In a country best known for its beaches and nature, the number of incredible museums in Portugal may come as a surprise. Still, from extensive art galleries to museums exploring local cultural heritage, Portugal has it all.
I spent quite a bit of time in the country last year, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that not putting museums on your Portugal itinerary would be a huge mistake. You just miss out on so much rich history and art when you skip the Portugal museums.
In this article, I’ll list out the 15 best museums in Portugal so that you don’t miss a thing. Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
- 15 Museums in Portugal
- Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
- The National Museum of Ancient Art
- The National Coach Museum
- The Maritime Museum
- The Fado Museum
- Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
- The Berardo Collection Museum
- World of Discoveries
- FC Porto Museum
- Carmo Archaeological Museum
- The Wine Experience Museum
- Museu da Marioneta
- Museu de Portimão
- The National Tile Museum
- The National Costume Museum
- FAQs About Portugal Museums
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15 Museums in Portugal
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
A multi-millionaire oil tycoon’s highly-respected art collection in Lisbon with over 6,000 pieces.
One of the most famous museums in Portugal is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon. It contains a range of pieces from all over the world, including Asian and European art and Islamic and Egyptian relics.
The vast private collection was accumulated by a rich oil magnate named Calouste Gulbenkian. He donated the 6,000 pieces to create a museum after his death.
The Gulbenkian Museum includes Portuguese and European paintings by famous creators like Rembrandt, Monet, Turner, and Rubens. Additionally, you’ll find silver from Russian nobility, Chinese porcelain, and precious books from as early as the 12th century.
This beautiful museum is different from most in the world. It displays the eccentric tastes of one man and the result is a very intriguing, multi-faceted collection.
The National Museum of Ancient Art
A Lisbon museum chronicling Portugal’s artwork history from the 12th to 19th centuries.
Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art combines a history and art museum. It actually boasts one of the largest art collections in Portugal with more than 40,000 pieces. You’ll find paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and furniture at this museum.
The collection spans four floors and explores history through the lens of art from the 12th century to the 19th century. There is also a nice garden to relax in when you’re done wandering through the ancient work. Visiting the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is easily one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
👉 Pro Tip: It’s 100% free to enter the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga on Sundays and holidays until 2 pm.
The National Coach Museum
The world’s best stockpile of immaculate horse-drawn carriages in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon.
The National Coach Museum, or the Museu Nacional dos Coches, is a Lisbon museum with a fairly unique focus: royal horse-drawn carriages.
The museum displays a collection of gorgeous carriages inside an 18th-century palace riding arena. The building is just as cool as the carriages themselves. Many of the carriages also belonged to important figures, like King Philip II of Spain and Pope Clement XI.
Museu Nacional Dos Coches really shows you how glamorous these vehicles were and how far we’ve come in the transportation industry.
🛏️ Need A Place To Stay? The Coach Museum is located in the adorable Belem neighborhood, which is one of the best places to stay in Lisbon. While there are many accommodations, the most luxurious hotel in Belem is NAU Palacio do Governador.
The Maritime Museum
An homage to Portugal’s long nautical history containing miniatures of boats and naval relics.
Portugal has a long relationship with the nautical industry as a coastal country. The Maritime Museum explores that huge part of the country’s background.
The Museu de Marinha contains a large collection of more than 23,000 pieces. There are model ships, historical paintings, and other maritime artifacts. It’s an impressive testament to Portuguese maritime history.
👉 Pro Tip: The Maritime Museum is actually located inside the west wing of the Jerónimos Monastery, so visit both Lisbon attractions in the same outing to save time.
The Fado Museum
A Lisbon museum dedicated to the Portuguese tradition of Fado music with occasional live performances.
Fado is a style of music that’s an essential part of Portuguese history and culture. You can learn about the deep importance of this musical genre in Portugal at the Fado Museum in Lisbon.
The Fado Museum has a vast collection of permanent displays and offers temporary exhibitions, which you can find on the museum’s website. The museum displays things like real Fado musical instruments, videos, and paintings.
Make sure you take the audio tour to really understand the historical, political, and social influence of Fado culture in Portugal. There are also occasionally live performances at the Fado museum, so call the museum beforehand to see what’s available.
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
A thought-provoking modern art gallery featuring activities for children and beautifully landscaped gardens.
Did you know that Portugal is home to one of the most visited museums on the planet? Yup, it’s true – it’s the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, which gets nearly a million visitors each year.
Serralves contains 14 exhibition spaces with permanent and temporary exhibitions. There are surreal pieces from both Portuguese and international artists throughout the museum.
In addition to the indoor gallery space, the art at Serralves also expands to the museum’s spacious garden. Walking through the magnificent gardens to see the outdoor sculptures is perfect for a warm summer day. It’s the ideal stop for a nature and art lover in Porto.
The Berardo Collection Museum
One of the greatest curations of modern art including works by masters like Picasso, Dali, Miró, Pollock, and Warhol.
The Berardo Collection hosts one of the most impressive modern and contemporary art collections in the world.
There are masterpieces by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, and more than 500 other artists all under one roof.
Throughout the museum, you’ll find tons of information about the pieces and artistic periods they represent. The Berardo Collection is an excellent solution to see a bunch of art in a single location. Plus, it’s extremely affordable with entry tickets only costing 5€.
World of Discoveries
A fun-filled Portuguese museum in Porto for children with theme rides and interactive exhibits.
