If you ask me, parks are the hearts of cities. When I lived in NYC, Central Park and Riverside Park were a part of my daily routine. Now that Lisbon, Portugal is my home base, I am thrilled to say that Parque Eduardo VII and Jardim Gulbenkian have taken over their role in my life. I’ll tell you why out of all the best gardens in Lisbon I love this garden so much; and I’ll tell you about some of the things you can do in the area so that when you come to visit, you can fall in love with this gorgeous park as quickly as I did.
If you walk about 5 minutes away from Jardim Eduardo VII towards Saldanha, you will find yourself at the Calouste Gulbenkian cultural center which is home to the garden. I call it a cultural center because outside of the park and gardens, there is an incredible museum, a performance space, and plenty of things to do.
Things to do in Jardim Gulbenkian
Enjoy Nature: Although (or maybe because) Gulbenkian garden is a masterpiece of landscape architecture, it is a haven for nature lovers. There is a lake, a waterfall, and bamboo gardens. There is also tons of wildlife and birdwatchers will delight. Currently, there are over 40 species of birds that frequent the gardens including water hens, wagtails, wrens, herons, woodpeckers, and more. One note, please do not feed the wildlife. It is not good for them.
Enjoy Music: A big part of the Gulbenkian foundation is music. In the park, there is an open-air amphitheater where there are free and cheap shows very often. These shows are no joke. Previous performers have included Gustavo Dudamel, Steve Lehman, and many more.
Enjoy Art: The garden is filled with art. If you walk the garden’s grounds, you will find some gorgeous sculpture. Should you decide you want something a bit more formal, then go to either of the museum buildings. There is one dedicated to modern art, and another that houses Calouste Gulbenkian’s personal collection. Getting in will cost you around 11.50 €.
Check out the Adjacent Castle: Don’t have much info on it, but it’s so damn cool. If you know something about it, drop me a line in the comments.
Where to Eat
There are three restaurants inside the gardens. We’ll start with these:
Self Service Cafe at the Founder’s Collection: Another inexpensive option serving Portuguese dishes with indoor and outdoor seating. Nothing to write home about, but you can’t beat the setting if you can get a seat outside.
Self Service Cafe at the Centro de Arte Moderno: Inside the park, this is the cafeteria for the Modern Art museum. Cheap and tasty Portuguese dishes are served here. There is indoor and outdoor seating (and beer & wine).
Cafetaria do Centro Interpretativo Goncalo Ribeiro Telles: The food here is lighter than the Self-service cafe. This place is more apt if you’re in the mood to get coffee, but what I love there is their ice cream. They’ve got some incredible flavors there such as Eucalyptus, carrot and Tia Maria. I highly recommend dropping by for a quick ice cream break. This restaurant also has indoor and outdoor seating options.
The Cafés are open from Wednesday to Monday, from 10:00 to 6:00 pm.
The Garden Cafeteria is open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM in the Winter and until 8:00 pm in the Summer.
If you decide to grab a meal outside the gardens, you also have plenty of options nearby. Antonio put together a few of his favorites on FriendsEAT, but if you ask me, these are absolute musts in the area:
Eleven: This is the splurge. A one star Michelin restaurant with an incredible view. They do offer a fantastic lunch deal on weekdays. Reservations are a must. Located at Rua Marquês da Fronteira Jardim Amália Rodrigues.
Things to do Nearby
Linha D’Agua: Gorgeous outside cafe that serves Portuguese fare. Quite affordable and simply a beautiful spot to people watch. Very close to El Corte Ingles. Located at Rua Marquês de Fronteira 18
O Talho: This one is for the carnivore in your life, the restaurant uses certified meats that are sold at its butcher shop and the meat is always cooked to perfection. Located at R. Carlos Testa 1B.
Expressoes da Nossa Terra: Updated Portuguese classics with an incredible wine list. Rua Latino Coelho Nº 63A
What to See Near Jardim Gulbenkian
Jardim Eduardo VII: Perhaps the best view of the city in a gorgeous park with tons to do. There are two green houses, a Michelin starred restaurant and plenty of art to enjoy.
El Corte Ingles: This is a fantastic store to go shopping at. Make sure you check out the supermarket and food court downstairs. Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 31
Campo Pequeno: For the record, bullfighting is a cruel and sadistic activity that I will never fund. That being said when Lisbon finally stops this barbaric practice, I will be glad to visit this incredible location. There is a mall under the bullring and plenty of restaurants above. The Moorish architecture is simply gorgeous and worth seeing, but I do urge you not to shop, eat, or see a show there until this type of animal abuse is banned in the country. There are tons of other places in Lisboa where you can do all this.
Anastácio Gonçalves Museum: One of the prettiest buildings in Lisbon which holds a gorgeous collection of Chinese art, specifically porcelain pieces. Avenida 5 de Outubro 6.
Jardim Gulbenkian is located at: Avenida de Berna, 45, 1067-001, Lisbon – Portugal
Hours: Daily 10 am to 5 pm
Metro Stop: Sao Sebastiao
Have other questions about Gulbenkian Garden or any other locations in Lisbon? Leave your question in the comments below & I’ll get back to you in a jiffy!