The Lisbon miradouros are a series of terraces in the city offering spectacular views. The chances are that you’ll come across some of these Lisbon viewpoints, even if you only visit Lisbon for a day or two. The Lisbon hills, especially around Bairro Alto and the Castelo de Sao Jorge, offer naturally high vantage points over the lower Baixa area and the RIver Tagus beyond. Our guide to the best views in Lisbon tells you how to get to each miradouro, and what to see there. We also give advice on the best time to visit each viewpoint, and the best time to photograph each Lisbon view.
The miradouros are among the best places to visit in Lisbon – read on to make the most of your time at each.
Our Best Views in Lisbon Nomination – Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara
For me, this may just be the best miradouro in Lisbon. It’s a small park in the Bairro Alto (the ‘High District’), almost directly above Rossio railway station. It has a grandstand view across Baixa, with Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George’s Castle) perched on the hilltop. You can also see the Sé, Lisbon’s ancient cathedral in the Alfama district, and the Tagus beyond.
Best time for photography – undoubtedly at dusk, just after the city’s lights come on.
How to get to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara – if you’re approaching from Rossio, your best bet is to catch the Elevador da Gloria, whose upper terminus is at the corner of the park. This old hill tram churns and clanks its way up the steep hill, and it’s a wonderful ride. Otherwise it’s a walk to get the thigh muscles working. If you’re already in Bairro Alto, it’s on Rua da Misericordia, just beyond the church of Sao Roque (St Roch).
Miradouro de Santa Justa
The Miradouro de Santa Justa is another Bairro Alto viewpoint. It’s at the top of the remarkable Elevador de Santa Justa, a neo-Gothic structure that serves as the one vertical lift between the Bairro Alto and Baixa.
From the top, you enjoy a great bird’s eye view over the streets of the Baixa district of central Lisbon to the Castelo de Sao Jorge and the Sé to its right. There’s a small kiosk where you can buy a drink and savour the view.
Best time for photography – any time after 4pm, when the sun starts to cast shadows on the streets below. Dusk is also a good time.
Getting there – either take the lift from ‘downstairs’ in the Rua da Santa Justa, or head to the viewpoint near the top of the lift, at Largo do Carmo. This is next to the ruin of the Convento do Carmo.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
The Santa Catarina Lisbon miradouro is the least spectacular of the main viewpoints in Lisbon. It’s in the side streets above the river, close to the Elevador da Bica funicular tram. It’s above the Cais do Sodré station and ferry terminal, the terrace affording a wide view across the river towards the Ponte de 25 Abril. The broad terrace is a great sun trap, and there’s a kiosk and a popular cafe (Noo Bai) with tables outside. Parts of the view are pretty much industrial, and some of the office blocks near the riverfront detract from the scene.
The miradouro is also known as Adamastor, named after the stone sculpture at the site. It’s of a character in Luis de Camões’ epic poem, The Lusiads. This is also the least touristed of Lisbon’s miradouros.
Best time for photography – early morning or late afternoon and evening, when the light is lower and you have some shadows forming on the buildings below. It’s also ideally placed for a shot of the Ponte de 25 Abril at sunset or later.
Getting there – it’s a short walk from Rua da Bica and the Elevador da Bica. Turn left at the top, then the first left down Rua Marechal Saldanha. This becomes Rua Santa Catarina – the small park and terrace is on the left.
Miradouro do Castelo
It’s the one miradouro Lisbon has without any sign of the castle – because it’s right behind you. This miradouro is the shaded terrace next to the western wall of the impressive Castelo de Sao Jorge, high above the city.
The terrace gives a great view of many of the Lisbon sights. The red rooftops of the city are huddled below, and you can see Praça da Figueira, Rossio Square, the Convento do Carmo and the grid of Baixa streets laid out below. As you scan to the left, you also see the river and Ponte 25 de Abril.
Best time for photography – either in the morning for a daytime view across the city, or towards sunset.
