Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2-day budget itinerary for Lisbon, Portugal.
Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination and for good reason. The Portuguese are welcoming, warm and charming: just like their cities. The crown jewel of this Western European treasure is the capital, Lisbon. It is a global city with a provincial feel and a destination that deserves a place on all European itineraries.
This was my second time in Lisbon but first time for my adventure buddy, Tamara. You may remember her from such posts as my 2-day itinerary for Barcelona, Spain. Even though I’d been before, I still had a list of experiences I wanted to tick off and was excited to get started.
Here is our 2-day itinerary for Lisbon, including budget breakdown.
Day 1: Lisbon
Breakfast at Gat Rossio
While in Lisbon, Tamara and I had the pleasure of staying at Gat Rossio. Each morning the hotel provides a buffet breakfast with bread, cheeses, cold cut meats, boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, pastries, coffee, tea, and juice. Not only is the food delicious but Gat Rossio is also conscious of guests with food preferences and allergies. There are lactose and gluten free options, all easily identifiable with labels. I was ecstatic to find oat milk to have with coffee!
Do you have a sensitivity or preference when it comes to food? Read my tips for traveling with a food allergy.
And if that wasn’t good enough, you can look forward to the Portuguese specialty of Pastel de Nata (cream pastry) each morning. Warning: these are highly addictive!
Exploring Barrio Alto
Another bonus of staying at Gat Rossio is its city center location. Barrio Alto has many historic and charming sites to visit including Praca Dom Pedro IV and Praca do Comercio. Tamara decided to take a free walking tour with Sandemans New Lisbon (meeting point Martim Moniz at 10 am). I had gone on walking tour during my last visit so decided to hit the streets with my camera instead.
Taking the tram to Alfama
Alfama is the colorful “old town” of Lisbon and only a fifteen-minute walk from Barrio Alto. If you are looking for an experience you might want to take the tram there. The 28E tram is very popular with tourists as it goes through different neighborhoods of the city. The ticket is inexpensive (around €1.25, paid with your standard metro card) but it can get crowded. Expect to wait for half an hour minimum, even if you get on from the first stop at Matrim Moniz.
Alfama is a lot of fun to explore. Here you will find many restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops. As a popular spot for tourists, some of the meal prices can be in the higher range, however, it is still possible to find a cheap sit-down lunch at local restaurants. Basically, the places that don’t have English on the menu. If you don’t speak Portuguese but know Spanish, Italian or French you will see some similarities in some words (just don’t try speaking Spanish to the waiters – they are different languages!). Otherwise, a bit of google translating, guessing and pointing goes a long way.
I speak enough Portuguese to get around, and we found a quaint corner restaurant with meals from €5 each. The staff were incredibly friendly and when there was one word I was not familiar with, a Brazilian at the nearby table translated it. I just love hunting for the more “authentic” places, especially if it means saving money.
Something to keep in mind when eating out in Portugal – waiters will often bring bread (sometimes also olives and cheese) to the table. These usually cost extra. Depending on the restaurant it can range from 50 cents to 5 euros for a bread roll (true story – happened to a friend of mine). Check the menu or ask your server before consuming.
Castelo de Sao Jorge and sunset at Zambeze bar
While in Alfama, it is worth taking a walk to Saint George Castle. There is an entrance fee, however, you can still see the castle walls and explore the alley ways outside. After a wander around, we went to the nearby Zambeze bar for a cold drink and a beautiful sunset over the city.
As this was my second time in Lisbon, there were three things that I was determined to experience: Pastel de Nata (I got to eat every morning at Gat Rossio), Sintra (we visited the next day) and a Fado concert. Fado is a type of song that is used to express “saudade” (the feeling of missing someone or something). It originated from Portuguese women singing to express heartache when the men left on long sea voyages.
The area of Alfama is the traditional place to see a Fado concert and there are many venues to choose from. We asked Gat Rossio for their recommendations and subsequently made a booking at Parreirinha de Alfama. This venue is also recommended by the Lisbon Tourism office, so you know it’s really good.
We arrived at the reserved time of 8:30 pm and were shown to our table. The restaurant has an intimate setting with stone walls and mood lighting. The performance itself is included with the cost of the meal and guests are required to spend a minimum of €30 per person. Considering the quality of the concert and food, it was well worth the cost.
