As the sun set, the castle was bathed in a rosy glow. Sipping cocktails, we looked out across the city, over rows of houses to the towers and battlements that crowned the hilltop. From our vantage point, we could also see the Santa Justa Lift. A constant stream of tourists arrived at the observation deck atop this wrought-iron tower. Lively music drifted up from the street below where buskers were entertaining the lengthy queues snaking around the base of the lift. Despite queueing for so long, most just snapped a few photos of the castle before quickly moving on. We began to wonder why viewpoints in Lisbon are so popular.
View from the Rooftop Bar
The Nicest Viewpoint In Lisbon
"You must visit the Miradouro de Santa Luzia" a fellow diner told us over breakfast one morning. We were assured it was the best viewpoint in Lisbon. Following his advice we trekked across the city, curious to find out why this particular viewpoint stood out. Surprisingly, it wasn't because of the view. Although, there was something very picturesque about the jumbled terracotta rooftops of the Alfama below.
Relaxing in the sunshine, we spent more time appreciating the viewpoint than we did looking at the view. Decorative blue and white tiles surrounded us while pink-flowering bougainvillea entwined the pergola overhead. Even the walls of the eponymous Santa Luzia church were decorated with tiled scenes of the city and the Siege of Lisbon.
Santa Luzia Church
The Best View In Lisbon
Arriving at Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, we were surprised to find it so busy. It was Christmas morning but still there were people everywhere: couples strolling, tourists snapping selfies and flag-waving guides herding their tour groups around. Half of the tiny park was closed off for renovations and temporary chain link fences blocked the path to the lower terraces. However, despite our surroundings, the view was spectacular.
Miradouro De Sao Pedro De Alcantara
Tall houses in white, pink and yellow filled the valley below us. Grand terraced buildings surrounded Lisbon's main plazas and church spires pierced the horizon. The highlight was Sao Jorge Castle on the next hill. Surrounded by trees, it was a refreshingly verdant blemish on the pastel-coloured cityscape.
Lisbon And Sao Jorge Castle
The View From Sao Jorge Castle
From the lofty heights of the turrets at Sao Jorge Castle, we could see all over Lisbon. They had a camera obscura where we were given a guided tour around the city from the comfort of one of the towers. Watching the real-time image on the table in front of us, we saw everything from street art on a distant building to cars whizzing across the bridge. The only problem was, the castle itself didn't feature in any of the views.
View From Sao Jorge Castle
Alternative Viewpoints In Lisbon
Nearing Miradouro de Santa Catarina one evening, we noticed clear plastic bags of marijuana being quite openly traded in the street. Unlike many other places in Lisbon though, on this occasion we weren't offered any as we passed. As we reached the viewpoint at the end of the street, we began to understand where their market was.
The smell of weed hung heavily in the air while the smokers reclined on the grass. Everyone was chilled out, listening to the mellow strumming of a guitar. It was the perfect place to watch the sun set behind the iconic suspension bridge that spans the river.
View Of Bridge From Sao Jorge Castle
Viewpoints feature heavily in any Lisbon guidebook. Built over several hills and bathed in sunshine for much of the year, it is a very picturesque city. However, we think that the viewpoints in Lisbon are simply overvalued because there is little else to draw tourists to the city.
View from Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Our Favourite Viewpoints in Lisbon
For the best view, visit Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara. This is a good place to get a view of Sao Jorge Castle.
For an attractive viewpoint, visit Miradouro de Santa Luzia. However, the view from Miradouro das Portas do Sol, just around the corner, is better.
There are a lot of rooftop bars in Lisbon. This is a good way to relax with a drink while enjoying the view. We liked Topo Chiado, behind the ruined church at Carmo Convent. A glass of wine there was cheaper than a ticket for the Santa Justa lift and the view is the same.