folly marionettes

What are the top places for art, history, puppets, and more? We’ve done the legwork. You do rest.

There’s a range of museums sure to tickle even the least ticklish of fancies. Take a gander at your choices and prepare to be inspired.

Note: A lot of museums are closed on Monday, so plan accordingly. Also, the first Sunday of the month, many of them are free.

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

By João Carvalho

Av. de Berna 45A, Praça Espanha
217 823 000 website
Sun – Mon, 10h – 18h; Wed – Sat, 10h – 18h
Permanent Collection + Modern Collection: 10€
Free admission every Sunday

See the collection of the Armenian oil tycoon with a penchant for fine art, Persian textiles, Asian porcelain, Arabic tile and ceramic arts, and even Art Nouveau jewelry. Gulbenkian is a spectacular museum and theater with a vast range of classical performers and a great bookstore which carries our favorite guides to Portugal.

NOTE: Gulbenkian’s modern art collection is in a different building, don’t let the website fool you. Come out at the east entrance and head south along the bike path. 

MNAC Museum Museu Naçionale de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado

mnacSerpa Pinto 4, 1200-444
213 432 148  website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
3€, Free on Sundays and Public Holidays

The museum based in Baixa-Chiado features contemporary artists from around Portugal. There’s a cafe on the top tier surrounded by sculptures by artists like Jorge Vieira. Don’t forget to visit the new building around the corner, a renovated palace housing works on canvas by artists like Paula Rego and larger mixed-media installation pieces.



Museu Coleção Berardo

ccb3Praça do Império, Belém
213 612 878 website
Daily, 10h – 19h
5€, Free on Saturdays

This is Lisbon’s MoMA in the heart of Belém. If you’re looking for some modern art in the thick of the historic district, this is the place to get it. They have only just started charging admission, but it’s worth it. You can also avoid paying for entrance on Saturdays all day. Their permanent collection is on point and their inspired rotating exhibits, concerts, and shows are rich in diversity. Check out their smaller Garagem Sul exhibition space (11h – 19h, 4€) featuring architectural art and installations. Follow the signs from the main entrance through the tunnel and down the stairs.


Marionette Museum

museumarionettaRua da Esperança 146, Santos
213 942 810 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 13h, 14h – 18h
5€ adults, 3€ under 30 and pensioners; Free on Sunday mornings

Aside from hosting puppet shows and classes in mask and puppet-making, this spooky museum
exhibits a steampunk Dom Quixote cast of characters, Thai shadow puppets, claymation installations, and more. Practice your puppetry skills at their in-house theater and let your hands do the talking. Check out Atlas’ photo
gallery to see what stringed wonders are in store.



Oriente Museum

orientemuseumAv. Brasília Doca de Alcântara Norte, Santos
21 358 5200 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
-5 years: Free, 6-12 years: €2, Adults: €6, +65 years: € 3.50, Students: € 2.50
Free admission every Friday from 18h – 2h

Who knew that Portugal is to blame for the British addiction to tea? You’ll find out what else Portugal’s ages of exploration brought to the rest of the world, why the Japanese say arigato and how it makes sense that today everyone’s hooked on sushi. Worth a visit, especially for brunch on the rooftop (which used to be on the weekend, now is sort of sporadic, be warned).



Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

arteantigaRua das Janelas Verdes, Santos
213 912 800 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
6€ Adults over 12 years
Free admission the 1st Sunday of every month

Housed in a former palace, this is the place to see the old master’s fine art, decorative arts, and iconography. It’s nice to take a spin-through and ogle the opulent rooms, but the real gem is its cafeteria. Grab a plate and a glass of vinho and dine in the royal gardens with a killer view of the Tejo. It’s free to enter the cafeteria, but the museum will cost ya.



Coaches Museum

coachesmuseumAv. da Índia 136, Belém
210 732 319 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
6€ for the Coaches, 8€ combined ticket
Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month

Recently moved from the opulent carriage house, Picadeiro Real (which currently houses a separate exhibit), to its new uber-modern home across the street, this museum is surprisingly exciting. It has one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world, and it shows. Seeing ornate modes of transport owned by the royal
 family time-warps you back to the years before sky-high petrol prices and leaves you feeling like the fuel-efficient Fiat in your garage just isn’t cutting mustard. Neither is your 
garage, for that matter.

