We’ll let you in on a secret: you can enjoy Lisbon’s world-class cuisine, history and culture without breaking the bank.
These days, it’s a well-known fact that Lisbon is the place to be. With iconic architecture, panoramic views, world-famous food and never-ending nightlife, this city really does have it all. But if you’re traveling with limited funds, the explosion of tourists—and resulting rise in prices—can be more of a curse than a blessing.
Even so, while Lisbon offers plenty of luxury for those who want it, it can also be an incredibly affordable city. All you have to do is avoid the tourist traps, seek out local favorites and plan your itinerary wisely. In this guide we’ll let you know where to stay, what to do and how to take full advantage of Lisbon on a budget.
The Cheapest Time to Travel to Lisbon
As with any popular destination, the best time to go to Lisbon is in the low or “shoulder” season (the months between low and high season). This means fewer people, more options and lower prices.
During the high season in July and August, the streets are packed with tourists and temperatures can get into the upper eighties or higher (over 30 degrees Celsius). While it’s certainly still possible to enjoy Lisbon in the summer, it can make for a sweaty, stressful and overpriced vacation.
You can avoid all that by visiting Lisbon in the off-peak season. It’s a beautiful city to see in the winter, with mild temperatures and prices at their lowest. That said, the best time to go is May, June or September. In these shoulder-season months it’s warm and sunny enough to spend as much time outside as possible, and maybe even take a day trip from Lisbon to visit the nearby beaches. Accommodation prices are still relatively low, and avoiding the tourist rush means you’ll pay less overall.
Best Places to Stay in Lisbon on a Budget
Best Hostels in Lisbon
If there’s one thing Lisbon has a lot of, it’s hostels. The market here is absolutely saturated, which means that in order to succeed, each hostel has to go above and beyond what’s expected. This is great news for backpackers and budget travelers—with everyone competing to offer the best experience at the lowest price, you can’t lose.
Certain hostels in Lisbon stand out above the rest. One of our favorites is Home Lisbon Hostel, located right in the middle of Baixa. Even the dorms here feel more like hotel rooms, and they also have affordable private rooms available. The nightly family dinner costs just €10 for a three-course homemade meal, and is the perfect way to meet other travelers. Yes! Lisbon Hostel and Sant Jordi Hostels Lisbon are also great options that don’t disappoint when it comes to quality.
Budget-Friendly Hotels in Lisbon
If you’re not into the hostel life, don’t worry; there are plenty of hotels in Lisbon that offer a bit more privacy at totally accessible prices.
Check in to A Casa das Janelas com Vista for homey vibes, delicious breakfast and views of Bairro Alto (as the name implies). Or try 1869 Príncipe Real, one of the best boutique hotels in Lisbon. It’s hard to believe that the level of comfort, style and personal attention here can come at such a reasonable price. You can even spring for a deluxe penthouse with a private terrace at 54 Santa Catarina. It may be a bit more expensive, but the value for your money is almost as stunning as the view.
Things to Do in Lisbon… Without Going Broke
Stroll the Streets
When it comes to entertainment on a budget, Lisbon is pretty much unbeatable. You don’t need to spend a lot of money here to have a good time. Just wandering through the streets can occupy you for hours. Explore the hills of Alfama, climb from one miradouro to the next and stroll along the waterfront to catch the sea breeze. Getting lost here is truly a blessing in disguise—you never know what hidden gems you’ll discover.
Enjoy Free Fado
Once you get tired of walking, there are plenty of other free things to do in Lisbon. In fact, many of the most famous aspects of its identity are associated with the everyday lives of working-class citizens. For example, the legendary genre of fado was born among sailors and dock workers in the port neighborhoods of Alfama, Mouraria and Bairro Alto. Today you can still hear authentic fado for free in Lisbon, as long as you know where to look.
Soak up the Culture & Get into Museums for Free
To continue your cultural education, check out some of the artistic masterpieces on display in Portugal’s capital.
You can start with the art that’s all around you. After all, it doesn’t cost a thing to admire the azulejos (colorful tiles that decorate the exteriors of many buildings) and intricate mosaics beneath your feet!
Next, head to one of Lisbon’s museums, many of which offer free or discounted admission on certain days.
Cheap Food in Lisbon (That You’ll Actually Want to Eat)
Finally, there’s our favorite aspect of Portuguese culture: food! While eating for free might be a bit of a stretch, there’s no better place than Lisbon to try gourmet cuisine for cheap. And lucky for you, many of Lisbon’s must-try bites just happen to be some of its cheapest.
For the most authentic eating experience, forget the fancy restaurants and go for Lisbon’s favorite street food bites instead. Don’t miss:
- Bifana: sandwich made with flavorful stewed pork
- Pão com chouriço: bread stuffed with chorizo
- Pastéis de nata: puff pastry tarts filled with custard
- Ginjinha: cherry liqueur, served in small glasses
When you’ve gotten your fill of street food, head to one of the best spots for cheap eats in Lisbon, where you can dine like royalty for just a few euros. A couple of our favorites are Zé da Mouraria (Rua João do Outeiro 24), where the portions are made for sharing, and A Provinciana for the lunchtime prato do dia, or plate of the day.
Melissa first moved to Madrid to explore her interests in linguistics and communication, and quickly fell in love with the city’s culture and cuisine. She’s particularly passionate about Spanish vermouth and canned seafood, and makes it a point to drench absolutely everything in olive oil.