Sarah Nagaty: Lisbon offers a wide variety of affordable facilities for sports, dance and even martial arts

Lisbon is one of those cities where all types of relatively affordable sports are available to you within walking distance or a short metro or bus ride from wherever you live. I come from Egypt where practicing sports takes a big chunk from your monthly income as the places which provide sports and wellness services tend to be a luxury.

The good thing about Lisbon is the wide range of options. And I don’t only mean gyms which come with different facilities at a different price range, but also dance, yoga, pilates, and martial arts classes which cover a variety of needs and budgets.

This is because Lisbon is known for having “associations” and “collectives” which either receive subsidies from the state or funding from its members. It takes some patience to find your way around those clubs and associations as not all of them necessarily offer the exact quality or level of exercise you’re looking for.

However, many of them make great options, as good as – if not better than – the fancy studios. They just take place in less fancy-looking, old Portuguese buildings.

A couple of examples of those are:

A Voz do Operário

The foundation dates back to the last quarter of the 19th century, which accompanied the rise of the labor movement in the country, and presents musical performances, theater, and sports classes. Located in the beautiful area of Graca, A Voz do Operário offers yoga, ballet and fitness classes at really good prices.

However, it’s not easy to find details about what’s on at the moment through their website.

I suggest you stop by and inquire about their ongoing sports activities. They also offer many activities for children.

BUS – Paragem Cultural

BUS is a cultural association located between the neighborhoods of Intendente and Anjos. It’s a really cozy place with friendly staff. The nice thing about BUS is that it brings together a diverse crowd of people.

Many members are also new to town and are looking to have a chat and make friends. I had a really fun, intense Brazilian dance class there. I remember the classes were also inexpensive (under 10 euros) and they varied between salsa, contemporary dance, zumba, and many other dances.

Apart from associations and collectives, there are also martial arts spaces which, for some reason, happen to be affordable in Lisbon.

Martial Arts spaces

If you find a boxing studio offering you rates of more than 50 euros a month, check out elsewhere first. There is a great chance you can find something for 50/60 euros a month such as Rounds Academy in Campo de Ourique, where I had a positive experience.

My friend has also been going to Jiu Jitsu for more than 7 years now at Five Elements. He also pays about 50 euros per month (he trains five days a week!). He loves the vibe there and has been consistently progressing.

Where to hike better than Lisbon?

Lisbon and its surrounding areas offer limitless options for hiking. Amazing landscapes are a train ride away or less than half an hour drive from Lisbon. Hiking routes seem endless in this country.

Expat groups are full of people asking for buddies to hike with, so maybe drop a line and for sure you will find someone interested in joining you on your next trip.


If none of those options make sense to you, or you don’t have the time for any of that, you can definitely go for the zero budget sport – running by the beautiful Tejo River or at a park nearby.

The riverside has suitable lanes for running. Another thing you can do is post on one of those expats’ groups if you’re looking for people to join you for extra motivation. I’m mainly familiar with the Ladies Expat group Lisbon | Girl Gone International, a global organization through which people organize many outings and join activities.

So now you know … there’s no excuse for being bored or out of shape in Lisbon.

See more about Lisbon here in Dispatches’s archives.

Read more from Sarah here.

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Sarah Nagaty has a PhD in cultural studies, She’s lived in Portugal for six years.

As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.

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