10 Free Things To Do in Lisbon, Portugal by JetSettingFools.com

10 Free Things to do in Lisbon, Portugal

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As budget-conscious travelers, we inherently seek out bargains in the destinations we visit around the world. Our goal while traveling is not to spend as little money as possible, but rather to find money-saving activities that will not hamper, but increase, our overall experience of a place. And, while we were visiting Lisbon, Portugal, we did just that. Lisbon is an affordable city (especially when compared to other major Western European cities, like London and Paris), but the cost of a trip to Lisbon can quickly add up. To help other travelers experience Lisbon on a budget, we compiled a list of 10 free things to do in Lisbon.

Colorful street art in Lisbon, Portugal

 

Free Things To Do in Lisbon

 

#1 Free Walking Tour

Get an introduction to Lisbon points of interest on a Free Walking Tour! On the New Europe Free Lisbon Walking Tour, a Lisbon guide leads groups on a 3-hour tour through the city center while providing historic information about the city – as well as sharing more Lisbon budget tips.

Tip: Although the tour is technically free, the tours are tip-based. If you find worth in the tour, be prepared to leave your guide a tip at the end of the tour. If you would rather just pay for a tour up-front, there are many inexpensive Lisbon Walking Tours – including a highly-rated walking tour that costs $17 USD.

 

#2 Miradouros

Lisbon’s terrain of sloping hills can be daunting when exploring the city on foot (especially in the summer heat!), but because of those hills, there are some phenomenal city lookout points – called Miradouros. Terraces provide elevated views of the colorful city…and they are absolutely free and a must-do when you visit Lisbon! {Read about 10 Scenic Viewpoints in Lisbon

Tip: There are cafes at a few of the viewpoints – and the drinks are inexpensive, but not the best budget option. Instead, stop at a grocery store or market and pick up items for a simple picnic or a few drinks…and enjoy your meal and/or beverages with a view!

 

#3 Belem

A view of Belem in Lisbon, Portugal

Just four miles from the center of Lisbon is the historic city of Belem. In the 1500s, it was from Belem that ships set for sail on trade routes and in search of new discoveries – and at that time the town was adorned with amazing architecture that still stands today (Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower and the Belem Palace), which is what makes it one of the best day trips from Lisbon. Tourists also visit Belem to see the (more recently built) Monument to the Discoveries…and to eat the famous custard tarts from Pasteis de Belem.

While there is a fee to enter the sites in Belem, budget travelers can purchase a combo ticket to the monastery and tower to save money – or forego entering the sites and simply enjoy the atmosphere of the town. We would recommend, however, ponying up a euro for at least one custard tart! {Read about spending One Day in Belem}

Tip: An inexpensive way to get from Lisbon to Belem is Tram #15, which departs from Praco do Comercio and costs less than 3 euros.

 

#4 Thieves Market

Perusing markets in foreign places is a fabulous way to get a glimpse of local life in a city and the Thieves Market in Lisbon – Feira da Ladra – gives a full dose of it. The 100-year-old market sprawls east of the Pantheon in the streets of Alfama. The ‘stalls’ are often just blankets on the ground, which the vendors set up to sell anything and everything. Seriously, the array of goods is astounding and range from books and valuable antiques to used drills and retro cell phones to deodorant and toothpaste. {Read about the Thieves Market}

Tip: The Thieves Market only takes place on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Other Lisbon markets include Mercado da Ribiera, Mercado do Jardim and LX Factory Sunday Market.

 

#5 Churches

Lisbon has an astounding number of historic churches within the city center – most of which have ornately decorated interiors. While the churches are Lisbon tourist attractions, entrance to most Lisbon churches is free (although small fees may be required to visit church museums). {Read about 10 Churches in Lisbon}

Tip: Three must-see churches in Lisbon are Sao Vicente de Fora, Lisbon Cathedral and Sao Roque.

 

#6 Cristo Rei

Overlooking the Tagus River and Lisbon from the south bank is Cristo Rei – a 92-foot-tall statue of Christ (which stands on a 269-foot-tall pedestal). At the base of the statue, visitors will find a chapel and a path lined with the Stations of the Cross, from which there are fabulous views of Lisbon and the 25 de Abril Bridge (a near replica of the Golden Gate in San Francisco). {Read about Lisbon’s Cristo Rei

Tip: A trip to Cristo Rei can cost as little as a ferry ride (3 euros round trip); once on the south bank, follow the signs and walk up to the statue.

 

#7 Fado

Fado is to Lisbon as country music is to Tennessee: it’s iconic and listening to the soulful sound is one of the best things to do in Lisbon. Yet, finding a free performance of Portugal’s traditional folk music is nearly impossible. Nearly. Lucky tourists will catch a rare street performance or an impromptu song being sung late night at a bar. But, if listening to Fado is high on your list, head to Tasca do Chico in Barrio Alto, where there is no cover charge for Fado sessions (Fado sessions are on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9pm; get there early for a table or plan on standing).  

Tip: If standing-room-only in a packed bar isn’t your idea of a good time, but hearing Fado is a must-do Lisbon experience for you, there is a budget Fado performance for $20, ‘Fado in Chiado.’ Most other performances, which usually include a meal, cost around $100 USD. 

