For the people of Lisbon, the Tagus is the most beautiful river in the world, and it's difficult to disagree. It’s a river that’s so wide, many tourists think it’s the sea, and its waters actually do blend with those of the Atlantic, especially when it reaches the Belém district. It’s the Tagus that reflects the sunlight that gives Lisbon its singular luminosity, and that makes the Portuguese capital the only one in Europe with a rich natural protected area. The Tagus estuary is the habitat of over 100,000 birds, and you can see many of them by the Vasco da Gama Bridge.
It was from these shores that many explorers departed to India, China, Brazil and almost every corner of the globe, but today it’s the Tagus that’s the destination, for those who visit and live in Lisbon. It gives the city a sense of peace, with about 20km of promenades, landscaped areas, bike paths and outdoor cafés. Here we give you the top ten spots:
Parque do Tejo
Parque das Nações
This park by Vasco da Gama Bridge is especially popular on weekends. It doesn’t come listed on any guidebook, but has a pleasant boardwalk over the water, crossed by many locals jogging or on bikes, while others stand admiring the views and taking pictures of the bridge and Vasco da Gama Tower . This is also where many go birdwatching, as there are several aquatic species. During low tide you may even spot flamingos looking for food in the shallow areas.
Between the tower and the bridge is a 10-meter-high (33 ft) bronze statue of Catherine of Bragança, created by American artist Audrey Flack. It’s a replica of what was to be a giant statue of the Portuguese princess, queen of England, placed near the Hudson River in New York. This because the borough of Queens was named after her, but New York’s African-American community protested, claiming that the princess’ family benefited from the slave trade and shouldn’t be honored. Today this replica watches over those who stroll through Parque do Tejo.
Passeio das Tágides
Parque das Nações
Here you’re literally walking on the Tagus. It’s a boardwalk that begins by the Oceanarium and ends close to the Vasco da Gama Tower, and it’s where you may take some of the best photos of the Parque das Nações district. Cable cars go over you, as locals and tourists go past you jogging or on their bikes.
Parque das Nações Marina
Parque das Nações
This marina was built for 1998’s World Fair, but was neglected for several years. It has recently come back to life with the help of a bike path, but most get here on foot, on a family outing. Most live nearby, and sit on the café terraces as children play or ride their bikes. The surrounding architecture has a curious maritime theme.
Cais das Colunas
The marble steps of this pier were once Lisbon’s noble gateway. Today they’re used as a resting place, and to sit looking out to the Tagus. Comércio Square opens to this emblematic space, and while many stay in the sun on the square’s terraces, others can’t resist making it their beach.
Ribeira das Naus
Cais do Sodré
This promenade between Comércio Square and Cais do Sodré was renovated in 2013. It’s a landscaped area that becomes a "beach" on warmer days, on the steps descending to the river, and on the lawns across from the Portuguese Navy buildings. It’s especially inviting as the sun sets.
Cais do Gás
Cais do Sodré
On the eastern side of Cais do Sodré station is the landscaped square Jardim Roque Gameiro, while behind it are several old warehouses, some now converted into restaurants. The reclined benches are used to cool off in the Atlantic breeze and to admire the boats, while the same view may be enjoyed at the several terraces.
Docas de Santo Amaro
It’s from this marina that many boats depart for river cruises . It’s also one of the most popular and pleasant dining areas in Lisbon. "The Docks " is where tourists and locals go for meals in the sun, with a beautiful view of 25 de Abril Bridge. It’s also one of the best spots to take photos of the bridge and river.
Passeio Ribeirinho de Belém
If you enjoy walks, go from the Santo Amaro docks to the Belém Tower . Some do so on bikes, others jogging, but it’s best to go on a leisurely stroll to take in the views. Along the way you have the company of fishermen and of a sculpture of Fado singer Amália Rodrigues, who’s forever gazing out to the Tagus. This is also where you find one of the city's top cultural attractions, the MAAT .
Jardim Anna Sommer
This garden by Doca de Pedrouços belongs to the Champalimaud Foundation , but is open to all. It’s used for leisure and sports activities, from jogging to open-air workouts and cycling. It has a view of Belém Tower, but the main attraction is the sunset.
Return to Cais do Sodré and take a ferry to Cacilhas across the river. The trip takes only 10 minutes and offers one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon. You’re welcomed by a picturesque fishing village atmosphere and by several restaurants known for their fresh fish. Some visitors stay in the area, while others hop on bus 101 to the Monument to Christ , for more stunning views of the Portuguese capital. You may also visit the 19th-century Dom Fernando II e Glória vessel.