11 Mar 10 reasons to visit Belém
Just a few miles away from the center of Lisbon, Belem is a laid-back charming neighborhood known for its seafood restaurants and colorful tiles. With a rich history of its own and many iconic attractions on the Tagus river, it is a breath of fresh air offering parks and open spaces in the otherwise crowded city.
Here are the reasons I think you should visit Belem.
1 The tower
The tower of Saint Vincent is the most photographed monument in Lisbon. Classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, it was used to defend the city before it became a lighthouse. A climb to the roof will offer a splendid view, but you might have to wait in the long queue of visitors.
2 The monument to the discoveries
Padrão dos Descobrimentos celebrates the achievements of Portuguese navigators and sailors who discovered new settlements. You can’t miss this impressive marble monument of men standing in front of a world map, located in the marina of Belem.
3 The monastery
Jeronimos monastery is a grand religious building associated with the history of early sailors and explorers. It is beautiful to see and to visit, discovering this huge spiritual space of giant carvings and beautiful ornamental decorations.
4 The pasteis shop
Pasteris de Belem is the most famous pastry shop that sells the delicious Portuguese eggtarts. The baked pies are typical of the region and were traditionally made by the monks who had too many leftover egg yolks. This is a treat that you have to try in the best shop in town, as they just come out of the oven. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and think of me!
5 The seafood
With views on the Atlantic ocean, this harbor town offers a variety of fish and shellfish in traditional sauces. From refreshing and affordable menus to upscale dining, you will find everything you desire. The wine bars are also very nice for an aperitif.
6 The palace
Along the Tagus river, the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda is a rich festival for the senses. From the beautiful architecture to the the luxurious furnishing, this opulent residence is a must see. Let me know what you think of the Queen’s bedroom, which I found to be a highlight.
7 The botanical garden
The Jardim Botanico Tropical is a beautiful and quiet place where you can just wander around or enjoy the cool shade. Gardens are a luxury that we don’t find everywhere, and I try to visit as many as I can while I am in Europe, especially in a beautiful city like Lisbon.
8 The night life
With a vibrant and active night life that is characteristic of Lisbon, Belem has clubs and pubs that cater to everyone’s tastes. This neighborhood is full of pubs, gay clubs, and even street bars that serve wine along the river bank. Drinking is allowed on the streets here.
9 The cultural center
The largest cultural building in Portugal, the Belem cultural center is a massive complex that hosts operas, ballets, and a permanent museum: the Berardo museum. Located in the center of the town, there is always something to see at this best free tourist activity destination.
10 The MAAT
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is the new cultural center of Lisbon. A space designed for debate and critical thinking, you will immediately be stirred by its modern industrial architecture. Presenting exhibitions by contemporary artists and thinkers, it aims to reflect on current life and social matters and subjects. Very interesting!
If you are in Lisbon and have an extra day to spend, I highly recommend taking a break in the beautiful Belem. I am sure you will find your own reasons to come back to this charming and popular destination.