Lisbon for Bookworms: 10 Quiet Spots in the Portuguese Capital
Lisbon, as a city, is the perfect balance between chaotic and calm. If you know where to go, Lisbon’s streets can lead you straight to a place of solace, where you can escape with a book for a good few hours.
During my first few months living in the city heat I found it unbearable to read inside of my own tiny apartment. I found the following few places wonderful alternatives.
1. Anywhere Along the Tagus in Lisbon
It might look like an ocean, but the water that surrounds Lisbon is actually the very large Tagus River.
Whether you’re on the left or right bank of the city, the banks of the Tagus are always great spots for a few minutes or hours of escape.
Avoid the parts where you can see many travelers have gathered to watch the boats or the sunset, and find a spot for yourself and your novel.
2. Jardim do Torel in Lisbon
You won’t struggle to find a park near you in Lisbon, regardless of where you are. Nevertheless, I found the Jardim do Torel quickly became my go-to for reading, thanks to the many different elements that make up these grounds.
For one, this is an elevated park with panoramic views over the whole city. Moving inland, you’ll find lush grass spaces and manicured gardens. As a third option, you can also make use of the public swimming pool and sandy synthetic beach that goes along with it.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday — 6am to 10pm
ADDRESS: R. Júlio de Andrade, 1150-122 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Avenida
3. The Miradouros in Lisbon
Just about all of the viewpoints in Lisbon make for great reading spots!
If you’re one who needs absolute silence while reading, the avoid the viewpoints in the city center or the Alfama. But if you don’t mind the world continuing around you then even these will be really enjoyable.
Lisbon’s viewpoints are always free to visit and are open 24 hours a day. Most of them are lit by night.
4. Pois, Café in Lisbon
Pois is in the Alfama, and is a unique cafe to the reading scene in Lisbon.
Reading, and work in general, is encourages in Pois. The intention is for the space to be a welcome hideaway for any freelancers or travelers who need to get work done while in the city.
There are books lining the walls, or you can bring one of your own and settle into one of the corner nooks in the cafe. You’ll need to buy a tea or coffee at least, but it’s a great spot especially on chilly days.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday — 10am to 6pm
ADDRESS: R. de São João da Praça 93 95, 1100-521 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Terreiro do Paço
5. Palace Fronteira in Lisbon
I love Portuguese tiles, so a friend brought me to the Palace Fronteira on the edge of the city to see the ancient works. Turns out this is one of the most peaceful escapes in all of Lisbon (in my opinion), with gardens fit for a king and ample spots for reading.
The palace isn’t free to enter, you’ll have to pay the €6 garden fee but this allows you to take full advantage of the grounds.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday — 9:30am to 5pm
ADDRESS: Largo São Domingos de Benfica 01, 1500-554 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Jardim Zoológico
6. Biblioteca Camões in Lisbon
Lisbon’s public libraries are generally quite nice for reading purposes. The process of entry is always very simple for non-residents, and you’ll never have to pay to get in.
I recommend the Biblioteca Camões for anyone who likes a quiet space while they read. This library is so quiet I had to make a swift exit when the hiccups surprised me while inside.
Make use of the smaller rooms!
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday — 10:30am to 6pm
ADDRESS: Largo Calhariz 17, 1200-086 Lisboa, Portugal
Metro STATION: Cais do Sodre
7. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação in Lisbon
If you’re in the city center, it’s very hard to find a church with little to no foot traffic during the day. This city is known for its beautiful religious architecture, so most of the churches have become tourist traps.
The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação is one that might surprise you if you visit during the day, during the week. I’ve been the only soul inside of the space multiple times, and the church doesn’t mind if you keep to yourself in one of the pews, reading, praying, whatever you need to do.
8. At a Hotel Pool in Lisbon
I’m very much one for reading next to a pool. Unfortunately most apartments and Airbnb’s won’t have their own one on the property.
Lisbon’s 4 and 5 star hotels almost always have swimming facilities on site. You can use them freely as a resident, or as a day visitor (though keep in mind some of the higher end establishments might charge a day fee).
Either way, a few euros is a small price to pay in exchange for reading by the pool for a day.
9. Mafra National Palace Library near Lisbon
The Mafra National Palace Library is widely considered to be the most majestic, exquisite library in the world. The space is enchanting, and has attracted the attention of travelers so much so that a visit to Mafra is now an official day trip from Lisbon.
Take your book along and spend a good few hours in this book haven. There’s nothing quite like it.
10. The Beach in Cascais near Lisbon
Like reading by a pool, reading by a beach is up there with my favorite pastimes.
You can absolutely read on a beach while in Lisbon, but you’ll need to catch the train out to Cascais. Once you get there, you’ll be in walking distance to many a great beach, including some very intimate, quiet ones.
Walk further from the main village and you’ll find the more secluded coastline.