Santa Justa Lift: Exploring Lisbon from above

Santa Justa Elevator in Portugal Lisbon

It was my final morning in Lisbon, and my plane was due to fly home that evening, so I wanted to visit a few highlights before leaving. We had made our plans the night before over a few cocktails in a nearby bar. First thing we would head straight to the Santa Justa lift, before heading onwards to Belem Tower. Originally the plan was to do this in the opposite order, but Belem Tower opened up later than the lift. We also thought as it was closer to our hotel it may be better to do that first and try and catch it when it was at its quietest.

The History of the Santa Justa Lift

You may notice some similarities in the design of the Santa Justa Lift to another famous tourist attraction, and that’s no coincidence. The architect, Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, took inspiration from Eiffel himself when designing the lift. Which is why you can see a certain Parisian influence in the structure.

The lift was created in an attempt to help Lisbon residents navigate the city’s steep hills. And although it started life as public transport, it has now been adopted as a tourist attraction. Although that brings with it queues and longer wait times. 

Arriving at the Lift

I arrived at 9am, having taken an Uber straight from the Hotel we were dropped off directly outside the Santa Justa Lift. It was quiet with no queue, meaning I could get a few photos without being disturbed. We couldn’t find where to buy our tickets or ride up at first, nobody was around. There were signs for a queue but nobody on it and it took us to a locked door, so we didn’t know what to do. A bit odd considering the Santa Justa Lift operates from 7am. We weren’t the only ones confused, as a few other tourists were loitering around. Just as we were about to ask another tourist if it was even open a member of staff appeared from the bakery next door to open up.

Santa Justa Elevator interior

We paid our tickets and boarded, the lift can support 20 people at a time going up. Oddly it can only support 15 people when it’s going down. It takes about 30 seconds to go up. It’s delightfully vintage inside, with beautiful views of the city from its wooden interior as you climb. 

The Observation Deck

Santa Justa Elevator exterior view from the bottom

Once you reach the top of the Santa Justa Lift there is a separate viewing can climb up some stairs too. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed as it was closed for my visit. But I would love to return to see it. Still you command views all over the city from here. It was a bit colder today so we had wrapped up in our jackets, but it was December and still better weather than back home in London

Asides from one of two other people, we had the lift to ourselves so we made the most of the photo opportunity. Grabbing some photos as we walked around the lift. I imagine in the evening when the sun is about to set it’s an incredibly romantic spot. My visit to Lisbon had one of the best sunsets I’ve had the fortune to come across. So I can imagine this to be a perfect spot to view it from.

Pastel De Nata

Pastel De Nata in Lisbon

With only a few hours left in Lisbon, we would soon have to leave and make our way to Belem Tower. As we got back in the lift, this time having the entire space to ourselves, I could see the queue had formed. It now stretched up the stairs, winding its way around the base of the Santa Justa Lift before heading back down the same stairs. I was grateful we changed plans and came here first.

We called an Uber to take us to Belem Tower, but whilst we waited we headed to the bakery across the road. Here at Castro, I had my first Pastel De Nata, a custard tart that actually originates just outside Lisbon in my next destination, Belem. These treats aren’t made for delayed gratification, tasting their best when eaten immediately. They taste their best whilst still warm, and in my hands this sugary treat didn’t last long at all. No visit to Lisbon is complete without having one. And as my other trips show, I love to combine a local delicacy with an equally delicious view.

Santa Justa Lift FAQs

What time is the Santa Justa Lift open?

The Santa Justa Lift is open 7am to 11pm in the summer, and 7am to 10pm in the winter.

How much does it cost to ride the Santa Justa Lift open?

A return ride on the lift costs €5.30. However it’s free with the Lisboa Card.

How much does it cost to visit the Santa Justa Lift Observation Deck?

If the observation deck is open then it’s a further €1.50 to visit. A bargain compared to most attraction prices.

What should I do next?

There is so much to do in Lisbon and the Santa Justa Lift is really central. I went to Belem Tower, but you can take a ride on the trams or explore by Tuk Tuk. I have attached a link to Get Your Guide below. By booking through the link you won’t be charged any extra but I may receive a commission which helps support the blog.

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