On the left bank of the Tagus River, the town of Montijo is only a few minutes from Lisbon, but it has features that will make the capital feel unforgettable. Few tourists get to Montijo. It’s just a peaceful, village-like neighborhood with bars and you can get a bico for 50 cents.
There is a charming old church in the city center, and as the town’s old industries disappeared, they have been replaced by museums that show how people lived off water and land. Lisbon is just minutes across the river via the record-breaking Vasco da Gama Bridge or ferry service for an unforgettable sightseeing trip.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Montijo:
This is the first thing you should do in Montijo as it is a glorious journey across the Tagus River.
The journey time to Terreiro do Paço by fast catamaran is approximately 30 minutes, with 22 crossings per day, hourly or half an hour.
When the Alfama and Baia dormitories come into view, you will be envious of the people who travel through them every day.
There are photo opportunities from every angle, towards the huge Vasco da Gama and the 25 de Abril bridge, or back to the statue of Christ the King on the left bank of Lamada.
2. Vasco da Gama Bridge
If the viaduct is included, the Vasco da Gama bridge is the longest large-scale project in Europe.
With a total length of 12.3 kilometers, it was built in 1995 for the opening of the Lisbon World Expo in 1998 and cost over US$1 billion.
When it was completed, it transformed Lisbon, not only because it became a visual reference to the east on the Tagus River, but also because it helped to centralize road traffic from the city to the north or south of Portugal.
When you cross the street, you can’t even see the other side of the building, and Lisbon’s cityscape is stunning, especially as you drive north.
3. Igreja Matriz de Montijo
This church is the main monument of Praça da República and dates back to the early 1400s.
During the first decades of the 16th century, it was remodeled in the Manueline style, and stone carvings of this stage can be seen in the vaults of the main church, where the cornerstones have fine flower motifs.
More changes took place in the 1600s and 1700s, when the second tower of the church was added, the interior of the nave was painted with atapete (carpet-like) tiles, then large tile panels telling the story of Mary’s life, the Holy Spirit’s Types of the Intervention and the Eucharist.
4. Municipal Museum
If you need a reason to visit the Municipal Museum of Montijo, it’s to visit Casa Mora, the building it’s housed in.
This splendid palace was built in 1875 for Domingos Tavares and Margarida Inácia dos Anjos, a local power couple who owned large tracts of land in the area.
It has a long balcony reinforced by beautiful corbels, and on the roof, surrounded by railings, is a lantern made of stained glass.
The interior has a luxurious Beaux-Arts style with frescoes and gilded stucco.
The gallery has archival photos of the town, tools for traditional local handicrafts, and a small display of interesting tiles.
5. Moinho de Maré
An interesting piece of the Montejo waterfront industry was restored and opened to the public in 2005. Next to the old Cais das Faluas is a tidal mill, first mentioned in 1646, but you can see the cross gate of the Order of Santiago in the lintel indicating it is older than that.
Until the 1900s, the building used the ebb and flow of the Tagus River to grow grain.
There are two chambers; one with the millstone and the other storing the water that powers these mechanisms.
6. Praia Fluvial Samouco
In an unexpected place, the estuary has a beach.
It’s just a few minutes from Montijo, and it’s worth a visit even if you just want a panoramic view of Lisbon, with the Vasco da Gama bridge in the distance.
There’s an astonishing array of amenities here, including parasols, sun loungers, wooden walkways across the sand, playground, swimming pool and ping pong table.
Whether you want to wade into the Tagus is another matter, but the beach is perfect for lounging in the sun and looking out over Lisbon.
7. Museu Agrícola da Atalaia
A few minutes down the road and you are in the countryside of the Setubal district.
Facing the orchard, Quinta Nova da Atalaia is a farm built in 1875. Now it’s the stage for a museum that will take you back to Montijo’s agricultural roots.
All the ancient techniques and equipment used to make olive oil and wine are displayed here, including two oil presses, four fermentation tanks and a winery that makes brandy.
This requires boilers, furnaces and copper stills.
The property is an integral part of the exhibit, as you can stroll through the orange and lemon groves and pay attention to the traditional irrigation system.
