Across the Tagus Estuary from Lisbon is Almada, a former industrial area that has been renovated since the 1990s.
Today, people cross from the capital to dine on the river and Lisbon, or relax on the long beaches along the Atlantic coast of Almada.
Another reason to come here is the magnificent Cristo Rei statue, modeled after Rio’s Christ the Redeemer, completed in 1959. On the way along the banks of the river Ginjal there are many fragments of old Almada shipbuilding and fishing; one of the warehouses has been converted into a maritime museum, a pier in Casillas is the last wooden frigate launched by the Portuguese Navy, Dom Fernando II e Glória .
Let’s explore the best things to do in Almada:
1. Christo Ray
On a hill 85 meters above the southern bank of the Tagus Estuary is Portugal’s response to Christ the Redeemer.
This monumental statue is slightly smaller than the Rio landmark that inspired it, standing just under 80 meters tall.
It had been planned since the 30’s when the Cardinal of Lisbon went to Brazil, but it was completed in 1959, thank God for keeping Portugal out of World War II.
From the base of the statue, you will climb up by means of a lift and a flight of steps, where you can see the entire Tagus Estuary, Lisbon’s historic district and the 25 de Abril bridge.
2. April 25 Bridge
Another Lisbon icon, this suspension bridge has been crossing the Tagus River since 1966. More than 50 years after it was built, it is still one of the 30 largest suspension bridges in the world, 70 meters high and 2.7 kilometers long.
You may also find similarities to the bridge in San Francisco, which is no coincidence as it was built by the same company that built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The upper level is IP7 road traffic and the lower level is the Linha do Sul railway line.
To the northwest of Almada, Cacilhas is a vibrant seaside community.
Here you will find the Lisbon-Almada ferry terminal and until the 1990s Cacilhas was home to the Lisnave – Estaleiros Navais de Lisboa shipyard.
Since then, the neighborhood has taken on a new look and today it’s a great place to hang out, look out over the Tagus River, have a drink or dine at one of the many seafood restaurants.
Rua Cândido dos Reis is a pedestrian street with restaurant terraces, while Rua do Ginjol by the river has a unique atmosphere with its dilapidated warehouses and fantastic views.
4. Take the ferry to Lisbon
From the port of Cacilhas across the Tagus River to Cais do Sodré in Lisbon there are ferries that leave approximately 20 minutes.
The last boat does not leave until after 01:00 am, so you will have plenty of time for dinner or a drink in Almada.
The crossing takes 15 minutes and at 1.25 euros one way is a frugal sightseeing trip that gives you a whole new perspective on the wondrous 25 de Abril bridge, a historic district on Lisbon’s north shore, and back to the heights of Cristo do Rei.
5. Lisbon Riverside
After landing at Cais do Sodré, you’ll be within minutes of some great sights and attractions.
Time Out Market is a huge food court located in Mercado da Ribeira.
With its many stalls and pop-up restaurants, it’s a great way to sample the best of Portuguese food, served at a social communal table.
Immediately there are the ornate 18th century buildings of the Plaza de Commerce, the Lisbon Story Centre and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Then above the pier is the 12th century Lisbon Cathedral.
Less than ten minutes walk from Cais do Sodré.
6. Dom Fernando II e Gloria
Permanently docked at Casillas is a restored 19th-century frigate, launched in 1843. The 50-gun ship served until 1878 and still played a ceremonial role until 1940, being the last wooden-hulled sailboat built by the Portuguese Navy.
From then on, it was used as a heritage and educational boat until it was destroyed by fire in 1963 and towed to the mudflats of the Tagus River, where the hull was abandoned for 30 years.
An eight-year restoration was completed in 1998, and for the past ten years the museum ship has been docked at Casillas for people to board and see how the crew went on their long voyage to Portugal’s old colony live and work.
7. Praia Fonte da Telha
In Cacilhas you will feel a strong connection to Lisbon, so the beaches of Fonte da Telha will impress you with how far the city looks.
Just 20 minutes from the coast, in a long natural park south of the coast of Caparica.
The beach stretches for kilometers with white sand, backed by limestone cliffs covered with juniper and pine bushes.
Apart from the small village of Fonte da Telha, there is zero development here.
