Europe Travel News

Wander along Belem's waterfront

A tour of Portugal's capital city should no doubt include the neighborhood of Belem, the port area of Lisbon where voyagers once set sail in the age of exploration. The windswept district is a seaside offering of monasteries, gardens and sweet pastries that are worth return expeditions. 

House of God
Public transit line Tram 15 runs from Lisbon's inner city to the quieter region of Belem. Main Street is lined with centuries-old buildings and shops that beckon a detour. However, it is best to save shopping and eating for later and keep heading west toward Jeronimo's Monastery. 

The massive retreat was built in 1502 on another kind of hallowed ground - there once stood a hermitage founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, where Vasco da Gama and his crew rested before their voyage to India. The monastery commemorates Vasco da Gama's successful voyages, and as a final honor, his tomb is located just inside the entrance. The facade of the monastery is ornate with architectural details of many saints around its arch. Yet, the interior is the truly stunning sight, a cavernous display of ornamented pillars and finely crafted stone.

A garden, a monument a tower
As travelers exit the monastery and head to the water they will first stumble across a large garden. This fountain area makes for a quick and pleasant stroll, as hedges are cut to resemble municipal coats of arms of Portugal. Just beyond it is a much more towering sight to rival the cathedral - a massive monument dedicated to Portugal's age of discovery. The bow of a gigantic three-sailed ship is rendered in stone, along with famed Portuguese historical figures, among them poets, kings and the explorers Vasco de Gama, Magellan and Cabral. The crew of navigators and artists all stand along the bow ready to make their contributions to the voyage. Travelers can turn right at the water to catch a glimpse of the Belem Tower, the fortress originally built to guard Lisbon's harbor. It has now become a symbol of the nation. 

There is plenty more to see in the area of Belem, including museums and exotic gardens. However, a premier stop is the famed pastry shop nearby. The building is impossible to miss, as it is often bustling, with people ordering more than a few of the flaky treats within. The shop sells a custard pastry called nata that has become synonymous with the neighborhood, and has since made its way around the world. The interior, much like Jeronimo, is larger than anticipated - hungry patrons should head to one of the underutilized back rooms to grab an empty table.

Recommended Tours

Baltics Highlights

7 days from $1,820 pp*
Custom Private Tour
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
More Info

Budapest, Vienna, Prague Signature

7 days from $2,093 pp*
Custom Private Tour
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
More Info

Highlights of Eastern Europe

10 days from $2,860 pp*
Custom Private Tour
The rhythmic trot of your horse and the soft crunch of your carriage wheels upon cobblestones is a seductive soundtrack to accompany the stunning ancient architecture of Vienna’s charming Ringstrasse.
More Info
Kensington Advantage
Personalized itinerary with private guide & driver. Award winning value.
  • Personalized itinerary that fits like a glove
  • Full attention of your own private guide & driver
  • In-country offices for 24/7 peace of mind
  • Multi-award winning
  • 30,000 delighted clients

With the inside track on the new, the old, the off-the-beaten track and the out-of-this-world, you won't find a more knowledgeable team of destination specialists.

Meet Our Experts
Curators of extraordinary experiences, you won't find a more skillful team.
30,000 Delighted Customers
"Kensington, you've done it again...perfection!"

Don't take our word for it.
Here's what our clients say.

"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent."

Newsletter Subscription
Have our hand picked trips, news & specials delivered to you.
Thank you for signing up!

Your details have been received and processed successfully.
Travel + Leisure : World's Best Award 2014 Family National Geographic Traveler : 50 Tours of a Lifetime Travel Leisure Award 2015