The Ultimate Lisbon Photography Guide: 18 Incredible Instagrammable Places You Must-See
Lisbon is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Steeped with history and painted with one of the most colourful palettes, there pretty much isn’t a single street you can walk down, without being wowed at all the fantastic hues and views along the way. For photographers and bloggers, this place is a dream! The “miradoures” (viewpoints) which you can find all over the city seem to open Lisbon up like a pop-up book. The intricate tiled walls and buildings are like a patchwork quilt across the city. Make sure you have a few extra batteries with you because you’re never going to be able to stop snapping! Below is a list of my favourite places I found in Lisbon and at the bottom of this post I’ve made a google map of where you can find these spots for yourself!
Bertrand Livraria is the oldest bookstore in the world. It was opened in 1732 and survived both the fire, earthquake and tsunami of 1755 which levelled much of Lisbon. Today it is standing like a quiet landmark in the middle of the busy city. There is only a small sign out front announcing its historic status. The blue and white tiles, which are so popular across Lisbon, are some of the most iconic and their tiled wall, from the 1700s is an incredible place to take a snapshot. I love the way they appear to bloom like flowers.
#2. Alfama District
Alfama was one of the only neighbourhoods to entirely withstands the massive earthquake of 1755. This district is littered with historic houses as old as the city itself, cobblestone streets which are so worn down the stones are almost indistinguishable from each other as well as some of the most vibrant personalities the city has to offer. The squares of Alfama are alight with colourful banners and decorations as there always seems to be some sort of party or festival happening here. Mixed in with the ancient stones and tiles, the colours and breathtaking backdrops here are unreal.
#3. Lavadouro Publico
In the Alfama neighbourhood, if you know where to look, you can step inside a historical public laundry facility. Inside are several large washing basins where adorable old ladies still wash and dry clothes, carpet and more for the neighbourhood. But what makes this place so neat, aside from the fact that it is a little piece of history frozen in time, are the colour block walls and the way the clothes which hang to dry create a pattern on the glass blocks separating the washing area from the drying racks.
#4. Parc Eduardo VII
One of the first places we visited when we arrived in the city was Parc Eduardo VII. We landed super early in the morning, well before we were able to check into our Airbnb, and needed somewhere to relax and the park was one of the only things open. Parc Eduardo is located at the north end of the central downtown area. Constructed in 1902 the garden stretches over 26 hectares and over looks the Avenida da Liberdade. From the top of the long stretch of green grass and manicured bushes, you have a beautiful view of the Tagus river, and the city stretched out around it. From here not only do you have a fantastic view, but have a better idea of the size and scope of Lisbon.
#5. Rua da Rosa in Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is a neighbourhood which absolutely silent during the day, and yet at night, it explodes with life! It’s where you’ll find all the trendiest bars and the hottest night life. But during the day time, it’s a fantastically peaceful place to explore and admire the iconic Portuguese tiles and bright coloured apartment buildings. Walking down the streets you’ll hear only the sound of your footsteps and the occasion resident sweeping off their front steps.
#6. Bica Elevator
The Bica Elevator is one of the most popular spots for a photo is Lisbon. And while it might seem overly touristy during the day, in the early morning this part of the Bica neighbourhood is absolutely stunning and provides incredible photography opportunities. The old tram began running 1892 to help the residents of Lisbon get up the steep hills upon which the city is built on top of. Although these trams and the surrounding neighbourhood are always heavily graffitied, this somehow only adds to the vibrant nature of the town and doesn’t detract from it.
#7. Rua da Condessa
At the end of the Rua da Condessa, in Bairro Alto, you’ll find a long staircase, flanked on either side by dazzling buildings. In between the two buildings is framed on the most magnificent vistas in Lisbon. In the distance, high atop the hill is one of Lisbon’s old ruins, like the old guard looking down over the new city.
#8. Miradouro de Santa Luzia
My favourite Miradouro is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia! Not only does it have one of the most spectacle views across Alfama and the Tagus river, but is also has a lush garden, incredible tile work veranda and lots of rich, blooming trees. No matter which way you’re looking, there is something absolutely magical to see here. This place gets mobbed during the day time, but if you arrive early enough (especially at sunset) you’ll be in for a real treat!
#9. Carmo Convent
The Carmo Convent was once Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Catholic convent located in the heart of Barrio Alto. Fires, earthquakes, political and religious upheaval all resulted in the convent falling to ruins, but thankfully no one had the funds to demolish it. In the later 20th century, it was converted into a museum and what was left of the structure was given supports to prevent its further degeneration. The interior of the convent, with it’s roofless view of the sky is breathtaking. If you’re lucky enough to be there at night or when there is an event, the interior is lit up to highlight the architectural details while the open rooftop provides stunning views of the stars above.
