Some cities are hard to visit if you’re on a budget. The good news is Lisbon is not one of them. Following some quick tips, you’ll see how far a few euros can take you in the “city of the seven hills.”
There is no shortage of budget accommodations in Lisbon. When it comes to hostels, it is one of the best cities in the world. With beds in dorms starting at around USD12 to USD14, you’ll be spoiled by choices.
If you like to have a little more privacy, you can also find quite affordable rooms in “Pensões” (guesthouses) and Airbnb has some great options that aren’t too hard on the pocket.
Lisbon is quite a compact city, and the best way to see it is by walking. However, it is quite hilly, so you might want to buy a Viva Viagem day pass (around USD7) in order to save your legs some work. This pass includes the Metro, Bus, and Tram systems. Viva Viagem also allows you to take the famous 28 tram (considered the most beautiful tram line in Europe), as well as all the iconic funiculars of Lisbon.
If you are coming from the airport it is also a good idea to take the Metro instead of a taxi. This would cost you less than USD2.
There are plenty of budget-friendly restaurants all around Lisbon, if you stay away from the tourist traps in Baixa. In neighborhoods like Graça, Mouraria, and Alfama you will find great family owned restaurants serving fresh fish and tasty meat dishes, often for less than USD10. Look out for “Pratos do Dia” (the day’s specials) for the best deals.
If you are on a super tight budget you can even try a typical worker’s lunch: the “Mini Prato” (a smaller portion of the day’s special), which often costs less than $5 USD. The “bifana” (a pork steak on a fresh bun) is another budget favorite, best enjoyed with a cold beer or a glass of red wine.
And, let’s not forget the famous pastries of Lisbon. Apart from the traditional Pastel de Nata (custard tart), there is a whole world of sugary goodness in the pastelarias of Lisbon. The savory snacks, like “rissóis” and “croquetes” are also worth trying, and great to keep your energy up between meals, as you climb up and down the city’s hills.
See & Do
There is plenty to do in Lisbon, even if you don’t have a pocket full of euros. Strolling through the city won’t cost you a penny, but it’ll leave you with a lot of great memories and an SD card full of photos.
If you want to venture outside the city, taking the train to Cascais (a wealthy suburb of Lisbon located by the sea) will take you from the river to the sea. Consider stopping along the way for a stroll at the beach.
If you are more of a culture vulture, Lisbon has you covered, too. The impressive contemporary art collection at the Colecção Berardo in Belém (free entrance), and the very pleasant Gulbenkian Museum (free entrance on Sundays) are some of the highlights.
Lisbon does seem to have it all: pleasant weather, great food, lots to see and do.
And you CAN enjoy it all, even on a tight budget!