Lisbon is loving the limelight at the moment. It seems like everyone has been, is booked to go or really, really wants to head to Portugal’s cool capital. Who can blame them? The combination of history, architecture, culture, food and wine is pretty irresistible. Here’s how to enjoy the best of the city for less.
While Lisbon’s a relatively inexpensive destination by European standards, the costs can mount. A dinner here, a taxi there – it all adds up. Here are my top six tips to help you save money on your visit.
Eat in the Time Out Market
Image © tichr
The Lisbon edition of the world-famous magazine picked the best chefs and restaurants from across the city and invited them to set up a street-food style stall in the market. The result? Delicious food at affordable prices. Your biggest problem is deciding what to have.
Take the Tram 28
Forget the taxi, Tram 28 is the easiest (and possibly the most famous) way to get around Lisbon.
Passing through all of Lisbon’s most famous areas (Alfama, Belem and Graca areas to name a few), the cool vintage tram is a cheap way to see many of the city’s biggest sights.
The tram does get really busy (unfortunately, the secret about Tram 28 has been well and truly spilled), but go early morning or in the evening for the best chance of grabbing a seat. If you do end up standing, hold on tight – the turns are tight and the hills are steep!
The Lisboa Card is your secret weapon when it comes to making the most out of your time in Lisbon on a budget. Like other city cards, you pay for the card and get free or discounted entry to attractions around the city. It’s always a toss-up whether it’s worth buying cards like these, but in this case, it is.
So what’s great about it? Firstly, you get free entry to some of Lisbon’s biggest sights including Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery. Those that aren’t free (like the Monument to the Discoveries) are significantly discounted.
You also get free access to the city’s public transport system – so that ride on Tram 28 just became even cheaper. The Lisboa Card starts from €18.50 for 24 hours.
Go Street Art Hunting
Lisbon is brimming with cool street art and best of all, seeing it is free. Renowned artists are always popping over to Lisbon (which also boasts a significant number of street art masters of its own), so you’re pretty much always guaranteed to see some great pieces.
Big street-art spotting hubs include the recently-revived LX Factory (pop in to LXeesecake too for an affordable but heavenly slice of cheesecake), the twisty, narrow streets of Alfama. Another hotspot is the open-air Galeria de Arte Urbana (which is actually located on a very steep street of Calçada da Glória – believe me when I say you’re best off starting at the top and working your way to the bottom). Don’t forget to swing by Andre Saraiva’s Urban Mural in São Vicente de Fora either.
Fill Up on Pasteis de Nata
Pasteis de Nata are pretty much the thing that most people think of when it comes to Portuguese food. These moreish rounds of egg custard in a rich and crumbly pastry topped with a dusting of sugar and cinnamon are not only impossibly delicious but are a cheap sweet treat to keep you going on a long day of sightseeing.
Head to the Pasteis de Belem – they’re famed for bringing the Pasteis to the masses after finding an old recipe written by the monks from the Monasterio de Jeronimo nearby. The bakery can get really busy, but it’s worth the wait.
Closer to the centre of town Manteigaria, in Barrio Alto is a close contender for the title of best Pasteis (I personally prefer theirs, if only because they don’t come with a side of long wait).
Go In Low Season
This one’s kind of obvious, which is why I’ve left it until last, but travelling to Lisbon in low-season can mean nabbing some really great discounts. The weather’s good enough for sightseeing all year round (highs of 13°C in January, 18°C in March), so save on your flights and accommodation and book between September and April.