Museum of Archaeology (Portuguese: Museu Nacional de Arqueologia) is the largest Archaeological museum in Portugal and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient art found in the Iberian Peninsula. Founded in 1893 by the archaeologist José Leite de Vasconcelos, the museum is located in the western wing of the Jeronimos Monastery where the monks had their dormitory. The museum is built in the neo-manueline style and was officially opened in 1906.

The museum's archive consists of Leite de Vasconcelos' initial collection and multiple others: either donated to the state, incorporated from other museums or the result of the extensive archaeological explorations carried out by the museum and its staff. The museum's archive boasts items from over 3.200 archaeological sites and covers over 500.000 years of the Iberian Peninsula's history. It has the biggest musicological collection of Roman mosaics in Portugal and an important collection of Portuguese and African ethnography.

The main nucleus of the collection consists of arcaica jewelry kept in the Treasures exhibition room, making one of the most important collections of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula. Of equal importance are the museum's collections of epigraphy, of which the collection from the Sanctuary of S. Miguel da Mota (from the Endovelicus period) is of particular importance, as are its Roman Mosaics a few of which are National Treasures of Portugal.

Buy a combined ticket to skip the line at the Jeronimos Monastery next door.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jerónimos Monastery

9) Jerónimos Monastery (must see)

The Jerónimos Monastery was built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s historic voyage to India and remains a symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth in the Age of Discovery. It was declared a World Heritage Monument by the UNESCO in 1983.

The monastery was built on the site of an old church where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent time in prayer before embarking on their historic voyage. It was built to thank the Virgin Mary for the success of the voyage and as a fitting tribute to the historic discovery of the sea route to India. It is the finest example of the Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. Construction began in 1501 and was completed in 1601. It was given to the order of St. Jerome whose duty was to pray for the King and give guidance to sailors who set out to discover sea routes and new lands to return with goods that would enrich the country.

Many great figures from Portuguese history are entombed in the monastery. The most prominent among the tombs are that of the great seafarer, Vasco da Gama whose body was brought from Kochi in India to be entombed here. It also has the tomb of poet Luis de Camoes who wrote the epic poem Lusiads that glorifies the exploits of Vasco da Gama during the Age of Discovery.

Why You Should Visit:
Unexpected beauty for a monastery; you could wander for hours just taking in all the elaborate decoration of the stone.
Even with lots of people, the monastery doesn't feel crowded, and there's an excellent display explaining everything both in Portuguese and English.

If you face the main entrance, the queue for tickets is on the LEFT. Better yet, purchase your 'joint' ticket at the Archaeological Museum nearby. It will cost you €2 more but avoids the usually long queue for the 'just the monastery' ticket as well as allowing access to the Archaeological Museum.

Opening Hours:
10am-5:30pm (last admission at 5pm) - October to May
10am-6:30pm (last admission at 6pm) - May to September
Closed: Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June, 25 December
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ultramar Garden

10) Ultramar Garden

Also known as the Overseas Agricultural Tropical Garden, Jardim do Ultramar is a pleasant park with lakes, waterfowl and peacocks that attracts surprisingly few visitors. It was established in the early twentieth century (January 25, 1906) by King Charles I as the research center of the Tropical Institute of Sciences. The focus of the garden is on trees and rare plants from the tropical and subtropical regions, many of which are endangered. Among the most interesting species here are the dragon trees, natives from the Canary Islands and Madeira, Araucaria, and a beautiful avenue of Washington palms. The oriental garden with ponds, bridges and hibiscus includes a large gate that represented Chinese Macao in the Portuguese World Exhibition held in 1940. The Museum of Tropical Research is situated in the Palace of the Counts of Calheta, an eighteenth-century mansion with an interior covered with tiles that date back three centuries.
Antiga Casa dos Pastéis de Belém

11) Antiga Casa dos Pastéis de Belém

It is believed that pastéis de nata were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém, in Lisbon: for this reason, they are alternately known as Pastéis de Belém. During Portuguese medieval history, the convents and monasteries of Portugal produced large quantities of eggs, whose egg-whites were in demand for starching of clothes (such as nuns' habits) and also in wineries (where they were used in the clearing of wines, such as Porto). It was quite common for these Portuguese monasteries and convents to produce many confections with the leftover egg yolks, resulting in a proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.

Following the expulsion of the religious orders, and later the closing of many of the convents and monasteries in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the production of pastéis de nata passed to the Casa Pastéis de Belém nearby. It was this association, with the parish of Santa Maria de Belém that resulted in its popular name: Pastéis de Belém, after the name of the area and its bakery. The former religious clerics, in order to keep producing the secret and distinct recipe, therefore patented and registered the confection, while contracting the Antiga Confeiteira de Belém, Lda. to produce pastries based on their original recipe. The secret was transmitted to five master pastry chefs who guarded this original recipe, under the Oficina do Segredo, which later passed into the hands of familial descendents.

