Dozens of public and private collections, many housed in former palaces and convents that would be worth a visit even without their museum displays. That’s the case of the Tile Museum and the Decorative Arts Museum, where visitors end up spending much more time than they anticipate.
As expected in a major European capital, Lisbon boasts excellent museums, from the world-class Calouste Gulbenkian Museum to the remarkable Museum of Ancient Art and the latest and acclaimed Design Museum.
Other museums have some of the world’s most valuable collections of their kind like the Coaches Museum and the Maritime Museum in the Belém district, also home to the Archaeology Museum and the lavish collection inside Ajuda Palace.
Lisbon entices the visitor with a superb choice of museums, variously dedicated to ancient and contemporary art, fashion and design, and industry and exploration, among other themes.
How to Get There

1. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu Nacional do Azulejo.

The only museum in Portugal dedicated to “Azulejos” (decorated tiles) this superb cultural installation is set around the beautiful cloisters of the Madre de Deus Convent, founded in 1509. The collection showcases the evolution of tile-making and is exhibited chronologically. The earliest examples date from the early 16th century, their multi-coloured design influenced by Moorish azulejo patterns. A huge panel, the Nossa Senhora da Vida altarpiece – a museum highlight – exemplifies the development of Portugal’s own style. Another notable piece is the extraordinary 35-meter tile panorama that represents Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake – Portugal’s largest tile arrangement! Admission to the museum also grants visitors entry to the church of Madre de Deus, celebrated for its ornate and gilded decoration.
Date/time: Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm and Tuesdays 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Price: 5€.
Location: Rua da Madre de Deus 4, Lisboa

2. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu dos Coches.


One of the most visited museums in Lisbon is the National Coach Museum. It shelters a unique collection of royal coaches (and adjoining accessories: uniforms, cloths, harnesses) dating back to the modern era (the 17th to the 19th century). The collection comprises horse-drawn carriages which used to belong to the Portuguese royal families, as well as to the European ones, English and Spanish alike.
Date/time: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
Price: 6€
Location: Avenida da Índia 136, 1300-300 Lisboa

3. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.


Portugal’s national gallery houses the country’s largest collection of 15th and 16th century Portuguese paintings, but this revered museum also houses a brilliant array of European art from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century. It is also known for its rich display of applied art, largely thematic of the era of discoveries and colonial explorations of Portugal. The museum is housed in a 17th century palace, built on the site of the monastery of St Albert Carmelite, destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Fortunately the chapel survived and is now integrated into the building. You can spend half a day browsing the extensive collection, spread over several floors. Must-sees include the stunning Panels of St Vincent, painted around 1470 and attributed to Nuno Gonçalves, and Jheronymus Bosch’s disturbing The Temptations of St Anthony.
Date/time: Tuesdays from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm, Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
Price: 6€
Location: Rua das Janelas Verdes, 1249-017, Lisboa

4. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu Colecção Berardo.

Admirers of modern art will be suitably impressed by the outstanding collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture housed in a gallery that constitutes the Berardo Collection. Named after a wealthy Portuguese entrepreneur, Joe Berardo, the private collection is on permanent display in a dedicated hall set within the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB). Some of the most celebrated exponents of contemporary art are represented, and Berardo’s priceless stash includes works by Picasso, Miró, Dali, Bacon and Hockney. The collection is so comprehensive that the exhibition is rotated. However, visitors are usually regaled with treats such as Andy Warhol’s evocative Judy Garland and Roy Lichenstein’s dotty Interior with Restful Painting. Canvases by Portugal’s very own weird and wonderful Paulo Rego are often given an airing.
Date/time: Open every day from Monday to Sunday 10:00-19:00 (last admission: 18:30)
Price: To visit some of the temporary exhibitions it may be necessary to purchase a ticket.
Location: Centro Cultural de Belém, Praça do Império, 1449-003, Lisboa

5. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu da Electricidade.

A decommissioned early 20th-century electricity generating station has been transformed in to one of Lisbon’s most original and fascinating museums. The building itself is a fine example of industrial architecture, but it’s the interior that really impresses. Visitors enter through the Low Pressure Boiler Room, the cathedral-like generating hall. The vintage machines – steam turbines, ovens, consoles and pipelines – are all original and imaginatively lit.
Date/time: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am – 06:00 pm
Price: Free
Location: Avenida Brasília (Edifício Central Tejo), Lisboa

6. Best museums in Lisbon – Fundação Calouste Gulbekian.

The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian has one of the finest collections of art in Europe. Over 6,000 solo pieces are exhibited here, exhibitions spanning over 4,000 years from antiquity to the 19th century. Incredibly, they all belonged to one man, Armenian oil mogul Calouste Gulbenkian. On his death in 1955 the multi-millionaire bequeathed his entire estate to the nation.A foundation was set up in his name and a museum was opened in 1960 to house the vast inventory of priceless artifacts.
Date/time: Tuesday to Sunday between 10.00 am- 5.45 pm
Location: Av. de Berna, 45A, 1067-001 Lisboa
Price: 5€

7. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu do Fado.

