Estufa Fria – Discover the Cold Greenhouse of Lisbon

Written By Mihaela Gutu

Seemingly small at a glance from the outside, Estufa Fria is a haven of natural beauty, one that you can actually explore for free if you happen to visit it on Sundays or during holidays.

Estufa Fria is one of Lisbon’s top attractions, and not just because it sits inside Parque Eduardo VII or is overseen by the famous statue of Marquês de Pombal, another of the city’s major landmarks. The location itself can easily become the reason why you’d reserve an entire day of your trip to visit it!

Keep reading to discover everything there is to know about the cold greenhouse of Lisbon!

What Is Estufa Fria? What Does It Mean?

Translated, the term becomes “cold greenhouse” and refers to the fact that there is no heating system on the premises. Instead, the greenhouse itself regulates sunlight with the help of wooden slats. These are made of straight-grained wood and come in the form of narrow strips – their main characteristic is that they can control sunlight levels, thus safeguarding a natural environment such as a greenhouse from extreme temperatures.

Estufa Fria also refers to one of the three gardens you can visit there. While the entire complex is named the Estufa Fria, one can rejoice in any of all of the three themed gardens – Estufa Fria (Cold Greenhouse), Estufa Doce (Sweet Greenhouse), Estufa Quente (Hot Greenhouse).

Estufa Quente and Estufa Doce bring more exotic plants to Lisbon (mangifera, cacti, aloe), whereas the main garden focuses on camellia and azalea species. The three gardens cover a surface area of 3.7 acres!

"Bird of Paradise" plant in Estufa Fria, Lisbon
Photo by Robert-Razvan Branza

4 Reasons Why Estufa Fria Is a Must-Visit Attraction

Estufa Fria is a greenhouse like none other, featuring the usual plants showcased in a design as natural as possible. It also has waterfalls, lakes, and arches with passageways. Several lakes and ponds come with their own sculptures, completing the feeling of a place that’s forgotten, now buried in nature.

But is that all there is? Certainly not!

Cactus in Estufa Doce, Estufa Fria, Lisbon
Photo by Robert-Razvan Branza

1. Panoramic Views Over the Entire Greenhouse

Out of the three sections, Estufa Doce can be seen as the smallest. It transposes you to a desert filled with all types of tall cacti and aloe plants. The trek is short, but it does really make you feel small and lost through some desert riddled with nature.

Pay attention to the overhead cacti branches!

The Estufa Fria and Estufa Quente sections are much larger – so large that the architects and designers of the place were able to implement trails and roads that climb up on the sides and take you on platforms that offer a panoramic view of each of the two sections.

Estufa Quente features a dirt road surrounded by mangifera on all sides, making you feel as if you’re deep within a jungle. From the top, you can see the big central pond and how the vine-type plants climb all the way up to the ceiling.

Estufa Fria has the same jungle look to it but instead of dirt roads, it has basalt trails and steep stairs that bring you above the green haven. The basalt elements stem from the greenhouse’s former identity – that of a quarry.

From the suspended platforms you can analyze the ponds, as well as the small streams that cross most of the greenhouse’s surface.

Estufa Fria plant
Photo by Robert-Razvan Branza

2. Dreamlike Photo Session Surrounded by Flowers

If you want impressive pictures from your trip abroad, this is the place! Each picture will be completely different from the last – and all you have to do is move the camera lens just a tiny bit; that’s how varied the nature inside the Estufa Fria is!

During autumn, you can have some pictures taken near the banana trees sporting fully-grown fruit. If you’re the adventurous type, you can try to find the many caves hidden throughout the complex, each with seemingly human elements added to it. You’ll feel like a true explorer!

Color doesn’t miss from the setting. White, purple, and pink flowers can be seen all around, as well as white and black ducks reveling in the ponds or the lakes. The lake within Estufa Quente hosts quite a large family of fish that you can follow around along the edges.

Every element mentioned above makes for dreamlike photos, without a doubt! Just don’t forget to charge your camera and make sure to have enough memory for the hundreds of pictures that you’ll take there.

Fish swimming in the lake at Estufa Fria, Lisbon
Photo by Robert-Razvan Branza

3. Surreal Events in the Nave da Estufa Fria

The location sets itself apart from other greenhouses by featuring an immense interior location, namely a restaurant that is usually booked for events and whatnot. The Nave was built in the 1940s when Estufa Fria was remodeled. It is often referred to as the vessel or the ship.

This is another element that adds to the forgotten aspect of the Estufa Fria. Every step you take within introduces you to something entirely new, seemingly hidden, yet in plain sight.

The Nave da Estufa Fria is mostly known and used for its ten vaults that can be used for events and various activities. There is a large open space on the ground floor that can be accessed from the greenhouse itself, while more discrete spaces can be accessed via the stairs within the Nave.

4. One Glance Away from the Incredible Lisbon

Once you’re done exploring Estufa Fria, the rest of Lisbon awaits. The best part is that most of the things you’ll want to see there are incredibly close to this cold greenhouse. How close?

Well, the zoo of Lisbon is two metro stations away or roughly 40 minutes on foot. You might want to head there on foot, as you’ll pass the vast Parque Eduardo VII and the Garden of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Then, the statue of Marquês de Pombal is less than five minutes away, while another attraction for nature lovers, the Botanical Garden of Lisbon, is just 30 minutes away on foot. On your way there, you can stop at the Reservatório da Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras, a reservoir complex with ornate fountains dating back from the 18th century.

Of course, right as you leave Parque Eduardo VII towards Praça do Marquês de Pombal, you set your eyes on Avenida da Liberdade, a large road sided by impressive trees green almost all the year and that gets you right in the heart of Lisbon – Elevador de Santa Justa and Arco da Rua Augusta being only two of the things that await you at the end of Avenida da Liberdade.

Estufa Fria sculpture
Photo by Robert-Razvan Branza

Estufa Fria – Schedule and Where to Buy Tickets, Prices

Tickets that grant you access to Estufa Fria can be bought at the entrance with cash from a clerk or via a kiosk that has a menu available in multiple languages. You will also get a pamphlet that briefly describes each section and offers you some guidelines on what to pay attention to.

A brief description is all you get because, in all honesty, words are simply useless when it comes to talking about the Estufa Fria. It’s a place of natural grandeur, right in the middle of the city, where you can come and escape the urban jungle, trading it for something extremely close to the real jungles of the world.

Moving on, the price of an adult ticket is only 3.25 euros. Children, students, and seniors enjoy a 50% discount, whereas children under 6 can enjoy this marvelous place free of charge. It is also worth mentioning that owners of a Lisboa Card can also enter Estufa Fria for free.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, anyone can enter the greenhouse free of charge on Sundays and during holidays, until 2 PM.

Estufa Fria awaits you every day but Monday (for maintenance purposes) from 9 AM to 5 PM.

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