If you don’t have time to visit all of Lisbon’s monuments, we have selected our top 10 monuments that we urge you see.
It was hard to pick just 10, but these monuments were chosen specifically for their historical significance and their WOW factor.
There are so many things to see in this beautiful city, let us break it down for you so you can fit it all in on your visit to Lisbon.
All of these can be seen in a day or two because Lisbon is not a big city and it is easy to get around. If you have time, you can split these up into their three main locations: Downtown, Alfama neighbourhood and Belém.
Lisbon has a long history and lots to show for it
Set across seven hills overlooking the Tagus river, Lisbon’s character and charm has much to do with its rich heritage and cultural mutation. The city was originally inhabited by the Celtic people then, later, the Roman empire, the Moors and then finally it became the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal in 1139, when Alfonso Henriques was named the country’s first King.
There are plenty of monuments to be spotted while touring the city streets or strolling along the riverside thanks to Lisbon’s long history. And, with blue skies and the sun in the sky, they all make great photo opportunities!
Top 10 monuments in Lisbon
Let’s start in the heart of the city centre.
1. Rossio Station (“Estação de Rossio”)
Rossio Station isn’t just any regular train station, it is actually one of the most intricately designed railway stations in Europe. This gorgeous station was built in the late 19th century by the Portuguese Royal Railway Company to connect the cities of Lisbon and Sintra. The tunnel through which the trains must pass in order to arrive at the station was, at the time in the 19th century, deemed a marvel of engineering. The building’s striking façade reflects a mix of Romantic and neo-Gothic elements. The two horseshoe-shaped arches that define the entrance and the outside clock are emblematic of the station.
2. Santa Justa Lift (“Elevador Santa Justa”)
Right in the downtown area of the city centre is the Santa Justa Lift, an elevator connecting Ouro Street in Baixa to the Carmo Square (“Largo do Carmo”) near Bairro Alto. The monument was built at the end of the 19th century by engineer, Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, who envisioned this structure as a futuristic monument for the people of Lisbon. At the top of the lift is a staircase that takes you to a magnificent viewpoint with fantastic views of the city.
Insider’s tip: to avoid the long queues and fee, you can find a very similar viewpoint by first accessing the top area of the lifts through the bridge linking to Carmo Convent.
Summer (March to October): 7 am to 11 pm every day.
Winter (November to February): 7 am to 9 pm every day.
3. Rua Augusta Arch (“Arco da Rua Augusta”)
As the largest square in Lisbon and in Europe, it is hard to walk around the city and miss the Praça do Comércio. Here you will find the Arco da Rua Augusta, a monument built to mark the reconstruction of the city following the 1755 earthquake. At the top of the arch, you will find a terrace viewpoint, where you can spy on the city’s main pedestrian activity to one side and the Tagus River to another.
Opening hours: 9 am to 8 pm daily.
Now, look up to the east of the city. See the castle on the hill?
4. São Jorge Castle (“Castelo de São Jorge”)
Sitting atop one of the city’s seven hills and overlooking Lisbon is one of the most popular attractions: São Jorge Castle. Archaeological research indicates that the site dates back as far back as the 2nd century BC! Its not just the historical importance that attracts visitors, its also the beautiful gardens inside and of course the stunning views of the city.
Admission: €8.50 for an adult
Opening hours: November to February: 9 am to 6 pm daily.
March to October: 9 am to 9 pm daily.
Want to skip the line at the ticket office and get a 15 minute introduction to the castle? Our good friends at Get Your Guide have the right deal for you then.
And heading down the hill we get to…
5. Lisbon Cathedral (“Sé de Lisboa”)
In the heart of the city’s Castelo district and nearby the historical Alfama neighbourhood, you will stumble upon Lisbon’s fortified Romanesque cathedral (website in Portuguese). Commissioned by Alfonso Henriques in 1147, the building has undergone several renovations following the 1755 earthquake that almost completely destroyed the cathedral. The structure we see today is a blend of architectural styles. The standout features are the twin bell towers that stand out against the city skyline; the Gothic influence inside and the Moorish foundations.
Admission: Free for the main cathedral; entrance to the cloisters is €2.50 for an adult.
Opening hours: 7 am to 7 pm every day.
We can recommend taking a three-hour walking tour through Alfama including a visit to the Lisbon Cathedral with our friends at Get Your Guide.
6. National Pantheon (“Panteão Nacional”)
Inside the Church of Santa Engrácia (“Igreja de Santa Engrácia”), in the Alfama neighbourhoos, you will find the National Pantheon (website in Portuguese). The large and impressive church honours many of Portugal’s historic figures including, previous presidents, navigators, poets, authors and artists. If you visit the pantheon on a Tuesday or Saturday you may find a bargain at the nearby flea market (“Feira da Ladra”).
Admission: €4 but Free on Sunday mornings and national holidays.
Opening hours: October to March: 10 am to 5 pm daily.
April to September: 10 am to 6 pm daily.
Now, let’s travel slightly west of the city centre to Belém.
7. Belém Tower (“Torre de Belém”)
By the Tagus River in Belém is another representation of the Maneuline style of architecture: Belém Tower. The building is a fortified tower that was originally constructed in the middle of the Tagus River. As sea levels changed, the tower eventually united with the land. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
Admission: €6 for adults.
Opening hours: October to May: 10 am to 5.30 pm.
June to September: 10 am to 6.30 pm.
8. Monument to the Discoveries (“Padrão dos Descobrimentos”)
Another of Belém’s iconic sites, the Monument to the Discoveries, was erected to honour the country’s dominant figures of the discovery age. Henry the Navigator stands alongside Kings, Queens, explorers, artists, scientists, cartographers and missionaries, whose deeds granted them a place in Portugal’s history books. In front of the monument you will also find a world map that indicates where and when the Portuguese sailors were successful at reaching a certain point or conquering a new place.
Admission: €6 for adults.
Opening hours: March to September: 10 am to 7 pm daily.
October to February: 10 am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
9. Jerónimos Monastery (“Mosteiro dos Jerónimos”)
Set in the beautiful, historical centre of Belém facing the Tagus River, you will find Jerónimos Monastery. The impressive monastery has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983 and is the city’s greatest symbol of the Portuguese late-gothic Manueline style of architecture. The building was commissioned by King Manuel in 1501, to honour the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, and his successful voyage to India . His tomb is located just inside the entrance.
Admission: €10 for adults.
Opening hours: October to May: 10 am to 5.30 pm daily.
May to September: 10 am to 6.30 pm daily.
How about a guided tour of the Belém area? There are a number of tours that Get Your Guide can take you on, some are even on a boat!
And across the river…
10. Sanctuary of Christ the King (“Santuário de Cristo Rei”)
Finally, our personal favourite monument in Lisbon: Christ the King sanctuary and statue. This is easily one of the most iconic monuments in Lisbon and one inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The monument was erected as a ‘thank you’ to God for Portugal having been spared during World War Two. It stands with open arms as a symbolic gesture, dominating the city’s skyline beside the Tagus River. The views from the top of the statue are as breathtaking as the views of it. Getting to the statue is as easy as catching a ferry from the Cais do Sodre Metro station and then either walking or taking a bus to the base.
Admission: €6 for adults.
Open hours: Summer 9.30 am to 7 pm. Winter: 9.30 am to 6.30 pm.
We hope this helps you narrow down which monuments we think you must see in Lisbon. And don’t forget, this is only 10 of the many monuments that this great city has to show. There are plenty more to discover once you’re here.
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I'm a freelance copywriter and free-spirited traveller from Australia. I fell in love with Portugal when I arrived here and hope to share with you all the reasons why.