#10. Jeronimos Monastery
The Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 15th century by King Manuel who used money the realm gained from explorations around the world to fund its construction. Portugal was known for its explorers and as such, made a lot of money from its imports. This meant the architect had a virtually unlimited budget for the construction and it’s for this reason that we find this opulent, renaissance building we see today. No matter where you turn or where you look, there are exquisitely framed shots. Hidden in the details throughout the building are oceanic elements, reflecting this strong seafaring country, and are a joy to discover as you explore.
#11. Tower of Belém
The Tower of Belém is located along the scenic Tagus river. It was once a defensive system for Lisbon to help the military see any incoming ships into their harbour. The tower is both a military structure but also an architectural gem of the city. Standing in low tide, on the shores of the river, looking up at this tower is a magnificent sight to see. There’s no need to wait in the super long line and pay six euros to get inside. The view from the exterior is much prettier anyways and exploring it from all angles along the banks of the river is much more fun than waiting in a line.
#12. LX Factory
The LX Factory is located west of the city centre but easily accessible by Uber or metro. It’s a hipster mecca built in what used to be a 19th-century industrial site. This area has yet to be overrun with tourists and for now is a calm, peaceful stretch of trendy stores and cute cafes. One of the best places to visit here is Ler Devagar, a bookshop built inside an old newspaper printing press facility with some of the most adorable and whimsical little touches. It feels like a mix between abandoned factory and Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast.
#13. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
My other favourite Miradouro is the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara. This stunning lookout also has a beautiful square, and nearby kiosk, where you can grab a Ginjinha to drink and sit watching the sunset. Often this square draws groups of musicians who preform traditional music for the crowds which gather. From here you can see across the entire city, over to St. George’s Castle and the surrounding hillside. Looking out at the view, drink in my hand and music in my ears, is honestly one of my favourite memories of the entire trip.
#14. Pink Street
Located along the Ruo Nova Do Carvalho is where you’ll find the insta-famous ‘pink street’. At night this area acts as Lisbon’s ‘Red Light District’, but during the day the charming pink painted road makes everything a little less sinister. People have had a lot of opinions about this street, some recommending to skip visiting it. I think some people expected a pretty and pristine roadway as it appeared on some people’s feeds (some of which I’ve noticed are highly photoshopped in order for the road to look cleaner and empty). So here is the real thing, no people photoshopped out or pink street made to look cleaner, here it is in the raw. I actually still thought it was super cute, as long as you know what to expect. I loved the way the colours on either side played off the road. It’s an adorable little spot to stumble upon when exploring downtown.
#15. Pastéis de Belém
The Belem Monastery was where the recipe for Portuguese egg tarts was invented. These are now popular the world over but nowhere more than in Lisbon. You’ll find these sweet treats everywhere but Pastéis de Belém is where it all began, and you’d be remiss not to take a million pictures of these delicious treats before devouring them all. The shop they are sold in is in itself a becoming maze of white and blue tiles walls and smells heavenly. It’s a great place to sit and enjoy those sweet treats along with an espresso in hand, soaking up the atmosphere of this historic bakery.
#16. Arco Da Rua Augusta
The entryway to Lisbon’s largest square can be found through the Arco Da Rua Augusta. The gateway opens up onto the Comercio Plaza which looks out over the Tagus River. This archway is located along one of the busiest streets in Lisbon and sometimes it can get annoyingly touristy. But if you arrive here early in the morning, you’ll be left only with the elegant scene of 18th century Lisbon.
#17. Lisbon Story Arch
Located down a quiet staircase just nearby a busy tourist lookout point you’ll find the Lisbon Story Arch. It’s a bright and cheerful series of funny cartoons representing the history of Lisbon. In a city which is brimming with street art and graffiti, this is one of the best pieces which is not only a work of art but also gives you a little bit of history lesson to boot!
Sintra is located just 45 minutes by train outside the city, and 30 minutes by car. This village is home to some of the most incredible castles and historical buildings around Lisbon, and it feels like living inside a fairytale. Pena Palace is the most fantastical of all the structures and whose colours seem to beam across Sintra’s skyline. It’s probably the most popular photographed spot in all of Portugal and as such is bursting with tourists. Get here as early as possible, a few minutes before opening if you can, and you’ll find it to be so much more enjoyable than only an hour or two later when you can barely move for the people. And who can blame them for all coming, it really is as amazing as you hear it is!
Hopefully this helps you out in your quest for finding the best Lisbon has to offer! Let me know in the comment what your favourite part of the city was or what you’re most looking forward to seeing.