Lisbon is one of my favorite cities in Europe and thankfully it doesn’t have to be too expensive to escape to for a few days. I spent 6 days there last year and kept costs down to around £200, including flights and accommodation. Yeah, really.
We flew to Lisbon from London for about £40 return and we managed to find ourselves a private en-suite right in the heart of the city for under £8 a night – you could probably do this cheaper if you wanted to stay in a dorm. That’s under £80 for 5 nights in the beautiful capital of Portugal. While I wont give you a breakdown of exactly how I spent the rest of my budget (because, um, I don’t remember), I will gladly tell you about some of the free (or very cheap) things that Lisbon has to offer.
This is not about missing out on experiences to save a few quid. I would always prefer to come home a little more broke, than to return with feelings that I’d missed out on something special. It just so happens that in most places, you can have incredible experiences without breaking the bank.
Without further delay… 10 things you can do in Lisbon for under £50 (or, for ease, €60)! Go.
1. Drink a Ginjinha or two!
Price: €5 (assuming you want more than one – and you will).
Portugal has incredible wine. And port, of course. But it’s the lesser-known Ginjinha that you’re going to want to try. It’s a delicious cherry flavored liqueur. Head to Bairro Alto (see below) to grab a glass or two or five.
2. Take a walk down the Rua Augusta.
Rua Augusta is the main street in the heart of Lisbon. It’s a beautiful street, complete with mosaic pavements and the famous Arco da Rua Augusta, which opens up onto the remarkable Praça do Comércio. It’s a great place to wander, sit and be hassled by countless hash dealers – “You want some hash?”
3. Take in the view from above.
This is my favorite thing to do in pretty much any city and Lisbon is definitely no exception. There are countless viewpoints across the city, each offering their unique twist on the streets below. My favorites are definitely the Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. You don’t even need to walk up that many hills, if you combine this with point 6.
4. Get a custard tart from the word famous Pastéis de Belém!
Price: €10 (including tram fare and a couple of custard tarts).
Portugal is famous for custard tarts (pastel de nata) so you can pick them up from pretty much everywhere. But if you want the best of the best, you need to head to Pasteis de Belem. I’ve heard that some people have experienced massive queues when visiting – but I walked straight in, so I guess it depends when you go. The Guardian actually listed this place (and the tarts they serve) as the 15th best delicacy in the world. Trust me, they’re good.
While you’re in Belem you should also check out the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower. I only did the latter, which cost an additional €6, but was totally worth it. Both of these sites have free entrance at some point during the week if you wanted to keep the costs even lower.
5. Explore the beautiful Alfama neighborhood.
Alfama is one of Lisbon’s oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods. Don’t bother with the number 28 tram here, because its much better to get lost in its maze of streets. The view from above isn’t too shabby either.
6. Take the number 28 tram.
This iconic tram will get you to Bairro Alto, Castelo de Sao Jorge, Alfama and a few of the viewpoints inbetween. And it’s cheap as chips. It’s definitely something you shouldn’t miss while in Lisbon (although, you should only ever get a one-way ticket – there is way too much to see on foot to pass it by twice).
7. Grab a drink or two in Bairro Alto.
Bairro Alto is the best neighborhood to spend your evening. You can wander through the tiny streets, grab a few drinks and listen to some decent music too. There are loads of small bars and restaurants and if the weathers nice, the streets will be packed with locals enjoying the night.
8. Go hunting for street art.
Like a lot of European cities, Lisbon has some brilliant street art. All of which, of course, is free to look at. Hop on the tram to the Saldanha neighborhood to see some of the best. (Note: You can also get some dirt cheap, delicious pizza here too).
9. Hop on a train to Sintra.
Sintra is an incredible little town located about 20 miles from Lisbon. It’s €4.30 to get a return train ticket, plus entrance to whatever of the beautiful UNESCO buildings you’re interested in seeing. I would strongly recommend the Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) and the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors). It’ll set you back another €15 but it’s well worth it. I was gutted that I didn’t have time to visit the Quinta da Regaleira estate too (google it, it’s got some mad looking wells and tunnels) – I would have happily paid a few extra €’s to explore it.
10. Visit the Castelo de Sao Jorge!
I’m not gonna lie; there are far more impressive castle’s in Europe than the Castelo de Sao Jorge. That being said, the battlements of the castle provide some fantastic views across the city. It’s well worth the €8.50 and a great way to waste away the afternoon.
There we have it. 10 great things to do in Lisbon for around £50. With cheap flights, cheap accommodation and so many great cheap attractions, book a couple of days off work (or miss a couple of lectures) and put the weeks beer money to much better use.