The Portuguese capital city of Lisbon and the picturesque nearby town of Sintra are a wonderful reflection of the rich history and culture that has shaped this south-western region of Europe.
With diverse conquests and occupations throughout the centuries, the landmarks and significant sites of Lisbon and Sintra are filled with majesty, whimsy and extravagance and offer a glimpse into the multi-cultural influences in the region over time.
Attractions in Lisbon and the surrounding area provide visitors the opportunity to step into the past, experience the present and consider the future with many natural, cultural and historical places of interest easily accessible.
Pena Palace is a Portuguese national monument built in the 19th century in a vibrant Romanticist style.
Standing on a hill in the Sintra Mountains, northwest of Lisbon, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its colorful exterior and intricate design.
With views of the dense surrounding forests and the dark hues of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, the palace is surrounded by gardens that are worth exploring – with hidden grottos, winding oaths and intriguing water features.
The earliest structures of the castle date back to the Middle Ages and have been expanded to intentionally include a mix of eclectic styles.
The Palace’s lavish decorations, ornate furnishings and intricate tilework offer a unique glimpse into Portugal’s rich cultural heritage and unique architectural styles.
Located in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações, the Lisbon Oceanarium or Oceanário de Lisboa is one of Europe’s largest indoor aquariums.
Home to over 8000 sea creatures with tanks filled with more than 7 million liters of salt water, the oceanarium hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase four marine habitats and create the illusion of a single ocean environment.
Visual art exhibits emphasize the important relationship between humans and the sea and provide opportunities for insight and reflect on the interconnectedness of people and both the aquatic and terrestrial worlds.
The Lisbon Oceanarium is an enthralling location that will provide the whole family with an engaging and entertaining experience.
The extravagant and quirky 19th-century Quinta de Regaleira villa in the town of Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a notable attraction in the town.
Built in the early 1900’s, the manor and surrounding property is designed to reflect the philosophies and scientific interests of its original owner and the property’s architect.
As such, it is an ensemble of Renaissance, Manueline, Medieval and Classical styles and is filled with mystical and mythical symbols and obscure references to secret societies and esoteric traditions.
Audio, self-guided, in-house and private tours are all possible for visitors to this fascinating attraction.
On an excursion to the estate, you can explore and examine intricate stonework, spiraling turrets and an abundant garden that features several fascinating features including a hidden passage.
As a one-of-a-kind destination, it is easy to see why Quinta de Regaleira is one of Portugal’s most visited attractions.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the imposing façade of the building extends for around 300 meters and includes an intricately decorated portal that depicts images of Portugal’s patron saint, St. Michael the Archangel.
The intricately carved maritime motifs, religious symbols and figures of saints are truly breath-taking.
On the interior, the monastery’s soaring vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows add to the building’s allure.
The monastic complex, cloister, refectory and library are among some of the best preserved aspects of this historical architectural masterpiece.
Visitors to the monastery can admire the maritime influences of the buildings that were constructed in honor of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s successful journey to India.
Conveniently situated between Lisbon and Sintra, the exquisite National Palace of Queluz is an imposing 18th-century residence that once served as the summer residence of three generations of Portuguese royalty.
Now a National Monument, Queluz Palace is an exemplary example of the Rococo architectural style and both the residence and surrounding gardens have been restored and renovated to highlight their harmonious connection.
The interior of the palace is decorated with elaborate stucco work, frescoes and intricate wood carvings. Opulent furnishings, delicate porcelain, chandeliers and hand-painted tiles are among the items on display to visitors.
The perfectly proportioned Upper Gardens, lakes and whimsical water features all add to the charm of this historically significant site and attract visitors from across the world.
The National Palace of Sintra boasts a Gothic exterior that is one of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in Portugal.
Originally the site of a Moorish settlement, Sintra Palace has buildings that date back as far as the 14th century. Also known as the Town Palace, the red-roofed castle with its steep conical towers stands out as a landmark in the town.
