National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)

#6 in Best Things To Do in Lisbon
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Key Info

R. Me. Deus 4

Price & Hours

5 euros (about $6) per person
Tues-Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Details

Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

One of the most notable aspects of Lisbon's alluring architecture is its vibrant ceramic tiles. You might find these Portuguese tiles, or azulejos, adorned on buildings during a walk about town (especially in Alfama), in gift shops (or at the Feira da Ladra), or within the walls of other top city attractions, including some of the palaces or villas that dot Sintra.

If you don't feel like spending time seeking out tiles on the streets, a visit to the National Tile Museum is the perfect alternative. The museum is filled to the brim with tiles of all colors and sizes, some of which date back to the 15th century. Some are simple, with individual tiles decorated with flowers or sailboats, while others are pieced together to create grand murals chronicling people or stories steeped with history. Not only that, but there is information spread throughout detailing how azulejos are made.

Recent visitors enjoyed both the museum's expansive collection as well as the building it's housed in – a former convent. As such, some visitors said the highlight of the visit was the chapel, adorned with not only plenty of azulejos but centuries-old oil paintings.

The museum, which also houses a gift shop and a cafe, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; tickets cost 5 euros (a little more than $6) for adults. An audio guide is included with admission. The National Tile Museum is located about a mile and a half northeast of Alfama. You can reach the museum by getting off the Santa Apolónia metro stop and walking a little less than a mile northeast. Several buses, including route Nos. 718, 742 and 794 stop in front of the museum. For more information, visit the museum's website.

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#1 Tram 28

San Francisco has its cable cars, London has its red double-decker buses and Lisbon has its trams. Tram 28, which extends from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, in particular takes riders on a tourist-friendly route. Not only does it pass through some of the city's most notable neighborhoods including Graça, Baixa and Bairro Alto, but it also travels by popular attractions, such as St. George's Castle and Alfama. Along with a scenic route, the cars themselves are also considered to be part of the experience. Many of Lisbon's trams, including some used on the Tram 28 route, are the same that were used in World War II, so don't expect air conditioning, or a smooth trip up and around the area's hills. But don't worry, recent travelers said it's all part of the tram's charm.

Some visitors recommend taking the tram up the steep Alfama hill and then walking back down to explore the neighborhood. Due to the tram's popularity, the tram cars tend to get crowded quickly, so make sure to arrive early or later in the day to avoid long lines. Also, because of the tram's popularity with tourists, it's a target for pickpockets. Remember to keep an eye on your belongings, especially cameras.

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