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Portugal’s capital Lisbon is bouncing! The city is crammed with winding streets, street art, delicious food and a vibrant music scene. The city boasts of beautiful viewpoints and a bar by the beach. It is easy to lose a day, spend a long weekend or even an extended break in Lisboa, if you throw a few day trips in too! Here’s our best things to do in Lisbon guide, for those looking to avoid spending lots of euros in the city built on seven hills.
» You may also like: our guide to Lisbon’s best day trips
Things to do in Lisbon for Under €18
1. Get Lost in Alfama in Lisbon
The oldest district of Lisbon, Alfama, is one to get lost in!
Wander around the impressively tall buildings and narrow streets, stopping off for a coffee or port to recharge the batteries.
These roads will take you from the São Jorge Castle down to the Tagus River, ogle at the pretty tiled buildings along the way.
I can only compare Alfama to the maze that is Edinburgh’s Old Town but on a much larger (or narrower?) scale.
Expect to come across anything from hanging washing to hanging bunting, street art to spectacular views.
This area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon and features on many guided tour routes but it is very hilly.
If this sounds like a challenge to your style of travel, check out our tips on the cheap tram ride below.
Most crowds can be found about the castle area.
2. Beers at Bairro Alto
The neighbourhoods you want to visit in Lisbon are all very close to each other.
It is likely that you will take a new street and be in the next area without realising it.
Bairro Alto is the zone where the nightlife in Lisbon kicks off.
By day it simply looks like streets with eateries, by night these streets come alive.
More than often, it feels like you are having drinks in your Grandma’s living room!
Personally, I would avoid accommodation in Bairro Alto, unless you are the party.
Again, this a hilly area so be cautious of your footing or any attempts to carry luggage around the district!
3. Get High in Lisbon
Reaching the stars for the best views of the city has been a running theme in our European city guides of late.
Lisbon has no shortage of rooftop viewing platforms and luckily for us, most come with a cool drink in your hand!
Check out the laid-back Park Restaurant and Bar for lovely 180 degrees views which include the 25 de Abril Bridge.
One of the many hipster things to do in Lisbon but they make you work for that craft beer.
To get to Park Bar you have to go up an elevator in a car park. Cryptic!
- Address: Park Bar – Calçada do Combro, 58 1200-115 Lisbon, Portugal
4. Miradouro de Santa Catarina – Sunset Viewing Point
Don’t miss Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewing point at sunset where you can take a carryout beer and hang with the locals.
Swing by Manteigaria Portuguese pastelería to pick up some famous Portuguese custard tarts as part of your picnic.
Views aren’t the best in the city but so if you are limited on time and love a sunset, go for Park Bar instead.
5. Jardim São Pedro de Alcântara Restaurant Viewpoint
The vantage point, Jardim São Pedro de Alcântara, directly across from The Decadente Restaurant has the best views of Säo Jorge Castle.
Park Bar, Lisbon
6. Lisbon’s Unique Transport System
Struggle with hills?
Check out Lisbon’s four elevators – three are yellow and run on tracks, Lisbon’s trams!
The fourth is the Santa Justa Lift (Carmo Lift) found in Baixa which is more like an elevator you would find in a shopping centre/mall.
These elevators are also known as funiculars which are quite common in some European cities (Paris, Budapest, Kyiv).
Their purpose is simply to help locals and visitors navigate the steep hills of the city but have become a symbol of Lisbon along the way. Especially one special yellow tram…
7. Cheap Lisbon Tour on Tram 28
When wondering what to do in Lisbon on a tight budget consider the affordable local tram #28.
While the tram makes getting around famous attractions such as Castle Sao Jorge and districts like Bario Alto easier, you do need some patience.
This tram is jam-packed with site hungry tourists looking to get a glimpse of the most popular Lisbon sightseeing, all for under €3!
There is no audio guide but the cool breeze from the window seat is included.
In all honesty, I did not find this ride as exhilarating as others have but I did leave it until day eight of our Lisbon itinerary so had seen much of what was on offer, plus the rail to the castle was closed.
