Belem Tower is synonymous with Lisbon and Portugal. If you have browsed pictures of Lisbon you would have no doubt seen this 15th Century tower that sits on the bank of the Tagus River.
Attractions, museums, monasteries and defensive towers adorn the Lisbon neighbourhood of Belem. Belem in Portuguese is known as the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belem. Belem along with a trip to Sintra are the most popular Lisbon day trips to make. .
How to get from Lisbon to Belem Tower
Getting from Lisbon to Belem, you may be lucky and get the heritage style tram or you may get the modern trams that now work the lines in Lisbon. The Lisbon tram 15 can be caught from The Praça da Figueira Square or Comercio Square on the River Tagus.
The tram at Comercio picks you up from in the shadow of Arc Rue Augusta, the tram at Praca da Figueira is looked on by Castelo St George. On your way to Praca da Figueira don’t forget to check out Sao Domingos an amazing Church that has survived earthquakes, floods and fires.
Comercio Square Lisbon is my favourite squares in all of Europe. The size of the square is huge, the statue of the King in the centre dominates your line of sight, the Arc is like an old town gate welcoming you to Lisbon and the colourful buildings are absolutely radiant in the Portuguese sun. I spent a few summer mornings in Comercio Square.
I watched the sunrise from the Tagus River as Lisbon Portugal woke to another day. You can feel like the only person in the city if you get down to the river early in the morning. Visiting Belem Tower is one of the amazing things to do in Lisbon
Ok, let us get back to the article at hand! What can I say, Comercio Square is a favourite of mine! Belem is 25 minutes away on the Lisbon tram 15. Our kids loved the tram and the air-conditioned comfort that it provided on such a hot day. The kids found a seat and as our classic Lisbon tram rattled along they gazed at the buildings, bridges and the river that passes by on the way to Belem.
Try and catch an early tram to avoid the crowds especially if you are visiting in the summer. Get off the tram when you reach Monastery Jeronimos. If you are visiting the Jeronimos Monastery it is a brilliant idea to get your Monastery and Belem Tower Tickets here as a combined ticket. This will save you a long line up because with your Belem Tower Tickets already purchased you can walk straight past the line!
Another fantastic way to get to Belem is the Yellow Bus hop on hop off tour. The Bus does 2 different routes. If you get on the Tagus Tour route it will drop you off 100 meters away from The Tower of Belem. You can read about our Yellow Bus experience HERE.
A short walk of 15 minutes is required to get to Belem Tower Lisbon. On your way, you will pass the Discoveries Monument
This unique Lisbon monument pays homage to important historical figures in Portugals Age of Discovery. It features King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding his book of poems, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, map makers are all lined up behind Henry The Navigator. The monument was constructed in 1960. Discoveries Monument was constructed to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. As you walk you will come across many ice cream stands on your way. The day we went to Belem Tower it was 38 degrees and roasting. We stopped for ice cream many times that day. The kids thought they found a sugar utopia on the Tagus River!
What you don’t want to see when arriving at this Lisbon attraction is a massive line. There is no shade whatsoever and on a hot day, this would be very hard for anyone having to stand in it for a long time. Lucky we already had Belem Tower tickets that we had purchased at Monastery Jeronimos, so we were able to walk past a line of 100 or more people and pretty much go straight into Belem Tower.
Thank goodness for the Belem Tower Tickets! Our children would not have handled waiting for an hour in the 38-degree heat. As a matter of fact, we did Monastery of Santa Maria de Belem and Belem Tower in the one day. These are certainly both essential things to see in Lisbon
Belem Tower Lisbon looms large as you approach
Facts about Belem Tower
- Construction of Belem Tower started in 1516.
- 763 blocks and 504 stones were delivered for its construction.
- The King decided that the Tagus River needed more defences to hopefully stop any attackers from reaching Lisbon proper.
- Originally the Tower sat just off the river bank on a small island
, .The Tower has been used as many things throughout its years.
Where do we stay in Lisbon
Lisbon Centre Historic Apartments are located just 200 meters from Rossio Square in Downtown Lisbon. These 2 and 3 Bedroom apartments are fully self-contained with cooking facilities. The apartments are comfy and spacious with a balcony area. A small supermarket is 50 meters away while Square Largo Do Carmo is close by with plenty of dining options. We loved these apartments that much we have stayed here twice!
For more information and to book click HERE.