8. Pescador Museum
Needless to say, as a riverside community, fishing is in the blood of Montijo.
In 2014, a new museum opened in the former Conde Ferreira school building, painted a striking shade of blue.
It is operated by the Regional Fisheries Union (SCUPA) and its approximately 80 exhibits are divided into different sections covering trade tools, fishing nets, rigging and navigation equipment, as well as the domestic and spiritual life of fishermen, featuring virgin household utensils and tile panels as represent.
There’s a full-scale fishing boat, a collection of model boats and plenty of archival illustrations and photos.
9. Cinema-Teatro Joaquim d’Almeida
This movie theater and performing arts venue has an undeniable charm.
It rose during the Salazar regime in 1957.
It has lines typical of the architecture of this period and is decorated with sculptures by several prominent artists of the era, Martins Correia and José Farinha.
It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s always something going on at this venue, whether it’s art films (English films are not dubbed), dance, theatre, comedy, live fado, jazz or classical music.
10. Montijo Forum
If you like to buy some clothes or need to kill time on a rainy day, you can do worse than this new mall in Montijo.
With brands like H&M, Zara, Foot Locker and Lacoste, you don’t have to travel to Lisbon for a shopping trip.
If you rent in Montijo, the Continente hypermarket also has a branch.
There is free Wi-Fi, a children’s playground, a variety of restaurants and a cinema, mostly in English with Portuguese subtitles.
11. National Parks
During the construction of Expo ’98, the entire area northeast of Lisbon was given a new look, including shopping centers, observation towers, marinas and modern residential buildings.
This is the largest urban regeneration project in Europe.
Depending on traffic, you can reach the development in about 15 minutes.
This is an evening visit because when the office buildings are lit up, the neighborhood has a metropolitan feel.
You can climb the Vasco da Gama Tower for sweeping views of the river and bridges, travel by cable car, stroll through the water gardens or choose from the many restaurants and bars.
12. Lisbon Oceanarium
The star attraction of Expo ’98 and the national park is this world-class aquarium, a must for the day if you’re here with the kids.
There are more than 16,000 animals in these brightly lit aquariums.
At the center is a large 7-meter deep aquarium that simulates an ocean environment with rays, sharks and giant sunfish, as well as bottom feeders in the sand below.
Other enclosures mimic natural environments on Earth, whether it’s a tropical coral reef in the Indian Ocean or an Antarctic penguin colony.
13. Pavilhão do Conhecimento
At this interactive science museum next to the aquarium, you can double standard as little ones.
There are large exhibitions on different fields of science, as well as permanent modules that encourage children to explore mathematics, physics, the human body and technology in an active, hands-on way.
You can build circuits and marble runways, ride bicycles on high voltage lines, build your own house, make paper airplanes, learn how germs spread, become an astronaut and more.
All activities are assisted by a small team of staff to help children get started right away.
14. Commercial Plaza
After landing at the Terreiro do Paço ferry terminal, you’ll come to Lisbon’s elegant riverside district, originally developed in the 1500s by King Manuel I with a palace built here. It was lost in the earthquake of 1755 and replaced by this fine square, bounded by the Arc de Triomphe Rua Augusta, overlooking the Tagus River.
You can hardly find a better place to start exploring the city, as there are blockbuster attractions within minutes, such as the Alfama district, the Castle of São Jorge and a plethora of museums.
A new food attraction is Time Out Market, where dozens of street food stalls and pop-up restaurants showcase the best of Portuguese and international cuisine.
From there the capital of Portugal is your oyster.
If you use the subway to get around, nothing is out of reach.
What every tourist should do is head west to the district of Belém, where two of the seven wonders of Portugal are found.
Torre de Belém is a 16th-century fortress, but the workmanship is amazing.
The same goes for the Jeronimos Monastery, with its superb Manuel and Renaissance stonework.
After that, there’s no limit to what you can do, whether it’s riding antique cable cars and trams at Alfama, catching some fado at Bairr Alta, or getting in touch with Portuguese azulejo craftsmanship at the National Tile Museum.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Montijo, Portugal
Lowest price guaranteed.