For many Singaporeans, their closest brush with Portugal happens when they go to Macao on a casino binge and stuff their faces with Portuguese egg tarts.
But Portugal is actually a bit more relevant to us than we might think. That classmate back at school whose surname was Pereira or De Cruz had Portuguese ancestors, while St Joseph’s Church on Victoria Street is an example of a local building constructed in the Portuguese Baroque style.
And luckily for holiday-mad Singaporeans, not only is Lisbon an eye-poppingly beautiful example of a colourful Mediterranean city (it’s actually not strictly speaking Mediterranean but often defined as such), it’s also the least expensive Western European capital to visit. Here’s how to do Lisbon on a budget.
The bad news is that there are fewer flights to Lisbon than there are to more frequently visited destinations like London and Paris, so you’re probably not going to be able to get away with paying 800 SGD. Still, you can get away with paying under 1,100 SGD. Use the flexible date function on a site like Kayak and you can almost always get flights for under 1,100 SGD in any given month.
Cost: 1,050 SGD
Accommodation in Lisbon is cheap, even in the city centre. My top pick is Airbnb, where you can get nice rooms that accommodate two people for well under 40 SGD a night. This room, which accommodates two, is only 34 SGD a night, while this room in a house, also for two, is 31 SGD a night. If you’re travelling alone, this room in the city centre is only 19 SGD a night.
If you prefer to avoid the hassle of corresponding with an Airbnb host, hotel accommodation isn’t too expensive either. A cheap hotel room with a shared bathroom will set you back 35 SGD to 50 SGD, and when shared between two people the cost is reasonable.
Finally, for those who are travelling alone and on a very tight budget, you might be considering hostel accommodation. However, unless you consider sharing a room with strangers a plus, it’s not really worth it, since you’ll be paying 15 euro (23 SGD) to 25 euro (38 SGD) for a bed in a shared dorm.
Cost: 20 SGD per person per night / 120 SGD for a week
Lisbon’s answer to EZ-Link is the Viva Viagem card. The city centre isn’t that big and the Metro can get you to most places. You can reload your Viva Viagem card in a number of ways to pay for a number of transportation options.
Single Metro rides are priced at 1.40 euro (2.10 SGD). You can also get a 24 pass for 6 euro (9 SGD), which gives you unlimited rides on the Metro, buses and trams. You can also recharging using the Zapping prepaid option, which slashes the price of Metro rides to 1.25 euro (1.90 SGD), except that you don’t get free transfers.
Cost: 28 euro (42 SGD) for a week
There are a ton of historical monuments and museums to visit in Lisbon. Whether you want to kill yourself visiting every single sight or just pick a few and then chillax the rest of your time there is up to you, but here’s selection of the most famous sights and how much they cost to visit.
- Castelo de São Jorge (St George’s Castle) – 8.50 euro (13 SGD)
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) – Main chapel free, Monstery 10 euro (15 SGD), combined ticket with Torre de Belém 12 euro (18 SGD), free on first Sunday of the month
- Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) – 6 euro (9 SGD), combined ticket with entrance to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos 12 euro (18 SGD), free on Sunday till 2pm
- Museu Calouste Gulbenkian – 10 euro (15 SGD)
- Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art) – 6 euro (9 SGD)
- Museu do Oriente – 6 euro (9 SGD)
- Miradouro da Graca – Free
- Roman Theatre and Museum – Free
Cost: 80 euro (121 SGD) to keep you busy for a week
Foodies rejoice, for it doesn’t cost much to be well-fed in Lisbon and the food is delicious, featuring lots of fresh seafood.
There are lots of cheap eateries all over the city where a quick meal can cost under 5 euro (7.55 SGD). An inexpensive restaurant meal costs an average of 8 euro (12 SGD).
Stay away from the expensive, touristy restaurants though, as you’ll have to cough up over 25 euro (38 SGD) for a meal with wine.
Cost: 105 euro (159 SGD) for a week
Cost of a week-long trip to Lisbon: 1,492 SGD
Have you ever been to Lisbon? Share your experiences in the comments!