Is Lisbon Expensive? This guide has the answer. It delves into the cost of flights, hotels, and activies in the Portuguese captial city.
Is Lisbon expensive? Not really! As Western European capitals go, this one’s actually relatively easy on the wallet and the bank account. It’s nowhere near as pricy as Paris; not a touch on London. Most travelers can get by with daily spending rates that are generally more in line with cheaper cities like Warsaw, Berlin, and Prague.
This guide will dig deeper into the cost of things in the enthralling Portuguese capital. We’ll run through the price of hotels, travel, food, drink, and activities, all so you can get a good idea of what you’ll need in the travel fund to hop across to the town on the side of the Tagus this year.
Of course, the cost of trips anywhere – Lisbon included – depends a lot on the sort of trip you want to have. If you’re keen to be pampered and dine like a Portuguese king, then you’ll need more money. If you don’t mind bedding down in hostel dorms and forgoing the Michelin guide kitchens, you can spend a whole load less.
How much does a holiday to Lisbon cost?
Let’s begin with a handy roundup as to what a vacation to Lisbon will cost you this year…
On average, we’d say that the price of a holiday to the seven-hilled city on the side of the Tagus River will be $1,230 per week. That’s based on our own estimations of what it costs to get there in the first place (for a return short-haul flight), the price of a week’s hotel stay in the three- or four-star category, and the cost of food, drink, and activities throughout.
Of course, you could opt to splash the cash, bed down in five-star palaces with swimming pools and spas, and only eat in the fine-dining joints of Baixa and the Bairro Alto. Doing that will likely crank up the price of a trip to Lisbon by more than 200%. On the flip side, there’s scope to do cheap trips to Lisbon. Some hostels will set you back less than $50 a night, while cooking for yourself can cut outgoings on food. All that means you could save and travel here for a week, spending around just $800 in all.
Let’s take a closer look at the average cost of things in Lisbon…
The cost of travel to Lisbon
One of the pieces of good news here is that Lisbon is the most accessible city in the whole of Portugal. It’s home to the largest airport in the nation – the Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS). It’s the hub of the national train and motorway network. And it’s served by buses that come in from all over Western Europe. You won’t find it hard, or pricy, to arrive.
It’s no secret that most people jet in these days. The best airfare will almost certainly be with one of the budget fliers; companies like Ryanair, easyJet, or Wizz. What’s great is that they now have a very comprehensive network of flights running in and out of the capital, including hops in from London, Athens, Warsaw, Manchester – the list goes on and on.
Our advice would be to book your travel as early as possible. Stats show that airfare on low-cost and premium flights around Europe tend to be at their cheapest at least 90 days prior to departure. Meanwhile, flight collator Momondo reveals that the average price of a return flight to Lisbon from London is between $90-200, depending on the season, with the cheapest time of year coming in January.
Price in around $110 for your flights to Lisbon if coming short-haul. Expect to pay a lot more if you’re coming long-haul.
The cost of accommodation in Lisbon
The cost of your hotel in Lisbon will almost certainly be the biggest expense of all. On the one hand, there are oodles of places to stay in the city, and the competition does help to bring down nightly rates. On the other, this is one of the most popular weekend break destinations in Europe, so beds fill up fast.
There’s also quite a wide spectrum of types of accommodation, with rates varying across the board. If you want a sleek five-star palace near the tram-rattling streets of the Bairro Alto then expect to pay a whole extra more than for a hostel out in the ramshackle area of Martim Moniz. Aparthotels tend to offer some of the best value for money in the town. They strike a good balance between location, cost, and comfort.
Here’s a quick look at three options, one in each category, from splurge to budget-friendly…
- TURIM Boulevard Hotel ($$$) – Super fancy, super highly rated, the TURIM Boulevard Hotel is a deluxe hotel with a diamond-shaped swimming pool overlooking the tops of modern Lisbon. Rooms will set you back nearly $250 per night in the high season, minimum.
- Lisbon Wine House – Rooms & Suites ($$) – A boutique hotel set in an historic Portuguese townhouse, this one’s got zingy style and fantastic breakfast offerings. There are twin and double rooms, which should cost around $100 a night in the high season.
- Sunset Destination Hostel ($) – A hostel with a bit of style, the Sunset Destination Hostel has a front-row seat over the Tagus estuary. Sit in the plunge pool and watch the big cruise ships moving up and down the waterway. It’s also close to the main Lisbon nightlife area for those who fancy a party.
Overall, we’d estimate that the average, midrange traveler will spend around $700/week on accommodation in Lisbon in the summer months.
The cost of food and drink in Lisbon
We’re consistently pleasantly surprised at the cost of food and drink in Lisbon. On trips in 2015, 2016, and 2022, we noticed that everything from restaurant meals to wine in the supermarkets was considerably cheaper there than it is in the UK or France, coming in more in line with what it costs to dine out in the cities of Eastern or Central Europe.
For one thing, midrange restaurants serving local cuisine can offer two-course meals for around €10-16 per head (that’s about $10-16). Adding wine to that isn’t too much. A bottle in a bistro will usually be about $10-12. Coffee and breakfast pastries are also cheap. An espresso and a custard pie (a local delicacy known as Pastéis de Nata) usually cost about $3-4 together, and are a great way to start the day!
The best way to cut costs on the food front is to bag an accommodation option with self-catering facilities. Doing that will mean you can cook for yourself from stuff bought in the supermarkets, which are generally well priced. As a benchmark, expect to pay under $1 for a pint of milk, $5 for a wheel of cheese, and $2 for a half dozen eggs.
Overall, we’d estimate something like $30-50 per day for food and drink in Lisbon for the average traveler. That adds up to around $280 per week in all.
The cost of activities in Lisbon
One of the most fantastic things about Lisbon is simply walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. That’s 100% free for everyone to do. Pack a good pair of comfy shoes and make your way from the Alfama district all the way to Belem in the west. It will take a few hours, but along the way you’ll get to see the glittering monuments of the Praça do Comércio square, the bars that dot the quays of Cais do Sodré, and the historic Bairro Alto district.
On top of that, there are a few must-do things in Lisbon that also don’t cost loads, including:
- A ride on the famous Tram 28 ($3) – This historic tram is an icon of the city. Its route takes you through the heart of the old town and to some of the most amazing monuments of all. Plus, a ride the whole way costs just $3 each!
- National Azulejo Museum ($5) – One of the most unique museums in Europe, this one showcases the amazing craft and art of tile making in Portugal over the centuries.
- Castle of São Jorge ($10) – It’s $10 per adult for entry to what’s probably the most famous historic site in Lisbon. You’ll walk the old Moorish bulwarks and get unrivaled views of the whole metropolis.
We’d say an activity budget of about $20 per day is plenty in these parts. You will need more than that if you want to do day trips to the surf beaches or up to Sintra, though.
Is Lisbon expensive? Our conclusion
Lisbon isn’t actually that expensive, especially not when compared to the other large capital cities of Western Europe. We estimate the average cost of a week-long stay in the capital to be around the $1,230 mark. Remember, though, that includes everything, from the price of your hotel to the cost of daily food outgoings to the airfare that you’ll need to drop to get over to the city in the first place.