Once a popular residence for Portuguese royalty, the building is now a national monument and in the 1940’s was restored to its former glory.
Decorative objects and an impressive collection of artwork and furniture from various periods can be seen by visitors choosing to explore the palace’s stunning interiors.
Additionally, the building’s enormous kitchen with its two giant chimneys is remarkable.
While the gardens can be visited for free, an entrance ticket to the palace provides access to the interior where formal staterooms, ornate halls, and original artworks and artifacts can be viewed at your leisure or as part of a guided tour.
Monserrate Palace in Sintra just outside of Lisbon was the traditional summer resort destination for the Portuguese royal court.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the eclectic design of the Palace reflects a combination of neo-gothic, Indian and Arabic architectural influences.
The Monserrate Park is classified as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by UNESCO and is one of Europe’s top historic parks. On a visit to Monserrate Palace, you can enjoy carefully designed terraces and gardens featuring exotic plants and trees from across the world.
You are able to visit the estate’s two hectare farmyard that employs a renewable energy system, see a symbolic totem sculpture carved from a tree grown on the property and wander through the palace’s beautifully proportioned and ornately styled interiors.
Castelo dos Morous or the Castle of the Moors looks out from its perch on a hilltop just outside of Sintra.
This fortification was founded in the 10th century during the time of the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and played an important role in the defense of the region for centuries.
Boulders interlink with the surrounding cliffs to create a formidable barrier and a walk along the parapet walls offers clear views of the surrounding landscape, the town of Sintra, and in the distance the Atlantic Ocean.
On a visit to the castle, you can see the restructured defenses built by the Knights Templar after conquering the castle from the Moors.
Artfully restored during the 20th century, the castle now provides visitors the chance to explore its impressive battlements, towers and walls.
The horseshoe arches, intricate masonry and other architectural features are a testament to the Moorish artisans who built the original structures.
You can glimpse the past as you view silos excavated from rock, a tomb housing both Moorish and Christian remains, and many other fascinating features that together make the castle the historically and culturally significant site that it is today.
The modest Convent of the Capuchos stands in stark contrast to many of the other ornate buildings in Sintra and Lisbon.
The Franciscan convent is a simple structure built almost entirely of stone that blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings, and as a result affords visitors the chance to see one of the few remaining examples of Sintra’s primitive forest.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the convent has been carefully and extensively conserved, restored and refurbished in a way that preserves both the building and the surrounding natural landscape.
A tour with a local historian to the convent provides an insightful experience into the lives of those who resided in the convent as well as the use of the natural resources from the Sintra Mountains used for medicinal purposes in the past.
The Rua Augusta Arch stands in the heart of Lisbon and was built in commemoration of the rebuilding of the city following the earthquake that devastated the region in 1755.
Standing at the end of the lively Rua Augusta, the arch serves as a gateway between the Baixa Pombalina neighborhood and the Tagus River.
Comprising six columns and carved statues of various historical figures, the arch is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors to Lisbon.
Originally built as a bell tower, the elaborate construction can be scaled by visitors who are looking for a 360-degree birds eye view across the city.
The arch as it is seen today, took over a century to complete and serves as a symbol of the resilience and strength shown by the Portuguese nation in the face of adversity.
The story of the arch’s construction can be viewed in the Clock Room before ascending via elevator and spiral staircase to the vantage point.
If you are a sports enthusiast, a visit to Lisbon’s iconic Benfica Stadium or Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and club museum should definitely be on your list of things to do.
On a guided tour, you will have the chance to walk in the footsteps of some of football’s greatest players with stops in the locker rooms, press room and trophy room.
From high up in the 65,000 seater stadium, you will get a bird’s eye view of the field, noting how each fan can enjoy unobstructed views of the action from any seat in the house.
Get a close up look at the modern and innovative design that gives the stadium its sleek, sweeping exterior appearance and learn more about the players and traditions that have made the club unique.
As a sports fan, a tour of the stadium and museum is a memorable experience that provides the opportunity to celebrate the uniting power of sport across cultures and countries.