6 mins

10 things for free in Lisbon

Portugal’s capital is one of Europe’s overlooked cities. Resident Laura Haanpää explains where to swig wine, swing to jazz and swoon at the views – all for free

Who said European cities had to be expensive? (iStock)

1. Sample fine wines

Hidden away under the arches of majestic Terreiro do Paço square, ViniPortugal is a find, offering a selection of three different regional wines a month for guzzling visitors to sample, free of charge. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm.

2. Tap your feet to the beat

The folk rhythms of fado are synonymous with this historic city and if you venture into antiquated taverns you’ll hear the melancholic melodies accompanied by guitar strings. Tasca do Chico in the Old Quarter (Bairro Alto) is the place to sit and soak up live music on Mondays and Wednesdays. www.fado.com

3. Be on Guard

Lisbon’s cavalry create a spectacular display on the third Sunday of the month. The changing of the Republican Guard in front of the Palacio de Belém (the presidential palace) in at 11am is followed by a parade of the Charanga – 28 horsemen from the Cavalry Regiment.

4. Jazz up the parklife

With the sun setting, join the crowds lazily gathering on Sundays around the city’s public parks to listen to live jazz. The Jardim da Estrela in the shadows of the Basilica is one of the most beautiful settings for these weekly concerts. DJs on Fridays, too.

5. Get an overview

Strategically-placed lookouts, or miradouros, offer wonderful views over Lisbon’s rooftops. Specially recommended are the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara at the top of Gloria’s funicular, and our Lady of the Hill – the city’s highest point.

6. Learn your history

Save your museum and monument visits for Sunday mornings when entry is free until 2pm. Don’t miss the 15th century Monastery of the Hieronymites and the Torre de Belém, at the harbour entrance. The Electricity Museum is free every day!

7. Forage in flea market

Known locally as the Fiera da Ladra, this myriad of stalls (or blankets on the ground) has been around since the 12th century. Wander at leisure on Tuesdays and Saturdays – it’s better in the morning – and sort the tat from your genuine homemade bargains.

8. Relax on the beach

It wouldn’t be Portugal if you didn’t sun yourself on the beach at least once. There are several to choose from a stone’s throw from the capital: Costa da Caparica stretches for 30km and is lined with eateries.

9. Get lost in Alfama

A village within a city, Alfama is Lisbon’s most emblematic quarter – a maze of medieval alleys, white-washed houses and wrought-iron balconies displaying caged birds. Armed with a camera, lose yourself among the narrow streets on the slow climb to the hilltop castle.

10. Walk the banks

Transport yourself from ancient to modern with a walk along the banks of the Tagus River. If you have three hours to spare, begin at Parque das Nações – futuristic buildings boasting restaurants, shops and pavilions all connected by cable car – and finish at the Palacio de Belém, 15km away.

PS Want to meet up?

Want to get a local perspective on Lisbon? Photographer and lifelong Lisbon resident Laura is one of many part-time guides offering walking tours, cultural experiences and
shopping sprees via the website www.rentalocalfriend.com.

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