Museums in Portugal: which ones should you visit?
One of the best ways to get a glimpse into Portugal’s culture and history is visiting some of its most famous museums. Portugal breathes art, culture and beauty and its museums reflects its century-old history and traditions.
Discover some of the most visited museums in Portugal, places filled with interesting facts about Portugal and a mix of century-old charm and modern allure.
Museums in Portugal: what can you expect?
Portugal is home to over 300 museums, which is no surprise considering its ancient history. However, historical museums are not the only ones you can find. From north to south, Portugal also offers museums that focus on religion, science, art and culture, so it’s fair to say everyone can find something that will suit their taste!
In 2019, Portuguese museums received more than 19.8 million visitors, of which foreign visitors accounted for more than half of total visits. As you can see, Portugal is not just about beautiful beaches and natural landscapes! Tourists visiting Portugal can experience a truly cultural, fun and knowledgeable experience by visiting Portugal's museums.
Famous museums in Portugal
Portugal offers a large and diverse selection of museums, many of which are world-famous! The Museu Coleção Berardo, in Lisbon, and the Museu de Serralves, in Porto, have even been included in the list of the 100 most visited museums in the world, according to The Art Newspaper, an international publication specialised in art.
However, many others have sparked the interest of millions of visitors, including the Gulbenkian Museum, the Maritime Museum and the MAAT Museum, all located in Lisbon and completely different from each other.
Amongst the most visited museums in Portugal you will find several cultural and historical gems that are worth a visit, such as:
Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum)
If you’re looking for an escape from the present and wish to go back hundreds of years to find a very lavish, beautiful and different era in Portuguese history, you have to visit the National Coach Museum.
Located in the Belém Palace in Lisbon, this museum displays an interesting collection of over 70 coaches that were once used by Portuguese royalty.
The beautifully ornate carriages dating from the 17th and 18th centuries are amongst the museum's main attractions. Some of which decorated with beautiful and often complex details that are reminiscent of Portugal's maritime discoveries.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
Located in Lisbon, the National Tile Museum exhibits several examples of traditional Portuguese tiles and their evolution from the second half of the 15th century to the present day.
This museum, created in 1965, seeks to draw society's attention to the importance of protecting the art of Portuguese "azulejos", one of the most iconic and unique expressions of Portugal's culture.
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This museum also displays other collections including ceramics, porcelain and earthenware from the 19th to the 20th centuries.
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (National Museum of Archeology)
Also located in Lisbon, the National Museum of Archeology provides visitors with detailed insights into Portuguese archeology, with collections dating from prehistory to medieval times.
Founded in 1893, this prestigious museum exhibits unique and rare pieces organised in several themes. Here, you can expect to see precious stones, items made of gold, earthenware pots and other archeological items from different parts of the world, namely in the Egyptian and Islamic halls.
Museu de Arte Popular (Popular Art Museum)
Also located in Belém, the Popular Art Museum presents a broad and diverse set of murals representing various regions of Portugal. Some of these were created through modernist painting and portray the Portuguese people in daily chores, popular festivals and pilgrimages.
Created in 1948, this museum's collection is organised by different regions of Portugal and includes examples of pottery, farming items, costumes, musical instruments, jewellery and saddles. All of which shine light on Portuguese traditions and cultural elements reflecting the country's lifestyle in the last centuries.
Museu Monográfico de Conímbriga (Conimbriga’s Monographic Museum)
Conimbriga’s Monographic Museum is located in Condeixa-a-Velha, in Central Portugal. Founded in 1962, this museum exhibits objects that represent the religion, beliefs and history of this ancient roman city in Portugal.
The different items presented are from the Iron and Middle Ages with a particular focus on those from the Roman heritage.
If you are a fan of museums and are looking for a memorable experience packed with history, fun and discovery for the whole family, don't miss these Portuguese museums and many others that will make your visit to Portugal truly unforgettable!