Self-Guided Tour of Lisbon Museums, Lisbon (Self Guided)

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.
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Self-Guided Tour of Lisbon Museums Map

Guide Name: Self-Guided Tour of Lisbon Museums
Guide Location: Portugal » Lisbon (See other walking tours in Lisbon)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Author: ann
Military Museum

1) Military Museum (must see)

One of the largest museums dedicated to military memorabilia in the world, Lisbon's Museu Militar tells the story of the exploits by the Portuguese armed forces. It has a large collection of artillery, arms, uniforms and military art.

The Military Museum is located on the site of a 16th century shipyard. It has the largest artillery collection in the world and was founded in 1851 by General Jose Baptista da Silva as an artillery museum. Other exhibits with military themes were added and from 1926, it got its present name. Until the early 20th century, the building was also a manufacturing unit for weaponry.

The Museu Militar has a large collection of guns, pistols and swords. Notable among them is a sword belonging to Vasco da Gama and a 14th century cannon. Many of the rooms have magnificent Baroque interiors, tiled mosaics portraying various exploits of the Portuguese military forces through the ages from the Christian defeat of the Moorish rulers till World War I and murals showing the historical voyage and discovery of the sea route to India. The first floor has many exhibits showing the services of the Portuguese armed forces as part of the allied forces in World War I.

Why You Should Visit:
Important not only for its military-themed exhibits, but also for the elaborately decorated rooms.
Surprises await you in each section, with numerous paintings, carvings and tapestry describing Portugal's history.
Ticket price is very reasonable and the route is quite easy to follow, with lots of exhibits you can touch along the way.

From 10 to 12:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings a martial arts club conducts training sessions for its members in European swordsmanship (two-handed swords, not fencing), in the museum's basement vaults. This is well-worth watching for people interested in martial arts, especially if one has any familiarity with fencing or kendo.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm
Fado Museum

2) Fado Museum

The Fado Museum is dedicated to the soulful songs called Fado that evolved in the City of Lisbon. It has a range of exhibits and displays that showcase a form of music that is unique to the city.

Fado evolved as a form of music unique to Lisbon in 1840. Although another form is sung in the city of Coimbra, the Lisbon version is the earliest and most popular. It evolved from songs sung by sailors that soon became a musical genre loved by the common man and sung by many famous Fado singers from Lisbon.

The Fado Museum is dedicated to the evolution of the form of music and the passion it evokes in Lisbon. It has audiovisual shows, multilingual information panels and a large archive of Fado music. The permanent collection is a journey through the history of the form of music including recordings of famous singers and instruments that accompany them. There is also a model Portuguese guitar workshop where a film shows visitors how a Portuguese guitar is made. A wax figure of a guitar maker and his tools is also found here. Visitors can also enjoy live performances at the small café at the museum or purchase a recording from the museum shop.

Operation hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00-18:00
Decorative Arts Museum

3) Decorative Arts Museum

The Decorative Arts Museum housed in an aristocratic home showcases the life of wealthy citizens of Lisbon in the 18th and 19th centuries. The building is a 17th century palace that was the city residence of the Count of Azurara.

The Decorative Arts Museum was purchased by Portuguese Banker, Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva whose family was one of the wealthiest in the country in 1947. He then converted it into a museum to house his vast collection. He donated the museum to the city in 1953. The interiors still have their original 17th century wooden floors, painted ceilings and mosaics of Azulejos, a typical Portuguese painted tin glazed form of tile work. Some Azulejos formed part of the palace while others were added while restoring the building to house the banker’s art and decorative objects collection.

The Decorative Arts Museum has tastefully arranged collections of Indo Portuguese, Portuguese, English and French furniture, a large collection of silver objects, faience tin glazed pottery, original Chinese porcelain, Flemish tapestry from the 16th and 18th centuries, an ancient grandfather clock and a horse drawn carriage. There are unique objects from almost every country ruled by the Portuguese when they were a colonial power.

Operation hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00-17:00
The Roman Theater Museum

4) The Roman Theater Museum

The Roman Theatre Museum has objects unearthed from a 1st century Roman Theatre built by the Emperor Augustus. The Roman Theatre Museum was first built as a small theater and was expanded in 57 AD. At this time it could seat 5000 spectators. During the middle ages it disappeared beneath the ground because of neglect and wind and soil erosion. After the 1755 earthquake, parts of the theater resurfaced resulting in renewed interest in the Roman past of Lisbon. Archeological excavations were undertaken and objects unearthed that form the permanent exhibits at the Museum.

