The Portuguese capital has plenty to offer—and much of it won’t cost you a thing. From panoramic views to authentic fado shows, these are our favorite free things to do in Lisbon!
Portugal is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. As tourists flock to its cities and beaches, demand is on the rise—and so are prices. But it’s still possible to find places off the beaten path, and to visit this incredible country without breaking the bank.
In fact, we’ll let you in on a secret: some of the best things to do in Portugal, and especially its capital, are totally free. If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, forego the pricey tours and package deals. Instead, design your own adventure and save those hard-earned euros for your next plane ticket. Because trust us—you’ll want to come back.
Our favorite free activities in Lisbon
Here are our top picks for free things to do in Lisbon, from history and museums to modern culture and music.
1. Explore the historic center
It may seem obvious, but when it comes to free things to do in Lisbon, nothing beats good old-fashioned exploring. This is the kind of city where unexpected beauty awaits you around every corner. Set off on foot in the iconic neighborhoods of Alfama and Bairro Alto, wandering through cobblestone alleyways and steep streets.
You’ll find an interesting mix of ancient buildings and tram lines juxtaposed with vibrant street art and world-class sightseeing. Our advice? Forget Google Maps and let yourself get lost (within reason, of course). And don’t forget to grab a pastel de nata along the way—they may not be free, but they’re definitely budget-friendly.
2. Visit one of Lisbon’s free museums
Once you get tired of exploring the streets, switch things up by wandering the halls of a museum. Lisbon has several options where admission is always free, including the must-see Coleção Berardo with its plethora of modern masterpieces. History buffs will love the Museu do Aljube, dedicated to Portugal’s political past, and the Núcleo Arqueológico, featuring Roman artifacts.
Most other museums also offer free admission on certain days; head to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga or the MAAT on the first Sunday of each month, or the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea on the first Friday.
3. Relax in a picturesque park
Getting tired of all that walking yet? Luckily, not all free activities are hard on the legs. To relax a bit, take a break in one of Lisbon’s gorgeous green spaces. For example, you can enjoy Portugal’s perpetually sunny weather at the Jardim da Estrela, with its duck pond and plenty of exotic plants.
Alternatively, you can chill in the shade of the Jardim do Príncipe Real’s giant cedar tree, and splurge on an horchata or mazagran from its traditional kiosk. There are plenty of other options, too, no matter what part of the city you’re in. Grab some picnic supplies or a good book, and you’ve got the perfect afternoon plan.
4. Go for a scenic climb
Now that you’ve rested your legs, it’s time to head back uphill. We promise the climb will be worth it once you reach Lisbon’s incredible miradouros (viewpoints). If you’re feeling ambitious, visit several and compare the panoramic views from each of them.
To start, there’s the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, with views of the cathedral and São Jorge Castle. Another of our favorites is the Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte, the city’s highest lookout point, which might just have the most stunning views in Lisbon. Of course, you can always take a shortcut to the top by hopping on one of the iconic trams!
5. Enjoy a free fado show
You’ve probably heard of fado, Portugal’s most famous musical genre. If you want the full cultural experience, it’s essential to see a live fado show in Lisbon. But do yourself a favor and skip the tourist traps, where you’ll pay exorbitant prices for a less-than-authentic experience.
Instead, head to a local tasca or café where entry is free, and spend your cash on some petiscos and wine for a perfect evening—or afternoon—activity. Check out some of our favorite spots for free fado in Lisbon, and prepare to fall in love.
6. Browse the Feira da Ladra
If you’re into antiques and vintage treasure hunts, you’ll love Lisbon’s coolest street market. The Feira da Ladra sprouts up every Tuesday and Saturday around the Campo de Santa Clara. From morning until early afternoon, you can wander among vendors selling everything from secondhand clothing to used books and old furniture.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, make sure to bring some cash—but sometimes just browsing is even more fun than buying. You don’t need to spend a dime to enjoy this local tradition!
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.