Lisbon, or Lisboa, is not only known for being the vibrant capital city of Portugal; it’s also called the City of Seven Hills. And if you’ve been before, you’ll certainly vouch for this.
To explore Lisbon means to embrace tired legs at the end of every day: you’ll spend considerable time traversing the thousands upon thousands of steps that wind their way up and down the narrow streets of the city perched on the slopes of the Tagus estuary as it slides into the Atlantic Ocean.
But whilst the hills of Lisbon make for an energy-sapping day of exploring, they also make for wonderful views, especially if you can find the right viewpoint, or miradouro. Below are my recommendations of the best views in Lisbon.
Jardim do Rio
To ease into things, let’s start with a viewpoint of the whole city, and one you don’t need to climb; in fact, all you need to do is take a boat from Cais do Sodré ferry terminal to Cacilhas, then turn right, past derelict old warehouses primed for renovation, until you reach this wonderful garden at ground level. If you can, bring a drink or two and head there for sunset, jut like the locals. Boats run into the night so don’t worry.
LX Factory – Rio Maravilha
I’m easing you in gently here. Because this one also requires neither hiking boots nor trainers to reach. In fact there’s even an elevator!
LX Factory, if you don’t already know, is a hipster-friendly collection of restored warehouses that are now boutique shops, bars & restaurants. And on some days, including Saturday mornings, the small streets are lined with a market selling handmade jewellery, vintage clothes, food, drink and many other things beside. But whilst you’re visiting, be sure to check out the roof top at Rio Maravilha, order an Aperol Spritz or whatever tickles your fancy, and enjoy the epic view of both the bridge – Ponte 25 de Abril – and the famous statue Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Now we’re starting to climb, but I’m easing you in gently. This miradouro sits to the west of the city centre, halfway between LX Factory and Cais do Sodré, and is one of the most peaceful or raucous viewpoints in the city, depending when you visit.
You can sit here with a book and a beer when it’s quiet and listen to the gentle grinding of the trains as they roll into the train station down by the waterfront. However, if it’s a Friday evening or the day before a national holiday, it attracts a very large crowd of locals armed with bottles of wine, beer and guitars keen to bid farewell to the sun, before the party really kicks into gear.
It’s also in a great neighbourhood for cafes and restaurants and only five minutes walk from Chiado, Lisbon’s famous party neighbourhood. It’s chocked full of bars and cheap drinks and, as public drinking is legal – and very popular – you can grab a drink, head outside and keep exploring!
Jardim 9 de Abril
This might be my favourite viewpoint in all of Lisbon – big statement I know – perhaps because it combines the tranquillity of a small local park with the energy of the city and port below: trains, trams and cars rush past whilst tall cranes move containers between huge ships ready to head out into the Atlantic for distant lands, all only a stones throw from where you’re seated.
Situated a little further west again, it’s also less than three minutes from the wonderful riverside foot and cycle path that goes all the way from the centre of Lisbon to Belém, so it’s well worth stopping off for a visit if you’re walking between the two hotspots. Just don’t tell anyone I told you 😉
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
The next miradouro is in the heart of Lisbon’s Chiado neighbourhood and is especially popular with late night drinkers who gather here to finish their drinks, when the clubs finally close, and enjoy the beautiful sunrise over the castle –Castelo de S. Jorge – and Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood and where Fado originated.
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
And now we have the miradouro that’s going to leave you breathless, having taken your breath away both on the ascent to reach it and when you glimpse the view for the first time.
There are several ways to reach this viewpoint, one of the highest places in the city, but the best way is through the charmingly old neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, working your way up the hillside past traditional pastelarias and restaurants, before reaching another view point, Miradouro da Graça that is also worth a visit. From then, it’s another fifteen minutes walk, pretty much all uphill, but it’s worth it. Trust me!
That’s it for now. There are, I’m sure, many more places for great views of this wonderful city. And the joy of visiting new places is to get out and get lost, find your own spots, but be sure to check out at least a couple of the ones above if you get a chance, and explore the surrounding areas whilst you’re there.