The 10 Best Museums In Lisbon6 December, 2021by Bounce
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. This lovely metropolis is home to some interesting attractions that are worth making the trip for. One thing that the city of Lisbon takes pride in is its fantastic collection of museums; the Portuguese capital is home to dozens of cultural institutions that cover a broad range of subjects.
Lisbon has long been known for its rich and colorful culture and these world-class museums are proof of that. In the city, you’ll find everything from former palaces converted into museums to galleries that house works from some of the biggest names in ancient and contemporary art. To truly get a taste of what the city has to offer, take a look at our top picks for the best museums in Lisbon.
Note: Most of the Lisbon museums on this list do not allow guests to carry large backpacks or luggage with them. To avoid any hassle, look for one of our secure luggage storage locations in Lisbon before you tour the museums.
Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)
Address: Av. Brasília, 1300-598
There is no way that you can talk about the best Lisbon museums without including the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in the conversation. Also known simply as MAAT, this world-renowned museum is the city’s answer to institutions such as the MoMA and Tate Modern. With its distinctive appearance, the MAAT is hard to miss; this white building is located by the banks of the River Tagus in the Belem neighborhood.
As its name suggests, this cultural hub and exhibition space is focused on visual arts, technology and urban architecture. While the MAAT has no permanent collection, it regularly hosts rotating exhibitions and events related to the fields of art, architecture and technology.
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado (MNAC)
Address: R. Serpa Pinto 4, 1200-444
This museum, which is also known as the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado, or simply MNAC, is one of Portugal’s best institutions that focus on contemporary Portuguese art. At MNAC, guests are taken through a journey to the evolution of Portuguese art, starting from the 19th century up until the present day.
Some of the highlights from MNAC’s permanent collection include works of Lisbon-based sculptor Jose Pedro Croft and pop art-inspired paintings by renowned Portuguese artist Sa Nogueira. The museum also occasionally hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase the works of key Portuguese and international contemporary artists.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Address: Rua da Madre de Deus, 4
One of the most common things that you will notice while you’re in Lisbon is the number of colorful tiles seen all over the city’s buildings. These eye-catching hand-painted tiles are known as azulejos and their fascinating story is best learned through a visit to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. Also referred to as the National Tile Museum, this cultural attraction is housed inside a 500-year old convent and is focused on sharing the rich history of the azulejos, which dates back to the 15th century, and how these decorative pieces became a major part of Portugal’s culture.
At the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, guests get to learn about the origins of the azulejo and view an incredible collection of decorative tiles and panels that showcase a range of patterns and designs. Additionally, because these tiles are at risk of destruction, the museum is also dedicated to preserving and promoting azulejos; there is even a shop within the facility where you can buy your own tiles and other decorative pieces such as porcelain and ceramics.
Museu Colecao Berardo
Address: Praça do Império, 1449-003
Opened to the public in 2011, the Museu Coleção Berardo (Berardo Collection Museum) is one of the most impressive art institutions in Portugal and a definite must-visit when in Lisbon. Located in the Belem district, the museum is home to the private collection of José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, a billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Berardo’s collection consists of nearly 1,000 individual pieces of modern art and features some of the most recognizable names in contemporary art, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon and Roy Lichtenstein. One of the most popular pieces in the museum includes Warhol’s Judy Garland portrait.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
Address: Rua das Janelas Verdes 1249-017
No visit to Lisbon would be complete without checking out the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, also referred to as the National Museum of Ancient Art or simply MNAA. Founded in 1884, the MNAA is housed inside a 17th-century palace and is Portugal’s national museum and gallery. The museum boasts a massive permanent collection consisting of over 40,000 works, including paintings, textiles, sculptures, drawings and other kinds of decorative arts.
At MNAA, guests can view a wide variety of European art and Asian art spanning the 14th to 19th centuries, including the world’s most comprehensive collection of Portuguese art. Additionally, its decorative arts selection dates back from the 14th century up to present day and includes pieces such as glassware, ceramics and textiles. Some of the museum’s highlights include works by the likes of Raphael, Albrecht Dürer and Nuno Gonçalves.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
Address: Av. de Berna 45A, 1067-001
Undoubtedly one of the best private collections of art in the whole of Europe (or even in the world), the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is among the top Lisbon museums to visit during your trip. The art institution houses two distinct collections owned by oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian and were amassed over a period of over four decades. After settling in Portugal, he donated his private collection to the country after his passing in 1955.
