Belem Lisbon

During my stay in Lisbon, the magnetic charm of the Belem district became a constant attraction.

Delving into its rich tapestry of history, culture, and culinary delights, my frequent visits uncovered a treasure trove of experiences. Join me on a journey through Belém as I share insights, highlight captivating tours, and demystify the associated costs in this 2024 Tourist Guide.

Get ready for an adventure that transcends time and leaves an indelible mark on your Lisbon sojourn.

Belem History

Belem-Portugal

Along the Tejo Estuary banks to the west of Lisbon, you find Belém. It is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world, including Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and Torre de Belem.

Belém, historically, holds significant importance in Portugal’s maritime and exploratory endeavors. This district in Lisbon has played a pivotal role in the country’s history, especially during the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries.

During this period, Belém was a bustling port and the starting point for many maritime expeditions that set sail to explore and trade with distant lands.

From here, renowned Portuguese explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, embarked on their journeys that would lead to the discovery of new sea routes and territories.

Electric_tram_in_Lisbon

All these great explorers opened the way to sea routes like Brazil, India, and East Africa, bringing wealth that led to the famous Jerónimos Monastery. Here, you can find parks, plazas, and riverside walks, and all are easily reached with the Tram 15E route.

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11 Things to Do in Belem

When you visit the Belem district, you will find some noteworthy buildings.

Belem-Tower

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém): Built in the early 16th century, Belém Tower served as a fortress to defend the entrance to the harbor. Its ornate Manueline architecture and strategic location make it an iconic symbol of Portugal’s maritime power. The Tower of Belém has many things to explore in the surroundings, and the top view is spectacular.

Interesting Note 📝: To learn more about the fascinating history of the Tower of Belem, check out my full guide before heading here.

Monastère des Hiéronymites, Lisbonne, Portugal
Jerónimos Monastery / Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos): Commissioned by King Manuel I, this grand monastery was constructed to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s successful voyage to India. The Manueline-style architecture and intricate detailing make it a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit cultural landmark.

Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square): Although not originally in Belém, it is a major tourist attraction. Due to its historical significance, Commerce Square is often visited in conjunction with Belém. It was once the main maritime entrance to Lisbon and the starting point for explorers. Notable buildings, including the Ribeira Palace, surround the square.

Padrão Dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries): The major tourist attraction was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death; this Monument celebrates Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It features larger-than-life sculptures of key figures from that era and offers panoramic views of the river and surrounding areas.

Pasteis-de-Nata-Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém: While not a historical monument, Pastéis de Belém is a culinary landmark. Established in 1837, the bakery is renowned for its delicious flaky pastry custard tarts known as pastéis de nata. It’s a delightful stop to savor a taste of Portuguese culinary history; believe me, the flaky pastry is delicious.

centro-cultural-de-belem

Centro Cultural de Belém: The Centro Cultural de Belém (Cultural Center of Belém) is another major tourist attraction. The modern complex is the hub of cultural activities in Lisbon.

It hosts diverse events, including art exhibitions, music concerts, theater performances, and conferences.

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With its contemporary architecture, the center contributes to the dynamic cultural scene of Belém, offering visitors a chance to engage with the arts in various forms.

Museu-Nacional-dos-Coches

Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum): The Museu Nacional dos Coches is a captivating museum showcasing an extensive collection of royal carriages and coaches.

Housed in a modern building, the museum allows visitors to explore the evolution of transportation used by Portuguese royalty.

The ornate and meticulously preserved carriages glimpse the opulence of bygone eras, making it a unique and intriguing cultural experience.

Palácio de Belém: The Palácio de Belém or Belém Palace  is the official residence of the President of Portugal.

Set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens, the palace is an architectural gem that has witnessed historical events and political decisions.

While the interior is not open to the public, the surrounding gardens are often accessible, offering a serene environment for visitors to enjoy a peaceful stroll.

Museu-de-Marinha-Naval-Museum

Museu de Marinha (Naval Museum): The Museu de Marinha, or Naval Museum, is dedicated to Portugal’s maritime history.

The museum is near the Jerónimos Monastery and features an extensive collection of maritime artifacts, ship models, and historical navigation instruments.

It provides an insightful journey through Portugal’s maritime past, highlighting its exploration and naval achievements.

Jardim da Praça do Império (Garden of Empire Square): The Jardim da Praça do Império is a picturesque garden surrounding the Jerónimos Monastery.

With its well-manicured lawns, beautiful fountains, and unique geometric patterns, the garden offers a peaceful retreat.

It’s an ideal spot to relax, stroll, or enjoy the serene ambiance, contrasting the historical monuments nearby.

Monumento aos Combatentes do Ultramar: This Monument honors the bravery and sacrifice of those who served in the Portuguese Overseas War.

The striking structure commemorates the soldiers who fought in the overseas territories and is a poignant reminder of Portugal’s historical involvement in conflicts.

The Monument is a testament to the courage and dedication of those who contributed to the nation’s history during this challenging period.

Costs of Day Trips to Belem

You can enjoy an inexpensive day trip when wandering through the Belem district and viewing the exterior of the main attractions. Still, if you choose to enter the buildings, the costs are as follows:

  • Two by €3 for using the tram 🚋 and two by €2 return fare for bus
  • Padrao dos Descobrimentos cost €6
  • Torre de Belem entrance fee €6
  • Mosteiro dos Jeronimos costs €10
  • Igreja Santa Maria de Belém is free to enter
  • Pastel de Belem costs €5
  • Museu Colecao Berardo art gallery costs €5

Belems Challenges While Exploring 

Compared to Alfama, Belem’s layout is more spacious without the narrow and winding streets. The major landmarks in Belém are relatively spread out, making it easier to navigate.

