Looking for a vacation spot filled with a rich history, gorgeous weather, and incredible views wherever you turn? Look no further than Lisbon, Portugal. This coastal city is a bit of a hidden gem, housing some of Europe’s most delicious food, stunning shorelines, and vibrant culture, and it’s well worth a visit for anyone looking for a seaside escape.
While Lisbon isn’t the most expensive city in Europe, it’s not necessarily the most budget-friendly, either. To keep the cost of your trip down, it’s a wise idea to incorporate a handful of free or cheap activities among the more expensive attractions and experiences. Lucky for you, this isn’t too hard to do in Lisbon. With a little effort, you’ll find lots of ways to have fun and experience the city without spending much money – or anything at all.
Not sure what you can do on a budget in Lisbon? Here are just a few budget-conscious ways you can have fun and experience the city:
Visit the Igreja de São Roque
There are dozens of beautiful churches scattered across Lisbon to explore, but if you can only squeeze a few into your itinerary, make room for the Igreja de São Roque. Don’t be caught off guard by the building’s unassuming exterior. Step inside, and you’ll be dazzled by one of the most intricately designed church interiors in the country—if not across Europe. The walls and ceilings are covered with stunning mosaics, gold details, and impressive statues made from some of the world’s most valuable materials.
Admire the View from Some of the City’s Miradouros
Not only is Lisbon home to some magnificent architecture, but it’s also a city built among the hills, which lends itself to more impressive views than you could hope to witness in a single trip. To take advantage of the stunning scenery, Lisbon is home to several miradouros—terraces built for you to admire the view. Some are quiet, private spaces, while others are home to cafes and seating areas. While you won’t be disappointed by any miradouro you find, a few of the city’s best include:
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol
- Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte
- Miradouro da Graça
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Search them on Google Maps and add them to your itineraries for some perfect photo ops!
Stroll Through the Jardim da Estrela
Situated across from the Basilica da Estrela, this public park is free for all to enjoy. Jardim da Estrela is home to beautiful lawns, impressive sculptures and statues, fragrant gardens, and plenty of spots to sit down and relax for a little while. The shade offered by the park’s old trees provides a welcome reprieve from the heat on warm days; like most of Europe, you won’t find a ton of air-conditioned spots around town. Kids will love the playground, and everyone will enjoy watching the ducks that frequent the pond. If you’re looking for the perfect place for an afternoon picnic, people-watching, or nature photography in Lisbon, this is it!
Explore the Alfama District
While many parts of Lisbon are well worth exploring, there’s one district in particular everyone should visit while in town: the Alfama district. The Alfama district is the oldest in Lisbon, and you’ll see traces of history everywhere you turn. Navigate the district’s narrow, winding cobblestone streets, admire the ancient architecture, and appreciate the character you’ll find here. Home to the Portas do Sol Miradouro, Castelo de São Jorge, and the Se Cathedral, you’ll want to take advantage of some of Lisbon’s most loved attractions while you’re in the area.
Wander Through Feira da Ladra
When visiting the Alfama district, you won’t want to miss a stop at the Feira da Ladra. This flea market is filled with all kinds of trinkets, treasures, and treats you won’t find anywhere else, all available at an affordable price. Pick up a souvenir or two for family and friends back home, or just spend some time browsing the market’s impressive selection of clothing, art, jewelry, antiques, and other items. If you enjoy window shopping or thrifting, you could easily spend a few hours here, getting lost among the various stalls.
The market opens at nine a.m. each Tuesday and Saturday, and you’ll want to get there early for the best chance of scoring a great deal! And if you see something you like, don’t be afraid to haggle! Bargaining for a better price isn’t rude; it’s expected.
Soak Up the Sun at Carcavelos Beach
Want to incorporate a budget-friendly beach day into your Lisbon itinerary? Look no further than Praia de Carcavelos Beach. Easily accessible from Lisbon thanks to a quick public train, this beach is one of the most popular in the area because it has so much to offer. The soft sand, clear blue water, and reliable surf make Carcavelos Beach the perfect spot for sunbathers, surfers, and families looking to build sandcastles or play a friendly game of volleyball. Off the sand, you’ll find public restrooms, along with plenty of cafes for a quick bite when you’re feeling hungry.
Enjoy the View from Tram 28
Lisbon is home to many different trams connecting various segments of the city. Tourists and locals alike enjoy these trams as a quick and easy way to get around, but one tram, in particular, has become a well-known tourist attraction: Tram 28.
A ride on Tram 28 will take you on a tour that passes by some of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks and areas, including Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, as you make the uphill climb toward St. George Castle. The charming old tram is well worth the experience, although this is another attraction you’ll want to enjoy early in the day if you’d like to avoid standing-room-only crowds.
From historic trams and districts to sunny beaches and spectacular viewpoints, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Lisbon, Portugal – even if you don’t have a ton of cash to spend while you’re there. Incorporate these activities into your itinerary, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time on a budget!