Is food from budget supermarkets inferior?
Lisbon on a shoestring budget
Lisbon is a great destination for those on a budget. There is a wide variety of cheap accommodation, plenty of free activities, and food doesn't have to be expensive if you look in the right places.
The added bonus of a Lisbon vacation is the fantastic beaches that are just a short train ride away. Here we explain how to visit Lisbon for little money and how you can get the most bang for your buck. We'll give you details on inexpensive tourist attractions and day trips (see more on this at the bottom of this page).
The high tourist season is in the summer months of June, July and August. Then accommodations are fully booked and flights are the most expensive. The spring and autumn months are great for visiting Lisbon, with pleasant weather, cheaper flights and good hotel deals. Winter is the cheapest, but the weather can be unpredictable.
Never choose a bad location just to save a few bucks. We suggest you stay near the Baixa district in Lisbon. This is about 1 km from Rua Augusta and can be easily reached on foot. Alfama (east of Baixa) is very hilly and walking there late at night is not advisable because of its narrow, poorly lit streets.
The guests of the small bars in the Bairro Alto spill into the street
Bairro Alto (west of Baixa) is more of an entertainment district in Lisbon. Avoid staying there if you want to sleep Friday and Saturday nights. The further north you live from Baixa, the further away you are from the tourist and historical center. However, these are only general guidelines and you should of course never turn down a one-off offer. Make sure, however, that you live near a subway station.
The great Praça do Comércio in Lisbon
Onward journey from the airport
Lisbon Airport is within the city limits and is close to the metro connected, which extends over the whole city. There is a special bus service called Aerobus that connects the airport with Baixa and Rossio Square. Lisbon's taxis are known to be too expensive for new arrivals.
Lisbon's metro is clean, safe and the cheapest way to get around
Cheap food in Lisbon
To eat cheaply in Lisbon, avoid the tourist hubs and go where the Lisbon residents dine. The eateries are often crowded, loud and chaotic, and often the best food is served in cafes. Cafés are the ideal place for lunch, traditional dishes such as bacalhau dishes are available at a good price.
The “food courts” in the large shopping centers are another option. In addition to the fast food options, there are also eateries that sell hearty local dishes at a fraction of the prices of tourist-oriented restaurants. In the center of Baixa, try the food court in the Amazéns do Chiado shopping center, or go to the Vasco da Gama shopping center in Parque das Nações, or the Colombo shopping center in northwest Lisbon. In each of these places you can get typical Portuguese dishes for less than € 5.00 (we eat there regularly!).
A traditional Portuguese breakfast, two pieces of cake and a strong coffee!
For cheap alcoholic drinks, go to supermarkets or cafes. All cafés serve very inexpensive beer (Sagres or Super Bock), and the beer is often even cheaper than water. Liquor and wine can also be bought in cafes, and these are also good opportunities to meet locals. Bars, and especially nightclubs, are very expensive: you can blow an entire vacation budget on the head in one "fancy" night. The small bars in Bairro Alto, on the other hand, are a good option; at the weekend the bars are so busy that the party spreads out onto the street.
Things to do in Lisbon on a budget
The quaint, old-fashioned tram line 28 is an inexpensive way to see the entire city. The route screeches over the hills of Alfama before it leads through the city center, the Baixa district, to the Estrela Basilica. A single journey for this 40-minute Lisbon tour costs 1.40 € if you buy the ticket at the underground machine, or 3.00 € directly from the driver.
The Lisbon tram line 28 near the castle
The Museu Berardo is the best museum in Lisbon with free entry; Here you will find a selection of more than 1,000 exhibits of contemporary and modern art. The museum is located in the CCB in the Bélém district in Lisbon. Bélém is a very pretty area with parks and monuments along the banks of the Tagus and is ideal for half a day.
The Cristo Rei high above Lisbon
The Lisbon shuttle ferries Lisbon offers beautiful views of the capital and costs only a fraction of the boat tours for tourists. The ferries from Cais do Sodré drive through the shadow of the suspension bridge while the ferries from Terreiro do Paço offer great views of Alfama and Baixa. The ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas (€ 1.25 one way) is the first stage on the journey to Cristo Rei statue. From Cacilhas, take bus 101 (€ 2.20 round trip) to the foot of the statue and admire the fantastic panoramic view.
The older ferry from Lisbon to Cacilhas
Lisbon is the ideal city for walking and the many different routes lead you through varied areas. The Alfama district is also simply too narrow for motorized vehicles and can only be discovered on foot. Many of Lisbon's landmarks can be viewed from the outside, and all of the major churches are free.
Day trips from Lisbon on a shoestring budget
The beaches on the Lisbon coast can be reached from the capital by taking the train that runs from Lisbon to Cascais. A round trip to the Carcavelos beach, the best in the area, costs less than € 3. The charming port town of Cascais and the glamorous resort of Estoril are on the same railway line. Both can be explored on foot. In the center of Cascais you can even borrow bicycles for free (with ID card) to ride along the coast.
The Pena Palace in Sintra
The most famous day trip from Lisbon goes to the city of Sintra, which is nestled between the hills of the Serra de Sintra National Park. There are two interesting palaces, an old castle ruin and other magnificent mansions from the 19th century. Entrance fees to the national monuments are quite expensive, but entry to the Pena Palace grounds (€ 6.50) allows visitors to use the terraces and stroll through the courtyards of this colorful complex.
Our most popular travel guides to Lisbon
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A labyrinth of narrow streets that hides the real Lisbon
Well-known landmarks and a rich maritime heritage
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Dishes you should definitely try in Lisbon
Lisbon is surrounded by beautiful beaches
The best day trips from Lisbon
Sintra is the most popular day trip destination from Lisbon
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The quaint tram crosses the narrow streets of Lisbon
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Portugal itinerary 1 week
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