Based on official reports and semi-official numbers, these are Lisbon’s 10-most visited attractions. Some are understandably so, others less worthy of a visit than a few sites missing from the list.
1. JERONIMOS MONASTERY
This World Heritage Site is Lisbon’s most important monument and naturally receives the most visitors. The church is free and is extraordinarily ornate, but the real attraction are the cloisters.
Attracting over one million visitors every year, this is one of the world’s largest aquariums and it just got bigger with a new extension this year, guaranteeing even more people through its doors for temporary exhibitions.
3. CASTLE OF ST. GEORGE
Locals and tourists (close to a million of them) flock to this ancient hilltop monument every year. It’s seen from almost anywhere in the city, so it constantly invites you to its ramparts.
4. BERARDO MUSEUM
Apparently everyone thinks “It’s free, so why not go inside?” The reward is one of Europe’s most important modern art collections and it’s now visited more than other famous European museums such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim.
5. TOWER OF BELEM
Leaving Lisbon without seeing Belém Tower is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel’s. The city icon is on the riverfront almost by the Atlantic, but it’s a pilgrimage everyone must make.
6. DISCOVERIES MONUMENT
This one is almost inevitable: It’s found halfway between the Tower of Belém and the monastery and is featured on almost every postcard and guidebook of the city. The colossal images of Portugal’s famous explorers also make it a must-stop for photos.
7. SANTA JUSTA ELEVATOR
The ride only lasts a few seconds, but the real attraction are the views at the top of this towering elevator with an Eiffel Tower-like structure.
8. CARRIAGES MUSEUM
This is Portugal’s most-visited national museum and the reason is that everyone is told that it has the world’s largest and best collection of royal carriages. It’s like entering a Cinderella world that attracts visitors of all ages, making it a perfect family attraction.
9. ANCIENT ART MUSEUM
The number of visitors has risen every year and that is due to a few important temporary exhibitions that have led many to discover its noteworthy permanent collection, in large part related to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
Everyone who visits Lisbon will at least pass by on their way to the castle on tram 28. Many end up going inside, and although it’s far from being one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, it is its oldest and it is the cathedral.