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ARE E Western Lisbon E Belém


Belem • Lisbon riverside

Belém is a culturally rich parish in western Lisbon, located along the coast of the Tagus River. Bordered by Algés to the west and the parishes of Ajuda and Alcântara to the northeast and east respectively, and Benfica to the north, Belém spans an area of 10.43 km² and has a population of around 16,000. Known for its historical landmarks related to the Age of Discovery, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the district is one of the most visited areas in Lisbon, a hub of historical, architectural, and cultural significance.

Belem’s residential area

The residential area of Belém primarily features traditional buildings that are 3 to 5 stories tall, lining the streets in a manner consistent with older architectural styles. In addition, there are new condominium developments that offer views of the river. These different types of residential buildings provide a range of housing options if you’re interested in living in the this area. Living in Belém offers a range of advantages including proximity to historical sites like the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, as well as cultural venues such as the Centro Cultural de Belém and MAAT. The area provides ample green spaces for outdoor activities, a reputable culinary scene, and scenic riverside views. Good public transportation options make commuting easy, and the area is generally considered safe and less congested compared to central Lisbon. Access to quality education, healthcare facilities, and a strong sense of community make it a well-rounded place to live, with the added benefit of return on investment opportunities in property.

The neighborhoods are

  • Restelo is a residential area known for its affluence, featuring modern architecture and high-end shops.
  • Bairro do Restelo is closely related to Restelo and shares many of its characteristics. It is primarily a residential zone with a focus on quality of life.
  • Caselas is also a residential neighborhood but is generally quieter and has fewer commercial areas compared to Restelo.
  • Santa Maria de Belém is the primary area for tourism within the parish. This neighborhood is home to most of the major historical landmarks, including the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower.

Belem’s tourist attractions

One day in Belém is a must for a knowing Lisbon historical discoveries. Blending some of the most iconic historical landmarks, cultural venues, and scenic waterfront attractions. This itinerary is designed has an example of a well spend day, better if a sunny day. To guide you through Belem, from its iconic architectural marvels to its vibrant cultural centers.

… exploring Belem’s riverfront

Exploring the riverfront in Belém takes you through a variety of attractions. Starting on the west side of Belém at the Fundação Chapalimaud, you’ll encounter the Forte do Bom Sucesso and the Combatentes do Ultramar monument. Further along the path, you’ll arrive at the garden surrounding Torre de Belém, followed closely by the iconic Belém Tower itself. As you circle around the Doca do Bom Sucesso marina, the Belem Lighthouse and the building of the Popular Art Museum come into view. Along this route, you’ll also encounter street art sculptures such as the Baleia de Lixo, and shortly after, you’ll reach the imposing Padrão dos Descobrimentos, notable for its wind Rose Compass set into the floor. Continuing on, you’ll pass Doca de Belém marina  and arrive at the sailing club ANL – Associação Naval de Lisboa. If you wish to extend your walk, the pathway continues all the way to Lisbon, where the first landmarks you’ll encounter include the Museu da Eletricidade (Electricity museum) and the MAAT.

… start by the delicious custard tarts!

Pastéis de Belém – Ideal for a day start coffe, breakfast or a snack, this iconic pastry shop is renowned for its traditional Portuguese custard tarts. A must-visit to experience before or after the daily tour!

… visiting Belem attractions in the morning

  • Jerónimos Monastery – Start your day trip with a visit to Jerónimos Monastery, an iconic 16th-century landmark in Belém, Lisbon, which includes the Church of Santa Maria de Belém. It’s advisable to go early as the site tends to get crowded later. The monastery is renowned for its Manueline architecture, featuring elaborate maritime elements and intricate details that evoke the Age of Exploration. Within the Church of Santa Maria de Belém, you’ll find the tombs of significant Portuguese figures, including King Dom Sebastião, explorers Vasco da Gama and Luís Vaz de Camões, Cardinal-King Dom Henrique, and the sons of Dom Manuel I and Dom João III. The complex serves as both a church and a historical site, complete with complex sculptural details, intricate columns, and cloisters.
  • Praça do Império Garden – A walk through this garden could serve as a peaceful transition from the Jerónimos Monastery. The Jardim da Praça do Império is a large garden with a big fountaim in the centre, and pathways, and is designed in a symmetrical, cruciform shape with manicured hedges and geometrically arranged flower beds.
  • Padrão dos Descobrimentos – This statue was built in 1940 and made permanent in 1960 to mark 500 years since the death of Henry the Navigator. It is nearby and complements the historical perspective you’ll get from the Jeronimos Monastery. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, also known as the Monument to the Discoveries, is a monument located in the Belém’s riverside. Was erected to commemorate Portuguese explorers and their achievements during the Age of Discovery. The monument features a 52-meter-high slab of concrete, shaped like a ship’s bow, with statues of significant figures from Portuguese history arranged on both sides. At the base, you’ll find a large mosaic map detailing the various routes taken by Portuguese explorers inside the wind Rose Compass.  On the top pf the monument exists a viewing platform accessible to the public, with panoramic views of the Belem’s surrounding area.

