Portuguese royalty always had privileged access to Tapada das Necessidades, and while the park is open to all now, it remains one of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets.
It’s just a few steps away from Cemitério dos Prazeres, the last stop of tram 28, but only a handful of tourists make it to Tapada das Necessidades.
We love its quiet atmosphere, the cactus garden and most of all, the incredible views it boasts over the Tagus river.
With such a picturesque setting, it’s hard to imagine this was once a hunting ground for the Royals.
Finding the Entrance to the Park – North vs South
Whichever way you enter the Tapada, you’ll always spot a pink building.
At one end, an abandoned mill, at the other, a renovated palace, contrasting the North and the South entrance of the park.
Coming from the North side feels like sneaking into private property. There are no signs stopping you from entering at Rua do Borja, yet you proceed with caution.
As you head downhill, you’ll see the 25 de Abril bridge at a distance, perfectly framed by a row of cacti and exotic trees. Had it not been for the bridge, you would have never guessed you were in Lisbon.
Arriving from the South entry near Calçada das Necessidades has its perks too. There’s a guard by the entrance, so you don’t feel as intrusive. And, if you’re lucky, the peacocks might be there to welcome you in, along with some friendly stray cats.
The Pink Palace – Palácio das Necessidades
Beside the park, there’s a striking pink building known as Palácio das Necessidades.
For years, this palace was the country’s official royal residence. It was here that the last Portuguese king was staying when the monarchy ended in 1910.
Today the building is home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sadly means it’s not open to visitors.
The Picnics at Tapada das Necessidades
The picnics at Tapada das Necessidades are a long-standing tradition. The Royals loved it, and so did Édouard Manet who visited the park in 1859.
It’s said that this visit inspired him to create Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, which you can see today at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Most recently, the Tapada became one of the locations for Out Jazz, a free music festival that occupies Lisbon’s parks every summer.
The last edition at Tapada was in 2016, but we’re hoping it returns soon, so others can discover this hidden Lisbon gem.
In the meantime, you’re free to wander on your own, plan a picnic with friends, or just say hi to the peacocks.
Joana is a Portuguese travel writer based in Lisbon. On her blog City Odes, she writes about the hidden gems of Portugal, fun road trips and train rides worth taking. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you can find her drinking an IPA on one of Lisbon’s latest craft beer bars.