World of Discoveries in Porto is one of the most engaging museums in Portugal for children. It’s an interactive history museum that doubles as a theme park. It tells the story of Portugal’s explorers throughout history in a fun, kid-friendly way.
There are 20 detailed, eye-catching exhibitions that get kids involved in the tales. The exhibits include rooms with screens that youngsters can play with to learn about the Age of Discoveries. There is even a canal boat ride with an audio guide on the premises.
FC Porto Museum
An in-depth look at the influence of football in Portugal at one of Europe’s most successful football clubs.
The FC Porto Museum is a must-see for sports fans during a trip to Portugal. It focuses on the history and impact of FC Porto, the most successful football club in Portugal. The museum is housed inside the city’s beloved Estádio do Dragão.
Inside the museum, you’ll gain insight into key moments in the football club’s history, its well-known players, and the team’s biggest wins. There will also be tons of memorabilia to see and you can take a tour around the gigantic stadium after wandering the museum.
Carmo Archaeological Museum
A stunning archaeological museum with a variety of artifacts and mummies inside the ruins of a 600-year-old church.
Carmo Convent in Lisbon is the eerily beautiful ruins of a Catholic convent that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Today, you can stroll around the grounds of the roofless site and learn more about it at its museum, Carmo Archaeological Museum.
The museum shows short movies about the background of Carmo Convent and what happened on that fateful day of the earthquake. There are a bunch of interesting artifacts and even two mummies at the museum.
The Wine Experience Museum
A Porto museum devoted to teaching visitors about the wine production process in Portugal with tastings.
It’s difficult for foreigners to understand how important wine is to the economy and culture of Portugal. That’s why you should pay a visit to the Wine Experience Museum in Porto.
At the Wine Experience Museum, you’ll get a thorough lesson on wine production. From the types of vineyard soils to how to identify aromas of the wine. Best of all, the museum even comes with a wine tasting at the end.
Museu da Marioneta
A family-friendly museum with the country’s biggest collection of traditional Portuguese puppets.
Children and adults alike will love Museu da Marioneta in Lisbon. It’s a museum that highlights the art of puppetry throughout history and there are some really fun display pieces here. It actually features the largest collection of traditional Portuguese puppets in the country.
You’ll see theater dolls in a variety of styles, from claymation and stop-motion characters to marionettes and hand puppets. It’s a really fun behind-the-scenes look at the intricate props that go into creating lively puppet performances.
Museu de Portimão
A museum in southern Portugal housed in a former cannery showcasing the country’s history with fishing and canning.
Museu de Portimão is one of the lesser-known museums in Portugal, but it’s still definitely worth a visit. Especially for travelers who want to get into the nitty-gritty of Portuguese culture.
Museu de Portimão teaches visitors about the local tradition of fishing and canning things like sardines. The museum is even set inside an old cannery. It may sound random, but this is a huge piece of Portuguese life in this region and it’s a great place to learn.
The National Tile Museum
An opulent museum in a monastery that dives into Portugal’s tradition of decorative Azulejo tilework.
The National Tile Museum in Lisbon sounds simple, but it’s one of the most aesthetically-pleasing museums in Portugal. It’s located inside a golden monastery from the 16th century and focuses on the tradition of decorative Azulejo tilework.
At the Tile Museum, you’ll learn about tilework in Portugal’s culture. You’ll get to see a litany of colorful, intricately painted tile pieces from various points in history.
You can get a deeper sense of the art form and even try making your own tiles with this tile workshop and National Tile Museum private tour.
The National Costume Museum
A quaint exhibit featuring garments from the 18th century to today located inside a former Lisbon palace.
Fashionistas will love the National Costume Museum located in Lisbon. This museum is actually built inside an old palace.
The exhibitions take visitors through costume history from the 18th century all the way until the modern era. There are some truly exquisite garments at this Portuguese museum. Plus, the lavish palace is the perfect setting for these costume masterpieces.
FAQs About Portugal Museums
What is the most visited museum in Portugal?
The most visited museum in Portugal is the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. This Portuguese museum receives almost a million visitors every year.
What is the biggest art museum in Portugal?
The biggest art museum in Portugal is the National Museum of Ancient Art with over 40,000 different pieces. Some of Portugal’s other big art museums include the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum with over 6,000 pieces, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art with 4,000 pieces, and the Berardo Collection with 1,000 pieces.
What is the most famous museum in Porto?
The Serralves Museum is the most famous museum in Porto. Serralves is world-renowned for its modern art collection and its gorgeous gardens. Nearly a million visitors come to the Serralves Museum every year.
Are museums free in Portugal?
Museums in Portugal are not always free. However, most popular Portuguese museums offer times when visitors can enter for free. For example, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is free on Sundays after 2 pm. Portuguese museum tickets are usually very cheap anyway, though.
What is the most famous museum in Lisbon?
The most famous museum in Lisbon is the Gulbenkian Museum. This important collection of art was compiled by a wealthy oil tycoon and turned into a prestigious museum after his death. It’s one of the most versatile art collections in the world and definitely the most well-known museum in Lisbon.
Now you know about all the best museums in Portugal. Which Portugal museum are you most curious about? Don’t forget to check out my guide to the best time to visit Portugal to plan the perfect trip to the country.
(Featured Image Credit: saiko3p / Shutterstock)
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