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#8 Museums

There are a plethora of museums in Lisbon, but very few of them are free (the Museu Do Aljube “Liberation Museum” being an exception). Fees to enter the museums rarely exceed 5 euros, but some of Lisbon’s most popular museums – like Museu Nacional do Azulejo (Tile Museum), Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos Belem, Torre de Belem, Museu Gulbenkian and the National Pantheon – offer free entry on the 1st Sunday of each month. (Find a list of free Lisbon museums on the 1st Sunday of the month here.)

Tip: If you are planning on visiting several museums – and will not be in Lisbon on the 1st Sunday of the month, consider buying the Lisboa Card– which includes free entry into Lisbon’s top museusms.

 

#9 Parks

There are a number of parks that provide a bit of green space within the Lisbon city center. Jardim da Estrela in the west (and across the street from the Basilica da Estrela) opened to the public in 1873 and at one time featured a caged lion in the middle of the park. The 64-acre Eduardo VII Park lies north of Avenida da Liberdade and slopes uphill to a platform where the largest flag of Portugal in the world flies (and is where Shakira filmed her Dare (La La La) video). Martim Moniz is the city’s newest park in the center of Lisbon’s most multicultural neighborhood and, in addition to the open lawn, features huts selling international cuisine and sometimes a DJ offering entertainment.

Tip: Use this link to Google Maps to find the three parks mentioned above.

 

#10 Neighborhoods

Famous Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal

There are many neighborhoods – or barrios – that make up Lisbon – and each one has its own unique and distinct feel. At the center of the city are the iconic neighborhoods of Alfama, Baixta, Barrio Alto and Chiado. The best way to get to know Lisbon’s districts (and one the top things to do in Lisbon) is to wander through them on foot without a particular destination in mind. {Read about the Streets of Alfama}

Tip: Lisbon’s historic, yellow Tram 28 rambles through Baixta, Alfama and Graca districts. Jump on board for an inexpensive way to see the neighborhoods when the weather is rainy or hot and humid – or when your feet just need a rest!

 

Our Top Tips for Your Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Sightseeing & Money-Saving Tips

If you plan on visiting Lisbon attractions – and traveling via public transportation – the Lisboa Card can provide significant savings. With the Lisboa Card, all public transportation (including the Santa Justa Lift) is free, as well as many museums, and top Lisbon sights – like St. George Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) – can be visited with a reduced admission fee

Although the Lisbon public transportation options are ample, it can be confusing for anyone who isn’t used to using public transport. Easier to figure out than public transport is the Lisbon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus that makes stops at all the popular tourist spots. 

In addition to sightseeing in Lisbon, the most popular Lisbon day trip (besides a jaunt to Belem and Cristo Rei, as mentioned above) is a combo excursion to the UNESCO heritage town of Sintra and coastal Cascais. Although this journey can be completed on your own, an organized small-group tour from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais can cost as little as $50 (and you are almost guaranteed not to get locked in a train station, like we did!)

 

Where To Stay

During our visit to Lisbon, we stayed in this awesome Airbnb Apartment in the Alfama district (which we think is the best area to stay in Lisbon). We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Lisbon holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner 

Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!

However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Lisbon hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) priced around $100 USD/night (at time of posting) for your upcoming trip: HF Fenix Urban, Hotel Expo Astoria and Empire Lisbon Hotel. Or, find a deal on hotels in Lisbon by bidding on Priceline

Budget travelers can search for hostels in Lisbon– like Lisboa Central Hostel and Lisbon Destination Hostel. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free

 

Getting There

In Lisbon

Lisbon can be reached by plane, train, bus or car.  The Humberto Delgado Airport, where most flights to Lisbon will land, is the main Lisbon airport. If arriving/departing Lisbon by train or bus, there are several stations in the city. When booking travel by train or bus, pay close attention to the station of arrival/depature. 

Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). However, due to our unique circumstances (flight benefits earned from years of service with a major airline), we rarely buy airline tickets. That being said, if we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for cheap flights to Lisbon on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.

To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, we use Rail Europe to find train tickets and our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi, seat-back entertainment, refreshments and a toilet. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.  

 

Before You Go

  • Not everyone in Lisbon speaks English! Take interactive language learning courses with Babbel to learn Portuguese prior to your trip!
  • Lisbon is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…and especially Lisbon! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!

 

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We want to know: Do you know of any other free things to do in Lisbon? Share your tips in the comments below! 

 

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10 Free Things To Do in Lisbon by JetSettingFools.com

10 Free Things To Do in Lisbon, Portugal by JetSettingFools.com
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2 thoughts on “10 Free Things to do in Lisbon, Portugal

  1. Sophie

    Thank you for the article! However, I just wanted to ask why you decided to support a massively exploitative company like Sandemans New Europe over a local company that treats its guides fairly? Sandemans takes a large portion of their guides “tip money” and pays them a very small wage for their so-called paid tours and private tours. There are other free tour companies, for example, Chill Out Lisbon Free Tour that are local, ethical, offer fair conditions to their guides, pay them living wages and have excellent guides! Why did you choose a multi-national company hell-bent on squeezzing as much money out of their guides as possible over a local company that believes in respecting their guides, giving fair conditions and wages and offering great tours?

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