On a summer day, you are looking for a place to have a day trip near Lisbon. For sure, Belém is the perfect place for you to enjoy Portugal. You can get inside a historical tower just like the ones in fairytales, or pay your respect to explorers who have an important role in the Age of Discoveries by visiting the monument. After seeing all the great places, you can reward yourself with delicious Pastel de Nata. Let’s go back in time and live Portuguese history by visiting Belém!
How to Go to Belém
Would you like to enjoy a nice view while going to Belém? Then, you should take Tram 15. Look for the classical yellow Portuguese tram when you are in Praça da Figueira or Praça do Comércio.
Tip: Getting a Lisboa Card will give you free access to Belém Tower and Jerenimos Monastery
Things to Do in Belem
Belém Tower / Torre de Belém
Belém Tower dates back to the 16th century and it was primarily built as a fortress to defend Lisbon city. Also, the dungeons inside the tower served as a prison. Now, the tower is one of the most iconic features of Belém! There are four floors inside and you need to climb really narrow and spiral stairs, so be aware if you are not comfortable with such places. The exterior of the Belém Tower is an example of Manueline (Late Gothic) architecture. There is no doubt that this tower is on Unesco’s World Heritage List. During spring and summer, which is the best time to visit Belém, you would need to wait a very long line to get inside since limited people are allowed in every circulation of entry. I promise it is worth waiting, but still, get your tickets online to avoid some of the crowd.
Jerenimos Monastery/ Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
One of the best things to do in Belém is visiting the fascinating Jerenimos Monastery. It is the other important element of Belém which is on Unesco’s list. Statue of Mary will welcome you alongside other figures in the front door. The most impressive part must be the cloister of the monastery with its architecture and garden. Vasco de Gama was an important figure in Portuguese history and his tomb lays in Jerenimos. Don’t forget to look up, you will be impressed by the beauty of the ceiling. You can enter the church for free, but for the cloister, you need to buy a ticket. You can check this website to see the unique details of the monastery before visiting Belém.
Monument to the Discoveries / Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Are you wondering what this ship-like sculpture just near the Rio Tejo (river) is? Well, it is the Monument of Discoveries in Belém. The monument looks like a caravel setting off for its new adventures. It is dedicated to the overseas discoveries of Portugal and to the people who took part in it. On the prow of the caravel, we see Prince Henry, known as the Navigator, accompanied by other famous navigators and captains. There is a huge compass rose that lays on the ground just in front of the monument. Go and walk on it; you will feel like a Portuguese navigator yourself!
Pastéis de Belém / Pastel de Nata
Okay, you have visited all the attractions in Belém and now it is time to get some energy. Eating Pastel de Nata would be the sweetest option for you. It is one of the most popular desserts in Portugal. It is believed that in Pastéis de Belém, they are still using the original recipe from the 19th century. I guess the Nata owes its delicious taste to this secret and well-preserved recipe! You can’t miss the place since there would be lots of people waiting outside. There are two lines; one for take-away and the other one for ordering inside. I promise it is worth waiting, once you go inside the smell will welcome you and the historical interior will impress you. Also, you can choose the to-go option and enjoy your freshly baked Pastel de Nata in the park just across the road with many other people.
Tip: Add cinnamon to your Nata!