The Belem Tower Lisbon is one of the most iconic sites in the city and one of the most famous Unesco sites in Portugal in combination with the Jeronimos Monastery. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit to this fortified tower protecting Lisbon.
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Why visit the Belem Tower in Lisbon?
Built in the 17th century, the tower is an essential part of Lisbon history as it was protecting the city. It has been included in a Unesco Heritage site. It is one of the most famous monuments in Lisbon
From the outside, the tower is beautiful. You can admire it from many angles.
Its architecture is square and of Manueline style with hints of other architectural styles. For example, its watch towers capped with ribbed cupolas inspired by Islamic architecture.
The cross of the Knights of Christ on many walls of this fortress.
Let's continue with a short video of my visit. There was a lot of waiting which you don't see here... Sadly the weather was not on my side, but you still get an idea of what it is like to visit the Belem Tower in Lisbon.
It is an iconic location in the country, and often part of one week Portugal itinerary suggestions.
More photos and details after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS - Belem Tower Lisbon, Portugal
How to get to the Belem Tower Lisbon
- Not located in the city center
- A taxi from Lisbon center to Belem - we paid 15€ for 3 of us
- From the center you can take tram 15 or 127
- Or you can use the hop on hop off busses - See the routes and Get tickets
The tower is included in my travel guides that help you easily plan your itinerary:
Visiting Torre de Belém
- Closed on Mondays
- Belem Tower opening hours: May to Sep: 10am to 6.30pm / Oct to May: 10am to 5.30pm
- Price Belem Tower: 6€ single ticket / 12€ with monastery / 16€ with monastery and museum
- Belem Tower Tickets: Both at the Monastery and the Tower, there are long queues to get tickets. Consider buying a combined one. If that's the case, you can jump the queue at the second site you visit
- Check the latest opening hours and prices on the official website of the Lisbon tourism board
- Other tips: if you are ready to pay a little bit more, you can buy a combined ticket at the Museu Nacional de Arquologica for the 3 entrances and the queue there is normally quicker
- 110 steps to the top - narrow staircases
- Considering the time to queue, you could choose to only admire it from the outside (which is free).
Belem Tower Facts
- Its Portuguese name is Torre de Belém
- It is also known as the Saint Vincent Tower, Patron of Lisbon
- Built between 1514 and 1520
- Built by King D. Manuel I
- It is decorated in Manueline Style (Portuguese version of Gothic architecture)
- Built both as a ceremonial gateway and a defense system at the entrance of the Tagus River
- Unesco World Heritage site since 1983 (in combination with the Monastery)
- The tower is 30m high (98ft) and 4 storeys
Ground & Underground
Once you are able to enter the tower of Belem Lisbon, you first discover the ground floor with the upper battery. Several canons are on display.
You can go down a staircase to the Lower Battery. With a very low ceiling you will have to squat and there is not much to see..
The best part of the visit of the Belem Tower is the first level. This is where you can appreciate the decor the most. You can see up-close the top of the tower and really appreciate the details in the building.
This is the cross I was mentioning earlier...
Stairs and Queues...
The tower is really not that big, but it is one of the most famous touristic sites in Lisbon. So, it is always busy. I was lucky not to be there on a weekend or in Summer and I was already frustrated.
The staircases are narrow which means crossing people is a problem. Hence the queueing also inside.
From the first level to the roof the access is only one narrow spiral staircase with 93 steps. They are trying to regulate the people going up and down with green/red lights and sounds but it clearly does not work...
The view from the top of the Lisbon Belem Tower
From the top, you have a good view of the Tagus river and the 25th April Bridge.
You can also see the Belem neighborhood and its colorful buildings.
The Miniature Torre de Belém
Not far from the entrance you can see the Replica at 1:50 scale.
It was created to help the visually impaired to capture the architecture of the Belem Tower.
Want to see more of PORTUGAL?
Would you visit it?
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