With the sun shining brightly most of the year in Lisbon, public gardens, parks and squares are the place to be for people-watching and getting into the rhythm of the Portuguese capital.
From grand cobblestoned plazas and gated romantic gardens to iconic historic locations and beautiful spots for contemporary architecture, these are the best parks in Lisbon.
Monsanto Forest Park
Best park for walking and family picnics
The largest green area in the city, Monsanto Forest Park is a popular weekend go-to for families with young children. The park has hiking trails, playgrounds, a skatepark and picnic areas with ready-to-use grills, and it’s easy to access by bus or car, with plenty of free parking spaces. If you’re up for a hike, take the Corredor Verde de Monsanto walking path that starts at Parque Eduardo VII in central Lisbon. Idealized by landscape architect Ribeiro Telles as a way to bring nature closer to the city, the 1.6-mile path takes walkers through some of Lisbon’s lovely parks and viewpoints.
Best park for budding green thumbs
Jardim Botânico, Lisbon’s botanical garden, started as a scientific project in the 19th century to support students at the on-site university, now the Museum of Natural History. With more than 2000 species of trees and plants from all over the world, visitors can feel they’ve traveled to faraway destinations without leaving the city. Established as an educational garden from the start, Jardim Botânico often hosts guided tours and environment-conscious activities for kids.
Parque das Nações
Best park for contemporary architecture
After Expo 1998 wrapped up, the grounds of the world exposition became Lisbon’s first urban park. Parque das Nações also doubles as the city’s newest district. It’s mostly known for its contemporary architecture landmarks such as the aquarium Oceanário de Lisboa, Pavilhão de Portugal designed by renowned Portuguese architect Siza Vieira, Santiago Calatrava’s Oriente train station and the UFO-shaped Altice Arena, a venue for big events and concerts. Set aside at least one morning to properly explore the park on foot or view it from the top by riding the cable car.
Best park for relaxing with a book or your favorite podcast
A project by Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles, an icon of Portuguese modernist landscape architecture in the 1960s, the gardens at the Gulbenkian Foundation are a work of art. The location of each tree, plant, statue and cement bench were meticulously planned and placed there to pay tribute to a style that became known as Portuguese Garden. Jardim Gulbenkian is an urban haven of shaded and isolated nooks, water streams and a lake, grassy clearings, an outdoor amphitheater and cafes. It’s the perfect place to get lost in a book or the latest episode of your favorite podcast, before or after perusing the art collections at the foundation’s two museums: Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and Centro de Arte Moderna.
Parque Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles
Best park for outdoor sports and family outings
Named after one of the landscape architects behind the Jardim Gulbenkian project, Parque Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles is the newest urban park in Lisbon. The old entanglement of roads and heavy traffic once known as Praça de Espanha is being replaced with lakes and streams, large clearings dotted with trees, children’s playgrounds, bike-sharing stations, and biking and walking paths that connect Gulbenkian to Corredor Verde de Monsanto. Construction is still underway, but some of the grassy clearings and bike paths are now open and ready to welcome park-goers. The project is expected to be completed by early 2022.
Parque Eduardo VII
Best park for outdoor events
The manicured modernist Parque Eduardo VII is the chosen spot for some of the city’s big outdoor gatherings, including Lisbon’s Book Fair every spring, music events throughout the year and Wonderland Lisboa every Christmas. It’s more of a passing-through than a stay-in park, unless you visit Estufa Fria, the on-site greenhouse of exotic and tropical plants. Don’t miss the view from the north side of the park, an often-overlooked viewpoint and a unique spot to see part of Lisbon’s downtown area all the way down to the river.
Largo do Carmo
Best park for old Lisbon charm and history buffs
Largo do Carmo, a small square in the Chiado quarter, was inundated by a sea of locals on April 25, 1974 when a military coup overthrew the four-decade-long conservative dictatorship, thus becoming the symbolic location of the beginning of Portugal’s democracy. In addition to being the center stage of that historical event, Largo do Carmo is also known for its old Lisbon charm of black-and-white cobblestones and the Baroque fountain, the purple shade of blooming Brazilian rosewood trees in spring, and the post-1755 earthquake ruins of Convento do Carmo nearby.
Jardim da Estrela
Best park for romantic walks
Inspired by English gardens, Jardim da Estrela is a gated park with ponds, resident ducks that love being hand fed, kiosks-turned-cafes and the wrought-iron bandstand that's the garden's trademark image. Take in this classic romantic setting on a long walk around the park, followed by a visit to the baroque church Basílica da Estrela across the street and a ride on the iconic tram 28E.
Best park for people watching
Although it’s officially called Praça Dom Pedro IV, Lisbon locals know this two-fountain square with its distinct small-stone calçada Portuguesa pavement as Rossio. Located in the busy downtown quarter of Baixa among restaurants, cafes and shops, and steps away from Lisbon’s main theaters, it’s the ideal spot for people watching in the early morning as commuters leaving the nearby Rossio train station cross the square on their way to work.
Ribeira das Naus
Best park for sunbathing and relaxing by the river
Ribeira das Naus, the riverside street that connects Praça do Comércio to Cais do Sodré, has large patches of grass on one side, where the scarcity of trees is an invitation to lay down a blanket or a towel and soak up the sun. For those who prefer a different setting, relax with a drink on one of the lounge chairs near the kiosk cafe Quiosque Ribeira das Naus.
Campo das Cebolas
Best park near Lisbon’s big sights
Nestled between the Tagus River and the Alfama neighborhood, Campo das Cebolas is within walking distance of many of Lisbon’s must-see landmarks, including Sé de Lisboa, Fundação José Saramago, Castelo de São Jorge and Museu do Fado. This grassy park with a kids’ playground sits atop an underground parking lot. During construction, close to 60 tons of archeological remains were found, including 16th-century pieces of clothing and gold coins and a well-preserved 19th-century boat used for shipping cargo across the river.