Ps. read the comments below – this tram journey is for locals and tourists using it as a tour bus appears to annoy them.
Looking for something less touristy to do?
Check out the historical Livraria Bertrand bookshop (R. Garrett 73 75). It’s the oldest operating bookstore in the world!
8. Lisbon Card – Transport + Skip Lines
A budget-saving tip is to consider the 24, 48 or 72-hour Lisbon Card which provides access to unlimited travel on city transport as well as free admission to the top Lisbon activities.
This is especially helpful for those who find walking uphill difficult as the access includes use of the busses, trams and cable railways.
Another bonus is that some train lines are also included such as the trains between Cais do Sodré and Cascais (such a gorgeous part of Portugal).
You can also get to the popular Sintra via train using this card.
Read the comments below and you will see how busy Lisbon is, especially during the summer months.
The Lisbon Card provides skip the line access to Jerónimos Monastery.
It also includes entry to Belem Tower, Marfa National Palace and Santa Justa Lift.
Buy your Lisbon Card online here at GetYourGuide and then exchange it for the magnetic card when you arrive at the airport or the city.
9. Even More Lisbon Tours
I have never seen a city with so many tours!
Segway, tuk-tuk, street art tour, a bus that turns into a boat…
We opted for the traditional and reliable Lisbon walking tour, which guided us around the historic old town.
Our guide, Carla, energetically marched us through the tiny streets of Alfama while sharing tales of war, natural disasters, religion, and economic downturns.
All of these events contribute to Lisbon’s new badge of honour as a city of tolerance.
If you are not so keen on group tours, check out this audio walking tour of Lisbon by fellow blogger, Julie Dawn Fox, a British ex-pat in Portugal!
- Price: Paid through tips
- Duration: 2–3 hours
- Meeting point: Rossio / D. Pedro IV Square (the one with two fountains)
10. Square Deal
Lisbon has lots of squares!
Rossio Square/D. Pedro IV is the one with two fountains.
Praca do Comercio (aka Terreiro do Paço Square) in Baixa has a big yellow building with an popular photo spot arch called Arco da Rua Augusta.
This is where we watched the semi-final of the European Cup, a massive TV was set up for all to see.
Camões Square is my favourite square. Many a Bifana (pork sandwich) was consumed while watching the world go by here.
One of the cutest things about the local community squares (and each neighbourhood has one) is the tiny bar where you can buy a coffee!
Rossio Square/D. Pedro IV
11. Down The Hatch – Ginjinha
Served in a shot, but must be sipped – Ginjinha is a sour cherry liquor best enjoyed after midday.
Recommended rocket fuel to get you up those hills.
One of the most unique things to do in Lisbon because you aren’t doing it anywhere else!
- Price: €1 – €1.40
12. Chow Down on Cod
Salted, canned, fried – apparently, there are 365 ways to cook cod so that’s one dish for every day of the year.
You’ll discover where cod is being sold by smell before sight!
Not a fan of fish? The Portuguese sure know how to do a sausage! And snails…
» Foodies! Click here to find out where to eat in Lisboa.
13. Party on Pink Street
Guess what colour the ground on this street is?
Yes! You guessed it, pink.
The infamous party street is lined with the ‘best clubs in Lisbon’ so not for faint-hearted travellers (actually seemed pretty tame!)
A trip to Pink Street is one of the popular things to do in Lisbon at night and it is also a very popular photo spot on Instagram.
- Address: Rua Nova do Carvalho
14. Lunch at LXFactory
LX Factory is pretty fancy and I am sure most of the visitors to this arty lunch spot are tourists but the area is still a pleasant place to brunch in.
Don’t forget to check out the street art behind the main drag and pick up some vintage gifts at the market.
Word of warning – when you are offered olives, bread, etc this is called a couvert and it is not free.
Each item will be added to your bill which is a total contrast to ‘free’ tapas in Granada, Spain!
So if you’d prefer not to get stung with the side dishes politely send them back.
Learn from our mistakes! We were hit with a €28 breakfast of eggs and bread because of this couvert offering.