The Museum has few exhibits including many columns, stone statues and a small collection of archeological finds. There is a statue of Silenus, the Greek God of wine making and drunkenness and an inscription probably created during its expansion in 57 AD about the dedication of the theater to the Roman Emperor Nero. The most interesting part for visitors is the installation of multilingual video and touch screens that tell the story of Lisbon under the Romans. Although the museum is small and the collection is minimal compared to many other Roman Archeological museums in Europe, it is well arranged and explained through multimedia displays.

Operation hours: Tue -Sun: 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 18:00
MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum

5) MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum (must see)

Editor's Note: The museum building is temporarily closed for works of integral rehabilitation. While the works take place they continue to develop a cultural and exhibition program in the city and in the country, that they call MUDE OUTSIDE.

"Mude" which means "change" in Portuguese is the name given to the Design and Fashion Museum in Lisbon that boasts an impressive collection of design & fashion classics from the 1930s to the present.

MUDE is located in the Palacio Verride, an 18th-century palace that later became a bank. The old vault of the bank that was installed nearly 80 years ago is still located in the basement. It became the Design and Fashion Museum in 2009. In keeping with its name, exhibits at MUDE keep changing with new themes and new design displays at different times.

The collection consists of works of over 230 designers from all over the world. A notable collection is that of Portuguese businessman, Francisco Capelo that includes 1200 dresses including the Jean Desses gown worn by Renée Zellweger to the 2001 Oscars and the 1947 New Look gown by Christian Dior. There is all an impressive collection of furnishings, jewelry and glass in addition to clothes. The underground vault and 2nd floor host temporary changing exhibitions while the ground floor has displays of experimental and iconic clothing, furnishings and household objects. Visitors can view the creations of some of the best-known names in the fashion business including Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Chiado Museum

6) Chiado Museum

The Chiado Museum is the National Gallery of Contemporary Art with a large permanent collection of works by modern Portuguese and international artists. It has exhibits from the middle of the 19th century to the present.

The Chiado Museum was first established in the building that was once the Convent of Saint Francis in 1911. It was closed in 1988 and redesigned by French architect Jean Michel Wilmotte so that objects could be placed in thematic order from the Romantic Age to the Modern. Most of the works are by 19th, 20th century and contemporary Portuguese artists and international pieces include 19th century French sculpture and works by Rodin. Notable works in the permanent collection are Rodin’s masterpiece called the Bronze Age, a self portrait by Portuguese artist, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro and art deco pieces by Almada Negreiros. Temporary exhibitions are held at the museum frequently including a recent one dedicated to politics and poetry in art with works from artists from around the world. The exhibition was accompanied by an art video presentation to help visitors understand the meaning behind the works displayed.

Chiado Museum has a small café that overlooks a serene garden and terrace with spectacular views over the city. The specialty of the café is Sunday brunch.

Operation hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00-17:30.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Marionette Museum

7) Marionette Museum

The Marionette Museum gives visitors a comprehensive view of the world of puppets and puppetry. It is an enjoyable museum for visitors of all ages and has an impressive collection of Portuguese and international puppets.

The Marionette Museum is housed in an eighteenth century building that was once the St. Bernardas Convent. The building was constructed after the 1755 earthquake in 1758. In 1834, religious orders were banned and the convent was closed. It was used as a school, cinema and concert hall. Later it the convent was converted into apartments for a short time. From 1998 it has housed the Marionette Museum, retail space and one of Lisbon’s famous restaurants.

The Marionette Museum has a large collection of Portuguese puppets. It also has exhibits relevant to Portuguese puppetry and puppet theaters. Visitors can see the different types of puppetry including shadow, oriental and mask puppetry. Figures of knights, princesses and devils that are typically used in Portuguese puppetry are on display. The museum also has a collection of marionettes and masks from all over the world especially from Indonesia, India, Italy, New Zealand and China. Puppet shows are frequently held to entertain young visitors and puppetry classes are also held at the museum.

Operation hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-18:00
National Museum of Ancient Art

8) National Museum of Ancient Art (must see)

The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (also known as MNAA) is the most important art museum in Portugal. It is located in the Palácio de Alvor-Pombal, a former palace of the Count of Alvor later purchased by the Marquis of Pombal. It is the best museum in which to learn about the development of Portuguese art prior to the early 19th century. The collections, especially those for the 15th and 16th centuries, are particularly important regarding the history of Portuguese painting, sculpture, and metalwork.

Why You Should Visit:
If you are into antiquities and love ebony and ivory, inlay and embroidery this is your place.
The cafe (on the lower level) is a nice place to take a break by a nice tranquil garden with spectacular views of the water & the city as its backdrop.

