* Museu Nacional do Azulejo (Lisbon): Wherever you go in Portugal you’ll see azulejos—painted ceramic tiles used to decorate buildings inside and out, from ancient churches to modern metro stations. The best place to understand this thoroughly Portuguese art form is this museum situated in a 16th-century convent in Lisbon’s riverside Madre de Deus neighborhood. The collection contains tiles dating back over 600 years. Highlights include a giant panel showing Lisbon before the great earthquake of 1755 and the convent church filled with tiles and gold leaf.
* Serralves (Porto): Porto’s modern art museum is housed in a fine Art Deco villa and a purpose-built contemporary gallery designed by local architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. It holds a huge collection of Portuguese and international art from the 20th and 21st centuries and hosts temporary exhibitions, serving as the most dynamic cultural center in the north. Its latest big acquisition was more than 80 works by Spanish surrealist Joan Miró.
* Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Lisbon): The country’s best collection of Portuguese and international painting is housed in a 17th-century palace high on a cliff overlooking the River Tagus. Much of the collection was brought together from monasteries and noble homes after the civil war of the 1830s. Among the highlights: the nightmarish Temptations of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch; Japanese screen paintings showing the arrival of Portuguese mariners in the 16th century; and Nuno Gonçalves’ Panels of St. Vincent, depicting Lisbon society at the time of the Discoveries. The gardens at the back offer peaceful views over the river.
* Museu Colecção Berardo (Lisbon): In the depths of the bunker-like Centro Cultural de Belém is a groundbreaking collection of modern and contemporary art. It was put together by Joe Berardo, an emigrant from Madeira who made a fortune in South Africa. The museum covers the greats of 20th-century art including Jackson Pollack, Roy Liechtenstein, and Giorgio de Chirico, along with cutting-edge artists of today.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.