Check out this E-book on Portuguese food if heading to Lisbon.
You’ll notice that we don’t discuss the Time Out Market in our guide.
While many tourists rave about it, we found it hard work.
The canteen-style dining was noisy, we had to wait for an age for food which came at different times. Staff seemed unhappy.
I normally love this communal kind of dining but it felt more high school than high class.
- Address: R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal
Street art at LXFactory in Lisbon
15. DOCAS in Lisbon
Close to the 25 de Abril Bridge, you will find Santo Amaro Docks – a small stretch of bars and restaurants mostly occupied by locals.
I always feel pretty smug when I discover less touristy spots and this area certainly was that.
Check out the boats in the marina while having a beer under Lisbon’s San Francisco Bridge, enjoy Lisbon like a local!
- Doca Santo Amaro Armazém CP, 1350-353, Alcântara, Lisboa, Portugal
16. Bounce to Belém
So many fun things to do in Lisbon but leaving the centre is also recommended.
Belém is a very cute area of Lisbon just a short tram ride away.
Hire bikes and pedal the 40-minute bike route which takes you along the River Tejo, under the bridge, past the boats to Belém Tower.
More on Belém to come in our guide to Lisbon’s best day trips. Definitely one of my favourite Lisbon attractions.
- Bike hire: €10 – €15 (4-hour hire)
- Tram to Belém: 15 or tram 127 from downtown (get off at Jeronimos Monastery / approx. 30 minutes))
17. Sweet for Custard Tarts
If you only do one thing in Portugal it should be this – eat a custard tart.
The crème de la crème (see what I did there?) can be found in Belém at Pasteis de Belem for under €2 per tart.
Just look for a stupidly large line and you are there!
We were advised to wait in line for a seat (as opposed to take-away) for speedy service but the wait was still around 10 minutes.
- R. Belém, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
18. What to do in Lisbon on Day Three – See Sintra
Sintra, the city for tourists with deep pockets.
Many holidaymakers adore this day trip from Lisbon.
This is where you can visit more than ten national monuments, once they have won the lottery.
Monuments include the National Palace, the Moors Castle and the Pena Palace.
I can’t deny that it is an interesting looking city but I preferred our scooter ride home via Cascais, that’s where we filmed our very last video from the 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe.
- Transport: Train 434 route / Station: Rossio / 40 minutes
Practical Lisbon Travel Advice
Accommodation in Lisbon
We were slightly taken aback at the prices of accommodation in Lisbon with central hotels reaching a whopping €500 per night.
As we were on a tighter budget we stayed in the Santos area of the city.
It is close to Bairro Alto (15-minute walk) but far enough away to not hear any noise but still close enough to the top things to see in Lisbon.
Chiado is another nice area which is a little livelier than Santos but not party central.
- Lisbon Check-In: Old tenements, soundproofed clean rooms with aircon. Very affordable.
- Palacio-Ramalhete: 18th-century palace with a swimming pool and buffet breakfast. Estrela district.
Lisbon hostels are cheaper, starting at €14 for a dorm bed (low season).
- Lisbon Central: Great reviews, family-run, social events and free soup every day.
- Selina Secret Garden: Excellent location, hip, swimming pool.
Airbnb in Lisbon
Airbnb is available in Lisbon but it gets a bad rep.
While we do book self-contained apartments during our travels, we are always cautious of where we book private accommodation and why type of place it is.
We make every attempt to avoid fleecing the Airbnb mafia’s pockets who are the teams of property owners who buy up accommodation in popular cities, outpricing locals from the property market.
Check the profile of the Airbnb host carefully and read the reviews to avoid adding to the overtourism problem in Lisbon.
Weather in Lisbon
Blue skies are enjoyed in July and August but with this being the warmest time of the year (extreme high of 36 degrees) you can expect it to be the busiest.
November to March can get rainy with February being the wettest month.
Transport in Lisbon
Lisbon is pretty well connected with a tram system, buses, and trains to get out of the city.
