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Lisbon is a very scenic city, beautifully sited on a series of hills that overlook the Tagus River. Legend has it that Odysseus founded Lisbon on seven hills before returning to his homeland. Some people argue there are actually eight, but the number doesn’t really matter. With so many hills around, it’s just natural that Lisbon is blessed with a big array of fantastic viewpoints and miradouros all around.
What are the ‘miradouros‘ and where can you find them in Lisbon?
In translation, a miradouro means a lookout point. It’s basically a loggia, or balcony allowing panoramic views of the surroundings. In Portugal, these beautiful terraces were built for the purpose of letting people sit, rest and take in the beautiful views that unfold before their eyes.
Lisbon has a web of fantastic viewpoints spread all around the city, although not all of them fit the description of a miradouro. Some you’ll discover by chance, as you wander around the narrow streets and staircases. Others are famous landmarks that make the list of any Lisbon itinerary.
THE MOST SCENIC MIRADOUROS IN LISBON, PORTUGAL
In this post I’ll give you a roundup of the most beloved miradouros in Lisbon. These are the ones that you won’t be able to resist to stop and admire the city. Everyone has their favorite and you’ll also find your own as you stroll through the city. So here are my favorites:
1. Miradouro Castelo de São Jorge
The highest and most spectacular miradouro in Lisbon is the terrace of São Jorge Castle, which sits at the top of the hill that bears the same name. This is a great viewpoint to understand the city’s geography. From up here you’ll have wonderful views of the city not only from the terrace, but also from the castle walls.
One interesting thing you shouldn’t miss while you are up here is the Tower of Ulysses Periscope – a medieval optical device developed by Leonardo Da Vinci providing 360º views of the city.
The castle itself is also very beautiful, providing an interesting insight into Lisbon’s rich history. The whole complex is quite large, so you should plan on being here for a few hours. The castle terrace is very much like a park with lots of trees, benches, and big family of peacocks. It’s a great to relax and enjoy the beautiful views.
Admission fee is €10 for adults and €5 for children for entering the castle and the grounds.
How to Get Here
The castle is a pleasant walk from downtown, if you are in good shape. Just follow the tram tracks up the hill. The hike is pretty steep though, so if you don’t want to walk you can take bus 737 that will drop you right by the castle gate. Or you can take a cab, which is very inexpensive.
2. Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Lisbon’s Most Popular Viewpoint
As you descend from Castelo de São Jorge, the first viewpoint you’ll come across is Miradouro das Portas do Sol. This is one of many viewpoints in Alfama, so I recommend stopping here while visiting Alfama.
From Miradouro Portas do Sol you have somewhat more limited views because it’s in the lower part of Alfama hill. You cannot see the city center as this lookout is oriented to the northeast. Nonetheless, you have a beautiful perspective of the Alfama district with its red-roofed buildings stacked on parallel streets, all the way down to the Tagus River.
Of all the beautiful viewpoints we visited on our Lisbon itinerary, Miradouro das Portas do Sol was my favorite one. The miradouro was within walking distance from our hotel, so we came here quite a few times, during our 3-day stay in Lisbon.
In the middle of the beautiful terrace is a statue of of St. Vincent and a small a kiosk that sells refreshments. This patio where street performers mingle with tourists on any given day is a perfect place for a break!
How to Get Here
Portas do Sol is on the route of the trams 12 and 28, which depart from Praça Martim Moniz. Both trams stop right in front of the lookout point. You can also take bus 737, or you can walk uphill from Sé Cathedral, which is only five minutes away.
3. Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Just a couple of streets farther down from Portas do Sol you’ll come across Miradouro de Santa Luzia, another beautiful viewpoint in Lisbon. What is unique about this one is that it’s located inside a small garden surrounded by beautiful Azulejo tiles.
This miradouro is set in the lower part of Alfama, right by the church that bears the same name. On the outside wall of the church are two beautiful tile panels. One represents Praça do Comercio before the great earthquake of 1755. The other depicts the Christians fighting to take back Castelo de São Jorge from the Moors.