Find the best HOTEL DEALS in Lisbon Portugal with TRIP ADVISOR
At one stage the Tower of Belem was a jail for political prisoners, it served as a storehouse and was basically a toll booth for boats entering the Tagus. Belem Tower had one major engagement in a conflict which was with the Spanish. After 2 hours of fighting, Belem Tower surrendered.
We explored the floors of Torre de Belem. The bottom floor or basement area you can still see niches that cannons were pointed out of. A few cannons are still on display. Our girls took delight sitting on the cannon and playing with them. As you make your way up each level there were different displays of memorabilia and artefacts about Belem Tower on each floor.
Belem is a must see Lisbon attraction
The stairwell is so small that there is a timer system much like traffic lights. This system lets traffic go one way only, either up or down at a time. Our kids thought this was funny and raced up and down the stairs whenever the lights would change.
The views from the different levels were amazing. Great pictures can be taken from the Loggia (balcony on the second floor) and the Bastions that look out on the river and the bank area. The inner cloister of Belem Tower Lisbon is very gothic in design with spires and carvings of biblical figures.
Belem Tower Lisbon became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 becoming the 263rd World Heritage Site. There is a nice cafe just on the banks near Belem Tower. We sat there had some drinks and food in the shade of some big trees. It was a great place to relax and cool down while admiring this UNESCO site a little longer from the outside. Its one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Top Tips: So don’t forget to buy a dual Monastery Jeronimos and Belem Tower tickets when entering The Monastery. It was extremely lucky we did!
Also make sure you grab some of the world famous Belem custard tarts. The famous patisserie at Belem is located opposite the tram stop near Monastery Jeronimos. Belem Tower Lisbon is certainly one of our 5 things not to miss in Lisbon
Getting to Lisbon:
- Lisbon is the capital and biggest city in Portugal.
- Humberto Delgado Airport is located 7km from Lisbon City Centre
- It is the 24th largest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume, having served 22.4 million passengers in 2016
- Lisbon Airport is served by 121 destinations with 47 airlines
- Lisboa is serviced by many international airlines and budget carriers
.Theairport is a hub for TAP Portugal. Lisbon is a focus city for easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling and Azores Airlines. You can check the prices of international flights to Portugal with cheapOair. Domestic flights can be booked with Expedia
- The airport and city are connected by the metro. Aeroporto Saldanha line takes approximately 20 minutes to reach downtown Lisbon
Aerobusesis accommodating for travelling with large luggage. The departures are available at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 between 7:30 and 23:00 daily, and connect the airport with a number of major destinations in the downtown area. Information and bookings available here.
- Santa Apolonia and Lisbon Oriente are the two major trains station for domestic and international arrivals by train
- Check your trains prices here.
- Most international buses arrive at Lisbon’s Estação do Oriente bus station. Check your bus prices here.
- You can book an airport transfer with Suntransfers who we have personally used on many occasions.
- You can book a rental car with AutoEurope and have it waiting for you at Lisbon Airport.
Getting around Lisbon:
- Lisbon features an extensive public transport network, comprising both underground and surface means of getting around. The metros, buses and trams of Lisbon is one of the most cost-efficient and flexible manners of discovering the city
- Ticket prices on the trams (streetcars) is now 2,85 Euros with the object being to make more users buy pre-pay passes. A single ticket on the metro is €1.90 without a rechargeable card, €1,40 with. There are a variety of passes available which reduce those costs considerably.
- Children under the age of 4 travel free of charge on the Metro, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
- The popular Lisbon Hop on hop off bus is a great option for tourists wanting to see the main sights of Berlin. This tourist bus has 2 different routes that travel the sights of the city on a loop basis. For more information Look here!
- The Lisbon Card offers tree public transport and entries to major Lisbon sights.
Where to stay in Lisbon:
- Lisbon has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
- Hostels in Lisbon can start from as little as 15 euro’s a night for a shared dorm room.
- You can search Airbnb for their Berlin accommodation offerings. If you have never used Airbnb before get yourself $50 credit by signing and booking a stay right HERE.
- Hotels in Lisbon generally start from around $70 a night for a double room and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards 5 stars. Google states that 3-star averaging $92, 5-star averaging $226 for a night stay.
- You can compare and book your stay on Agoda, and Priceline
( All coloured text in the Getting to Lisbon, Getting around Lisbon and Where to stay in Lisbon links to the pages mentioned for your information and booking convenience. We at Wyld Family Travel will make a small commission from any bookings you make. This money goes into maintaining our website. )
We hope you liked this post by us and here are 2 more articles from Wyld Family Travel we think will help you on your next trip to Lisbon!