Taxis also operate as well as the cheaper taxi service, Uber. Don’t rule out a bike ride either!
Getting to Lisbon
The popular Aerobus is an affordable airport to city transfer which takes around an hour and stops at multiple locations in the city.
Check out this neat interactive map of Portugal’s capital city. Remember, most of those streets are hills!
Currency in Lisbon
Lisbon is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. For the most up to date rates see here.
Lisbon Packing List
- A waterproof coat like my Marmot Precip US / UK
- Comfortable walking shoes – I wear Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
- Camera and battery
- Battery pack like Anker’s range US / UK
- Eco water bottle like the practical Tree Tribe US / UK
- Filter and purifying water bottle such as Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
- Bamboo cutlery set US / UK for zero waste travel
- Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
- Pacsafe safety net US / UK
- Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some Portuguese wine tasting!
Portugal’s capital is a city that has something to offer every type of traveller on any kind of budget. It would make the perfect long weekend, with heaps of things to do for under €18 over two or three days or an ideal extended trip for the slow holidaymaker who is fond of day trips! I left my heart in Vancouver, my head in Sarajevo, and my liver in Lisbon!
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31 thoughts on “18 Things To Do In Lisbon For Under €18”
I have to admit I was sold at the part about the custard tarts! Yum! Always wanted to go to Lisbon.
OMG I had them warm, so damn tasty. Definitely recommend a visit!
This is awesome! My husband and I are traveling to Lisbon for the first time this fall and I have been looking for a list exactly like this one. I plan to simply print it and follow you guys around. THANK YOU!
Ahhh that makes me very happy! I had a blast and I hope you do too. Watch out for the next few posts – day trips from Lisbon and also a food under 15 Euro post coming soon 🙂
FANTASTIC! Can’t wait!!
Lisbon is one of my most favorite cities in the world. We were there for 6 days but seeing your post, it seems we missed quite a few things! Every place deserves to be seen multiple times. Alfama, Sintra and custard tarts, my obsessions too!!
Yes! I love all the cakes, could easily spend two weeks just eating there. Food post will be live in next fortnight!
Love these tips! Great that you pointed out the day trip to Sintra – a lot of people rule out day trips because they think they’ll be too expensive, but within Europe they’re often so cheap and it’s nice to walk around somewhere new if you’re it if things to do in your main location. We need to get to Lisbon ASAP!
Yes you do! It is so beautiful.
The pink street is the biggest crap of Lisbon! It was made for tourists and you all catch the bait.
Bairro Alto was much better some years ago.
Park is defenitely not the best Rooftop bar…
28 Tram is a regular public transportation and now is always full of tourists like sardines in can. Why dont tourist use the red trams specially amde for them? Thay have exactly the same route!!
Rossio Square dont exist. What exists is Praça Dom Pedro IV.
The “tiny bars” are Quiosques.
Hotels for 60 Euros and Hostels for 8 Euros during the summer? lol
Conclusion: You dont know nothing about (the real) Lisbon. But you think you do… lol
I’m feeling sorry for you that you’ve become so disillusioned with your city since tourism has become so booming. I loved it, and bar this keyboard warrior (LOL) comment met the loveliest of people. We did go to another hotel rooftop but the prices were daylight robbery so bailed. Not entirely sure what’s funny about the cost of accommodation, go check out Booking.com and Hostelworld. Looking forward to reading your blog post about the real Lisbon.
João Pedro is the typical Portuguese always complaining…
Your blog is very good and you do know a lot about Lisbon.
That being said, João Pedro is right at least in one thing, 8 euros for a Hostel in summer will be very hard. The pink street was not made for tourists. It was part of a renovation project held by the city council to transform once a dodgy place into a cool place. It worked, it’s no crap, quite the contrary. Bairro Alto is still very good, i think even better today because of all the new bars and shops. Park is definitely one of the best rooftops in Lisbon. He is right about tram 28 though.
D. Pedro IV is the official name of the plaza but any Lisbonner knows it by Rossio square not by the official name, He doesn’t know what is talking about.
