It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re interested in something. That’s what can happen in the museums in Lisbon – given the interest of the subjects covered, you’ll find it hard to choose which to visit. Here is our top 20.
1. National Museum of Ancient Art
An essential landmark in Portuguese culture, the National Museum of Ancient Art is one of the most important in Lisbon and holds a number of national treasures and major works in a collection that is made up of around 40 thousand items from the XII to the XIX Centuries, including brilliant paintings, sculptures, sketches, jewellery and plenty more. Some of the highlights include the Temptations of Saint Anthony, by Bosch, and the Saint Vincent Panels, by Nuno Gonçalves.
Address: Rua das Janelas Verdes, 1249-017 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h00 to 18h00. Closes Monday, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December
2. Ajuda National Palace Museum
The Ajuda National Palace Museum has been classified as a national monument since 1910. It is both the old residence of the Royal Family and a museum of decorative arts. King Joseph I withdrew to this spot following the devastating earthquake of 1755 and had a wooden building erected to better resist the tremors.
At the time it became known as the Wooden Manor, or the Royal Shed and it was eventually razed by an enormous fire but later rebuilt using stone and lime. It stands today as an excellent witness to Portuguese history, especially that specific period.
Address: Largo da Ajuda, 1349-021 Lisboa
Opening hours: Sunday to Monday, 10h to 18h (last admission at 17h30). Closes Thursdays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December
3. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, located in the Bairro Azul, contains the Founder’s Collection, that includes close to six thousand pieces, around one thousand of which are on permanent exhibition. Inaugurated in 1969 it is part of the museums of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and includes classical, Eastern and European art circuits. The highlight is the unique René Lalique collection.
The Modern Collection, which dates from 1956 is considered one of the most complete modern art collections in Portugal, and includes pieces by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Paula Rego and Vieira da Silva. The collection continues to grow through donations and acquisitions.
Address: Avenida de Berna, 45ª, 1067-001 Lisboa (Founder’s Collection) / Rua Dr. Nicolau Bettencourt, 1050-078 Lisboa (Modern Collection)
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday, 10h to 18h (last admission at 17h30). Closes Tuesday, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 24 and 25 December
4. National Theatre and Dance Museum
With a collection of around 250 thousand pieces, including costumes and stage props, backdrops, figurines, posters, programmes, records, scores and photographs, the National Theatre and Dance Museum is a reference in terms of the performative arts and is a must on the circuit of Lisbon museums. Located in the XVII Century Monteiro-Mor Palace, it’s collection, started in 1979, is filled with memories and periodically puts on temporary exhibitions related to the world of showbusiness.
Address: Estrada do Lumiar, 10, 1600-495 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h .Closes 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December.
5. National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado
The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado is one of the most important in Lisbon. It is located in the Convent of São Francisco and includes a permanent exhibition that covers the history of Portuguese art between 1850 and current times. It also holds frequent events with collectors, artists, art historians, scientists and researchers, making it a privileged showroom for Portuguese culture.
Address: Rua Serpa Pinto, 4; Rua Capelo, 13, 1200-444 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h (last admission at 17h30). Closes 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December.
6. Lisbon Museum – Pimenta Palace
The main building of the Lisbon Museum can be found at the Pimenta Palace – an XVIII Century summer residence – shows how the city has evolved since the time of pre-historic occupation up to the XX Century. This is the ideal place to understand the history of Lisbon (and Portugal) and is of utmost interest to anybody who likes to feel the atmosphere of the several ages that the city of Lisbon has lived through.
Address: Campo Grande, 245, 1700-091 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h. Closes 1 January, Easter Sunday and 25 December
7. National Coach Museum
This is not just one of the most important museums in Lisbon, but even in the world, because of its unique collection, which was started in 1905, when it first opened in the old Royal Riding School. The National Coach Museum was recently moved to a new, more spacious, modern and elegant building and it includes incredibly valuable pieces such as the Landau that King D. Carlos was travelling in when he was murdered in 1908, but also the many gala and travelling carriages from the XVI and XIX Centuries.
Address: Avenida da Índia, 136, 1300-300 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h (last admission at 17h30). Closes 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December
8. Pharmacy Museum
This is a surprising spot with a very rich collection that merits your full attention. Through an in-depth approach to the history of Portuguese and World health, the Pharmacy Museum presents models of what Portuguese pharmacies looked like throughout the ages – such as the XVIII Century Barbosa Pharmacy – as well as a Chinese Pharmacy.
Address: Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1, 1249-069 Lisboa
Opening hours: Every day from 10h to 19h (last admission at 18h30); 24 and 31 December, from 10h to 14h30 (last admission at 14h00). Closes 1 January, Easter Sunday and 25 December
9. Water Museum
At the Water Museum you can learn all about the evolution of the city’s water supply, from Roman days to modern times. The old boilers room includes pieces of enormous value and shows photographs, documents and Carlos Mardel’s designs for the Mãe d’Água reservoir. However, make sure you book ahead.
Address: Rua do Alviela, 12, 1170-012 Lisboa
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10h to 17h30
10. National Music Museum
Open since 1994 at the Alto dos Moinhos underground station, the National Music Museum has one of the richest collections of musical instruments in all of Europe. It also has important documents, musical recordings and images. The idea behind the museum is to help save, preserve, study, value, promote and develop its cultural assets and in doing so it promotes the musicological, phonographic and organological heritage of Portugal and helps to disseminate the country’s musical culture.
Address: Alto dos Moinhos Underground Station
Rua João de Freitas Branco, 1500-359 Lisboa
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 11h to 17h. Closes on Sundays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December
11. Carris Museum
This is one of the most curious museums in Lisbon, where you will be able to get a full grasp of the first days of public transport in the capital city. The Carris Museum was inaugurated in 1999, 127 years after the public transport company was founded. The company has known how to preserve its history and its past in an exemplary fashion and the result is that a visit is like travelling through time. Its impressive collection goes well beyond the mere pieces that are directly related to Lisbon’s public transports, also showing how it influenced and contributed to the development of the city.
Address: Rua 1º de Maio, 101-103, 1300-472 Lisboa
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10h to 18h
12. National Tile Museum
Housed in the Madre de Deus Convent, the National Tile Museum shows perfectly how practical the Portuguese have been since the XV Century in terms of the decoration of the inside and outside of buildings. The truth is that during one of the hardest times in the history of Lisbon and Portugal, when the streets were filled with poverty and misery following the loss of its status as one of the most important ports of trade in the world, the use of tiles on the façades of buildings in Lisbon was adopted as a measure to help recover a clean and orderly image. At the National Tile Museum you can find some of the most important examples of Portuguese tiles, which stands out as one of the most differentiating artistic expressions of Portuguese culture in the world.
Address: Rua Madre de Deus, 4, 1900-312 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11h 16h (last Admission at 15h30). Closes Monday, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December.
13. Aljube Museum
Fully dedicated to the dictatorship in Portugal, the Aljube Museum recalls this period of Portuguese history that ran from 1926 to 1974, making it an important reference for learning more about the country’s recent past.
Address: Rua de Augusto Rosa, 42, 1100-059 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h. Closes Monday, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
14. Carmo Archaeological Museum
Founded by St. Nuno Álvares Pereira, Prince of Portugal, in 1389, the Carmo Convent has suffered several changes and adaptations over the centuries as it adapted to new architectural rends and tastes. The Carmo Archaeological Museum is unique amongst all of Lisbon’s museums in that it is a very visible witness to the memory of the 1755 earthquake, the effects of which are very visible in the currently preserved ruins. Other historic and artistic pieces have since been added, ranging from pre-history to modern days, and that belong to the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists, which shares the building with the museum.
Address: Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10h to 18h (October to April) and Monday to Saturday, 10h to 19h (May to September). Closes Sunday, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
15. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology belongs to the EDP Foundation and was inaugurated in 2016. Spread out over 38 thousand square meters, it includes the old EDP Tejo Power Station. The MAAT questions and celebrates the intellectual ambitions and creative methods in which we live, imagine and create the world we inhabit. The architectural beauty of the MAAT makes it stand out among its peers in Lisbon, as does the sheer amount of national and international exhibitions that you can visit within its walls.
Address: Avenida de Brasília, 1300-598 Lisboa
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday, 11h to 19h. Closes Tuesday, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
16. Berardo Collection Museum
A veritable journey through the main artistic movements that marked the XX and XXI Centuries is what the Berardo Collection Museum has to offer its visitors, making it a reference in the world of arts in Portugal and an absolutely unique museum in Lisbon. From Picasso to Mondrian, including Bacon, Warhol, LeWitt, Botero and Gursky, among others, the collection is made up of about one thousand pieces, by about 500 famous artists.
Address: Praça do Império, 1449-003 Lisboa
Opening hours: Every day, from 11h to 19h (last admission at 18h30). 1 January, from 12h to 19h (last admission at 18h30) and 24 and 31 December from 10h to 14h30 (last admission at 14h). Closes 25 December
17. National Museum of Natural History and Science
Here you can visit a XIX Century Chemistry lab and delight in the marvelous collection of butterflies, reptiles, insects and many, many spiders. This museum, located in the heart of Lisbon, also boasts a fabulous tropical botanical garden that you simply must take in. It also organises several events and different exhibitions, so that every time you visit you are likely to find something different, or new.
Address: Rua da Escola Politécnica, 56/58, 1250-102 Lisboa
Opening hours: Museum – Tuesday to Friday, 10h to 17h; Saturday and Sunday, 11h to 18h. Closes Monday and holidays.
Botanical Garden of Lisbon and Tropical Botanical Garden – Every day from 10h to 20h (last Admission at 19h30). Closes 1 January and 25 December (The Butterfly Vivarium is currently closed)
18. Fernando Pessoa House
In the heart of Campo de Ourique, the house where Fernando Pessoa spent the last 15 years of his life lies open to all who are interested in the great poet and in Portuguese literature in general. The exhibition area was recently increased to three stories and includes exhibitions on the writer’s heteronyms and his personal library. There is another that hosts temporary exhibitions and, finally, on the first floor you can see what his apartment actually looked like at the time, as well as peruse through biographical information, including some of his personal belongings.
Address: Rua Coelho da Rocha, 16-18, 1250-088 Lisboa
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11h to 17h (last admission at 16h). Closes Monday, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
Admission: 5€ (free admission until 30 September 2020)
19. Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Foundation
Located in the old Silk Factory, the Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Foundation was inaugurated in 1994 as a tribute to the work of the Portuguese painter and also to the legacy of the Hungarian artist. It is currently considered one of Lisbon’s top museums and a landmark in terms of contemporary culture.
Address: Praça das Amoreiras, 56, 1250-020 Lisboa
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h. Closes Monday, Tuesday and holidays
20. Museum of Money
Ever thought you’d be able to touch a 12kg bar of gold, or have a coin engraved with your image? Well now you can, at the Museum of Money, located in what used to be the São Julião Church, later used as a parking lot and safe for the Bank of Portugal. Located in downtown Lisbon, visitors are invited to follow closely the history of money and its relationship with Portuguese and World society.
Address: Largo de São Julião, 1100-150 Lisboa
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10h to 18h . Closes Monday and Tuesday, 1 January, 1 May, 24 and 25 December