Since 1837, locals and visitors to Lisbon have visited the bakery to purchase fresh from the oven pastéis, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Their popularity normally results in long lines at the take-away counters, in addition to waiting lines for sit-down service.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Coach Museum

12) National Coach Museum (must see)

The National Coach Museum (Portuguese: Museu Nacional dos Coches) has one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world and is one of the most visited museums in the city.

The museum was created in 1905 by Queen Amélia to house an extensive collection of carriages belonging to the Portuguese royal family and nobility. The collection gives a full picture of the development of carriages from the late 16th through the 19th centuries, with carriages made in Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria and England.

Among its rarest items is a late 16th/early 17th-century traveling coach used by King Philip II of Portugal (Philip III of Spain) to come from Spain to Portugal in 1619. There are also several pompous Baroque 18th-century carriages decorated with paintings and exuberant gilt woodwork, the most impressive of these being a ceremonial coach given by Pope Clement XI to King John V in 1715, and the three coaches of the Portuguese ambassador to Pope Clement XI, built in Rome in 1716.

The museum is housed in the old Horse Riding Arena of the Belém Palace, formerly a Royal Palace which is now the official residence of the President of Portugal. The Horse Riding Area was built after 1787 following the Neoclassical design of Italian architect Giacomo Azzolini. Several Portuguese artists decorated the interior of the building with paintings and tile (azulejo) panels. The inner arena is 50 m long and 17 m wide, and was used for training horses and for horse riding exhibitions and games, which could be watched from its balconies by the Portuguese royal family.

Why You Should Visit:
Definitely the best museum of its kind in the world – that so many coaches have been preserved, then restored and displayed so effectively is incredible.

Don't forget to drop by the older second building just a block away, also part of the Museum. The interior is worth the trip.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)

13) Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)

Located in the Belém district, MAAT is the youngest museum of Lisbon and the one dedicated to the contemporary art. It combines Art, Architecture and Technology in a single space inviting for debate, discovery, critical thinking and international dialogue.

Walking Tours in Lisbon, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Lisbon

Create Your Own Walk in Lisbon

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lisbon is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Alfama & Baixa Souvenir Shops

Alfama & Baixa Souvenir Shops

It would be a pity to leave Lisbon without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Lisbon, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit. Take this tour to explore Alfama and Baixa districts souvenir shops.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Alfama Walking Tour

Alfama Walking Tour

Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon, whose name derives from the Arabic “Al-hamma” and means "hot fountains" or "baths". The district is a home to numerous historic attractions, including former royal residence - the medieval São Jorge (Saint George) Castle, as well as numerous churches, of which the most prominent is Lisbon Cathedral, oldest in the city, and the Santa...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Central Lisbon Nightlife

Central Lisbon Nightlife

Lisbon is a great place for partying and is one of Europe's best clubbing cities. You can choose from the eighties hip-hop to hard rock, from dancing to house or to the tunes of a live band. The usual practice in Lisbon is to go pub hopping, have a fulfilling dinner and then move on to the dance floor. The club scene really starts around 2 am and continues until dawn. This guide introduces...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Lisbon Introduction Walk

Lisbon Introduction Walk

Lisbon is renowned for its architectural splendor presented in many of the old and modern buildings, as well as recognized cultural heritage carefully preserved in museums and art galleries. This tour will help you explore three most centrally located districts of Lisbon: Chiado, Baixa and Bairro Alto. These “bairros” or neighborhoods carry great historical, cultural and social significance...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Madragoa Nightlife

Madragoa Nightlife

Lisbon is a great place for partying and is one of Europe's best clubbing cities. You can choose from the eighties hip-hop to hard rock, from dancing to house or to the tunes of a live band. The usual practice in Lisbon is to go pub hopping, have a fulfilling dinner and then move on to the dance floor. The club scene really starts around 2 am and continues until dawn. This guide introduces...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Self-Guided Tour of Lisbon Museums

Self-Guided Tour of Lisbon Museums

As expected of any European capital city with a rich history, Lisbon has numerous museums. They offer excellent insight into the past and have a rich collection of art: sculpture and paintings. Among the many popular museums and galleries in Lisbon, some are quite unique and not to be missed. Take this tour to visit the most important museums in Lisbon.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Top 10 Cafes and Restaurants in Lisbon

Top 10 Cafes and Restaurants in Lisbon

Experience Lisbon as a local by enjoying typical Portuguese dishes at the best restaurants throughout the city at a price you can afford. Take away the overwhelming pressure of deciding where to eat in a city as dynamic and riveting as Lisbon by allowing this guide to suggest local restaurants with...
17 Uniquely Portuguese Things to Buy in Lisbon

17 Uniquely Portuguese Things to Buy in Lisbon

Formerly a major colonial power, Portugal has accumulated great knowledge in craftsmanship. While in Lisbon, you can treat yourself to a vast variety of quality things: wines, ceramics, jewellery, leather goods, books and many more. Most shops in Lisbon open at 9 or 10am, and close in the evening at...