But just how much does it cost to live in Lisbon for a month? Here, I’m going to give a detailed breakdown of our spending over our time there to try to give one possible answer to that question. Of course, the answer ultimately comes down to your preferred standard of travel and living, and this reflects ours.
In total, we spent £1199.74 (€1561.30/$1799.61) on everything for two people over 29 nights (30 days). This works out at £21.42 (€27.85/$32.13) per person per day. This includes everything we spent while in Lisbon, but it does not include the costs of flights to and from the city.
Below, I’ll break this own in to accommodation, transport, eating out, cafés, food, entertainment and miscellaneous to give a better idea of how we spent our money.
Note: The euro fluctuated quite a lot during our time in Lisbon, however I have used the following rates: GBP to EUR is 1.30, and GBP to USD is 1.50.
We spent the month renting a small one bedroom apartment in Alfama through Airbnb (use this link to sign up to Airbnb ad get €20 off your first booking!). Apart from the obvious things like a bed and bathroom, it had a nice space to work at, decent wifi, a small kitchen and a washing machine. We liked that it had windows on two sides, so even though it was only on the first floor, it was pretty bright most of the day.
The main downside was that being in the Alfama, a busy compact area of town, it could get a little noisy on weekend evenings, but otherwise we weren’t disturbed by our direct neighbours or really at all during the week. In total, including Airbnb fees, we paid £555.06 (€721.56/$888.10) for 29 nights, which works out at £19.14 (€24.88/$30.62) for two people per night.
For comparison, the cheapest dorm beds I could find in Lisbon were around £4.50 (€5.85/$6.75) per person per night, meaning it would have cost about £9 for both of us in a six person dorm.
We spent a lot of time during the month in areas that were within 40 minutes (or less) walk of our place in Alfama so didn’t bother to use public transport much. When we did, we used the Viva Viagem system of rechargeable cards, meaning that single journeys on the metro cost only €1.25.
In total, we spent just £28.71 (€37.32/$45.94) on public transport. The airport is on the metro system, and a journey there costs the same as any other, so it includes getting to and from there too.
For comparison, a ticket allowing unlimited travel in all of the Lisbon area all month costs €35.65 (£27.42/$41.13) for one person.
Eating out in Lisbon can be relatively inexpensive, and so we did it more than we might in some other places. We ate 21 of our meals out (so roughly a third of the time) and in total spent £184.52 (€239.88/$295.23) in this category, making our average meal out £8.77 (€11.40/$14.03) for the two of us.
Note: this does not include eating out at six of the restaurants which invited us for the purpose of reviewing them for our vegan guide to Lisbon.
We ended up visiting one café almost every day we were in Lisbon (25 of our 30 days), most of them to work in. In total, we spent £176.81 (€229.85/$265.22) in this category, making our average café visit £7.07 (€9.19/$10.61) for the two of us.
This category is for food bought in supermarkets to cook at home. Since we tend to buy mostly organic food, and like some things that could be considered fancy (almond milk, quinoa, cocoa nibs and chia seeds, for example) the total was certainly higher than it could have been than if we had shopped in regular supermarkets or in local markets.
We spent £200.12 (€260.16/$320.19) on food, and got about two thirds of our meals out of this, including breakfast every day.
For entertainment, we did a lot of things that cost very little during our stay in Lisbon, including meeting up with couchsurfers or other bloggers or just walking around Lisbon and familiarising ourselves with the different neighbourhoods. Since there are plenty of interesting things to do that don’t cost much in Lisbon, this wasn’t difficult.
However, we did pay for some of our entertainment. In total, we spent £47.73 (€60.50/$71) in this category, which included entry to one museum, two visits to the cinema and entry to a club for both of us.
This means things that didn’t fit in to any other category, like medication, household supplies or postcards and stamps, for example. In total, we spent £15.58 (€20.25/$23.37) on these things over a month.
Overall, Lisbon is indeed a very good value location, and indeed we lived there for a month for less than we did in Berlin (before we made it our base) but with a very similar standard of living.
Certainly if we had cooked at home for the vast majority of our meals, not gone out to cafés every day and had been more determined to walk everywhere, we probably could have spent just under £1000 (€1300/$1600) for the two of us. As it was, I think we got a lot of value for what we spent.