The Founder’s Collection consists of over 6,000 works of art dating from antiquity up until the 20th century that were sourced from all over the world while The Modern Collection has over 10,000 works of modern art, including pieces from artists such as Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and Antonio Dacosta.
Museo du Oriente
Address: Doca de Alcantara Norte, Av. Brasília, 1350-352
Established in 2018, the Museu du Oriente (Museum of the Orient) focuses on sharing Asian art, with an emphasis on Portugal’s presence and influence in Asia. Housed inside a former warehouse, the museum has a permanent collection consisting of approximately 13,000 works, such as paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics and costumes.
One of the must-see pieces from the museum’s valuable collection is the Kwok On Collection, which includes rare artifacts such as puppets, masks and costumes. In addition, the Museu du Oriente also provides Asian-related courses, including languages, cooking and art-making; the venue also hosts events and performances that depict Asian culture.
Museu du Fado
Address: Alfama, Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, 1100-139
If you have been in Lisbon for some time, there’s a good chance that you have heard or witnessed fado, Portugal’s most famous musical tradition. A Portuguese word meaning “fate”, fado is often performed live in bars, restaurants and even special venues and is a huge part of the country’s culture.
At the Museu de Fado in Alfama, guests have the chance to learn about the fascinating history of this cultural tradition have an immersive experience through audio-visual presentations. The museum also houses a huge collection of musical archives, including posters, instruments, recordings and more memorabilia.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
Address: Avenida da Índia 136
When planning to visit a museum, coaches are probably not the first type of museum subject that comes to mind. However, once you enter the Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum), you will easily understand why it is one of the main cultural and tourist attractions in Lisbon. Founded in 1905 by Queen Amelia, the museum is situated inside the Picadeiro Real and is home to an extensive collection of more than 70 coaches and carriages (the largest collection of its kind in the whole world).
These coaches belonged to the Portuguese royalty and includes promenade vehicles dating from the 16th to 19th centuries; these vehicles tell the history of coaches before automobiles were invented. Apart from its collection of coaches, the museum also displays other artifacts such as ceremonial weapons, cavalry accessories, equestrian game gear and coach engravings.
Museu do Design e da Moda (MUDE)
Address: R. Augusta 24, 1100-053
Have you enjoyed Lisbon's top shopping destinations? If you are a lover of all things fashion, then you will definitely relish a visit to the Museu o Design e da Moda (Museum of Design and Fashion). Also commonly referred to simply as MUDE, the museum is one of Lisbon’s top tourist destinations and is widely regarded as one of the world’s most important fashion and design institutions. Housed inside a former bank, MUDE is dedicated to highlighting the role of design and fashion in everyday life through its exhibits.
The museum’s permanent collection, which spans the 1930s up until the 1990s, is made up of over 2,000 individual items created by more than 230 designers, including clothing, footwear, accessories, furniture and more. Some of the most valuable items displayed in the MUDE include clothes created by world-renowned designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Paco Rabanne and Cristóbal Balenciaga.
What are the best free museums in Lisbon?
A lot of tourists have this idea that museum hopping in Lisbon is an expensive activity. However, there are actually plenty of Lisbon museums that you can visit without paying a single dime! One of the best free museums in the Portuguese capital is the Museu do Dinheiro (Money Museum), which provides guests with an interactive experience while learning about the history of money and its development throughout the years.
Also, if you time your visit right, you can enter some of the city's top museums for free; a lot of Lisbon's most notable museums do not charge admission fees on certain days of the week, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Lisbon?
The neighborhood of Baixa, which is Lisbon's downtown area (just get off at the Baixa Chiado station), is more known for its shopping destinations rather than its cultural scene. If you're looking for a museum to visit in the area, the Museu de Lisboa (Museum of Lisbon) does have a location (one of six) found in Praça do Comércio.
Are there any cheap museums in Lisbon?
The word "cheap" is quite subjective and can mean different things to different people depending on your priorities. While we believe that Lisbon's museums are definitely worth the money that you pay for, there are travelers who are looking for not-so-expensive things to do while in the city.
Luckily, there are a couple of museums in Lisbon that cost no more than €5. Some of the top choices include the Museu Colecao Berardo and the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.
Lisbon Museums and Valuable Collections
Lisbon has no shortage of incredible museums that will satisfy the interests of all types of travelers. From buildings housing valuable collections to galleries showcasing work from artists like Andy Warhol, there are many treasures to discover here. And after you're done being a culture vulture, you might want to change things up and check out the best hikes that Lisbon has to offer.