10 great ways to experience Lisbon

Our tour leader Dr Jeni Ryde takes you through one of her favourite destinations – Lisbon.


Rembrandt, Pallas Athena, circa 1655

1. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Spend a morning in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, one of the best private collections of art in the world, not only a gem for its artworks, but also for its music programs and its setting. This Foundation houses the collection of a man with exceptional taste. In particular, look out for the display of beautiful mosque lamps and other oriental treasures. Take a break for a coffee in the garden next to the lake.


Oriente station tile art by Erro from Iceland

2. Art Underground

Enjoy fabulous art underground by riding the metro to Oriente station. Ride the blue line from Rossio station changing at San Sebastião onto the red line for Oriente. Hop on and off at different stations to see spectacular displays of tiles on the platforms. Finally, alight at Oriente and make sure you see all 12 tile panels with a maritime theme commissioned from international artists for the 1998 Expo. Australia is represented by Arthur Boyd.


Oriente station designed by Santiago Calatrava

3. Striking Architecture

Check out the batlike architecture of Oriente station designed by Santiago Calatrava, and then go walking in the Parque das Nações area with wonderful views of the Vasco da Gama suspension bridge. View striking art and architecture commissioned for the 1998 Expo that transformed this polluted industrial area into a thriving community. Don’t forget to visit the state-of-the-art Oceanarium considered to be the best in the world.


The Saint Vincent Panels, or the Adoration of Saint Vincent panels, attributed to the Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves

4. Portugal’s National Gallery

Visit Portugal’s National Gallery, the Museum of Ancient Art, where you will find paintings by Bosch, Durer and Raphael, but especially art related to the Age of Discovery. In particular, seek out the exceptional Japanese screens.


The formal gardens of Palacio de la Fronteira

5. Palacio de la Fronteira

Visit the stunning formal gardens of the Palacio de la Fronteira including wonderful displays of tiles. Still privately owned, the palace houses the Hall of Battles, considered to showcase some of the best tilework in Portugal.


The ruins of the Gothic Carmo Convent

6. Carmo Convent

Walk up to the Chiado area and visit the ruins of the Gothic Carmo Convent, a potent reminder of the 1755 earthquake which destroyed Lisbon. The small archaeological museum in the apse houses an eclectic display of artifacts.


Ribeira Market – Lisbon’s largest traditional market and food court

7. Ribeira market

Eat at the Ribeira market. Surf the various food bars run by many of the best chefs in Lisbon to enjoy excellent food in the old fruit and vegetable market now enjoying a reincarnation as a food hall. It’s open until late.


Beautiful views of the Tagus from the Mirador of Santa Lucia

8. Medieval quarter of Alfama

Wander through the narrow medieval quarter of Alfama, once the Moorish and Jewish quarter and the only area left standing after the earthquake. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Tagus from the Mirador of Santa Lucia. Find the Roman theatre nearby and visit the small but beautifully presented museum. Eat authentic Portuguese food at Le Farol. Have a cocktail on the terrace of the Memmo Hotel.


The Monument to the Discoveries – located on the north bank of the Tagus River

9. Belem district

Pick up a tram in Figueira Square and spend a day in the Belem district to enjoy the contrast of the old and the new. Here you will find an ensemble of wonderful museums and monuments related to the Age of Discovery as well as the Berardo museum, an excellent contemporary art collection.


Portuguese tarts waiting to be eaten at Pasteis de Belem

10. And of course, Portuguese tarts!

Eat delicious Portuguese tarts warm out of the oven at Portugal’s most famous pastry shop, the Pasteis de Belem, next door to the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem. One won’t be enough!

Dr Jeni Ryde

Dr Jeni Ryde is a linguist and art history specialist with over fifteen years experience leading tours to Italy, Spain and Portugal. She is passionate about art, design and architecture both ancient and modern and particularly enjoys how both complement each other. Her special interests are the simplicity of the Romanesque and the breadth and depth of the Renaissance. Jeni holds two undergraduate degrees with majors in Anthropology and French and Interpreting and Translation with NAATI qualifications, two Masters degrees in Italian Linguistics and TESOL and a cross disciplinary PhD in Renaissance Art History, Tourism and Museum Management.


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