While Belém attracts many tourists, especially around popular attractions like the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, it is generally less densely populated than Alfama. This can make the overall navigation experience less crowded.

Belém is well-connected by tram, bus, and train services, making it convenient for visitors to explore. The tram line 15E, for example, connects Belém with the city center.

The major landmarks in Belém, such as the Jerónimos Monastery andPadrão dos Descobrimentos, are visible from a distance, providing clear points of reference.

Staying in Belem

Belem is one of the four most incredible, beautiful places to stay when visiting Lisbon. You are close to major tourist attractions and can enjoy a scenic waterfront along the Tagus River.

Furthermore, you can enjoy the culinary scene by enjoying traditional custard tarts and food. The district is less crowded than the city center, which is always bustling with people.

You are also well-connected to the city center and other parts of Lisbon using the public transportation system, even to Belém International Airport. Likewise, you can find a range of accommodations to suit your lifestyle.

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Best Viewpoints in Belem

Best-Neighborhood-to-Stay-in-Lisbon

While Belem is not mainly known for its elevated viewpoints like some other districts in Lisbon, it offers scenic spots that provide beautiful perspectives of the surrounding area. Here are a few places in Belem where you can enjoy captivating views:

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries): The terrace at the top of Padrão dos Descobrimentos offers panoramic views of the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the surrounding area. It’s an excellent vantage point to take in the landscape.

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém): While not a traditional viewpoint, Belém Tower’s strategic location at the harbor entrance provides unique perspectives of the river and the coastline. Exploring the various levels of the tower can offer different views.

Jardim da Praça do Império (Garden of Empire Square): The gardens surrounding the Jerónimos Monastery provide a peaceful environment and open spaces. While not elevated, it’s a lovely place to relax and enjoy the surrounding architecture.

25-de-Abril-Bridge

Tagus River Waterfront: The waterfront along the Tagus River in Belem offers a pleasant promenade with river views, passing boats, and the 25 de Abril Bridge. Strolling along the riverbank provides a different perspective of the area.

Nightlife in Belem

Belem’s nightlife offers a more relaxed and refined atmosphere than some bustling districts in Lisbon. The district comes alive in the evening with a blend of cultural experiences and charming venues.

You can enjoy the serene ambiance of riverside cafes, offering a perfect setting to unwind and appreciate the historic surroundings. Some establishments, especially those near the waterfront, may extend their hours, providing a tranquil spot for an evening drink.

Additionally, select cultural events and performances may occur in venues like the Centro Cultural de Belém, adding an artistic flair to the night.

While Belem may not have a vibrant club scene, its nighttime allure lies in the enchanting views, cultural engagements, and the opportunity to experience Lisbon’s history under the soft glow of streetlights.

How Safe is Belem

Belem is generally considered a safe district in Lisbon. It has a reputation for being a peaceful and well-maintained area with a focus on historical and cultural attractions.

Yet, like any urban area, it’s advisable to remain vigilant and take standard safety precautions. During the daytime, Belem is a popular tourist destination with a steady flow of visitors exploring its landmarks and museums.

The area around the major attractions, such as the Jerónimos Monastery and Belem Tower, is well-patrolled and secure. The scenic waterfront and gardens also contribute to a pleasant and secure environment.

In the evening, Belem retains its tranquility. While it may not have a bustling nightlife scene compared to other Lisbon districts, it offers a charming ambiance for an evening stroll along the river or a visit to a local eatery.

As with any travel destination, be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on personal belongings, and use well-lit and populated areas, especially at night. Overall, Belem is considered a safe and inviting district for visitors to explore and enjoy.

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Wrap-Up: Staying in Belem

Visiting Belem promises a journey through Lisbon’s rich history and cultural tapestry. With iconic landmarks like the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries, you’ll delve into Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The tranquil riverside ambiance and charming gardens offer a serene retreat.

Explore the past at the Museu Nacional dos Coches, indulge in delectable pastries at Pastéis de Belém, and embrace the arts at the Centro Cultural de Belém. While Belem may not have a vibrant nightlife, its evenings are enchanted by the soft glow of streetlights and the historic allure.

Safety is generally not a concern, making it an inviting tourist destination. Remember to embrace the relaxed atmosphere, appreciate the views along the Tagus River, and savor the unique blend of history and modernity that Belem gracefully embodies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Belem holds immense historical significance as a district associated with Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It was the starting point for many maritime expeditions, and its landmarks, such as the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, commemorate the country’s naval achievements.

While the interior of Palácio de Belém is not generally open to the public, the surrounding gardens may be accessible, providing a glimpse of the palace’s exterior.

Belem is easily accessible by public transportation, including trams and buses. Tram line 15E is widespread, providing a scenic route from the city center to Belem.

Yes, explore the Jardim da Praça do Império for a peaceful retreat, and consider visiting the Museu de Marinha for insights into Portugal’s maritime history.

Yes, guided tours are available, offering insights into the history and culture of Belem. Consider joining a walking tour or a river cruise for a unique perspective.

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