Best Attractions near the Cruise Port in Lisbon

Shore Leave: What to See and Do near Lisbon's Cruise Port.

Located near the Santa Apolónia cruise port in Lisbon are some of the city’s most impressive visitor attractions, many within easy walking distance. The engaging Estação Elevatória dos Barbadinhos is just ten minutes away, a 19th-century steam pumping station that used to supply water to the Portuguese capital. Nearby in Alfama is the Panteão Nacional-Church of Santa Engrácia. It’s the closest national monument to the terminal. Meanwhile, the wonderful Museu Nacional do Azulejo is sited further east and is best reached by cab or public transport. Another imposing historic monument is the Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, sited just a few minutes from Santa Engrácia, a great cultural combo! However, practically opposite the terminal are two excellent museums – the Museu Militar and the Museu do Fado. If you’re in port on a Tuesday or Saturday you can combine a sightseeing tour with a visit to the Feira da Ladra (Thieves’ Market), the city’s biggest flea market. Continue walking west and you’ll stumble upon the Fundacão José Saramago, a cultural space that pays tribute to the late lamented Portuguese writer, a Nobel laureate. The outstanding Museu Escola de Artes Decorativas is certainly worth a diversion, another excellent museum almost within sight of the terminal. And for great views of the city and the river – and arriving and departing cruise liners – head for the top Arco da Rua Augusta on Praça do Comércio.  


The triumphal arch, better known as the Rua Augusta Arch, is one of the city's most recognised historic monuments. Standing on the north side of Praca do Comercio. The 19th-century landmark was designed by architect Santos de Carvalho to celebrate the reconstruction of the city after the 1755 earthquake. The roof is surmounted by an allegorical figure of Glory , crowning figures representing Genius and Bravery with wreaths. As well as acting as a gateway into Rua Augusta the arch also provides visitors with sweeping views from its belvedere, across the square and the river to the south and over the Baixa district to the north.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The views from the monument's roof take in the city's entire downtown area and the riverfront. You can even see your own cruise ship!

Paul's expert tip: Consider purchasing a family ticket that also includes entry into the nearby Lisbon Story Centre.

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Housed within the 17th-century Azurara Palace in Lisbon's Alfama district, this delightful museum displays an outstanding collection of Portuguese, French and English furniture dating from between the 15th and 18th centuries. The period setting enhances the aesthetic appeal of each piece, exhibited in several rooms on two levels. The collection forms part of the private collection of Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva (1900 --1955), a Portuguese banker who bequeathed the artefacts to a foundation he established to promote national and international culture and artistic heritage. Textiles, silverware, porcelain, azulejo (tile) panels, painting, drawing and sculpture also form a sizeable part of the display. One of the highlights is the wool and silk tapestry Procession with Giraffes, which dates from 1510. A beautiful late 18th-century drum table crafted from Brazilian boxwood with marquetry in Brazilin rosewood is the highlight of the Queen Maria Room. And don't miss the outstanding 16th-century. Namban hanging oratory in lacquered wood and inlaid with mother of pearl and gold and silver dust.

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José Saramago (1922--2010) was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. Regarded as the nation's greatest contemporary writer, more than two million of his books have been sold in Portugal alone, and his work has been translated into 25 languages. English titles include Journey to Portugal, The Stone Raft, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Blindness and Death With Interruptions. After his death the José Saramago Foundation was established in the former Casa dos Bicos, an extraordinary building dating from 1523 and faced with diamond-shaped stones. Visitors can browse the author's extensive library and various personal items including diaries and personal correspondence.

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The Feira da Ladra is Lisbon's largest and liveliest flea market and definitely the city's quirkiest shopping experience. It's name translates as the "Thieves' Market" because of the astonishing array of curios and bric-a-brac on sale. The market is a sprawling mass of stalls and unfolds itself over Campo de Santa Clara near Alfama district. Here you can find hand-painted lacquered tiles, theatre programmes, coins, old postcards, militaria, His Master's Voice gramophones, carpenter's planes, terracotta wine jars, cast-iron door knockers and probably even a kitchen sink, among other knick-knacks. A sharp eye might pick out a valuable antique or an interesting collectible amongst the tat, and if you're prepared to haggle you could take home a bargain.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Genuine antiques and valuable artefacts have been found amongst the tat at Feira da Ladra.

Paul's expert tip: Arrive early to bag the best buys, but be prepared to haggle!

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Santa Apolonia

The Fado Museum regales visitors with a themed exhibition that charts the history of this unique Portuguese musical expression, from its origins in the 19th century up to the present. A multilingual audio guide accompanies a tour of the museum that takes in recordings and biographical information of all the major fado singers and composers. There are also illustrated panels explaining the technical and historical development of the Portuguese guitar, and an interesting insight into fado houses – the restaurants and bars that host staged and impromptu concerts. The museum also acts as a documentation centre where academics and researchers can browse the vast archive of publications, posters, records, scores and repertoires of the genre's personalities.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Fado Museum is the only one of its kind in Portugal dedicated to showcasing this unique musical expression.

