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History of the Tropical Botanic Garden in Lisbon
The Jardim Botânico Tropical has a rich history that dates back to 1906. The Tropical Botanic Garden in Belém, also known as the Colonial Garden, was made by the Royal Decree. It was created in the context of the organisation of colonial agricultural services and Colonial Agronomic Teaching. The purpose was to study tropical plants and tropical agronomy teaching.
The colonial past is still present, as you’ll notice 14 statues and busts of Asian and African figures. These were made for the Colonial section of the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition. At this time, the Oriental Garden was added to the garden, inspired by the then colony of Macau. The Colonial Restaurant was another addition to the exhibition.
The park is about seven hectares, of which five are accessible to the public. Since 2007, the garden has been classified as a National Monument, and since 2015 it’s been part of the University of Lisbon. The Tropical Botanic Garden in Lisbon closed in 2019 for rehabilitation works but has been open again since 2020. Many areas are still being renewed at the time of writing.
The plants and trees in the garden
The garden contains plants, flowers and trees from former Portuguese colonies. Species come from Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. In total, you’ll discover around 600 species that are grouped as tropical trees, palms, succulents, etcetera. You’ll spot candlenut trees, strawberry guava, Mexican blue palm, cherimoya, and silk floss trees. The garden is also home to many birds, chickens, and colourful peacocks that hide in the greenery.
The Main Lake
When you first enter the Tropical Botanic Garden, you’ll immediately discover the Main Lake. It was constructed in 1903, and trees and colourful flowers surround it. In the middle of the lake is a small island, and a bridge will give you access. It’s a paradise for birds, and there are plenty of places to sit and watch the birds swim and eat. The mallards and muscovy ducks especially like to be in this area, and you might spot a grey heron or kingfishers.
Palace of the Counts of Calheta
You’ll notice a gorgeous palace at the back of the Tropical Botanic Garden in Lisbon. It is the Palace of the Counts of Calheta, and unfortunately, it is closed to the public. The main greenhouse was built in 1914 and was made from iron and glass. The Tea Room, or Colonial Restaurant, was constructed in 1940 for the Portuguese World Exhibition. Casa do Veado is slightly hidden in the garden, and behind the 17th-century Casa do Fresco is many cacti to discover.
Where is the Tropical Botanic Garden in Lisbon?
The Tropical Botanic Garden is located in Lisbon just behind the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery and next to the Jerónimos Monastery in the area of Belém. The address is Jardim Botânico Tropical, Largo de Belém, Lisboa.
If you come from Lisbon’s city centre, you can take tram 15 and 18 to Belém. Buses 714, 727, 728, and 729 also stop nearby, and it’s only a 5-minute walk to the park. Alternatively, you can take the train from Cais do Sodré towards Cascais. You exit the train at Belém Station, and from there, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the Tropical Botanic Garden.
Opening times to the Tropical Garden in Lisbon
The Tropical Botanic Garden is open every day except during Christmas and January 1st.
Opening times from October to March: 9 AM until 5 PM
Opening times from April to November: 9 AM until 8 PM
The last admission is half an hour before closing. To see the whole garden, you need around one hour. It’s a relaxing place to walk or read a book in the shade, so if you have time, you can easily extend your visit!
Ticket price to visit the Tropical Botanic Garden
You can buy your ticket to the Tropical Botanic Garden in the garden itself, and there is no need to book your visit. The ticket price is € 5,00 for adults, and a family of 4 can enter for € 12,50. Children under ten can enter the gardens for free.
Other sights in Belém
Especially in the summer, Belém is a busy place to be. Most people visit Belém to see the main highlights, such as the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, and the Berardo Museum. If you’re looking for a moment to yourself, the Tropical Botanic Garden is a quiet oasis in the midst of it all. When fully refreshed, you can visit the other sights, such as the monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos or the National Coach Museum. The best way to finish your day in Belém is by boat tour on the river Tagus! For a complete guide to Belém, click the link here.
Staying overnight in Belém
As you can see, there is a lot to do in Belém! And on top of that, it’s a beautiful place to stay during your trip to Lisbon. You’re about 15 minutes from the city centre, and the beaches towards Cascais are on your doorstep. Many tours start and end in Belém, and the area boasts many museums. Not sure where to sleep? Check the available accommodations below and find your dream place for your holiday!
Ready to visit more gardens in Lisbon? Check the extensive guide with plenty of tips!