Of course, Lisbon has its share of excellent museums, walking tours, famous things to do and see in the centre and out in the historic district of Belem, and there are of course plenty of reasons you should visit Lisbon. But I find there is always a certain satisfaction in discovering some more alternative events or activities in the cities I visit.
During the past month in Lisbon, we’ve managed to find (by chance or recommendation) some great alternative things to do in Lisbon. Here are our top five, all for under €5 each!
Do yoga in a museum
On the first Saturday of every month, Lisbon native and professional yoga trainer, Bruno Reis, hosts group yoga classes in the drawing room of Casa-Museu Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves, the former home of a Portuguese art collector.
Bruno will conduct the class in English if there are non-Portuguese speakers taking part, and his instructions are clear and precise, but don’t be afraid to help him out if he hesitates for an essential word (I taught him thumb!). The style of yoga we did was SwáSthya, and the class I attended was small and intimate and nothing was taken too seriously.
Make sure to sign up for the class on the Meetup page and bring either a yoga mat or a large towel to practice on. Joining the class also gives you free entrance to the museum, so you can linger afterwards and take in the impressive permanent and temporary exhibitions.
- When? The first Sunday of the month at 10:30 for one hour
- Where? Casa-Museu Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves, Avenida 5 de Outubro 6, 1050 Lisbon
- How much? €5 per person
Attend the weekly Couchsurfing meeting
Even if you’re not staying Couchsurfing in Lisbon, you can still take advantage of this weekly meeting to connect with some cool travellers and locals alike. We even met a couple there who had originally met at the meeting a year ago, she a Lisbon local, and he an Australian traveller visiting who ended up staying!
It’s a relaxed affair in a nice setting, though it can get a bit crowded and noisy and there aren’t a lot of places to sit, but perfect if you’re looking for stimulating conversation with interesting people who you instantly have something in common with: you’re in Lisbon at the same time! Join on the Couchsurfing event page.
- When? Every Wednesday from 21:30 (though don’t worry if you come later)
- Where? Café da Ordem dos Arquitectos, Rua da Ribeira Nova 50, 1200-376 Lisbon
- How much? Entry is free and drink prices are maintained at their usual day-time rates
Listen to jazz at Café Tati
Lisbon is the city of fado, and it’s everywhere, so finding some other kind of live music is a nice respite. Café Tati is a great place to come listen to some relaxed jazz in an unpretentious setting once a week. Every Sunday, the staff of this café-cum-restaurant clear a corner by the door for a live jam session of a band of rotating artists.
It can be pretty loud, so it’s not a place to sit and chat with friends, but it’s also not necessarily expected that everyone will pay full attention to the band at all times, so feel free to bring a book and read while basking in the music.
- When? Every Sunday from 17:00 (we recommend arriving at 16:00 to get a seat with a view)
- Where? Café Tati, Rua Ribeira Nova 36, 1200-479 Lisbon
- How much? Entrance is free but you may wish to have a drink
Join in the communal vegan dinner at RDA69
Another event that is organised through Couchsurfing, this weekly vegan dinner is held at an old warehouse that is used by a host of various collectives, from those offering free bike repair tools to ones hosting movie nights.
Food is served up canteen style, and you are asked to wash your own dishes up after eating. Seating is a bit limited, but it often ends up spilling out on the street if the weather is good enough anyway. Join on the Couchsurfing event page.
- When? Every Thursday from 20:00 (from 21:00 be prepared to queue)
- Where? RDA69, Regueirão dos Anjos 69, 1150-260 Lisbon
- How much? €2.50 for a main plate, €3 with a small soup
Check out the film festivals at Cinema São Jorge
This art-nouveau cinema in the upscale part of town along Avenida da Liberdade is worth a visit just for the impressive, old-worldy architecture. However, as well as showing regular blockbusters (always in the original language with Portuguese subtitles, as is usual in Portugal), the cinema is often host to film festivals that tour the country.
During the month we were in Lisbon, there were three: a Jewish film festival; an animation film festival and an Italian film festival. Films that we saw that were not in English or Portuguese were subtitled in both, but those originally in Portuguese were not subtitled at all.
- When? Depends what’s on!
- Where? Cinema São Jorge, Avenida da Liberdade 175, 1250-141 Lisbon
- How much? Tickets during the film festivals are €4