With its combination of sun-kissed city streets, bustling nightlife and beautiful beaches Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is the perfect place to visit on a group holiday – and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Accommodation in cities can be expensive, especially when travelling in summer, meaning you often have to compromise on location. This can be easily solved when travelling in a group, however, by booking through Airbnb, a website which allows locals to rent out rooms, or entire places. The logdings offered are unique, with charm and character you wouldn’t find in a hotel. You can also stay in Lisbon’s city centre, with easy access to metro stations, restaurants and bars, without having to pay a premium, particularly when the cost is shared between a group. Stay in the Baxia district to the close to Lisbon’s historic attractions, or Barrio Alto if a bustling nightlife is more to your taste.
Book your accommodation at www.airbnb.co.uk
For the cheapest flights, it’s best to book in advance, especially if travelling during the school holidays. For the best deals, flexibility is key – visit in January for incredibly cheap transport, giving you a larger budget for enjoying Lisbon’s offerings of food and entertainment. If you don’t mind scrimping on leg room, book your flights with budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet – after all, the flight is only 2 hours long!
Where to eat
Walking down Lisbon’s winding cobbled streets lined with restaurants, it’s not hard to find somewhere to eat. In the warm summer evenings, the pavements are packed with locals enjoying the fresh seafood and soaking up the traditional fado music. The key to eating cheaply in Lisbon is to go where the residents eat – why not try Tasco da Sé in the Alfama, an intimate family-run affair where you can expect €7 or €8 for a meal. Alternatively, check out RDA 69, a garage converted into a laidback vegetarian restaurant also offering movie screenings and workshops, where meals start at as little as €3. Don’t miss Lisbon’s delicacy, Pasteis de Nata: delicious, sweet custard tarts. Arguably, the best can be found at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem.
Things to do
Visit The Museu Coleção Berardo in Belem, a free museum in Lisbon offering a wide selection of contemporary and modern art from the likes of Andy Warhol and Picasso. While in Belem, why not stroll around Afonso de Albuquerque Square or rent a bike to explore the rest of the city. Visiting the top museums in Lisbon can be pricey, so why not visit on a Sunday morning when entry is free? Museu Nacional do Azulejo tile museum, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém are all must see attractions that can be visited on the shoestring at the right time.
Traipse around the markets and sample, such as the Mercado da Ribeira near the riverfront Cais do Sodré, where you can find local produce and diverse offerings of food. For an authentic Portuguese experience, head down to Feira da Ladra on Tuesday and Saturday morning, a rambling flea market selling everything from antique military badges to vinyl records. Don’t forget to haggle to get the best price!
If visiting in the summer, take a trip to one of Lisbon’s several beaches. Go to Praia das Maçãs for golden sands surrounded by quaint cafes and snack bars, or head to Praia da Rainha, just a two minute walk from Cascais train station. Soak up the sun, take a dip in the cool Atlantic sea, or try your hand at surfing – and all for free!
With over 100 bars and restaurants in its small neighbourhood, the Bairro Alto district is known as Lisbon’s nightlife hotspot. For an excellent local bar, go to Maria Caxuxa, A retro hangout playing electronic and jazz music, furnished with second hand antique sofas.
As with bars, nightclubs are not in short supply in Lisbon. For a clubbing experience more off the beaten track, dance the night away to synthpop and indie music at Incognito Bar for just 5 Euros. Perhaps the most popular nightclub in Lisbon is Urban Beach. Although slightly more expensive, the stylish patio seating area, electric pop tunes and river view make this dance club worth the entrance fee.
By Amelia Edgell-Cole