This post is part of our Love Letter series: first-person accounts of what we love about Lisbon.
You can whine about the hills in Lisbon, but the splendid views above them are worth every climb.
When someone asks me what’s my favorite thing about this city, I have to say it’s the miradouros, what we call the viewpoints.
The city hall has labeled the official viewpoints, but there are many other “unofficial” ones waiting to be discovered on hotel terraces, rooftop bars, or even at your window if you’re lucky.
Official or not, they all have one thing in common: a front row view of the Tagus river, Lisbon’s most famous feature.
If you’re visiting the city for the first time, you’ll probably head to Miradouro das Portas do Sol or Santa Luzia, but once you’ve lived here for a while, you’ll end up going through them all.
Like many locals, I used to spend my afternoons at Miradouro de Santa Catarina watching the sunset and sharing a litrosa (a liter of beer) with friends. The viewpoint was always a bit rough around the edges, but that was the beauty of it, at least for me.
In July this year, Santa Catarina closed for renovation, and no one knows when it will open again. Unaware of it all, tourists continue to drop by, hoping to cross another viewpoint off their list.
You can tell Lisbon is under construction by the number of cranes emerging amid the terracotta roofs.
While the sunsets continue to steal the show, standing at a viewpoint today, I can’t help but notice how the city is changing. And it’s not just the buildings. The audience has changed too.
I live in the Graça neighborhood, where tourists were once a rare sight. Now it’s nearly impossible not to bump into them, and their selfie sticks, at Miradouro da Graça or Miradouro da Senhora do Monte.
In spite of that, I can still find a way to escape the crowds and enjoy the viewpoints on my own.
Sometimes that means waking up early to capture the lonely bougainvillea at Santa Luzia, other times it’s by going further from the center to Largo das Necessidades or abandoned places like Panorâmico de Monsanto.
You don’t always have to be on a hill to enjoy the best views in Lisbon, though. You can also sit along Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon’s stunning riverfront.
And if you want a different perspective, head to Cais Sodré and hop on a boat to Cacilhas. It’s only a 10-minute ride!
I think everyone has a special viewpoint in the city. Even if it’s not officially called a miradouro, or if it’s just their balcony window.
There’s something magical about watching the days go by in Lisbon. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I will never get tired of capturing Lisbon’s sunsets and its cotton-candy skies.
Joana’s favorite viewpoints:
- Miradouro da Graça: This is my neighborhood’s viewpoint, so I spend a lot of time here. Despite the tourists, this is still one of my favorite spots to watch the sunset in Lisbon.
- Miradouro do Recolhimento: This tiny viewpoint is tucked away within the castle’s walls. It offers a great view of Alfama and the pantheon. Here’s a local tip: instead of paying to go into the castle, go to this miradouro. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and until 5:30 p.m. in the winter.
- Miradouro do Torel: Established in the 1960s as a garden, Jardim do Torel also doubles as a viewpoint thanks to its hilltop location. You can walk there, or you can take the Elevador do Lavra, the oldest funicular in Lisbon.
- Miradouro do Cristo Rei: You’ve probably seen the big Christ set above the 25 de Abril Bridge. Did you know you can go up there? Just get the boat from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas. Then walk 30 minutes or take the bus 101. Once you get there, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of Lisbon, stretching from Belém all the way to Alfama.
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.