Day 2: Sintra
Sintra is a Portuguese town located around 30 kilometers (18 miles) outside of Lisbon. It is a magical wonderland of palaces and castles that feel straight out of a fairytale. The area was once home to Portuguese nobles and is now open for the enjoyment of the public.
It makes a great day trip (or three!) from Lisbon. There are many places to see. You can try cramming in as much as possible with a guided tour or hop-on-hop-off bus. We decided to visit just a couple of sites and spend more time in each. Based on recommendations, we chose Quinta da Regaleira and Palacio da Pena.
Getting to Sintra is easy and inexpensive. From Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio station you can take a train direct to Sintra in about forty-five minutes. Don’t worry if you haven’t planned your trip in advance. Upon arrival, you will find the tourist information center inside the station, where you can pick up a map and directions.
Quinta da Regaleira
This stately home and lavish grounds is a short 15-minute walk from the Sintra train station. During our Fado dinner, we had met a couple who raved about the gardens. I have to agree – they don’t disappoint! Prepare yourself for underground cave systems, enchanting wells, and waterfalls. Entrance to the property and house is €6.00.
Palacio da Pena
Pena Palace is a little further away. From the Sintra train station, it is an hour walk. Alternatively, you can buy a return bus ticket for €5.50 or enjoy the novelty of a tuk-tuk for €5 per person, each way. Pena Palace costs €6.50 for access to the grounds and €11.50 if you also want to enter the palace rooms.
The walk to Pena is a highlight on its own, as it goes through the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais. There are a lot of hills so you probably want to be in moderate shape at least. The park closes its gates at 5 pm sharp and the palace is open until 6 pm.
Dinner and drinks in Lisbon
There is no shortage of traditional Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon. As we were staying at Gat Rossio and tired after a big day, we decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner. We ventured a few streets away to Rua dos Correeiros to enjoy Bolinhos de Bacalhau (fried codfish balls) for €4 and a bottle of house wine for €5.
For nightlife, many friends had recommended “Pink Street” (or Rua Cor de Rosa) which is actually located on Rua Nova do Carvalho. The street is literally painted pink and packed full of bars and clubs. For my last night in Lisbon, I decided to head to a Couchsurfing event instead. There I enjoyed a beer while chatting with expats, locals, and other backpackers.
Gat Rossio Lisbon
Gat Rooms offer designer accommodation in central locations with a focus on value. The brand strives to embody the cat spirit (the word “Gato” is Portuguese for cat) with curiosity, friendliness, and playfulness. Gat Rooms have hotels in Berlin and Lisbon, with a new site opening in Barcelona.
We stayed in their Lisbon location, Gat Rossio, and were awed by the helpfulness of the staff. The Gat Rossio team went above and beyond to make sure that we had a great stay in Lisbon. Which is not hard to do when you are staying in a hotel as nice as this!
My friend and I shared a double standard room which comes with an ergonomic “5-star” bed. The furnishings and fittings are very sleek with fresh, bold colors.The custom lighting control panels above the bed let you set the mood of the room with dimming. Or allows guests to read on their side of the bed while their roommate sleeps.
On the second level at Gat Rossio, you can find the kitchen, terrace and lounge area which is called “Roomroom”. Roomroom is a great place to chill, work, or message your friends to brag about the great time you are having.
Location: Rua jardim do Regedor, 27-35, 1150-193 Lisboa
My friend and I were complimentary guests of Gat Rossio, however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
Budget breakdown: Lisbon
All costs are quoted for one person and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: Gat Rossio is a design-lovers hotel located in the center of Lisbon. They offer single, double and triple rooms as well as junior suites. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms.
Food: Gat Rooms Lisbon provides a daily buffet breakfast to all their guests.
Day 1 – Coffee and muffin (€2.20), lunch in Alfama (€7.50), beer at Zambeze (€2.00), dinner at Parreirinha de Alfama, including Fado concert (€35.50).
Day 2 – Lunch in Sintra (€8.00), hot chocolate at Pena Palace (€2.50), chocolate cake (€1.20), dinner and wine in Lisbon (€7.25).
Activities: Entrance to Quinta da Regaleira (€6.00), entrance to Pena Palace gardens (€6.50).
Transport: Metro card (€6.30), 24-hour train ticket to SIntra (€10.25).
Average daily spend: €47.66 each* ($50.21 USD and $66.38 AUD as of 4 March 2017) excluding accommodation.
*This daily amount could be reduced by choosing cheaper activities. Also, I made an error with my metro tickets and paid more than I needed to.
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