A Day Trip to the Belem District of Lisbon, Portugal
Belem is one day trip you must make time for during your stay in Lisbon. The combination of stunning riverside vistas, rich Portuguese history and its close proximity to Lisbon make it a day-tripper’s dream! With so many places of significance, it’s hard to know where to start. So, let me share with you my favourite things to see and do in Belém so you can hit the ground running!
HOW TO GET TO BELÉM
Belém is only a quick 10-minute train ride from the city centre, making it a cheap and easy day trip option. Simply jump on the train at the Cais do Sodré station on the Linha de Cascais and 3 short stops later you’ll be in Belém.
If you prefer to travel by car, Belém is a short 15-minute drive from Lisbon’s city centre.
BELÉM TOWER – TORRE DE BELÉM
Due to its significance in maritime discoveries, the Belém Tower was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The tower is located on the edge of the Tagus River, and consists of 5 floors;
- Governor’s Hall (bottom),
- Kings’ Hall,
- Audience Hall,
- Chapel, and
- Roof terrace (top)
As you make your way to each level you will ascend a series of small spiral staircases. Depending on the time and day of your visit, you may be split into small groups and need to wait for your turn to climb up and down.
Make sure you venture out onto the loggias of each level for unique views of the tower and river below.
Entry to the tower is 6 Euro or free with a Lisboa card. It is closed on Mondays, so time your visit accordingly. For more information visit the Torre Belem website.
MONUMENT TO THE DISCOVERIES – PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS
This is one sight not to be missed! The remarkable Monument to the Discoveries stands tall on the Northern bank of the Tagus River, commemorating the Portuguese Age of Discovery between the 15th and 16th centuries.
Inside the giant sailing ship monument, you’ll find a couple of floors of exhibitions detailing Lisbon’s history. Venture all the way to the top for sprawling views of the Tagus River and the district of Belem. Before you leave, remember to peek down at your feet! At the foot of the monument lies an impressive marble world map mosaic depicting the expeditions charted by the Portuguese explorers.
BELÉM’S FAMOUS PASTRY SHOP – PASTEIS DE BELÉM
If you’re anything like me you will have worked up quite the appetite by now. If there is one thing you need to eat in Portugal, it’s a pastel de nata, and Belem is the place to do it!
The Pasteis de Belém is a pastry shop in the heart of Belem. They began making these simple, yet utterly delicious pastries way back in 1837 based off an original recipe from the nearby Jeronimos Monastery. So it’s safe to say, they are experts in all things pasteis de nata.
These sweet Portuguese tarts consist of a flaky buttery pastry filled with a smooth egg custard. As the custard cooks, it bubbles and leaves behind little caramelised blisters of deliciousness – DROOL. You’ll receive 2 little satchels with your order of pasteis de nata; one of icing sugar, and one of cinnamon, sprinkle these on the top and you’ll be in pastry heaven!
Trust me, you won’t be able to stop at just one, so stock up! But, eat quickly, as these sweet treats are best when hot!
JERONIMOS MONASTERY – MOSTEIRO DOS JERONIMOS
This is one landmark that you couldn’t miss if you tried! Jerónimos Monastery towers over Belem’s centre, boasting an ornate mix of gothic and maritime elements known as Manueline architecture.
The monastery received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1983 alongside the nearby Belem Tower. Its southern entrance can be only described as grand, with a 32-metre high limestone entrance decorated with ornate religious and decorative carvings.
Admission to the church is free, but if you want to see the Cloister or the National Museum of Archaeology you will need to pay an entrance fee. A dual ticket can be purchased at the entrance of the National Museum of Archaeology for just 12 Euro. For more information, visit the Jerónimos Monastery website.
WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON
If you’re looking to explore Belem I highly suggest booking accommodation in the Lisbon city-centre and making your way in from there. Josh and I spent an amazing 4 nights in the Garrett 48 Apartments located in the heart of Lisbon’s city centre. I can’t recommend this place highly enough, check it out here.
This article contains affiliate links, all opinions and photos are my own.
Eager for more day-trip guides? Check out my guide to a day-trip through Basel, Switzerland.
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