High spirits in Lisbon: the best views in the Portuguese capital

The Portuguese capital, Lisbon is remarkably picturesque, draped across its seven hills and overlooking the wide blue expanse of the River Tagus (Tejo), with wonderful miradouros (viewpoints). Adding to Lisbon’s charm, you can travel cheaply and easily around the city by public transport.
Twilight cityscape at the Alfama District, Lisbon. Photo: Shutterstock
Twilight cityscape at the Alfama District, Lisbon. Photo: Shutterstock

A visit to the picturesque city of Lisbon gives you the opportunity to appreciate its magnificent viewpoints. Here are three of our favourite Lisbon views:


Alfama

For the visitor, one of the high points, literally and figuratively, is Castelo do São Jorge, perched on top of Lisbon’s loftiest hill. From its ramparts, the castle overlooks Lisbon’s oldest and most picturesque neighbourhood, Alfama. This working-class quarter, once home to the city’s elite, retains the labyrinthine layout of the Moors, as well as a remarkable village-like atmosphere.

On the edge of Alfama is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. From a pretty balcony covered with painted tiles and bougainvillea there are stunning views over a jumble of tiled roofs that cascade down to the river. Tourists mix with old men in black berets playing cards and chatting. Two detailed and dramatic azulejos (tile panels) on the wall facing the belvedere show Lisbon’s waterfront as it was before the Great Earthquake.

Lisbon, Portugal skyline at Sao Jorge Castle in the afternoon.Lisbon, Portugal skyline at Sao Jorge Castle in the afternoon. Photo: Shutterstock


Belém

To the west is the residential suburb of Belém, the city’s most monumental district. It proclaims Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery with the finest Manueline monuments. Its Torre de Belém, erected in 1515 to defend the entry to Lisbon is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. This fortress is one of the finest examples of Manueline architecture, with its battlements, corner turrets and repeated theme of the Cross in the stonework. After crossing the wooden bridge, climb several floors to a top-level terrace that looks out over the Tagus.


Lisbon's Belém Tower and Belém district, on the banks of the Tagus River.

Lisbon's Belém Tower and Belém district, on the banks of the Tagus River. Photo: Shutterstock  


Bairro Alto 

The upper city, the Bairro Alto, is reached by tram, lift or steep climb. We recommend the lift, or Elevador de Santa Justa, a 30m- (100ft-) high iron neo-Gothic lift built by Raúl Mesnier in 1902. Originally powered by steam, it was rebuilt in 1993. An upper gangway gives access to the Bairro Alto. Today the still-functioning lift takes people to the level just below the top, from where a spiral staircase leads up to the main observation deck with its pleasant café and sensational views of Lisbon’s tiled rooftops and the São Jorge castle.

Make sure you visit this area in the late afternoon. One of Lisbon’s quintessential neighbourhoods, it is home to much of the city’s nightlife, including fado houses, restaurants and bars. So take a chair, sit down and relax to the sound of the soulful Portuguese songs. 

 Lisbon's Glória Funicular climbing through the picturesque district of Bairro Alto.

Lisbon's Glória Funicular climbing through the picturesque district of Bairro Alto. Photo: Shutterstock 


Booking a trip to Lisbon: how to get started

Our local experts can help you with the planning and booking of your trip to Portugal. Simply get in touch, tell us when you'd like to go and what your interests are. We can create a holiday for you from scratch, taking in all of these unique viewpoints if you'd like! Alternatively, browse our existing trips to Portugal for some inspiration – remember they are fully customisable! 


Updated 1 November, 2018