Today, we take our courage in both hands to go to the district of Belém. It is only 30 minutes away from our house but there are only 2 buses that go there. They are always crowded, the drivers not at all nice… so we delay the moment, until the last moment
Part 1: Travel Diary Part
2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
It is thus in Uber that one goes there. We already visited the tower of Belém last time, but if you are going there for the first time, we advise you to go there first.
Monastery of the Hieronymites
I copy and paste here the presentation text of the place:
Built, according to the will of Manuel I, on the site of the chapel of the Virgin of Bethlehem where the sailors used to gather, the Hieronymites’ Monastery is grandiose by the duration of its construction (150 years) and by its cost. It was entrusted to the monks of Saint Jerome so that they could pray for the king and the sailors.
It is one of the first places to visit in Lisbon, according to Lonely Planet. It is true that it is beautiful from the outside, but also inside.
Buying tickets, an adventure in itself
When you arrive from the main avenue, there are two queues: on the left for the National Museum of Archaeology, and on the right for the monastery. Once you have bought the ticket (10€/person), you have to get out and walk 50m to enter the side of the church (see the photo).
Tickets are bought via machines, there is an employee who can help out just in case. Everything is translated into French. However, there are tickets for families, so we could hear this very funny conversation:
Tourist: uh… excuse me, do you speak French?
Monastery employee : yes ? how can I help you ?
Tourist : I can’t buy ticketsEmployee : how
many are you?
Tourist : we are 4Employee : do
you have children ?
Tourist: yes, two… but they aren’t here with us
Ahahahah, he’s not interested in having children or not, sir, he just wants to know if you are eligible for a family ticket.
The cloister is smaller than in my imagination, but the details are impressive. Each column, each decoration is made with care. It is the most beautiful building I have ever visited in Lisbon.
The upper part of the church, which is composed of intriguing details, is then accessed. It is magnificent !
You can come down and visit the church for free
Our friend C. tested and approved it, we followed her advice and ended up at this superb restaurant nestled in a 5 star hotel (with two huge swimming pools): Palacio do Governador. The restaurant offers -30% for any reservation on thefork.pt but even without discount, at 20€/flat on average, with such a quality, the quality/price ratio is excellent. I recommend you!
Pasteis of Belem
This pastry is mentioned in all the tourist guides. Why is it listed? It is always difficult to understand. It is good but not better than the others either. The queue is really very long, even if the process has been greatly improved to collect a maximum of customers in minimum time. You have to wait 20 minutes on average, and expect to have to eat in the street.
Public buses in Lisbon
When taking the bus back home, we noticed a confusion created by the public buses in Lisbon
When it is too crowded, the bus will stop 5 meters before the bus station, to let the passengers get off. Tourists, not being aware of this practice, run to the bus and are in front of the door (in advance), closed. They try to go through the back door, trying to badge their transportation card.
There, they get yelled at by the lisbots and the driver, who force them to get off the bus and go back up 5 meters further, at the bus stop.
As I watched the scene, I saw the disapproving look of the lisboets in “I can’t stand those tourists” mode. On the one hand, I understand them, there are 9 tourists for 1 lisboète in Lisbon, they feel invaded and can’t stand having to explain the basic rules 3 times a day to the tourists. On the other hand, I don’t know if they realize that their city lacks a lot of explanations, signs, maps… Even for people who travel a lot like us, every time we have to use our phone or we don’t make it.
In short, observe the premises, and wait for the bus right where the bus number sign is. If the driver doesn’t open the door, it’s already too crowded and he won’t take other passengers (or you have to move 5 meters).
If you have been waiting too long or absolutely need to sit down, take a cab, an Uber (sponsorship code: uberUBERTOP) or a Kapten (sponsorship code: JEAMOI21) it doesn’t cost much (about 6€ to go from Belém to the center).
Part 2: Practical Tips
We recommend this program if you plan to spend a half-day in Belem :
- Tower of Belém (just outside)
- Monastery of the Hieronymites (pay the ticket to visit the interior, it’s really worth it): 10€/person
- Lunch (or dinner) at Ânfora restaurant (count 32€/person)
Note: access to the monastery on Sundays used to be free, but this is no longer the case. It seems to me that access is free only for Portuguese and residents between 10am and 2pm on Sundays.
From the monastery, here are the other points of interest in the area