When you are done admiring the beautiful view from this terrace, follow the alley next to the big stone wall that leads to another beautiful garden –Jardim Júlio de Castilho. In the middle of the garden is a small pool and behind it you’ll see another Azulejo tile mural depicting the conquest of Lisbon.
How to Get Here
Santa Luzia viewpoint is located halfway between Sé Cathedral and Miradouro das Portas do Sol, so it’s also on the route of trams 12 and 28.
4. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara
Set between the Chiado and Barrio Alto district, Miradouro de Alcantara is perhaps the most romantic hilltop viewpoint in Lisbon. This is a large two-level observation deck, with fountains, flower beds, trees, benches and gorgeous views of Lisbon. From up here you can see all the way from São Jorge Castle to the Tagus River.
The miradouro was built in the 19th century on the walls of an aqueduct in Lisbon. The viewpoint was named after the monastery of São Pedro de Alcântara, which is just opposite the terrace.
We visited this miradouro both in the morning and at night and discovered a totally different atmosphere! Early morning this place is peaceful and quiet. But in the evening it comes alive with people dancing to the music of live bands, drinking beer and wine. There are some food kiosks and tables around where people sit and enjoy the evening.
How to Get Here
Access to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara is free. To get here you can either walk, or take bus 758, tram 24, or Elevador da Gloria. If you have the Lisbon Card, you may ride the funicular, tram, and bus for free.
5. Miradouro da Graça
Miradouro de Graça sits by Graça Church in the residential district of Graça. Unlike the other viewpoints of Lisbon that mostly attract tourists, this one is a very popular meeting point for locals who gatherer here to sip a drink and admire the view. The panorama is reminiscent of San Francisco.
The terrace is not very high, but it has a very beautiful views of the city below. From up here you can see the São Jorge Castle, Ponte 25 de Abril, the Carmo Archaeological Museum and Lisbon’s downtown.
The viewpoint is next to Igraja e Convento da Graça, one of Lisbon’s oldest churches built in 1271. The convent has an interesting collection of azulejos tiles depicting 16th, 17th and 18th century missionary journeys across Portugal’s colonies.
How to Get Here
This terrace is also on the route of tram 28. The stop is called “Graça” and the viewpoint is around the corner, behind the convent building.
6. Miradouro Terraços do Carmo
One of the best places to view the grand panorama of Lisbon is the Terraços do Carmo, at the top of Elevador de Santa Justa. From up here you can enjoy a 360º-view over Baixa, Rossio Square, Rua Augusta Arch and the waterfront of the Tagus River.
Elevador de Santa Justa is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The costs is €5/person, or free if you have the Lisbon Card. Unfortunately, during the summer season you’ll encounter long lines at the elevator. So if you don’t want to queue up outside the Santa Justa lift, you can just walk to Terraços do Carmo instead.
And while you are up here, you can visit the ruins of the Carmo Convent next-door, or grab a Pastéis de Bacalhau from the pasticeria right at the top of the elevator.
How to Get Here
Taking the Elevador de Santa Justa is not the only way to reach the top deck of Terraços do Carmo. You can also access the terrace from Largo do Carmo, the square next to Carmo ruins. Just follow the signs for the convent and once you pass it you’ll see a restaurant called Bellalisa Elevador.
Climb the steps to the left and walk through the outside terrace. You can now cross the bridge over to the viewing platform.
7. Arco da Rua Augusta Viewpoint
The Rua Augusta Arch was built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon following the disastrous earthquake of November 1, 1755, but the version that you see today dates from a century later, 1875. In 2013, when the monument was restored, an elevator was placed inside to allow visitors to access the terrace.
From the rooftop terrace you get a wonderful 360-degree-view over Praça do Comércio, Rua Augusta, the cathedral, and all of the downtown area.
The cost to access the terrace is €2.50 per person. From the elevator there is a spiral staircase that leads up to the very top of the terrace. The staircase is only really wide enough for one person. Before you start your climb, you need to press a button that illuminates a traffic on the opposite side, to make sure that it’s clear to go up or come down.