Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and it has a lot to offer. You can lose yourself walking through the little streets of the historic neighborhoods, enjoy the more modern parts of the city and its shopping malls or enjoy many of its museums, monuments, cultural activities, restaurants and “pastelarias” (pastry shops). But, for me, one of the best ways to explore and enjoy the city is to venture into its parks, gardens and viewpoints which, luckily for us, are many! The first time I visited Lisbon I didn’t have the time to explore much of the parks, but now living here for the past few months I’ve had plenty of time to discover and enjoy them. So I’ll give you a list of my favorite places so far. They are perfect to get in touch with nature and appreciate Lisbon’s beauty and almost year-round good weather. And the best part: the access to all of them is free!
1- Jardim do Torel
The garden was actually part of a bigger property, owned by a rich appellate judge by the name of Cunha Thorel. In 1921, the property was transferred to Lisbon’s City Council and so the garden and the viewpoint – which has a great view of the western part of the city – were built.
To get there is quite easy, you can get off at “Restauradores” metro station and walk until the “Elevador da Lavra” (which is a historic tram that goes up the hill, so you don’t have to walk all the way there). After the ride, you just turn left and walk a few more meters, and you’re there.
For me, the best thing about this place is that it’s very calm and relaxed, mostly visited by locals. It has a lot of shade, some comfortable benches where you can put your feet up and enjoy the view, plus there’s also a little kiosk if you want to have a drink or eat something.
2- Parque Eduardo VII
This is the biggest park in Lisbon, with 25 hectares, and probably one of the most famous. It was originally called Parque da Liberdade (Liberty Park) because of its connection with the “Avenida da Liberdade” (Liberty Avenue), but it was renamed after King Eduard VII of England in 1903 to honor and celebrate the allegiance between the two countries.
To get there is super easy, you can either get off at “Marques de Pombal” metro station and then by just looking up you’ll already see the trees, the maze-like hedges, and the viewpoint. Or you can get off at “Parque” metro station, which takes you to the middle of the park already. In both cases, to get to the viewpoint you can walk up along the boulevards on either side of the hedges and enjoy some shade and the “calçada portuguesa” (the beautiful Portuguese pavement patterns), or you can walk within the hedges.
It is a quite touristic place, and guesses are that at the viewpoint there will be many tourists taking pictures of the amazing view to Marques de Pombal square, the historic center and the Tagus river. But around the boulevards you can find quiet places full of trees and grass, and with some picnic tables, to enjoy some peace and quiet. In the park there are also greenhouses you can visit, with a huge variety of plants.
3- Jardim da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
This garden is connected to a cultural foundation called Calouste Gulbenkian, so there are two museums inside the park, for which you need to buy a ticket to access, but the access to the park itself is free. You can get there easily getting off the metro station “São Sebastião” or “Praça de Espanha”, both are very close to the entrance of the park.
Visiting this park is like going out of the city for a while, because you are surrounded by nature (it has 9 hectares and there are 230 plant species), there’s a big lake inside with grass around it where you can rest and watch the ducks – although the ducks are also walking around everywhere else in the park – there are little creeks all around, and geese, and birds, so a great place to get in touch with nature. There are many locals who take advantage of this park to relax during lunch break or after work, but it’s still a very peaceful place. Plus, there’s a nice outdoor amphitheater where you can enjoy some concerts, mostly in summer and spring.
4- Jardim da Estrela
This garden was inaugurated in the middle of the XIX century, in front of the “Basílica da Estrela” (Catholic Church and old convent for Carmelite nuns). It has 4,6 hectares and it was built copying the style of English gardens, with a romantic inspiration. There are many types of trees and plants, a lake with carps and also cute ducks walking around everywhere. Plus, there’s a kiosk to grab a bite or drink something; there are also many statues and a beautiful iron gazebo, where some musicians play during the summer.
To get there you can get off at “Rato” metro station and walk for some meters, or you can take the famous Tram 28 and get off right in front of the Basilica. The park is usually crowded with locals and tourists, but you can always find a quieter place and a bench to rest and relax.
5- Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara
Last but not least, there’s this garden which is also very popular among tourists and locals, understandably so. It was built in 1864, near Bairro Alto (popular bohemian neighborhood) and it has a great viewpoint, with a view to the east part of the city – an especially amazing view of St George’s Castle, the historic center and the Tagus River. It has two levels, the one on top with more trees and benches, which is the official viewpoint; the lower level is more of an open garden and it has a kiosk, but both have a great view of the city.
To get there is easy, you can get off at “Restauradores” metro station (which is next to Rossio’s Train station), and go up the “Calçada da Glória” street. It’s very steep, so if you’re feeling the need to exercise you can do it on foot, but if not, you can take the “Elevador da Glória”, which like in Jardim de Torel, it’s a tram that takes you up there.
This place is very touristic and it’s almost always full of people, but it’s still very much worth it. The lower level is more relaxed and you can often find tourists and locals just sleeping in the grass, enjoying the sun.