A selection of the best hidden gems in Lisbon, Portugal
I often see posts claiming to describe top Lisbon hidden gems, but more often than not, they simply aren’t that hidden at all!
Having called Lisbon my home for just over 3 years now, I’ve had the privilege to get to truly explore the city and discover some real, and quite frankly stunning Lisbon secret spots that you shouldn’t miss out on when travelling to gorgeous Lisboa yourself.
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Casa do Alentejo
First up on our list of hidden gems of Lisbon we uncover a little secret slice of Morocco in the heart of downtown Lisbon.
From the outside Casa do Alentejo may not seem that significant, but step inside and be blown away. As you enter, head up the first flight of stairs where you’ll be welcomed into an Arabic style courtyard with exquisite Moorish-inspired interiors and tile-work that will leave you wondering whether you’re still in Portugal.
Heading further up yet another flight of stairs you’ll arrive at the second level that houses a restaurant with gorgeous traditional Portuguese tiles and another grandiose banquet hall complete with beautifully painted ceiling detail and chandeliers.
Location: Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 58, 1150-268 Lisboa
Palacio de Queluz
Perhaps a bit more off the beaten path Lisbon is the stunning 18th century Palacio de Queluz, situated around 30 minutes from the city when taking the train or around 20 minutes by car, a great day trip out from Lisbon.
Palacio de Queluz and the surrounding gardens are undoubtedly one of our favourite palaces in Portugal and whilst many travellers flock to Sintra’s Pena Palace (and for good reason too), visitors to Lisbon often seem to completely overlook the Queluz Palace.
That, of course, means that it’s far less crowded and you can admire the many awe-inspiring rooms as well as the equally impressive and lush gardens.
Location: Largo Palácio de Queluz, 2745-191 Queluz
When searching ‘secret places Lisbon’, I bet you wouldn’t normally stumble upon a cemetery, but this cemetery, the largest in Lisbon, us unlike any other we’ve seen before.
The cemetery which is located in Estrela, Lisbon was established in 1833 and is the final resting place of many prominent historic Portuguese figures including Presidents, Prime Ministers and other famous Portuguese personalities. Prazeres is also the place you’ll find the largest private mausoleum found in Europe, the Mausoleum of the Dukes of Palmela.
We must have spent at least two hours wandering through the rows upon rows of impressive and decorative tombs. Incredibly beautiful and tranquil in the heart of the city.
Location: Praça São João Bosco 568, 1350-295 Lisboa
Tucked away in a corner of the famous Parque Eduardo VII in central Lisbon, you’ll find the tropical hidden gem Estufa Fria. Yet another of the hidden gems Lisbon has to offer, this large and expansive indoor garden sanctuary is barely noticeable from the outside. But enter through its doors and you step into a lush oasis, a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Lisbon.
You can quite easily spend half a morning here as you explore the different sections (the Estufa Doce or sweet greenhouse and the Estufa Quente, the hot greenhouse).
Be sure to head over to Estufa Fria on a Sunday and over Holidays, since it’s also one of our top free things to do in Lisbon. Estufa Fria grants free entry up until 14:00 on these days.
Location: Parque Eduardo VII, 1070-051 Lisboa
Jardim Estrela & Basílica da Estrela
Another two Lisbon hidden places to explore is the Jardim Estrela gardens and the neighbouring Basílica da Estrela, which are both well-known to locals but not so much to tourists visiting the city.
The late baroque and neoclassical style Basílica da Estrela is one of my favourite churches in Lisbon. Construction of the basilica started in 1779 under the orders of Queen Maria and it was later consecrated in November 1789.
The gardens offer refuge after a long day of sightseeing. Why not grab a bottle of Vinho Verde wine and laze around in the sun. During the summer months Jardim Estrela usually also plays host to the annual Outjazz Festivals, so be on the lookout for these events if you happen to be visiting during that time.
Location: Praça da Estrela, 1200-667 Lisboa
Museu da Marioneta
One of the most unique hidden places Lisbon offers is the Museu da Marioneta (the Puppet Museum). Located in the neighbourhood of Santos, this is a true Lisbon hidden gem which you will easily miss unless you know of it.
We spent an incredible afternoon exploring this museum and discovering the carefully curated collections dedicated to the history of puppet theatre and puppets. It is, in fact, one of a kind as it’s the only puppet museum in Portugal.
The collections are fascinating as the museum houses a vast array of different types of puppets including from South East Asia, Africa and Europe too, to name a few.
Definitely a fabulous day spent exploring the curious world of puppet artistry, but in my mind, a must-see when visiting Lisbon.
Location: Rua da Esperança 146, 1200-660 Lisboa
The Gulbenkian Museum and Gardens
Sheltered away in the swanky suburbs of Avenida Novas is yet another of Lisbon’s hidden gems, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and gardens.
The museum itself is a real treat for art aficionados since it hosts one of the worlds biggest private art collections, being home to more than 6000 art pieces.
It’s worth noting that it’s not just the art that draws the crowds. No, many Lisbonites take refuge in the surrounding gardens, a peaceful sanctuary set in the heart of the city. The gardens are absolutely beautiful with my favourite part being the small bamboo forest that connects one part of the garden to another.
If you’re visiting Lisbon during the peak summer months, then it may be worthwhile checking the Gulbenkian site as they often host outdoor summer festivals and events in the garden amphitheatre.
Location: Avenida de Berna 45A, 1067-001 Lisboa.
Insider Tip: Calling all art lovers, if you love street art then don’t miss out on one of the largest open-air street art gallery in Europe, right here in Lisbon. These incredible street art murals in Quinta do Mocho is definitely one of Lisbon’s best kept and off-the-beaten-track secrets!
Ajuda National Palace and Ajuda Botanical Gardens
The Ajuda National Palace set up top the Ajuda hill, just up from the area of Belém, was built after the Earthquake of 1755 which destroyed large parts of Lisbon including the then royal residence Paço da Ribeira (the Ribeira Palace). After its completion and becoming the official royal residence, the Ajuda Palace was the home of the Portuguese royal court in the 19th century.
The Palace was subsequently closed in 1910, upon Portugal’s abolishment of the monarchy and declaration as a Republic, and only opened again much later to the public as a museum.
Today you can visit the Palace and tour many of the impressive rooms including the gorgeous red throne room and the white and gold dining hall, which are still used today by the Portuguese government for official events and ceremonies.
Only a skip and a hop down the road you will also find the Ajuda Botanical Gardens. It’s not particularly massive but very pretty as you wander through the curated hedges, admire the views of Lisbon and watch the peacocks meander by.
Location: Largo Ajuda, 1349-021 Lisboa
Lisbon truly has so much to offer and whilst it’s definitely worthwhile visiting the main tourist sites, I would highly recommend that you do take some time to check out these brilliant Lisbon hidden gems.
Visited Lisbon before and discovered any secret spots not yet listed in this post? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!