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An Art Lover's Guide to Lisbon in 24 Hours

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 20 March 2018
Spend a colorful 24 hours in Lisbon by bouncing from one artistic corner of the city to another. A blooming reputation as one of Europe’s creative capitals is attracting more art lovers to Lisbon’s sunny neighborhoods, and, in response, the city seems to be offering more unique venues and events to keep visitors happy. Where should you go, however, if you only have one day to explore? Here is an itinerary designed to help you see the best sights in a short amount of time.

Must-see museums

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

The most famous art museum in Lisbon may be the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, made up from a private art collection made public and showcasing a range of genres from ancient to modern art from Eastern and Western cultures. You’ll see everything from Egyptian to Greco-Roman, Asian, and European artifacts, textiles, paintings, and more. Opt for a guided tour (on Sundays and Mondays at 11am), or walk around on your own, and don’t forget to sneak a peek (maybe more than a peek) at the lovely garden surrounding the museum.

Regular tickets cost €11.50 while guided tours are €12.

Av. de Berna 45A, 1067-001 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 217 823 461

MAAT

The Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Belém is another excellent choice. Founded just two years ago in 2016, it has quickly become a symbol of the city with its wave-like physical exterior that includes a rooftop miradouro (viewpoint) and eclectic events. Sign up for a tour of the Tejo Power Station (an area the public usually misses) or one of the regular exhibits like the Electronic Superhighway (which digs into how the internet has influenced art over the past few decades).

Entrance tickets to the permanent exhibits cost €5, and €9 when including temporary exhibits.

Av. Brasília, 1300-598 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 002 8130

Berardo Collection Museum

While you’re in Belém, head over to the Belém Cultural Center to visit another fantastic collection that was once private but eventually donated to the city. Contemporary and modern art are the highlights of the Berardo Collection Museum, which showcases a range of amazing pieces including those of world-renowned artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The Belém Cultural Center is next door to the Jerónimos Monastery, making it easy to find.

Saturdays are free; otherwise, entrance tickets are €5 and include entrance to the temporary exhibits.

Praça do Império, 1449-003 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 361 2878

Contemporary galleries

Galeria Belo-Galsterer

Founded in 2012, the Galeria Belo-Galsterer is a contemporary art gallery with an international and multicultural personality. The artists, who come from around the world, pull inspiration from their own unique perspectives and use many different ways to express themselves including sculpture, installations, and drawings. Located around the corner from Marquês de Pombal Square, it is centrally located and easy to find while exploring the city.

R. Castilho 71, 1250-068 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 381 5914

Galeria Graça Brandão

Perhaps you want to focus your efforts on seeing more art from Portuguese-speaking communities? The Galeria Graça Brandão in Bairro Alto is the place to go.

Rua dos Caetanos, 26 A, 1200-079 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 346 9183

Cool cafés

Pois Café

Although it’s a little pricier than typical cafés in Lisbon, Pois Café is still a favorite coffee/snack/lunch spot, especially among expats and tourists looking for a place to hang out in historic Alfama that’s both cozy and lovely. Furnished with sofas and wicker chairs and decorated with books, drawings, and painted canvases, it’s hard to argue with the logic. Pois Café is also one of Lisbon’s brunch spots, so why not fuel up here before heading out in search of the city’s best artworks?

R. de São João da Praça 93-95, 1100-521 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 886 2497

Arts Café

Make a stop for coffee and/or lunch at this bright and cozy café that’s just a two-minute walk from the Santa Apolónia station. As its name suggests, the Arts Café has paintings decorating the walls and cute accents cheering up the place further (like colorful furniture and small vases on the tables filled with flowers). The menu is pretty full, too, with items ranging from traditional Portuguese pastries and toasties to salads, beer, juice, coffee, and more.

Rua da Bica do Sapato 50C, 1100-094 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 803 2123

Café Tati

Find Café Tati one block up from the historic Mercado da Ribeira. This local hangout is cool and relaxed with a hint of vintage personality. Head over for either breakfast or lunch (which includes both Portuguese and international dishes), or visit in the late afternoon to hear live jazz music.

R. Ribeira Nova 36, 1200-371 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 346 1279

A Brasileira Café

Lisbon’s most famous café is arguably A Brasileira, both for its historic significance and lovely Art Deco interior. This was also a place where the city’s artists once showed off their work, and while it is now a crowded tourist attraction, it’s still a landmark that shouldn’t be missed.

R. Garrett 122, 1200-273 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 346 9541

Urban art

André Saraiva’s Urban Mural

The rainbow-hued mural consisting of over 52,000 small azulejos, located in São Vicente near the National Pantheon, is Lisbon’s largest work of street art and a must-see attraction. Bright and seemingly random with international symbols like the Eiffel Tower and New York City skyscrapers, it showcases places and things with meaning to the artist. Of course, you’ll also see symbols from Lisbon like the Águas Livres Aqueduct and a cartoon caricature of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa.

Local Tip: To really enjoy the mural and take stunning photos, avoid visiting on Tuesdays and Saturdays when the city’s Feira da Ladra flea market is in progress.

Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisbon, Portugal

André Saraiva’s Urban Mural
André Saraiva’s Urban Mural | © Nina Santos

Graça neighborhood

In reality, you could spend an entire 24 hours dedicated to finding Lisbon’s street art, and many neighborhoods have concentrations of excellent examples. One, in particular, is Graça, a traditional neighborhood characterized by narrow cobbled streets, steep hills, and restaurants and cafés filled with locals. Walk uphill from the stunning Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte (after taking photos of the view, of course), and you’ll see these two popular designs decorating the façades of old buildings.

Street art in Graça
Street art in Graça | © Nina Santos
Street art in Graça, Lisboa
Street art in Graça, Lisboa | © Nina Santos