No matter if you choose Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness Guide or Fodor’s, you won’t be told about these great attractions. But we say you should consider them for your Lisbon itinerary.
MEDEIROS E ALMEIDA MUSEUM
It’s been open for ten years but apparently no travel writer has found out about it. It’s one of Lisbon’s most important art collections which includes a Rembrandt portrait, a Tiepolo painting, magnificent decorative art and sculpting such as a fountain that once stood in the gardens of Versailles.
The former royal palace of Necessidades is now the ministry of foreign affairs and therefore closed to the public, but apparently very few people know that its garden/park is open to everyone. It’s actually undergoing some renovation to turn it into a more popular attraction, and right now you’ll likely have it all for yourself, with a view of 25 de Abril Bridge and rare plants from all over the world.
Another green space unknown to many is the small garden-viewpoint of Torel. It stands on a hilltop, reached by the landmark Lavra funicular, and offers views of downtown and a terrace café.
Just a short walk down the street from Torel is this apparently ordinary church that hides a surprisingly opulent interior. Its altar and side chapels covered with gold were models for countless other churches in Lisbon and throughout Portugal.
MOINHOS DE SANTANA PARK
Way off the beaten path, this park is found northwest of Ajuda Palace on Rua Tristão Vaz in a residential neighborhood. Still, it’s a place worth finding, as it offers plenty of green space to rest and have a picnic, do some exercise, or simply to take a look at the centuries-old windmills recalling a time when this was not part of a capital city but a rural land.
SANTA CATARINA CHURCH
It’s a mystery why one of the city’s most beautiful and artistic interiors is overlooked by guidebooks, especially when it’s located just steps from Chiado and Bairro Alto. With its monumental gilding, rococo ceiling and organ, it’s actually a Lisbon must-see.
With such a nondescript exterior, it’s understandable how it goes unnoticed. It’s a convent still inhabited by Dominican nuns, but a guided tour tells you about its fascinating history dating back to the 17th century and shows you its rich decorative features which includes rare Dutch tiles and a masterpiece baroque altar.
Many cities have a museum dedicated to cinema and this is Lisbon’s. But “Cinemateca” is much more than an institution that preserves the art of filmmaking, it’s also a movie theater with daily showing of classic features. They’re presented in their original language, most often with Portuguese subtitles (sometimes in English), and is a great attraction on a rainy day or for a special movie night.
PASSEIO DAS TÁGIDES
One of the best places for a stroll is the Parque das Nações waterfront. This boardwalk over the river that goes from the Oceanarium to close to the Atlantic Pavilion offers the most picture-perfect views of Lisbon’s most modern landmarks and is one of the city’s most pleasant walks.
With so many museums in the city, very few people would dedicate much time to one about electricity. However, this museum is actually one of Lisbon’s most visited attractions due to its high-profile temporary exhibitions usually related to contemporary art and photography. So although you won’t see it listed on your guidebook, pass by to check out what is happening when you’re in town. It’s located just down the road from the Discoveries Monument.