Paul's expert tip: There's a café and restaurant on site where live performances take place. See website for schedules.

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Santa Apolonia

Anyone with an interest in Portuguese military history will be fascinated by this engaging museum. The building stands opposite Santa Apolónia railway station, on the site of a 16th-century cannon foundry and arms depot. The comprehensive collection of arms, uniforms and historical documents and curios charts the country's various military campaigns from the late 15th century through to World War I, but the display also focuses on the evolution of weapons in Portugal, from the Stone Age to the invention of the rifle. The Vasco da Gama room houses a fine collection of cannons, and there's a hall dedicated to the Peninsula wars. Elsewhere, dramatic wall murals and other artifacts illustrate episodes from the Great War.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Santa Apolónia cruise port is just across the road from the museum, making this nearest of all Lisbon's visitor attractions to the terminal.

Paul's expert tip: Don't miss the tiled panels lining the courtyard that tell the story of Portugal's battles, from the Christian Re-conquest to World War I.

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Designed by noted Italian architect Filippo Terzi and completed in 1627, the church and monastery of São Vicente de Fora is sited in Alfama, its twin bell towers and Italian Renaissance style facade a city landmark. Visited for its majestic interior where an impressive Baroque canopy looms over the altar, the sixteenth-century architectural features in the adjoining former Augustinian monastery are of equal allure, including a cistern and remnants of the cloisters. However, its the 18th-century azulejo (tile) panels that are the star attraction. The old refectory is now the Bragança Pantheon in which every Portuguese king and queen, excluding Maria I and Pedro IV is interned. Sacred art is exhibited in the Museu do Patriarcado.

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Its enviable setting within the cloisters of the beautiful 16th-century Convento da Madre de Deus makes the National Tile Museum one of Lisbon's most alluring cultural attractions. This is the only museum in Portugal dedicated entirely to the azulejo, the decorative tile, and visitors can browse a stunning collection of panels and individual pieces displayed chronologically in a series of halls and rooms. The earliest examples date from the 16th century the designs of which are influenced by Moorish and later Spanish decorative patterns. Other pieces draw on Italian and Flemish illustrative techniques; those from the 16th century are particularly rich in colour and detail. The patterns and figurative compositions that define 17th-century Portuguese timework – the blue and white azulejos on display and that embellish many of Lisbon's religious buildings, historic monuments, some restaurants and even one or two cafes – will be more familiar to visitors.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Sited in Lisbon's eastern suburbs means that the National Tile Museum is nearer to Santa Apolónia cruise port than the city centre.

Paul's expert tip: A tour of the museum also allows access to the church of Madre de Deus and its dazzling interior of gilded wood and ornate decoration.

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The chalk-white dome of the National Pantheon, the Church of Santa Engrácia, is a familiar landmark on Lisbon's eastern waterfront skyline. Royal architect Joao Antunes, considered one of the most important exponents of the baroque in Portugal, designed the church, and building began in 1682. However, construction was only completed in 1966 when the dome was added. In 1916, it was turned into a National Pantheon and is the final resting place for a number of Portuguese personalities including the writer Almeida Garrett and fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. Visitors can admire the marble-rich interior, and fabulous 360-degree views of the river and surrounding Alfama can be had from the dome's sweeping terrace.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The National Pantheon is within walking distance of Santa Apolonia cruise port, but it's an uphill jaunt so you'll need a stout pair of legs.

Paul's expert tip: You can avoid (most) of the steep stairs by using the elevator. Ask the custodian for directions.

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Just a ten-minute walk from Lisbon's cruise terminal at Santa Apolónia, the Steam Pumping Station of Barbadinhos provides a fascinating insight as to how water was once supplied to the city. Inaugurated in 1880, the facility was designed to elevate by steam-driven machinery the water arriving at the station from the source of the River Alviela, 114 km north of the Portuguese capital. Set within a former Franciscan convent building that was occupied by the Italian religious order of the Barbadinhos between 1747 and 1834, the pumping station originally comprised three wings: the coal depository, the boiler room and the machine hall. The ground floor pump room no longer exists but in its place is a permanent interactive exhibition hall that imaginatively charts the history and the mechanics behind Lisbon's water supply. The exhibit also highlights water as an essential commodity: the water cycle, treatment of water, water pollution and water and sustainability, among other relevant themes.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Entertaining and educative, the Estação Elevatória dos Barbadinhos should be a compulsory stop on anybody's Lisbon itinerary.

Paul's expert tip: Look for the French engineered compteur à eau de António Pinto Bastos, the very first water meter used in Portugal.

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Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul