Located near Alfama is one of Lisbon’s top attractions—St. George’s Castle. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, St. George’s is the most recognized Lisbon attraction that can be seen from almost every point of the city in which majestic battlements, a museum, and an archaeological site are located. With walls and towers that kids love to explore, this attraction is one of the most enjoyable family destinations in Lisbon. Past the main gate is a statue of King Alfonso Henriques along with a series of cannons that serve as reminders of the original purpose of the castle. Alcaçovas Palace, wherein medieval kings used to reside, now houses Casa do Leão, a traditional restaurant that specializes in Portuguese cuisine. St. George’s Castle also has a garden with peacocks, ducks, and geese wandering around in which you can sit back and relax, and you may also the climb the castle towers for a breathtaking view of Lisbon.
Erected in Praça do Império is Lisbon’s symbol of wealth and power during the Age of Discovery—the Jerónimos Monastery. One of the greatest Portuguese landmarks, the Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was built to honor the 1498 voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. Hieronymite monks resided in the Manueline-style monastery in which a refectory with beautiful reticulated vaulting and tile wall decoration depicting the story of Joseph is located. The church is roomy and has octagonal piers that are adorned with reliefs, and its gardens are decorated with Portuguese municipal coat of arms hedges and a fountain which is often illuminated on special occasions. The monastery is open daily—except Mondays, and January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, June 13, and December 25—and you may visit it as early as 10 a.m. for only €10.
One of the finest aquaria in Europe is also located in this Portuguese city—the Lisbon Oceanarium. Situated in the Parque das Nações area, the oceanarium houses an array of fish and marine animals. The Lisbon Oceanarium has four separate sea and landscapes: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic oceans. A central tank wherein fish of all shapes and sizes—some of which include sunfish, rays, and shark—swim around can also be seen here. The oceanarium is one of the best family attractions in Lisbon, and exploring its different ecosystems can be fun and informative at the same time. To see playful penguins, you may head on to the Antarctic habitat, while the sea otters can be admired at the Pacific tank. In addition to the oceanarium’s reputation as one of the most popular Portuguese tourist attractions, it has also been commended for its marine environmental awareness campaigns.
The National Museum of Ancient Art, which is located west of Lisbon, one of the greatest cultural attractions of the city. With its large collection of 15th and 16th-century Portuguese paintings, the National Museum of Ancient Art is one of the must-see places in Lisbon.The museum was built over the remains of the Saint Albert Carmelite monastery which is housed within a 17th-century palace. The museum has three levels of permanent exhibits, and it is recommended that you stay here for at least two hours. The first level is home to notable pieces including the Virgin and Child with Saints by Hans Holbein, the Temptations of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch, and a St. Jerome portrait by Albrecht Dürer. Japanese Namban screens are placed in the second level, while Portuguese paintings and sculptures—one of which includes Nuno Gonçalves’ Panels of Saint Vincent—are located in the third level. In addition to the abundance of Portuguese art, the museum also has an impressive collection of European, Oriental, and African art.
The romantic town of Sintra is also a must-see attraction when visiting Lisbon. Just a 40-minute train ride away from the city center, Sintra is located at the foot of Serra de Sintra in which Portuguese kings and queens used to retreat during the summer season. Sintra has a scenic landscape that consists of mysterious mansions, royal palaces, 8th-century castles, and a historic old town. Sintra Vila, Sintra’s old town, is placed within the Palácio Nacional de Sintra. Colorful townhouses and cafes line the town’s streets, and strolling down its alleys are delightful enough to make your trip to Sintra worth it. There are several day trips you may join to tour Sintra, some of which include tours to neighboring attractions such as the fishing village of Cascais.
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