… more attractions in the midday

  • CCB – Belém Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural de Belem) – a multi-functional complex on west of Praça do Império Garden, serves as a venue for a variety of cultural activities including music, dance, and theater performances, as well as exhibitions and conferences. You’ll also check out Coleção Berardo museum, one of its major attractions.
  • Navy Museum (Museu de Marinha) – located in the west side of Jeronimos Monastery, it’s a insight for Portugal’s maritime history. Right next is the Navy Planetarium

… continue visiting Belem in the afternoon

  • Belém Tower (Torre de Belem) – also known as the Tower of Saint Vincent, this monument is a fortified tower from the early 16th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in west of Padrão dos Descobrimentos in Belém. Adjacent to the tower is Jardim da Torre de Belém, a garden area that provides a pleasant space for relaxation and offers additional vantage points for viewing the tower. The garden and the tower together make for a comprehensive visit, combining historical architecture with natural surroundings. A must-visit, try to go in the afternoon when the morning crowds have lessened.
  • Belem Tower Gardens – A good place to relax and perhaps have a snack after visiting the tower.

… optional visiting or If Time Allows

  • MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology), is a contemporary museum located in east riverside Belém. It aims to explore the intersections between art, architecture, and technology through a variety of exhibitions, educational programs, and events. The museum is housed in a distinctive building designed by British architect Amanda Levete, featuring a curved form and exterior tiles that reflect the light from the nearby River Tagus. The MAAT’s exhibitions often include works by both Portuguese and international artists, and cover a range of media from traditional painting and sculpture to digital and interactive installations.
  • Palácio Nacional da Ajuda – The Palácio Nacional da Ajuda is in the Ajuda district, north of Belém’s riverside in Lisbon. It’s approximately 2.5 to 3 kilometers from the riverside, and the walk takes about 40 minutes. The palace is notable for its intricate interior design, featuring detailed frescoes, ornate chandeliers, and luxurious furnishings that reflect the aesthetic sensibilities of the 19th century royal residence.
  • Jardim Ducla Soares – A smaller garden, less crowded and could offer a tranquil experience.

Note that some attractions may require tickets, so it would be wise to book in advance if possible. Make sure to also check the operating hours for each location.

How to get to Belem from Lisbon?

Belém is situated 5 km from Cais do Sodré, and 6km from Terreiro do Paço. Getting there from Lisbon is easy, with travel times ranging from 7 minutes in the train, to 1h20m walking, depending on your choice of transportation.

  • by Train: The easiest and quickest way is by train. The journey takes about 7 minutes from Cais do Sodré station to Belém station. Trains run every 20 minutes or so, and the service operates from early morning until late at night.
  • by Tram: Tram number 15 connects central Lisbon to Belém. It’s a more scenic route but can be crowded, and the journey takes approximately 30 minutes. The tram stops are more numerous and can be convenient depending on your starting point in Lisbon.
  • by Bus: Various bus lines such as 728, 714, and 729 service the route between central Lisbon and Belém. The duration varies depending on traffic conditions but usually takes around 20-30 minutes.
  • Walking or Biking: If you’re staying in a central area of Lisbon and enjoy walking or biking, the riverside journey is approximately 6 km and takes around 1h20m hours to walk. Leaving from Cais do Sodré, head to Doca de Alcântara, then Doca de Santo Amaro also in Alcatara, then under the bridget 25 de Abril, you’ll find the paddle and basket court. From there you have the Passeio Carlos do Carmo, a riverside sidewlk with 2 km to Belem.
  • by Taxi, Uber or Car: If you’re getting a taxi, Uber or driving, Belém is situated 7 km west of central Lisbon, and the journey typically takes around 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
ARE E Western Lisbon E Belém