Lisbon is an extremely unique and cultural city, which makes it a pretty popular place for tourists and backpackers such as ourselves. Lisbon is rich with delicious and different foods, easily accessible to anyone, filled with interesting and amazing historical sites, and not to mention it gets more sun than anywhere else in Europe (2,799 hours a year!).
All of these exciting features is definitely what drew my boyfriend and I to Lisbon on our 3-month adventure around Europe. However, being on such a tight budget the cost of not only travelling to but exploring a city definitely came into play. The accommodation was cheap, getting into the city was cheap, and exploring the city was extremely cheap in some cases free!
Below is our itinerary on how we saved while exploring Lisbon, using only a €10 daily budget.
Breathtaking Views in Lisbon
Lisbon is best known for its colourful and decorative buildings amidst a maze of streets and long staircases. So why not start your day off in a new city by following this network of buildings and high climbing stairs to see where it leads to? We decided to follow this maze of stairs and colourful buildings and ended up discovering some of the most breathtaking views of our trip!
Located in an old churchyard, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte , is by far the most scenic (and least crowded) viewpoint in the city of Lisbon. Panoramic views of not only the bustling, busy city but also the steady-flowing river Tagus, not only captivated us but also our camera lens. The sea of red-brick roofs accompanied by the stunning backdrop of the gorgeous Tagus river has left a long-lasting impression in our minds.
Although getting to these panoramic views can be a bit of a walk and climb through the city, we were easily about to navigate using our trusty Google Maps, and entry to this beautiful viewpoint is 100% free. However, if you’re not keen to walk all the way, there are tourist buggies that run up and down the steep climb – but at a cost. Either way, bring some pre-packed snacks, plenty of water and a camera and you can spend as long as you like taking in the breathtaking views of the city of Lisbon just like we did.
More Scenic Views – a Portuguese Castle
Are the breathtaking views of Miradouro da Senhora do Monte still not enough? If this is the case, then further along the steep-sloped streets is São Jorge Castle . Located on the peak of São Jorge Hill, this historic site offers access on to the grounds of an ancient fifth-century castle and even more panoramic views of the city of Lisbon.
If you are planning to visit this castle bear in mind that it is one of the main tourist attractions in Lisbon – the queues are long and capturing that perfect picturesque photo of the city may prove to be difficult. If you have plenty of time in the city, it is the perfect place to spend half a day exploring – it is not something that you can rush through. Entry is also EUR8.50 for an adult or EUR5 for a student. We didn’t end up going inside the castle due to time constraints and costs, but it seemed extremely popular among tourists!
However, if like us, you decide not to visit the castle it is still worth the walk through the streets of colourful buildings and street merchants, to the peak of São Jorge Hill. We ended up finding a historic church and plaza – both free to enter with interesting artifacts inside – which made the walk up to this peak something worthwhile!
Exploring the Energetic City
While we were in Lisbon, we found that the city was extremely accessible. Just like every other city we visited, we decided that walking everywhere was the best option. But there is plenty of other accessible public transport available, including public buses and of course the famous yellow trams! Full of amazing historical and modern architecture and sites, restaurants with delicious food, and an energetic and friendly vibe, Lisbon was an exciting place to explore for us.
Why not stop for lunch in one of the many cheap but quality restaurants? Or, like us, grab something to go and eat it as you walk around and explore the city? Lisbon is full of delicious and different places to grab a bite to eat! As long as you can successfully avoid the extremely obvious tourist traps – watch out for people almost begging you to come in, empty seats, and trust the general vibe of the place – there are lots of amazing places to eat around the city.
After we stopped for a bite to eat and using Google Maps, we decided we would walk through the main street of Lisbon first towards Rossio Square. This iconic square is located right in the heart of the city, where two of the biggest main roads meet. The historic Rossio Fountain and zooming traffic around the square, is the perfect way to see how the contrasting modern and ancient flow together in Lisbon.
Praça do Comércio
From this square, we followed one of the main roads, and after getting lost in the busy and winding streets we eventually reached a plaza which overlooks the river Tagus – Praça do Comércio . Being one of the largest plazas in Europe, it was hard to miss.
It took us a few minutes to take in the vast but empty expanse of the plaza. We noticed that on entry to the plaza stands a triumphal arc with a bronze statue of Joseph I of Portugal on top. The plaza also leads straight to the edge of the River Tagus, where we decided to sit for a while attempting to cool down after a hot day of exploring.
A Traditional Treat to Die For
While we were travelling around Europe we attempted to try at least one traditional food from each country we visited. Lisbon was no different! There are lots of traditional Portuguese foods to try in Lisbon, but after a quick search, we found one we really wanted to try – pastéis de nata.
Pastéis de nata or Portuguese custard tarts, are found almost everywhere around the city and are extremely cheap but delicious. But we wanted to find the most authentic place to buy these traditional custard tarts, and that’s when we found Manteigaria. We heard that the tarts from here where some of the most delicious in Lisbon, and we were eager to try them for ourselves.
The shop was located in the centre of the city, but we found it with ease. Surprisingly there was no queue out the front. Sure that the tarts were going to be expensive, we only bought two each. But they will only set you back €1 per tart!
The custard tarts were by far the most delicious food that we had eaten on the trip, words cannot even describe how tasty they were! With the tarts came a sachet of cinnamon powder and icing sugar, and this made the warm gooey delights even more delicious. They were so rich that we could only eat one each, but that left us more for later!
In a cheap but energetic city like Lisbon, €10 can go a long way! The accessibility of the city, free to enter sites, and cheap but delicious food makes Lisbon the perfect place for budget-minded backpackers. Exploring Lisbon on our backpacking holiday was so much fun, it was crazy how amazing each aspect of the city was!
Still looking for even more things to do in Lisbon? Well, you should read my post – Belém: Seeing Lisbon’s Most Popular Sites on a Budget – to help inspire you even more…
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