Belém Tower: Navigating Lisbon’s UNESCO World Heritage Site

It was my last day in Lisbon, so naturally I was trying to squeeze as much in as I could. We had just left the Santa Justa Lift and grabbed a Pasteis De Nata whilst we waited for an Uber to take us to our next destination, Belém Tower. Six cancellations later and one finally called to inform me the road we were waiting on had been closed by the police whilst we were on the lift. 

Luckily one of them was kind enough to give us an alternative meeting point and time to walk there, cue a sprint to get there and keep on time. It wasn’t too bad of a drive to get to Belém Tower, taking around 25 min. Which was a relief as all four of us were tightly packed into the Prius. When we did arrive we practically exploded out of it as the doors opened. 

Jardim da Torre de Belém gardens

Belém Tower is within the Jardim da Torre de Belém gardens, which would have been the perfect place for a picnic had we the time or the weather for it. By the time we arrived the clouds had fully settled in. It wasn’t cold, just a bit nippy, but the skies were grey and overcast for our visit.

You cannot buy your ticket at the entrance to the tower. Instead there is a hut in the centre of the gardens where you can purchase from there. I found this out when we tried to buy at the gate but was sent away. Alternatively you can buy tickets in advance with Get Your Guide, I have attached a booking tool below for you to use. By booking through this link you pay the same price, and I may receive a commission which helps support the blog.

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Ascending the tower

Fully aware of how little time we had left in Lisbon, we quickly grabbed our tickets and made our way inside. We walked along the wooden gangway, which seemed to be a popular Belém Tower Instagram spot, and made our way inside. Naturally we wanted the best views first, and the best views are always at the top, so we started to make our way up the stairs. Initially we intended to head straight to the top and work our way down, but the stairway is so tight we decided to take it a floor at a time instead.

Most of the rooms are completely empty, apart from a sign explaining its purpose in history. Each room has slightly different architecture but really that’s about it. But as you ascend there are windows giving you different perspectives of the city. 

The exception to this is the bottom floor which is filled with the cannons used to defend the tower when it was under attack. This room felt completely different to the others, maybe because it was a lot larger or because it was the only one that didn’t feel like a carbon copy of the next floor. But it was fun to explore.

Local entertainment

We were getting close to lunch now, and had to head back to our hotel room to check out. So we started to make our way back outside. We were greeted to the sweet sounds of a violinist playing in front of the entrance. A crowd had formed, and we delayed ordering an uber to watch for a few minutes. We stood there enjoying the sweet music with the tower making the perfect background. Although we did get distracted watching a dog play in the water just behind, and a frustrated wade in after giving chase.

Little moments like this make travel for me, yes it was a cloudy day. We had no golden sunrise or sunemset to highlight Belém Tower. It would have been more magical if we did. But it was still a beautiful castle to explore. If I’m honest, I’d be lying to you if I said it’s a must-see when visiting Lisbon. It is fun, and I don’t regret it. If you’ve only got a short amount of time left it’s worth considering. But if I had a full day left there are places I would have prioritised. 

Belém Tower FAQ’s

What is Belém Tower?

Belém Tower is a fort built to defend Lisbon from incoming raids that may arrive along the Tagus River. Over the years its purpose has changed though, at one stage becoming a customs centre and even a lighthouse. Nowadays it sees itself recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site, inviting over 1.5 million visitors per year.

Can I go inside Belém Tower?

Yes you can explore all the way up to the top. But to climb Belém Tower you need to buy a ticket. To make it easier I have added a booking tool below which will also have the current entrance fee.

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How old is Belém Tower?

Belém Tower was built between 1514 and 1520. Making it over 500 years old.

How long does Belém Tower take?

I spent about an hour here. It’s a short activity, which is perfect for city breaks as you can pack in a lot. 

How far is Belém Tower from Lisbon?

The taxi from the Santa Justa Lift to Belém Tower took us around 25 minutes, so it’s easy to access.

How can I reach Belém Tower?

There are train and bus stations nearby which make the Belém Tower easy to access. Although Taxis and Uber are always the quickest.

What time does Belém Tower open and close?

Belém Tower is open 10 to 5:30 Tuesday to Sunday.

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