Probably best to start at the top and work your way down through the galleries.

Operation hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Oriental Museum

9) Oriental Museum

The Oriental Museum is dedicated to displaying Asian art and artifacts with a particular emphasis on Portugal as a colonial power in Asia. It houses the collection of the Oriental Foundation with objects brought by Portuguese ships from their many voyages to Asia.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to make commercial and cultural contact with Asia. Besides establishing colonies in India and China, they were also the first Europeans to sail to Japan. The Portuguese took with them plants and weapons to trade with Asians and members of the Society of Jesus who accompanied the fleet attempted to convert Asians to Christianity. They returned with spices, silks and artifacts.

The oriental museum displays exhibits on two floors of a seven storey building that was once a warehouse. It was opened to the public in 2006. The rest of the building is used for research, seminars and conferences. There is also a 360 seat auditorium where Asian music recitals are held and a café serving Asian cuisine. The first floor has items and paintings brought back by Portuguese fleets. The second floor has an exhibition of idols of Gods worshipped in different parts of Asia. There is also a large collection of Japanese Samurai weaponry displayed at the museum.

Operation hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00-18.00; Friday: 10.00-22.00 (Free entry from 18.00 to 22.00).

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
Parque das Nacoes Walking Tour

Parque das Nacoes Walking Tour

Parque das Nações, often referred to by locals as “Expo”, is a commercial and residential area in Lisbon which gained popularity and underwent tremendous transformation in the late 1990s as a site of the World Expo 1998. Many attractions were built here during that time, including the Oceanarium (the world's biggest), Science Museum, Vasco da Gama Tower, Vasco da Gama Bridge and others....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

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
Belem Walking Tour

Belem Walking Tour

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.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Amoreiras Walking Tour

Amoreiras Walking Tour

Amoreiras is a modern comfortable and beautiful Lisbon District, located in the north-western part of the city. Take this tour to walk along the Rue das Amoreiras and enjoy the bairro sites and attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...
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...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Lisbon for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Lisbon has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Lisbon and visiting the city's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the Lisbon City Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows bearer to explore all of Lisbon's top attractions (cathedrals, castles, palaces, museums, monuments and other places of interest), both in and around the city, either for free (28 sights) or with great (up to 50%) discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour passes to all these locations, plus free ride on public transportation including trams, buses, and regional trains to Cascais and Sintra. Very convenient!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Lisbon hotels that are conveniently located: Hotel O Artista, Rossio Boutique Hotel, Internacional Design Hotel.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Lisbon, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close, with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Lisbon typically costs from around US$35 up to US$80 per person:

- Explore Lisbon Highlights on a walking tour revealing the unique side of the Portuguese capital, be it a gorgeous building, historic event, colorful street, picturesque square, or a quaint little shop or cafe serving delicious local food and wine, or perhaps a spot with a breathtaking panorama of the city.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts around 2 hours and allows you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way up and down Lisbon's 7 hills on an electrical bike tour visiting the city’s best historic landmarks and hidden spots, learning about its curiosities, and reaching the highest spots for the most scenic views of the Portuguese capital. Definitely more than “just another bike tour”!

- Treat yourself to the most delicious experience on a food tour exploring the top delicacies of Lisbon - authentic local must-try bites and traditional drinks - visiting memorable spots for a perfect tasting and insight into the Portuguese lifestyle and eating habits.

- Immerse yourself in Lisbon’s heritage on a 7-hour driven tour around the city’s oldest quarter, Alfama, exploring the famous local monuments and discovering the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower. On this tour you will also get a chance to see modern Lisbon complete with a scenic cable car ride, plus indulge in a delicious local meal (optional). If you have little time in the city, this tour will make you feel like you've seen a lot!

- Sail around Lisbon for a different perspective of the city that very few people actually get to see, on a boat tour. Apart from enjoying spectacular views of Lisbon's famous seaside monuments, you will get a chance to do a bit of yachting (steering the boat) or just laze around on the deck enjoying champagne, homemade snacks and other refreshments, while hearing interesting historical facts about this fascinating city.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Lisbon, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Sintra, Évora, or a combo of Aveiro and Coimbra, or Mafra and Ericeira. For as little as US$100+ to US$250+ you will get a chance to visit some of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal including remarkable 19th century pieces of Romanticism architecture, one of Portugal’s most iconic villages (UNESCO World Heritage site), have a gondola ride in Portuguese “Venice”, and enjoy an authentic Portuguese lunch at restaurant (optional). All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.