Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, has become internationally renowned for its pleasant climate, cinematographic settings, delicious gastronomy, and hospitality.
However, a visit to this European capital will not be complete without exploring its vast cultural and artistic heritage.
Therefore, here are some of the best museums in Lisbon to include in your itinerary.
History, art, science, and culture: discover some of the best museums in Lisbon
From Fado and contemporary art to natural history and beautiful tiles, there are endless options of cultural wonders to explore.
Hence, we will give you a sneak peek of some of the best museums in Lisbon.
The Fado Museum first opened its doors in 1998 with the mission of celebrating “Fado’s exceptional value as a symbol of Lisbon”. After all, Fado (meaning “destiny” or “fate”) was recognised by UNESCO, in 2011, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Don’t miss the chance to get to know the history of the country’s melancholic songs, as well as some of the most acclaimed Fado singers and their journeys. Above all, enjoy the enchanting melodies.
As well as serving as a Fado school, this museum, located in the neighbourhood of Alfama, also features an auditorium, a documentation centre, together with temporary and permanent exhibition spaces. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how the Portuguese guitar has evolved, get a sense of what the environment in Fado houses is like or marvel at some works of art that explore this world, such as “O Fado” (1919), by the painter José Malhoa.
To immerse yourself in Lisbon’s soul, you should, undeniably, stay in the traditional neighbourhood of Mouraria, the birthplace of Fado.
Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, 1 – 1100-139 Lisboa
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Considered by art and history lovers, unquestionably, as one of the best museums in Lisbon, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is nestled in a verdant oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Home to works owned by the Armenian art collector Calouste Gulbenkian, it’s one of the world’s most important private collections.
Inside, embark on a 5,000-year journey through objects from Ancient Egypt, artefacts from the Islamic East, relics from China and Japan, Art Deco jewellery, and works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, and Rodin.
This museum near Praça de Espanha square, surrounded by tranquil gardens, is located in the heart of the city, certainly just a short walk away from Parque Apartments.
Av. de Berna, 45A – 1067-001 Lisboa
National Tile Museum
One of the best museums in Lisbon — and one of the most relevant in the country —, it focuses on “azulejo” tiles, an art form that is representative of Portuguese culture.
This unique collection, housed in the former Convent of Madre de Deus, includes hundreds of hand-painted tiles, from the 15th century to the present day, filled with beauty and tradition.
Rua Madre de Deus, 4 – 1900-312 Lisboa
National Museum of Ancient Art
From painting and sculpture to jewellery and decorative arts, this museum houses the largest national collection of artistic treasures. Highlights include 40,000 items of European, African, and Eastern origin, spanning from the 12th to the 19th century. ‘St. Vicent Panels’ (1470), by Nuno Gonçalves, and the ‘Temptations of St. Anthony’ (1495/1500), by Hieronymus Bosch, are among works you won’t want to miss.
Founded in 1884, this museum resides in the Alvor Palace, a building with architectural relevance from the late 17th century. It offers a delightful panoramic view over the Tagus River. Make the most of this elegant area by staying at Santos Apartments, near one of the best museums in Lisbon.
R. das Janelas Verdes, 1249-017 Lisboa
MAAT Lisbon — Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
One of the best museums in Lisbon and also one of the newest, MAAT opened in October 2016 to celebrate “the creative means through which we imagine [art], inhabit [architecture] and create [technology] the world we live in”.
Located on the riverfront of the historic area of Belém, this striking building is quite avant-garde. It was designed by the British architecture studio AL_A (Amanda Levete Architects) to host exhibitions focusing on the visual and urban arts, technology, and science.
Av. Brasília – 1300-598 Lisboa
CCB Museum (Belém Cultural Centre)
Also in Belém, another of the best museums in Lisbon, the CCB became a reference in modern and contemporary art.
Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, and Cindy Sherman are just some of the artists featured in the Berardo Collection.
They will take you on a fascinating journey through the artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Praça do Império – 1449-003 Lisboa
National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado (MNAC)
Located in Chiado, central Lisbon, the MNAC has established itself as a leading showcase of contemporary Portuguese art and culture. Founded in 1911, this space includes a very diverse selection of works of art, housing creations by artists such as Paula Rego, Júlio Pomar or Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
Accommodated in the Convent of São Francisco da Cidade, its permanent exhibition encompasses the history of modern and contemporary Portuguese art, from 1850 to the present day.
If you’re keen to stay in this historic, cosmopolitan area, the Chiado-Emenda Apartments are a superb option.
R. Serpa Pinto, 4 – 1200-444 Lisboa
National Museum of Natural History and Science
This museum’s main aim is to deepen the understanding of nature and science, while promoting curiosity. Located in the Príncipe Real neighbourhood, it immerses visitors in fields such as zoology, botany, anthropology, mineralogy, and palaeontology.
After learning about the evolution of species and uncovering science’s greatest mysteries, be sure to visit the Lisbon Botanical Garden. Created in 1878, surprisingly, this garden shelters flora from all over the world and even features a butterfly centre.
If you’re looking to stay in this charming area, the Príncipe Real Apartments are an excellent option.
R. da Escola Politécnica, 56 – 1250-102 Lisboa
What are the best museums in Lisbon for kids?
If you’re planning a family visit to this luminous city, you might want to include some museums in your itinerary.
Here are four of the best museums in Lisbon for children:
Museum of puppets
A collection of puppets and masks of all colours, sizes, and shapes. They were manufactured all around the globe, making for a didactic and fun way to learn about the different handicrafts of Asian, South American, and European countries.
At the Bernardas Convent in Lisbon.
Rua da Esperança, 146 – 1200-660 Lisboa
Lisbon Story Centre
At Praça do Comércio square, an interactive space telling the key events of Lisbon’s history through scenography, multimedia equipment, and sensory experiences.
It stands out for being entertaining as well as educational.
Praça do Comércio, 78 – 1100-148 Lisboa
Located in Parque das Nações, this science centre promotes scientific and technological education.
It’s the best place to discover the mysteries of physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology or social sciences in an interactive way.
Largo José Mariano Gago, 1 – 1990-073 Lisboa
National Coach Museum
Featuring one of the world’s most exquisite collections of royal carriages and coaches. This museum, in Belém, will take you on a thrilling journey from the 16th to the 19th century aboard its fairy-tale vehicles.
It’s bound to be a delightful trip for the whole family.
Av. da Índia, 136 – 1300-300 Lisboa
If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay in Lisbon to discover the best museums, Lisbon Serviced Apartments provides several options tailored to your specific needs.