Resting on seven hills and bathed in life provided by the Tagus River, Lisbon has always had a stunning setting. However, with its recent attraction of a vibrant nightlife scene, it has become the perfect mix of old world charm and modern excitements that has helped it move into the top league of tourist destinations. Lisbon has always been one of Europe's more affordable capitals, so for those that really want to pinch the pennies together, finding the city's cheap and free attractions will make for an even more affordable vacation.
Eating on the Cheap
Lisbon, like the rest of Portugal, doesn't have a huge street food scene, but there are few other cities like this one when it comes to food. What makes Lisbon so special is that there is no connection between quality and cost. Diners in Lisbon are often paying more for the ambiance and quality of wine selection rather than the food. This makes any meal in Lisbon special no matter the price. Visitors can sample the city-wide beloved dish, Bitoque, which consists of a grilled pork chop with a wine sauce or head on down to the Pasteis de Belem to some one of their world famous pastries.
Sample the Ginjinha
Portugal is a well-respected wine nation, best known for their collection of flavourful ports. However, wine is not the only fine spirit flowing through Lisbon's bars. One of the famous local Lisbon drinks that visitors must sample is Ginjinha, a vibrant cherry liqueur that comes with the cherries bottled right in. After the sun sets, visitors will want to head to the bars in the distinctly nocturnal neighbourhood of Bairo Alto to find bottles of Ginjinha poured en masse. Unfortunately, Ginjinha happens to be one of the more expensive drinks in Lisbon, not quite fine port vintage expensive, but a few Euros a glass. The high price tag will help keep drinkers honest, Ginjinha hits significantly harder than other most spirits.
Ride the Tram
The hop on hop off Tram 28 is one of Lisbon's most famous attractions as well as a cheap way to get around the city. Tourists love to ride the tram because it come costs around two Euros per ride, but the locals also use it as a cheap way to get to and from work. As such, visitors should never try to ride it during rush hour as it will be absolutely jam packed. The best time to ride around is during the day while most of the locals are at work, visitors are likely to have it all to themselves as they travel down the squeaky old rail and feel the breeze through open windows as locals in Lisbon have for the past 70 years.
Visit Museums on Sunday
Lisbon is packed full of museums, it seems like every time you turn a corner in the city, another museum is there waiting for you. With gems like the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum that houses one of the finest art collections in Europe, the documentation of Portuguese presence in Asia at the Museu do Oriente, or the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, a museum dedicated to decorative tile work, museum junkies will not want for a more eclectic museum city to visit. However, each and every museum in Lisbon charges an admission fee to keep their facilities running smoothly. They charge a fee every day except for before 2pm on Sunday. During these precious hours, admission to every museum in the city is free. How many museums do you think you can squeeze into a morning?
Looking for Souvenirs? Find a Steal in the Thieves Market
Don't be put off by the name; you are unlikely to get anything stolen here. What visitors will find in the Thieves Market is an outdoor street market and a Lisbon institution dating back all the way to the 12th century. Each and every day the stalls of the Thieves Market are packed with all sorts of knickknacks, antiques and various odds and ends from Portugal and beyond. Sometimes vendors can't even get a stall and roll out blankets to sell their wares in this free market. Visitors will find everything from clothes both old and new to crafts and coins for haggle-friendly deals in this street market, making it one of the best places to shop in Lisbon.
Explore the City by Bike
As visitors will find out when they try to tackle Lisbon on foot to see the many historical sites within the city, it is a very hilly place. After an hour or two of walking around, travellers will likely be looking to hop the first bus or cab they can flag down. However, spread over a couple of days this can get quite expensive. The most popular way to see the city and conserve energy is to rent a bike. Certainly the uphill portions will be a pain, but with ample downhill opportunities, a bike is the best way to conserve energy seeing the city and have fun doing it.