Lisbon: 5 lookout points offering a drink with a view

Castelo Sao Jorge Lisbon
The view from the Castelo Sao Jorge. Photos by Guilhem Fauquier

By Guilhem Fauquier in Lisbon—

The Portuguese often refer to Lisbon as the cidade das sete colinas, or “city of the seven hills.” They’re not kidding. Although walking the hilly terrain will be a workout, the seven hills do offer outstanding views that the locals enjoy every day.

Most of these vistas offer dramatic, sweeping views from at least one major terrace. Most also have some sort of cafe or bar, where you can take a seat, take in the view, and enjoy some drinks and food. These wonderful spots are called miradouros in Portuguese, or “lookout places.”

You’ll see miradouros identified on tourist maps in Lisbon. But which ones are worth the climb? Here are my five favorite lookout points in Lisbon:

Miradouro da Graça

Miradouro da Graça

Miradouro da Graça
Location: Next to Graça church, in the Graça neighborhood
Hours: Open days and nights, drinks and snacks served from late morning to sunset

The Graça miradouro is one of the highest in town, offering an amazing view of the city from the east. From here, one can see the 25th of April Bridge, the “Cristo Rei,” the castle, and also look out over Lisbon’s downtown, known as “Baxia chado.” The snack bar is open until after sunset and serves a variety of drinks and things to eat.

Visiting this miradouro is convenient if you’re already planning to check out the Alfama and Graça neighborhoods. If you’re taking the famous tramway 28 (locally called “Electrico 28″), get off at the “Graça” stop, and you’ll be close to the “Igreja da Graça” (Graça Church). The miradouro is right next to the church.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

São Pedro de Alcântara

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Location: Between Bairro Alto and Chiado, above the Chiado train station
Hours: Open days and nights, drinks and snacks only from late morning to sunset

On your way to party in the Bairro Alto, stop by the miradouro of São Pedro de Alcântara. Very popular with both international and Portuguese students, it’s the perfect setting for a drink before or after touring the bars of Bairro Alto. It is probably the largest miradouro in Lisbon, offering both an upper and a lower terrace. On either one you can buy drinks or snacks from a kiosk and sit at one of the outside tables.

However, the tradition here is to head into one of the adjacent streets and pick up a “litrosas” (liter) of your favorite beer (Sagres or Superbock, depending on what Portuguese soccer club you support). Late at night, after all the bars have closed, this is generally where the party continues on. (Tip: You’ll own the scene if you manage to bring a few “litros” and can play the guitar!)

Miradouro da Santa Catarina

Miradouro da Santa Catarina

Miradouro da Santa Catarina
Location: Between Bairro Alto and Bica
Hours: Open days and nights, drinks and snacks only from late morning to sunset

When it comes to having a nice sunset view and a great atmosphere, there is almost nothing better than the Miradouro da Santa Catarina. Portuguese artists and expats come here to sit in the grass, on the benches or on the terrace for sunset.

As with other miradouros, you’re able to order drinks and snacks. However, when taking in the view at Santa Catarina, you must try their tap sangria. Sweet, sparkling and fresh, it might just make your day, as it has for so many (and it’s cheap–only €1 a glass!). You might also want to try the “tosta mixta,” a sandwich made of two big slices of toasted Portuguese bread, ham and melted cheese.

Castelo Sao Jorge
Location: Alfama district
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from March to October, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November to February

This unofficial miradouro is in the castle that dominates the city. In general, guidebooks classify the Castelo Sao Jorge in the “things to visit” category, and don’t list it for its vista. These days, however, apart from the walls and gardens, the only thing to see is the view.

The view from the top of the walls, the garden or from one of the bordering terrace is one of the best in the city. Since you’re probably already planning to visit the castle, why not go there at sunset and bring along a bottle of Portuguese wine? Of course, the entrance of the castle will cost you €5, but you were probably going to pay that anyway… (Just make sure you don’t forget your bottle opener!)

Clube ferroviaro

Clube Ferroviaro

Clube ferroviaro
Location: Behind Santa Apolonia train station
Hours: Evenings only, Wednesday to Sunday

The “railroad club” is a newly renovated space that offers two rooms for concerts, and a gigantic roof terrace equipped, quite appropriately, with train seats. It’s also located close to the Tejo river, which offers an outstanding view from the roof terrace.

It is not the cheapest place (€2 a beer, kind of pricey for Lisbon), but if you go there in the evening, you might be able to enjoy, along with the view, a free electro or funk concert. Tapas and light meals are also served.

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