Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal On A Budget


Lisbon, Portugal, or “Lisboa”, as the locals say, is a vibrant, captivating city full of culture, history, delicious pastries, and tons of graffiti. 

If you’re planning a visit, have a look at the recommendations and highlights below from our stay. Want even more inspiration? Check out this video!

Getting to Lisbon 

Flights can be the most expensive part of any trip, so doing your research typically pays off. When traveling internationally, a great place to start is by finding the U.S. cities that offer direct flights to your destination — we landed an amazing deal this way. Once I learned that Boston had direct flights, I used Southwest credit card points to get to Boston, then took a direct flight to Lisbon on the TAP Portugal airline. Overall, this method saved us over $1,000! 

Resting in Lisbon 

When booking hotels, I head to TripAdvisor first to pinpoint the highest rated hotels near the city center. Guided by the ratings, I then go directly to the hotel’s website. Usually, I find better deals on hotel websites as opposed to sites like Expedia or TripAdvisor (which I don’t use). 

You might notice a theme here: I used American Airlines credit card points for our hotel accommodations at the TURIM Europa Hotel. It was a nice hotel within walking distance of restaurants and the train. By train, the city center was only a 10 minute ride. It was truly a great location we were grateful to enjoy for two nights. 

Eating in Lisbon 

No matter where we are, Yelp is my go-to resource for finding good places to eat because Yelp rarely leads me astray. Food in Lisbon was cheap, especially in comparison to other European cities we’ve visited. In my video, you’ll see us enjoying brunch with coffee, a breakfast croissant, pastel (pastéis in portuguese) de nata, and orange juice. All of that was under $10. 

Everything we ate was absolutely delicious. So. Many. Pastries! We had pastel de nata, a delicious custard-filled, tart-style pastry, every single day. The best we found were in Belém, where they’re called Pastéis de Belém and they are the absolute, hands down best. No comparison. 

Must-See Stops 

Lisbon is very easy to navigate, both geographically and linguistically. Although Portuguese is the official language, English is widely spoken in the city center. Sometimes, I was even able to get by with Spanish words if there was a language barrier. 

When you arrive, make sure to grab a city map. Tourist stops are highlighted and train routes are outlined so that you can learn your way around the city without relying on a taxi. 

As you’re planning your days, make note of these places we really enjoyed visiting:

Praça do Comérico is a public plaza with the arch statue, outdoor cafes, and shopping venues. We spent some well-entertained time here while we were waiting for our hotel room to become available. Simply sitting and people watching is absolutely free, so this is a budget-stop must. 

Alfama is the old historic district of Lisbon, which we visited during our City Tour. Highly recommend that you do the City Tour when you first arrive. A great way to see the city and bookmark places of interest you may want to visit again during your stay.  

Palácio Nacional Da Ajuda is a beautiful palace we encountered on our City Tour and featured in our video. If you like hearing and learning the history of cities you visit, you will love this tour. 

Belém is non-negotiable — You HAVE to go to Belém. We first saw Belém on our City Tour as well, but because our tour was on Monday, the Jerónimos Monastery (which we wanted to see) was closed. Belém is well worth your time, and is packed full of shops, history, museums, gardens, and of course Pastel de Belém. We went there twice for more pastries. And we have zero regrets about that.