As Lisbon´s popularity grows and grows, tourist related companies are popping up all over the place offering everything that your tourist heart could possibly desire and a lot that it probably didn´t.
Prices in Lisbon are still relatively cheap compared to other European capitals but a budget not carefully watched can get out of hand as fast as it does in any of the more expensive cities.
This article will help you find the cheaper alternatives that garantee you a good time and possibly a better experience of this wonderful city! It will certainly leave you with money left over.
Touring the city.
There are many ways to tour this city from a personal beetle guided tour, to a sedway or electrical car and you´ll find them all on this site. On a budget some of the options can be expensive.
The cheapest way is to collect a free map at the tourist office and walk your way through the city, however for those that dont like walking, have already walked enough or have difficulty walking, there are many cheap alternatives. Here some of the best.
Tram 28 tourThis is one of the touristy popular public transport trams that roller coasters it´s way over the steep hills of the Bairro Alto and Alfama the oldests parts of the centre of Lisbon. At less than 3 euro its a good budget way to see the city in a funny, energetic way. note that the route is also popular with pick pockets! Read more about the tram 28 tour here
Bike rent rent a bike for a day or longer prices start at approximately 10 euros per day and go down depending on the amount of days you rent for. There are various places that rent bikes and mopeds.
Note that Lisbon is not flat and you could find yourself climbing very steep hills. The traffic is chaotic and busy so depending on your stamina and nerve strength, it would be good to plan a bike trip accordingly.
You can rent a bike, scooter or motor in Lisbon straight on our site! rent a bike or scooter on Go Discover Portugal
A public transport day ticket Get a public transport day pass. There are various passes available but the best deal is the Viva Viagem unlimited pass which you can buy for as many days as you require. The cost of the Viva Viagem pass is 5.50 euros for the first day, and 5.00 euros for each additional day. It can be used on all metro´s, trams and busses all over the city and can be bought at all metro stations. If you have difficulty using the machines you can buy them at the booth with cash.
Moinhos Bareiro Photo by Nuno Soeiro
The ferry boats to the other side of the Tagus Take the ferry across the Tagus river to the other side. for normal public transport prices you can take the ferry across the Tejo to various spots on the other side. Prices are between 1.50 to 3 euro depending on the distance and the boats go very regularly every day of the week. Sadly the site is in Portuguese but it will give you time information and get on and off points. http://www.transtejo.pt/pt/homepage/index.html There a 3 docks on the Lisbon side Belém, Cais do Sodré and Terreiro do Paço. The Belém boat takes you to the fishing villages of Porto Brandão and Trafaria. The Cais do Sodré ferry boat takes you to the bigger municipalities of Cacilhas and Seixal and the Terreiro do Paço ferry to Montijo or Barreiro. All these have there own character and are certainly worth a visit. The ferry trip gives you a lovely impression of the Tagus and fantastic views of Lisbon and it´s opposite side.
Eating on a budget, eat like a local!
Gastronomy in Lisbon is growing at an amazing rate and the hype is on in Lisbon chef José Avillez at Belcanto was awarded a second Michelin start for 2015 and culinary restaurants are opening their doors and bettering their offers at a fast growing rate. Lisbon is investing well in gastronomic tourism and the results are impresive and exciting.
Prices are also starting to reflect this new innovation in a modern way and travelling on a small budget can be very difficult when it comes to food and eating in the more popular places.
Our advice is to avoid the touristic spots as much as possible, if your travelling on a low budget and to adopt the habit of eating like a Portuguese!
First of all adapt the times that you eat and what you eat at those times. In Portugal lunch is the main meal of the day and it starts at 12 in the afternoon and runs to about 2.30 to 15.00 pm.
It generally consists of 3 courses soup, main course and dessert.
You can save at least 50% on the cost of a meal by eating a “diaria” which is a set menu offered by most local restaurants and snackbars, very often the price of the meal, depending in which area you eat it will be somewhere between 5 euro to 8 euro including all. Always inform proparly on what is included! read also our article about restaurant habits in Portugal and the number one budget area in the centre of Lisbon, THe avenida Almirante Reis
for sandwiches and snacks go to typical, local pastelarias, pastry shops that generally offer local pastries, coffees, drinks and sometimes full meals for very low prices and visit local supermarkets for anything else you might need.
Free culture and museums
Lisbon has a rich historical past that is spread over many centuries and it has many museums and national monuments to prove it.
Lisbon offers a day, 2 day our 3 day ticket that gives free or discounted entrance to most, called the Lisboa card and can be both in most tourist offices prices start at 18.50 for a one day card.
On Sunday morning untill 14.00 pm most museums and national monuments have free entry, so this is a good time to visit the most important spots and generally its not much busier at this time.
Some of the places that are free on Sunday morning are centered around the area of Belém, where you can view the Jeronimos Monastery, the Archaeology Museum, the Belém tower and the Maritime Museum.
In Belém is also the modern art museum Berardo which has a large collection of modern art and it is always free of charge.
Other museum in Lisbon that arefree of charge at all times are the Radio Museum (Museu da Rádio) on the Rua do Quelhas, 21, The National history museum of the univesity of Lisbon on the Rua Escola Politécnica, 58. This museum has a museum, gardens and a botanical lab.
Discover the culture and sounds of the Lisbon Fado.
Lisbon is bursting with Fado, fado nights, fado dinners, fado tours and fado theators and mostly you will pay quite well for them. Not suprising as Fado is popular and most good fado singers expensive. often the meals served will be culinary and the atmosphere gauranteed.
However how do you discover fado on a budget? Again you´ll have to fado with the locals!
Fado was born in the area of Mouraria on the slope leading up to the castle of Martim Moniz and even though you will find many old taverns, bar and tasquinhas (small tavern type restaurants) your unlikely, out of the summer months, to find Fado in our current times.
Fado vadio is a style of fado that entails the possibility of anybody getting up and starting to sing fado and you will find a couple of places in Alfama or the Bairro Alto accommodating this type of fado at no cost to the unlooker. As this culture is spontanious and can happen in any local bar at any time, it is difficult to plan or give times. You´ll just have to walk around and be lucky enough to join one of these very special nights.
A couple of places that do have regular free fado are A Baiuca and tasca do Chico in the Bairro Alto. (Tasca di Chico on Monday and Wednesday nights) be early as both places tend to fill up fast!