Lisbon is a beautiful and sunny place with plenty of things to do at any time of the day. Wandering is always a great idea in such a charming city, but walking around might get a bit boring after some time. Luckily, being on a budget is not an excuse for not visiting awesome places and experiencing the city as a true Lisboeta.
Here’s my list of 10 things you can do for free in Lisbon:
Visit a museum
You may think that contemplating an original piece made by Andy Warhol or Francis Bacon must be very expensive but in Lisbon it’s free! Most of the museums in Lisbon have one day each week when the entrance is completely free. For example, in Museu Coleção Berardo you can enter both the permanent and temporary collections for free on Saturdays. There are other museums that are free every day, such as the archeological museum “Casa dos Bicos”. So, check their websites and visit them!
Ride with Massa Crítica
Join Massa Crítica for a ride on your bicycle. Once per month this group gathers to ride together through Lisbon and visibilize bicycles as a means of transportation. This is an international project that started in 1992 in San Francisco and that is present in many cities in the world nowadays. It’s open for everyone to join without age limitations. It isn’t a sports event and it isn’t a protest. Follow them on Facebook to stay updated!
Visit the public libraries
Find your closest library and spend the day reading in there or bring your laptop and get some work done in a quiet environment. The entrance is totally free and there are many services that are also free such as WiFi connection. You can even borrow some books and take them home if you feel like your sofa might be more comfortable to read. If you want to know more, you can read My quick guide to accessing public libraries in Lisbon.
Go for a hike in Monsanto Park
Monsanto Park is the largest green area in Lisbon, the biggest in Portugal and one of the biggest in Europe. It has almost 1,000 hectares, so you will surely need more than one day to explore it. If you’re not familiar with it, it might be a good idea to use a map to avoid getting lost. The amount of plant and animal species you will be able to see there is truly amazing.
Visit an art gallery
Yes, I know. Not everyone can afford buying a piece of art but, luckily, looking at it is for free. So, don’t be shy and drop by to enjoy some art in a gallery. Some of my favorites galleries in Lisbon include Sokyo Lisbon and Underdogs, but since there are plenty of them, I can assure you that you will find one with the very specific type of art you love and enjoy the most.
Enjoy the views in Belém
Belém is known for its wonderful views and it’s one of the most visited tourist spots. There is a beautiful big square with a garden where you can walk or just sit and have a picnic with friends or family. There are also several museums, statues and of course, the breathtaking Jerónimos Monastery that was built in the XV century. It is in front of the river so it’s a quite fresh area where you can go to refresh when the temperatures are rising.
Sit by water in Cais do Sodré
Avenida Ribeira das Naus must be one of the most famous spots in Lisbon due to its privileged location. It is in Cais do Sodré, one of the most crowded tourist spots. Doesn’t matter the time of the day you pass by there, you will always see a group of friends, a couple or a family just chilling in front of the water, enjoying the sound of the waves, taking some pictures and even having a picnic or drinking a beer.
Relax in the Parque Eduardo VII
This park is definitely one of my favorites in Lisbon. It is located in Marquês de Pombal which is a very busy area of the city, so having this quiet and peaceful place for people to slow down and relax is just wonderful. It has 25 hectares, so you can spend quite some time just walking around, laying on the grass or taking a nap. During summer you can also visit the book fair that started in 1930 and happens there every year. It features over 200 stands from local and international publishing houses.
Principe Real Garden, where you can sit under the oldest tree in Lisbon
This tree has been there for over 150 years and it’s the oldest in Lisbon. Its species is named cedar-of-Goa and the space around it is truly romantic. There are several benches where you can sit but, because it is located in Principe Real garden, you can also explore the garden and take some time to slow down, enjoy nature and, of course, the wonderful views of Lisbon.
Get the best view of Alcântara
One of the best views you can get from the river is from Jardim 9 de Abril in Alcântara. During spring and summer it is full of Jacarandá, so the smell and the colors are amazing. It is also a nice place to take a break and refresh under the shade of a tree during the days of high temperatures. There are some benches where you can sit since the garden is not too big as to spend a lot of time walking through it.
About the author:
Mónica da Silva comes from a small town near Caracas, Venezuela where she was born. Mónica was raised by her parents and grandparents who left Portugal in the 70s. After living in Germany for some time, she decided to move to Lisbon where she has been since 2018.
She studied Modern Languages and is currently pursuing a degree in European Studies. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and a bit of German. She loves traveling, learning about different cultures and tasting new flavors. You can follow her on Instagram: @monique_df
Read more of Mónica’s posts for Dispatches here.
Read more about Lisbon and Portugal in our Dispatches archives.