I’ve written before about how I feel like Lisbon is a city of endless views. Built on 8 hills (not 7, as the slogan claims… that’s another story), and layered like a giant 3D puzzle, there’s no shortage of places to gaze upon one of the most colourful and vibrant cities in the world. During the day, the sun is bright, the sky is endless and blue, contrasting against the multichromatic buildings. At night, the lights bring a whole different and beautiful life to the city.
Here’s my top places to catch the best views of vibrant Lisbon:
Miradouro de São Pedro da Alcántara (Bairro Alto)
In a city with endless lookouts, this is by far my favourite. It’s not only that you have a wide-angle type of view over the city, or that you see layer upon layer of buildings, or that it’s the largest of the miradouros. This is my favourite viewpoint because although you can get vast sightlines from other points, this is the only one that allows you to look upon the Castelo São Jorge, the Sé de Lisboa (cathedral), the Rio Tejo (the river), and you can pick out all the neighbourhoods below, giving you almost a map-like view of the city. It’s pretty busy here, as there’s always something going on, but it’s large enough to not feel crowded, and in typical Lisbon fashion, there’s a quiosque where you can grab a drink and hang out enjoying the best view of the city.
Miradouro da Nossa Senhora de Monte / Miradouro da Graça (Graça)
I’m listing these two together because they are both in the Graça neighbourhood and have similar views of the city… if I have to pick, Nossa Senhora de Monte has a slightly better angle, giving a wider line of sight. These views allow you to see the Castelo, a small part of the river and look over the Mouraria neighbourhood, looking west toward the sunset.
Miradouro Jardim do Torel (Pena)
This one is great because it’s not as well known amongst the tourist crowd. It’s got a very local, slightly hipsterish vibe about it. What makes it nice is that located in a park, and covered with trees, making is a nice spot to relax and hide from the blazing Lisbon sun in the middle of the day. While you’re up there, the neighbourhood of Pena is uniquely cool and very much a locals’ part of town. The park in the centre surprised me as there’s a ton of chickens running around loose, that give it a slightly farmy/old world feel to it that the rest of Lisbon doesn’t have.
Miradouro do Monte Agudo (Anjos)
This viewpoint is located in the Anjos area, on the east side of the city and doesn’t give you the classic city centre view, but has some great characteristics that make it worth a visit. Just like the previously mentioned one listed above, Monte Agudo isn’t known by many tourists and is in a very locals only type of neighbourhood, making you feel like you’re almost in another town. There’s a tiny café up there where you can get drinks, coffee, or light snack meals and hang out without any worries. This one’s unique in the fact that it’s actually gated, so it’s important to note that it closes at 10pm.
Miradouro Portas do Sol (Alfama)
Although this one’s listed in every single guidebook and every single website you could possibly find, I still can’t ignore Portas do Sol because the view over Alfama is just so beautiful, there’s a reason why it’s iconic. It by far one of the busiest miradouros, which is why I try to shy away from it a bit, but you really can’t get a better view of the most historic and classic neighbourhood in Lisbon.
From this point you can walk down the steps into the maze-like alleyways of Alfama, or you can go uphill towards the castle, through the old entranceway in an area known as the Grafitti Rune, which is a cool abandoned neighbourhood that used to be around in the medieval days, now turned into sort of an art piece. Also close by is one of my favourite pieces of Lisbon street art, the tribute to fado legend, Amália.
Castelo Alternate Viewpoint (Castelo)
This one’s a little hard to describe where to find it, because it doesn’t have an official ‘miradouro’ name. It’s a part of a small public park space that is open during the daytime only, in the southwest corner of the Castelo neighbourhood (inside the walls) overlooking the Grafitti Rune area. I call it the “alternate” because the viewpoint from the Castle is the most well know.. but it’s also the busiest in town and you have to lineup and pay to get in. I love this alternate viewpoint, because although it’s in the tourist-heavy Castelo area, it’s in a tucked away corner that gets few foreign visitors making it a quiet space to enjoy a view over Alfama.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina)
Okay, so first thing’s first… one of the best views for an amazing sunset, looking west of the city with the iconic bridge in sight. I debated even putting this on the list, not because of the view, but because of the crowd. I’m probably just getting old but it’s a lot more gritty and dirty than any other viewpoint in town. A lot of young people drinking a lot of booze, with cans and bottles left all over the ground… and it’s absolutely packed, leaving no room to sit down and enjoy. I guess I just have to retire my youth, because this location just isn’t for me. I’m sure the Kensington (Toronto) crowd would love it though.
Arco Rua Augusta (Baixa)
This viewpoint isn’t a miradouro in the traditional sense (usually located in a sort of park space), but it is a really great lookout point and the only that that’s dead centre in the middle of the city. In fact, it’s as central as you can get, because the Arco (arch) Rua Augusta acts as the gateway to the city. It’s a small fee to the top of the arch, but it’s well worth the tiny price, and gives you a full 360˚ view from the centre of Lisbon. You can also get a combined ticket for a very small additional cost that allows you to access both the arch and the Lisbon Story Centre that is a fun way to learn about the history of this great city.
Miradouro Park Eduardo VII (Marqués de Pombal)
This viewpoint is a little different because you don’t get the traditional closeup view of all city buildings, but it does offer a unique and wonderful point to see the city. It’s located at the top of the hill that is the very long Eduardo VII park and looks right down the middle of Lisbon. It’s a pretty cool perspective view, and just above this point you can access the not so well known ‘green path’ which is basically one super long park pathway cutting through the middle of the city taking you all the way across to the gigantic Monsanto Park to the west. Oh yeah, and my favourite burger restaurant in the entire world is just up the road!
Topo Bar (Martim Moniz)
This is one of 2 viewpoints I’m putting on the list that aren’t miradouros. It’s a bar located at the top of one of the weirdest malls I’ve ever seen. There’s MANY bars in Lisbon with great views, but I particularly like this one because it’s no frills, relaxed, and has the single best view of the Castle, as it overlooks the eclectic Martim Moniz square and the Mouraria neighbourhood. The drinks are pretty good here too, and it’s a great spot to hang out with some friends.
Rio Maravilha (LX Factory)
The second viewpoint on this list that’s a bar is one of my favourites in the entire city. I’d actually put it in the top 3, if you don’t mind going a bit out of the way and hanging out at a bar. Rio Maravilha is on the top of a building in LX Factory, one of the coolest and most unique areas of Lisbon…. for Toronto peeps think Distillery meets Kensington meets West Queen West. The rooftop patio here is absolutely one of a kind, being multi-leveled and the best part has a rubber ‘gravel’ ground, long picnic tables, a seating terrace with cushions, and the best bridge-facing view in Lisbon (which makes sense since it’s located right next to the Ponte 25 Abril). There’s also a very iconic multi-coloured statue of a lady in a pose that mirrors the Cristo Rei landmark across the river. The drinks are really great here, and if you make friends with the bartenders they have a lot of info to give!