In conclusion, Lisbon is amazing and João Pedro is not the regular Lisbonner, thank good.
Good Job Gemma (ps: from a local that loves Lisbon)
I love when cities manage to regenerate an area, often when the artists get their hands on an area! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, enjoyed the response! I’ll update our prices re hostels. Can see dorms for £11 in October, definitely not July. Had a really great time with Filipa and André from Portuguese for a Day during a day trip, they represented your country positively 🙂
Great blog about Lisbon. We spent some time there on our honeymoon and fell in love with it. We have even considered moving there one day. It’s got such a great relaxed vibe, with so much great food. We loved the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira Market. Accommadation was expensive but we found a great airbnb aswell which made our time there even better. Thanks for a great read.
Such a lovely honeymoon destination. I’d like to see more of Portugal after the week and a half in Lisboa 🙂
Do you need to have a train ticket in advance to go from Lisbon to Sintra?
You can buy at the station. Don’t miss out Belem too!
Hey Gemma! I’m Indonesian and i will go to Lisbon next Month. can you tell me favorite hostel/homestay in Lisbon? i really need cheaper hostel for saving my budget thank you!
Lisbon is quite expensive during the summer. There are heaps of options on Hostelworld, have you looked there? You can read reviews too.
We’re in Lisbon now and this is just the thing we were looking for!!! Great tips and info that is super useful to us right now. Really looking forward to going to Sintra!
I am very very jealous! Facebook memories told me I was there this time last year. Don’t miss out day trips post and also what and where to eat. Come back to me and let me know how you got on!
Thanks for this helpful post! Could you link to the walking tour you alluded to in #5?
Thanks for the kind words. Our tour guide was Carla and she wore a yellow T that said ‘The Lisbon Free Tour’ – when I Googled this it wasn’t obvious which company she worked for. We found the meeting time on a flyer in our accommodation. Hope this helps, ‘alluded’ was not purpose! Just don’t know the company name. Will you be heading to Belem, Caiscais or Sintra? Have a tart for me!
Thank you! We ended up doing a Sandeman “red shirt” tour of the new town and it was excellent! Heading to Belém tomorrow (going early for those custard tarts!), Alfalma the day following, and then Sinatra the next day. All of your tips are incredibly helpful, we just wish we had more time here!
We had 10 days I still could have done with more. I miss the blue skies and tiles. I will recommend that tour if anyone else asks 🙂
Jason and I are heading to Lisbon next week for the half marathon and will be checking these tips out after our run. Did you do much in the surrounding areas as I’m looking for countryside, relaxation and cute villages and wonder if you have any tips?
Good luck on the run! We did a few day trips (here’s the post). Two independently and one with a tour (wine trip!)
Lisbon became one of the most expensive cities in the world over the past years. Just google it and you’ll see how the cost of living has sky rocketed.
I’ve been to Belfast, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow this year [all UK] and would say the same for them too.
Lisbon used to be a nice place to visit but it changed completely over the past 5 years. Now it’s just an artificial and stressful city packed with tourists everywhere. It became the perfect place to have coffee at Starbucks, have fast-food at international food chains or expensive dinners at the latest Butanese restaurant, cross thousands of useless souvenir shops full of made in China products, queue for anything slightly interesting while pickpockets do their job, squeeze and bump into other tourists in overcrowded side walks and not being able to meet and talk to a single Portuguese resident with a non-tourist job. It also became a very expensive city with dinner costing 40 euros/person and hotels averaging 100 euros/night. If you want to experience the Portuguese culture and gastronomy for 1/3 of those prices then run away from Lisbon as fast as you can. I hate to say this but overtourism killed Lisbon and its authenticity. I’d recommend other places in Portugal that are still not that popular such as Braga/Guimaraes/Geres/Coimbra/Aveiro in the North, Sintra/Guincho/Cascais/Evora/Sesimbra/Arrabida/Comporta close to Lisbon or Costa Vicentina/Algarve (Lagos, Tavira, Vilamoura) in the South.
Would love to explore more of Portugal. Thanks.