3 years, 10 months ago
This summer Portugal is one of Europe’s best value holiday destinations. The reliably sunny and family focused Algarve is where most people will see serious savings. But the Portuguese cities are also going all out to attract new visitors. Porto has even reinvented its best known export as a long, refreshing drink instead of a stuffy, after dinner staple in the quest to attract attention and income. And the country’s capital, Lisbon, is probably the only magnificently grand city in the world where it’s nearly impossible to spend more than 100 euros on any one thing. Happily we’re not short of determination and after quite a lot of legwork and stubborn searching we think we’ve even managed to improve on Lisbon’s natural great value. So without further ado, here’s our list of things to do in and around the city for 100 euros or less (sometimes a lot less).
We have to say we think this fantastic city card is one of the reasons Lisbon is so reasonable. Unlike a lot of similar offerings from Europe’s capitals, the Lisboa Card has real savings as well as free entry to places you actually want to visit. It also gives you free access to all the city’s transport including the gorgeous, noisy and totally charming trams. And even what isn’t no cost works out very low cost with discounts of up to 50% on all sorts – the usual pittance in other cities is about 2% and a free chewy sweet if you’re lucky. We don’t want to twist your arm too much, but Torre de Belem, Jeronimos Monastery and Santa Justa Elevator are just three of the world class heritage attractions you don’t pay for with the Lisboa Card, plus you get priority entry so no queueing in the hot, hot sun for you.
This is a spectacular aquarium beautifully designed to create the illusion of an entire ocean. Visitors don’t wander from species to species, they’re involved completely in the Oceanário and it’s as captivating as it sounds. Built for the 1998 World Fair, the Oceanário seems to float weightlessly surrounded by water and is just one of the stunning buildings in Lisbon’s fascinating Parque das Nações. Go for the day, visit the aquarium, pick up picnic supplies from one of the city’s excellent markets, explore the park and you will never have spent 36 euros so wisely.
y a city with seafaring chops as serious as Lisbon’s could get away with something as silly as the Hippotrip Tour. Part bus, part boat and all party, it’s a 90 minute whistle stop introduction to the city, takes you all over the place by land and sea (wear clothes you don’t mind getting damp) and it’s really good fun – children love it.
You aren’t allowed to leave Lisbon without eating at least one custard tart. They are to the Portuguese capital what macaron are to Paris only creamier and much more satisfying. The best in the city are found at Pastéis de Belém and it has queues round the block some days to prove it. The shop’s as delightful as the tarts and you can have a coffee or just order to go – either way, enjoy.
The imposing Castelo de Sao Jorge is one of the first places you should visit in Lisbon. It’s fascinating, children love the drama (as well as all the kid-centred play and events) and a stroll round the immense battlements is the best panoramic view of the city. Go before lunch and leave yourself plenty of time to wander down from the castle through the ancient and lovely Alfama district (you’ll recognise the ice-cream coloured, skinny houses and cobbled streets right away).
It doesn’t matter whether opera is your thing or not, Lisbon’s Teatro Nacional is like architectural confectionery inside and out and the 45 minute guided tour is breathtaking. Designed along similar lines to La Scala, Milan, this is one of the loveliest opera houses in Europe – tickets for performances are inexpensive too.
One of the unsung heroes of the international museum circuit, Calouste Galbenkian is so relaxed, airy and friendly it comes as quite a surprise to realise how important and ancient its collection of art, antiques and artefacts really is. The gardens are gorgeous and included in the price.
What did we tell you? Lisbon is great value even without discounts. Our advice? Invest in Lisboa Cards then spend all your many, many savings on the city’s excellent restaurants, amazing seafood, wonderful bars and cafes, fantastic shops and any other self indulgences you like – you can probably afford them. Prices are based on a family of two adults and two children.