Maritime Museum

maritimemuseumPraça do Império, Belém
213 620 019  website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 17h
Children under 12: Free, 12-17 years: 3,20€, Adult:
6,50€, +65 years: 3,20€

You’ll need at least two hours to get through this massive tribute to all things maritime: naval uniforms, charts, maps, incredibly intricate ship models, and more. The Maritime Museum’s collection of nautical instruments may cause you to overspend at its souvenir shop, because they carry quite a few nice replicas of the sextants and ship compasses used by the discoverers. You’ll be convinced of Portugal’s prowess at sea, and the explorer in you will want to come out and play.


Electricity Museum

electricitymuseumAv. Brasília, Alcântara
210 028 130 website
Sun – Mon, 12h – 20h; Wed – Sat, 12h – 20h
Free entrance

If you’re into ovens, coal, gears, and how steampunk providing energy once was and could be again, this is certainly worth a visit. There’s a space downstairs intended to teach kids (and playful adults) how energy works, and other spaces which host gallery shows of artists like Vhils. The new modern addition to the east wing is scheduled to open at the end of this summer.



Convento do Carmo

conventodocarmoLargo do Carmo, Bairro Alto
213 478 629 website
Mon – Sat, 10h-19h; Oct-May: 10h – 18h
Children under 12 years: Free, Adults: €3,50

The great earthquake of 1755 created the ruins of the convent as you see them today. It’s a towering roofless church that now hosts concerts and such in the warmer months and, inside the apse end, houses a library of antiquities that would make your rare book collector drool. Take the elevator with the rest of the sheeple, or walk in from Praça do Carmo for free. Have your camera ready, because the interior skeleton is stunning, as are the views from the top of the hill.


Museu da Água

aguamuseumRua Alviela 12, Marvilha
218 100 215 website
Tue – Sat, 10h – 17h30
Admission: 2€

This isn’t high on most visitors’ lists, but it should be. Although Museu da Água is small, it’s a great glimpse into the history of getting water into Lisbon — from Roman aqueducts to steam-pumped pipes. Learn about the city’s original fountains, where to find them, and how CML had a fetish for steampunk. It’s a couple of hours well-spent, rich with fascinating information and historical context. You can 
easily lose an hour in the first room alone. But the machine room is the one you should save your photos for. It’s spectacular.

Museu dos Azulejos

tile-museumRua Madre Deus 4, Madre Deus
218 100 340 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
Admission: 5€
Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month and to Unemployed Adults

This 16th-century monastery-turned-museum features artists like Álvaro Siza among its permanent collection, which dates back to the origins of ceramics and spans to modern day, teaching you about the process of making and glazing along the way. The panoramic map of Lisbon painted entirely on tiles is mind-blowing, as is the open-air cafeteria atrium serving a killer arroz do pato (duck rice) while some friendly turtles bathe lazily in the fountain at the back.

National Archeology Museum

archieologicalPraça do Império, Belém
213 620 000 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h, Guided tours at 11h and 15h
Children under 12: Free, Adults: 5€, Unemployed Adults: Free, +65 years: €2,50
Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month

If you like ancient pottery or the idea of seeing a mummy, this museum will entertain you for about an hour, though it’s not recommended as a destination point. It’s nicely laid out, but somehow lacking in the thrill factor. There are better things to do in Belém than this, but if you like old coins and architectural pieces, go for it. There are temporary exhibits you can check out as well that might make the entrance fee a bit more worthwhile.


mude1100, R. Augusta 24, Chiado
218 886 117 website
Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
Free admission

This is Lisbon’s free collection of interior design, clothing, and contemporary art located in Centro. It often highlights young artist showcases and features revolving collections in graphic arts, graffiti, and more. Check the basement vault for their new ceramics exhibition and enjoy the permanent pieces on the ground floor. NOTE: MUDE is undergoing a facelift, could be a few months, could be a few years… – Sept. 12, 2016