In order to learn all there is to know about the history of this musical genre, its evolution, its influences on other forms of art (cinema included), major fado singers and composers, as well as in order to find out about the importance of the fado houses for the preservation and popularization of the celebrated traditional Portuguese songs, the Fado Museum is a destination not to be missed out. The collection protected by the museum is complemented by the documentation center, which can be visited by appointment only. The museum also organizes live performances meant to entertain the guests and to illustrate the emotional depths thematically explored by fado.
Date/time: Every Day 10:00 am – 06:00 pm
Location: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, N.º 1, 1100-139, Lisboa
Price: 5€

8. Best museums in Lisbon – MUDE — Museu do Design e da Moda.

The Museu Design Moda is one of Lisbon’s more unusual museums in that it’s housed in a former bank. The interior of the financial institution was gutted to make way for a rotating collection of design and fashion classics, with the emphasis on vintage apparel. Some of the most illustrious names in haute couture of the 1950s and 1960s are represented, designers like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Creations by savvy street fashionistas such as Mary Quant and Vivien Westwood are also given an airing, as is clothing by the likes of Paco Rabanne and Georgio Armani. The museum also showcases celebrated interior designers including Phillipe Starck and Charles and Ray Eames. There’s usually the odd surprise in store like the classic Italian scooter by Piaggio that looks as though it’s arrived straight out of La Dolca Vita.
Date/time: Tuesday to Sunday (10:00 am – 6:00 pm) closed Mondays
Location: Rua Augusta, 24, Lisboa
Price: Free

9. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu do Chiado.

Tucked away in a quiet street in Lisbon’s Chiado district, this absorbing museum is known for hosting some truly modern and innovative temporary exhibitions that offer an interesting contrast against the permanent collection of 19th century Portuguese art. The building, a former warehouse, dates back to 1800, but a sweeping renovation has transformed the interior into an elegant cultural space. The collection comprises painting and sculpture, the work of some of the country’s most influential artists. Pieces to look out for include the marvelous decorative panels by Jose de Almada Negreiros and O Grupo do Leão by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro. Scattered amongst the displays are works by international artists, notably a portfolio of drawings by Rodin.

Date/time: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am – 06:00 pm
Location: Rua Serpa Pinto, 4 1200-444 Lisboa
Price: 4€.

10. Best museums in Lisbon – Fundação Oriente.

The permanent collection of the Museu do Oriente, displayed on the Portuguese Presence in Asia – Heritage. Memory. Collections’ brings together a rare and priceless cache of artifacts from Eastern Europe, the Far East and Indian subcontinent. Organized according to country of origin, each piece effectively traces the cultural ties created by Portugal with the Orient. Indeed, the influential Fundação Oriente is responsible for curating the exhibition. Visitors should look for highlights such as the beautiful 17th century Namban canvas depicting Portuguese explorers arriving in Japan.Another prominent display is the huge, intricately carved teak door found in India. Trimmed with bronze and iron, it is believed to date from the eighteenth century. Other unique pieces include the cradle of an exquisite Macau boat-shaped child. And note the delicate silver alloy bracelets made in East Timor in the early twentieth century.
Location: Lisboa, Doca de Alcântara (Norte), Avenida Brasilia, Museu do Oriente.
Date/time: Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00-18.00. Friday: from 10:00 to 22:00 (from 18.00 to 22.00 entry is free) Closed: on Mondays, January 1st and December 25th.
Price: 6€

11. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu da Marinha.

Anyone with a fascination for maritime history will certainly appreciate this engaging museum, which pays tribute to Portugal’s proud seafaring tradition. Housed in the west wing of the Jerónimos monastery, tours begin in the Discoveries Hall dedicated for the most part to the history of ship-building from mid-15th century onwards. The hall displays dozens of intricately detailed model ships displayed in glass cabinets. Of singular note is a terrestrial globe crafted by Willem Jansz Blaeu in 1645. The collection of astrolabes is the world’s largest. The main building also houses a seaplane, the “Santa Cruz”, which made the first trans-South Atlantic flight in 1922.
Location: Lisboa, Praça do Imperio.
Date/time: Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
Price: 5€

12. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu Nacional de Arqueologia.

The museum’s collection is displayed on the convent’s nave and apse, consisting of exhibits depicting the history of Portugal, without claiming to offer a complete approach. The collection is quite miscellaneous, in fact, but some of its highlights refer to the archaeological findings excavated from a fortress near Azambuja (these findings date back to 3,500 to 1,500 BC), to a series of royal Gothic tombs, a collection of azulejos (glazed tiles) and a statue allegedly rendering Afonso Henriques (a 12th century king of Portugal).
Location: Praça do Império (Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos)
Date/time: Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm and Tuesdays 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Price: 3.50€

13. Best museums in Lisbon – Museu da Marioneta de Lisboa.

This is a wonderful venue to visit for people of all ages, since the exhibits manage to fascinate both the grownups and, understandably enough, the little ones. The collection consists of more the 1,000 puppets gathered from Portugal, as well as from other countries: China, Indonesia, India, Italy, and New Zealand.
Location: Lisboa, Rua Esperança, 146.
Date/time: Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 1 pm and 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Price: 7.5€