Lifestyle & Culture

Mónica Da Silva: My guide to paying 0 euros when visiting the best museums in Lisbon 

I know … summer has just arrived. But if your skin needs a bit of rest from the sun, checking out some art is always a great idea, even better if it’s for free! Lisbon has a wide range of public and private-owned museums and most of them are free at least once per week.

Plus, most people are at the beach sunbathing so you can walk freely through the exhibitions and take your time to really appreciate and enjoy them.

Here’s my list of the best museums in Lisbon with the free admission days and times for each: 

Museu Coleção Berardo

Address: Praça do Império, Belém

Free admission: Saturdays

Open: everyday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This is my favorite museum in the city because it has an amazing collection of modern and contemporary art. The permanent collection belongs to art collector and businessman José Berardo who (putting aside his shady issues with the law) has a great taste in art. On Saturdays, the entrance is free; the admission fee the other days is 5 euros. Some of my favorite pieces in this museum are by artists such as Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. 

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian 

Address: Avenida de Berna 45A

Free admission: Sundays from 2pm till closing

Open: everyday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This is the home of one of the world’s most important private art collections. The collector, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, was an Armenian businessman whose last will left funding to create the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The museum features all the works from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century that he collected during his lifetime. The admission is free on Saturdays from 2 pm to 7pm, the admission fee the other days and on Saturday mornings is 10 euros. Some of the most interesting pieces are by René Lalique, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

Museu de Arte,  Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT)

Address: Avenida Brasília

Free admission: First Sunday of each month

Open: Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This museum opened its doors in 2016. Its exhibitions are meant to foster critical thinking and creative practices in order to inspire new understandings of the past and – at the same time – encourage an empowering engagement with the future. I haven’t been to MAAT yet, but there is currently a temporary exhibition I’d love to recommend. It was created by Portuguese artist Vhils; he’s extremely talented and if you live in Lisbon, I’m sure you have seen some of his works on buildings and walls around the city. The Vhils exhibition will be there until 9 October so make sure to check it out. The admission fee is 10 euros, but you can enter for free the first Sunday of each month.

Casa dos Bicos

Address: Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 10

Free admission: Every day

Open: Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This distinctive house is more of an architectural preservation project with ruins. But it currently houses the José Saramago Foundation, where you can see the personal library of the author as well as an exhibition about his life and works on the upper floor. The house was built in the 1500s and on the floors below ground, you will be amazed by the unique view of the archaeological Roman ruins. The permanent exhibition of José Saramago’s life is 3 euros, but there’s no admission fee to visit the ruins on the ground floor.

Museu do Oriente

Address: Avenida Brasília

Free admission: Fridays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This museum belongs to Fundação Oriente which is a foundation that aims to create bridges to better understand the historical and cultural relations between Portugal and Asia. The admission fee is 6 euros, but on Fridays you can enter for free from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. One of the most amazing exhibitions they have is called Kwok On, which is made of more than 15,000 objects related to the Asian performative arts including masks, musical instruments, costumes, paintings, puppets, ritual objects and much more. 

National Museum of Contemporary Art 

Address: Rua Serpa Pinto 4

Free admission: Sundays

Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm

National Museum of Contemporary Art opened to the public in 1994 and features Portuguese artistic works from 1850 to the present. The paintings of António Soares, Paula Rego, Jorge Barradas and Mário Cesariny are just breathtaking. Besides the national and international exhibitions, there are plenty of conferences, activities and guided visits, so make sure to check their agenda each month. You can enjoy the beautiful permanent exhibitions on Sundays, the admission fee the other days is 4.5 euros.

For one of Europe’s smaller capital cities, Lisbon has a surprisingly deep arts scene. So, take some time this summer to check it out, and do it for free.

See more of Mónica’s work here in the Dispatches archive.

Read more about Lisbon here.

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