Europe/ Travel

How much to budget for a city break to Lisbon

Pre-booking, Lisbon was a cheap city break in my mind. Somewhere to relax, enjoy local food and catch some rays, without digging deep into my savings. But that was before naive Laura realised that it’s a capital city in Western Europe and thanks to its explosion in popularity over the last few years, prices have rocketed.

I’m not sure about you but when I’m headed off on a city break, I always really struggle to know how much spending money I’ll need. While it’s super easy to just withdraw cash at an ATM abroad now, allowing myself access to my entire bank account will result in me buying way too much ice cream so I still try to change local currency before I travel or on arrival. So, during this break, I tracked every cent that shelled out during my six days in Lisbon so I could share my findings for you here.

Note: all costs listed are for two people so to get the prices for a solo traveller, simply halve the costs for public transport, activities and costs.

Accommodation = €516

My dream for this trip was a boutique hotel with a rooftop pool where I could worship the sun from dawn ’til dusk. But travelling on a smaller budget put that idea to bed pretty quickly.

Lisbon Calling Room 4

I’ve had to carefully hone my accommodation requirements to a few key essentials – an easily accessible location, not too much noise and a private bathroom because I may have finally had my fill of hostel dorms at the grand old age of 27. I was also visiting in September, just outside of the peak summer months, so I assumed I’d find a total bargain. Wrong. While our six night stay didn’t break the bank, it was more expensive that I’d budgeted for.

Luckily, I’d chosen well. Lisbon Calling Rooms was a chilled apartment with a few ensuite rooms and shared kitchen area, located just a street away from Avenida de Liberdade and we absolutely loved our stay there. If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Lisbon without staying in a hostel dorm, I’d recommend booking well in advance to ensure you get the best prices.

Want to find out more? Read my full review of Lisbon Calling Rooms & Studio.

Cost per person per night = 43

Transport = €71.50

Next up – it’s getting around! I love city breaks where everything is walkable as it’s a great way to discover hidden gems so I navigated a lot of Lisbon’s steep hills during the trip. When my legs were burning and I was sweating profusely in the hot sun, it didn’t seem like such a great idea but we did come across some lovely cafes and it’s more eco friendly too! But there were times when I ventured a little further out on public transport so here’s what you can expect two people to spend.

Lisbon tram

Taxi to and from the airport – €27
Tram to Belem – €5.80
Bus from LX Factory – €3.70
Two day travelcard – €21
Tourist bus in Sintra – €14

I’d usually take public transport to and from the airport but it’s close to the city centre, it was worth the few extra quid to hop in a taxi!

Throughout the week, I headed outside of Lisbon’s packed city centre to see what lay further afield and I’d highly recommend doing the same. I took the tram to Belem (you can’t go to Lisbon without a ride on a tram, right?) and then walked back as far as LX Factory for dinner and a peek inside one of the world’s most stunning bookshops Ler Devagar. By then, the dark streets and my aching legs meant I caught the bus home.

Throughout the week, I headed outside of Lisbon’s packed city centre to see what lay further afield and I’d highly recommend doing the same. I took the tram to Belem (you can’t go to Lisbon without a ride on a tram, right?) and then walked back as far as LX Factory for dinner and a peek inside one of the world’s most stunning bookshops Ler Devagar. By then, the dark streets and my aching legs meant I caught the bus home.

Rather than buying single journey tickets as we did on this first day, I’d recommend buying a Viva Viagem travelcard that can be used on buses, trams, the metro and even ferries! Buying the card is just 50 cents so we topped up €10 euros each which got us return journeys to Sintra and the beach.

Food = €313

The vast majority of my holiday spending money went on food, something that will come as little surprise to anybody who has been reading here for a while. I read so many budget travel articles that recommend eating from supermarkets to save money but isn’t trying local food and restaurants one of the joys of being on holiday? I definitely think so.

We had a few expensive but delicious brunches at Zenith but balanced this out on other days by heading into a little bakery. These cafes on the corner don’t look like anything impressive but will offer sandwiches, cakes and coffee for just a couple of euros. We’d usually have lunch on the go before splashing out on dinner at some of the city’s best vegetarian restaurants. My favourites were Jardim dos Sentidos and PSI where you could sit outside and tuck into some delightful plant-based cuisine.

Zenith Liverpool
Vegan Breakfast Zenith Lisbon

If there’s one place I wouldn’t recommend for veggies however, it’s Lisbon’s famous Time Out Food Market. We struggled to find a huge amount of variety here and it was totally packed. In Liverpool, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food markets and independent restaurants so I suppose the novelty factor wasn’t in it for me.

Average daily cost per person = 26

Activities = €51.20

Lisbon is the first place in a long time that I visited without a lengthy sightseeing list and I just didn’t feel compelled to visit many of the places on the many ‘top things to do in Lisbon’ articles except one. I was absolutely desperate to see the stunning Pena Palace in Sintra so we headed up to the mountains on our last full day and it was so worth the trip. We paid €29.40 for a combined ticket to the Castle of the Moors and Pena Palace, both of which had absolutely stunning views – definitely worth a visit.

During our day in Belem, we went up the tower (€6 each) which I honestly could have left without feeling like I’d missed out. Instead, I’d recommend going inside the beautiful monastry and spending some time walking along the seafront. We also decided to visit Pasteis de Belem for its famous egg custard tarts; it’s great for ticking off the tourist list but not a comfortable experience. If you like your cakes in a quieter environment, head to literally any other cafe in Lisbon because it was PACKED.

Other = €12.50

As always, there’s a few boring odds and ends in here including €10 for luggage storage on our last day (don’t try and lug your suitcases down cobbled streets, it’s not worth it!) and a cheeky €2.50 on the classic souvenir combination of a pretty postcard and tacky AF fridge magnet.

Spend excluding accommodation = €448.25 or €224 per person

Total spend (excluding flights) = €964.25

Based on these numbers, I’d recommend budgeting around €30 – €50 per day depending on how much money you’ve got to play with. If you want to do a few more sightseeing things or party, this figure could be higher but the less food-obsessed out there may spend less on meals than we did…

I’ve written quite a few of these budgeting posts now so if you need any more inspiration, I’ll leave them below for you to check out!

Laura x

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How much to budget for a city break to Lisbon

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    josypheen
    January 12, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Oooh thanks for this!

    My brother in law has fallen in love with a girl from Lisbon, so we’ve all been waiting to visit Portugal for when he finally pops the question. 😉 Like you, I am mostly excited to visit for the food!!

    It’s interesting that the Time Out food market was rubbish. Maybe it is now aimed more at tourists than foodies!? Lots of famous markets seem to fall that way…

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 19, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      Aww how exciting about your visit! x

  • Reply
    Jyoti
    January 12, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Laura, thanks for the detailed article. I’m going to Portugal next months. I’ll take you tips on transit and vegetarian food. Sounds delicious!

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 19, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Aww fantastic, I hope you enjoy your trip and the tips are helpful x

  • Reply
    Jac
    January 12, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Missing Lisbon! I found it cheaper than other parts of Europe when I visited back in 2014 though I don’t know if that’s the case now that it’s gotten more popular…

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 19, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      I do wonder if it’s popularity has caused prices to rise – definitely with accommodation anyway! That being said, you can find some really cheap food if you head off the main streets 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel Nicole
    January 13, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Lisbon looks so pretty, I’d love to visit. Good to know how much you need to budget for a trip. I’m sure most of my money would be spent on food too! xo

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 19, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      You can’t beat eating your way around a city! x

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