Getting there – the Moorish castle is at the top of a mini-medina of narrow travessas and lanes. You can do it the easy way, on the 737 bus to the ‘Castelo’ stop. Otherwise, you can wander the higgledy-piggledy backstreets from Largo Santa Luzia, eventually climbing the cobbled streets to the famous Lisbon castle.
Miradouro de Santa Luzia
We’re now into the miradouros looking over the Alfama district of Lisbon. It’s my favourite part of Lisbon, and the one area of the city to come through the 1755 earthquake unscathed. The famous tram 28 route runs through here
It’s the oldest part of the city, a medieval labyrinth of narrow lanes, and there are two stunning viewpoints over this evocative part of Lisbon. The view is across the Alfama skyline, with the dome of the National Pantheon rising above the rows of brightly-painted houses. As you look to the right, you see the Baroque church of Santo Estevão and the Tagus beyond.
It’s a lovely view, and the terrace itself is probably the most attractive Lisbon miradouro. Next to the church of Santa Luzia, there is a partly-shaded terrace with two fine tiled paintings. One of these is of the Praça do Comercio prior to the 1755 earthquake.
Best time for photography – either mid-afternoon for daylight, or at dusk, when the churches and some of the streets are lit up.
Getting there: It’s on the Largo Santa Luzia section of the main road through the Alfama, to the right of Santa Luzia church. Trams 12 and 28 pass very close, as does bus 737.Otherwise, it’s an easy walk up the hill from the Sé de Lisboa, the medieval cathedral.
Miradouro das Portas do Sol
You don’t have to venture far to find the next Lisbon lookout. The terrace of Largo das Portas do Sol is the other side of Santa Luzia church, barely a minute’s walk away from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
This short walk reveals yet more Lisbon landmarks. A lone palm tree reaches skyward from the streets below, and above the mass of houses rises the impressive church of São Vicente de Fora. You can also see the dome of the National Pantheon from here. It’s undoubtedly one of the best photo spots in Lisbon.
Best time for photography – if you’re after a daytime shot, any time between 10 am and 5 pm will be fine. The shot also works at dusk.
Getting there – as with Miradouro Santa Luzia above, rams 12 and 28, and bus 737 all run close by.
Miradouro da Graça
The Miradouro da Graça is in a wonderful spot overlooking the city, shaded by trees with a bar-cafe serving drinks and food. What a wonderful place to sit and look out over the city.
Its official name is the MIradouro Sophia Mello de Breyner Andresen, named after a Portuguese poet.It’s not the best photo spot in the city – the next viewpoint and Sao Pedro de Alcantara win out there. But it’s a fine place to watch the sunset with the Castelo and Ponte 25 de Abril on the horizon.
Best time for photography – late afternoon, sunset and dusk.
Getting there – It’s a short walk (400 metres, 5 minutes) from Portas do Sol to the Miradouro. This is quicker than getting the 28E tram or the 734 bus, which both stop a few minutes away on Rua da Voz do Operario.
Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte
The last Lisbon panorama, the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, is well worth waiting for. The Our Lady of the Hill lookout is the highest in the city, and gives one of the best views. You get a great view of the Castelo de São Jorge, with the Baixa below and Tagus beyond. It’s also possibly the best sunset view in Lisbon, with the sky going red behind the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. The view is so wide that there are really two photographs there, not just one.
It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot, with a few benches around a tiny white shrine, shaded by pine trees. The church of the same name is just behind the viewpoint. It’s a more elevated vantage point than the Miradouro da Graça, well worth the extra walk up the hill.
Best time for photography – early morning for daytime, and dusk to catch the sunset colours in the sky.
Getting there – You can get most of the way by the 28E tram and 734 bus up Largo da Graça, then walking left along Rua da Senhora do Monte for 150 metres to the viewpoint. It’s 400 to 500 metres’ walk from the Miradouro da Graça.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.