The waves are usually surfable, but if you’re happy to relax on the shore, you’ll enjoy views of the Sintra mountains, while dolphins are often seen from the beach, and the sunsets are mouth-watering.
8. Caparica Coast
The beach stretches all the way to the mouth of the Tagus River.
This north is a bit more touristy, but the beaches are still vast and natural.
The Caparica Coast is the main holiday destination here, with a succession of bustling beaches in summer, as well as restaurants, schools and centres for surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing.
In summer, it’s a young and trendy place with a party vibe and a variety of cool hangouts.
Perhaps the best thing about it all is that it’s all really Portuguese, as few foreign tourists get to the coast of Caparica.
9. Boca do Vento Elevator
Many tourists cross the Tagus River just for this attraction, which clings to the cliffs along the river.
For a small fee, you can take the elevator down from the cliff top to the landscaped gardens (Jardim do Rio) by the water. Day or night, the sights of Lisbon on the water are something to cherish.
On the Almada side, you can see abandoned shipbuilding warehouses lining the quay.
The elevator was one of the first renovations on the waterfront and opened in 2000. There is a cafe at the top, which also has an amazing view.
10. Casa da Cerca
Above the river bank is a beautiful old mansion, which was acquired by the city in 1988 and soon turned into a contemporary art center.
You can hang out here for hours perusing the exhibitions, which are geared towards local artists and are updated every few months.
Outside are creatively themed gardens dedicated to pigments (various flowers), fabrics (cotton and linen), oils (lavender, rosemary) and cherry plantations, as these trees produced the gum used in early paints.
After a cup of tea or coffee in the café, find a spot on the terrace to admire the Lisbon skyline, the Tahoe and the 25 de Abril bridge.
11. Conveto dos Capuchos
In the protected coastal landscape to the west is the former monastery of the Order of St. Francis.
Dating back to 1558, it was built by Lourenço Pires de Távora, an important diplomat who served for some time as governor of Tangier in the 16th century.
As a Franciscan monastery, the building is discreet, but its façade is worth seeing with its tiled panels depicting the life of St. Francis and the coat of arms of the powerful Tavola family.
Another reason to visit is the lookout, which is a short walk from the monastery, with views of the Atlantic Ocean, the north bank of the Tagus and the coast of Caparica.
12. Naval Museum
The ocean was an integral part of Almada’s identity and livelihood until the 1990s, and the Tagus on Rua do Ginjal is a fascinating museum that preserves part of that heritage.
The attraction is located in a long warehouse owned by the Olho-de-Boi fishing company, which used to operate one of the largest trawlers in Portugal.
All of Almada’s previous industries are represented, including shipbuilding, boat repair and fishing.
In the lobby you can examine antique forging and woodworking tools, rigging, model boats, vintage wetsuits and bellows.
13. Almada Forum
The third largest shopping mall in Portugal is located in Almada, next to Parque da Paz.
This trendy mall was officially opened by the Prime Minister in 2002 and was awarded the “Best New Mall in the World” in 2004. The three-storey mall welcomes around 18 million visitors a year and occupies a huge space equivalent to 10 football fields.
All the big mainstream fashion stores like Zara and H&M are here if you need them, as well as supermarkets, restaurants and cinemas.
A neat touch is the cafe seating by the fountain.
14. Big Bath Park
For some greenery, you can take the subway a few stops to Cova da Piedade to kill an hour or so.
Another aspect of Almada’s redevelopment in the 90s is that the park covers over 60 hectares with tree-lined rest areas, a large lake, woods and extensive lawns.
There are more than 110 tree species in the park, including olive, cypress, spruce and pine.
The prolific modern sculptor Jose Aurelio designed the 26-meter-high monument.
15. Day out
There is no limit to the number of memorable places you can visit by car or by public transport.
To the west of the April 25 bridge is the district of Belém, with its eponymous watchtower and Jeronimos Monastery, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Of course there’s more Lisbon waiting for you, but to the west there’s also Sintra and its Royal Palace collection.
You can also set your sights on the natural majesty of the south, the Parque Natural da Arrábida, with its lush woodlands and secluded coves at the foot of the highest cliffs in mainland Portugal.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Almada, Portugal
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