Skip to Content

Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem – A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in.

When we visited Lisbon we fell head over heels in love. With its picture-perfect neighborhoods, elegant shopping streets, and glittering waterfront, I thought there was no way that Lisbon could get any better. Then I discovered a little taste of heaven – Pasteis de Nata.

Pastéis de Nata

Before even setting off for the Portuguese capital, I had experienced many of the small traditional pastries that you can in just about every guidebook in Hawaii and at Portuguese-American events in the San Francisco Bay Area. For some reason, Pasteis de Nata seemed to court hushed tones amongst city experts and those in the know about Portuguese food. Their elevated status was intriguing to me. They were only pastries, how special could they be?

There was only one way to find out…

A Day Trip to Belem

Pasteis de Belem bakery in Lisbon

As I experienced first-hand in the charming town of Belem, Pasteis de Nata or Portuguese ‘custard tarts’, are small, papery pastries filled with deliciously sweet and gooey egg custard. When seasoned with cinnamon and icing sugar, they are the ultimate accompaniment to a tiny but mighty cup of Portuguese coffee. Pasteis de Nata are sold all over Lisbon but are most closely associated with Belem. In fact, the cafés located near the Jeronimos Monastery are fast becoming just as popular as any of the Age of Discovery tourist attractions dotted around this historic Lisbon suburb.

Belem’s maze of traditionally tiled coffee shops is a mecca for cake and coffee fans, but Casa Pasteis de Belem is, by all means, the mothership. The café’s history is a compelling enough reason to visit.

Casa Pasteis de Belem has its roots in the liberal revolution of 1820 when all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down. By 1834, clergy and laborers had been expelled from ecclesiastical buildings, so many were facing destitution. Times were tough by all accounts, so in an attempt to supplement their income, a group of enterprising clerics in Belem offered to sell their pastries to the general store located next to the sugar cane refinery. Around the same time, the architectural splendor of the Torre de Belém (Belem Tower) was attracting tourists who, over the years, had grown accustomed to dropping by to enjoy some of the monastery’s pastries. In 1837, Casa Pasteis de Belem set up shop in the buildings joined to the sugar cane refinery, using the secret recipe from the monastery. To this day, the recipe is shrouded in mystery and is only passed on to trusted master confectioners who bake the pastries in the ‘secrets room’.

Getting to Belem:

Belem is located just 3.5 miles/6 km from Lisbon city center. To get to Lisbon from Belem, take tram 15 from Figueira Square or Comercio Square or if driving with Lisbon car hire, head north on Praca do Comércio in the direction of Av Infante Dom Henrique. Take a left turn at R. di Comércio. Then, take another left at R. Áurea. You will then need to take a slight right turn at Praca do Comércio. From here, turn right at Av. Da Ribeira das Naus and continue in towards Cais do Sodré train station. From here head for Av. 24 de Julho and stay on Av. 24 de Julho. Next, take a slight left turn at Av. 24 de Julho and continue along Av. 24 de Julho. Then travel towards Av. Da Índia/N6 and take a left turn to stay on this road. Next, turn right at Praca Afonso de Albuquerque and take a left turn to stay on this road. Keep to the left side of the road at the fork. Casa Pastéis de Belém is located on the left.

Address: Pastéis de Belém, Rua de Belem, 84

Pasteis-de-Nata-and-Pasteis-de-Belem-Lisbon

Where to find the best Pasteis de Nata (non-Belem version) in Lisbon

  • Eater has dedicated a whole guide to them!
  • Manteigaria > Rua do Loreto 2
  • Fábrica da Nata > 62 -68 Praça dos Restauradores
  • Pastelaria Versailles > Av. da República 15-A
  • Confeitaria Nacional > Praça da Figueira 18B
  • Pastelaria Cristal > R. Buenos Aires 25A
  • Aloma > Rua Francisco, Metrass 67, Campo de Ourique

Pasteis de Nata Recipes:

Pastel de Nata Workshop

What if you could learn to make these little slices of heaven at home? Then yes, you would miss Lisbon and Portugal, but you would be armed with the tools to make Pasteis de Nata and I promise you, you would instantly feel better! What better way to experience Lisbon than to take a cooking class, meet other pastry fans, and have a treat. I did this in Paris and have the fondest memories! My friend Cindy of Travel Bliss Now took the Pastel de Nata Workshop in Lisbon, I am super jealous and will be doing this on my NEXT trip – promise!

Pastel de Nata Cream!

I am a HUGE fan of Benamor, the Portuguese beauty line that makes delicious-smelling hand and body creams. Until recently my favorite sent was jacaranda whose trees you find in Lisbon, but Benamor just recently released a new scent, and you guess it…it’s called Nata and smells just like warm Pastel de Nata! You can get it on their website or through Amazon! I bought some and I am LOVING it!

How about you? Have you tried Pastéis de Nata or Pastéis de Belém?

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Pastéis de Nata web story!

Like it? PIN it!

Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon Portugal Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon Portugal Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon Portugal

Are you in love with Portugal like I am? Check out these posts:

Road trip report – Los Angeles for The GRAMMY Rehearsals
← Previous
Road trip report – Los Angeles for the Adam West Live Broadcast
Next →

Sarah

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

I lived near Lisbon for two years and was totally addicted to the humble pastel de nata! My favourites were from Manteigaria. Never got round to doing the pastel de nata workshop though - wish I had!

Andrew Wolfe

Sunday 12th of February 2017

Make sure to have an expresso with one of the custard tarts, and when I say one I mean at least three

Andi Fisher

Sunday 12th of February 2017

@Andrew, or five! They were available on a near daily basis while we cruised the Douro River, I think I ate a ton of them on my own!

Ines

Tuesday 3rd of April 2012

The ones sold in Belém are actually called Pastéis de Belém and are slightly different from Pastéis de Nata, which you can buy at any coffee shop in the country. Eating them with powdered sugar and cinnamon is also a very "Lisbon" thing to do, since in other parts of the country they are eaten plain.

Linds

Wednesday 16th of February 2011

I'm planning a trip to Portugal and this post is making me salivate just thinking about it! I can't wait to taste one of these pastries! The recommendations are great :)

Andi

Wednesday 16th of February 2011

@Linds, I am so glad you think so! Thanks to Fiona for being so knowledgeable and as passionate about Portugal as I am about France!

Fiona Hilliard

Wednesday 16th of February 2011

@R hahaha yeah I can't wait to visit Oporto - have heard such great things about the food and architecture...Sintra is another place I need to see - I was in Cascais last May, so close to Sintra, but I didn't make it - must remember those pastries for when I visit next time...