The Cheapest Places in Portugal: 7 Affordable Destinations

Trams on a street in Lisbon.
Image by Nextvoyage via Pixabay.
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If you’re looking to scope out the best Europe has to offer without letting go of a massive chunk of cash, look no further than Portugal. Considered the cheapest destination in Western Europe, this affordable hotspot has something for everyone.

They say the best things in life are free, and in Portugal this is most definitely true. You can hike the seven hills of Lisbon, take a dip in the crystalline waters of Cascais or lounge on the pretty postcard beaches of the Algarve without spending a penny. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend you starve on vacation. But luckily one of the reasons that make Portugal so affordable is its plethora of cheap eats.

So, while there are a few pricier spots in the country, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding areas that won’t break the bank. But, to save you the hassle of price comparison, let us help. We’ve narrowed it down to seven of the cheapest places in Portugal based on the important vacation factors. So, without further ado, let’s take a look…

Lisbon

Time Out Market in Lisbon.
Image by RichardMc via Pixabay

Growing in popularity as a backpacker destination, the vibrant capital is definitely up there with the cheapest places in Portugal.

While it may not be the quietest and most relaxing pick, it has lots to see and do. Home to the buzzing Time Out market, you can sample some of the best in Portuguese cuisine from the top chefs in the country. Lisbon is also bursting with cool & trendy neighborhoods, including nightlife mecca, Bairro Alto, as well as culture spots aplenty round every corner.

And being one of the least expensive capital cities in Europe, you can fill your itinerary for a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere. Whilst there, be sure to check out the traditional Fado music, which has been pleasing Lisbon locals since the 1820s.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €45 ($51), hostel €14 ($16)

Food – €13 ($15) for the average meal

Daily budget – €61 ($70)

Porto

Porto landscape.
Image by Matt Roskovec via Unsplash

Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, has a bit of everything. Explore the cobbled streets of the riverside quarter, Ribeira; sample their pride and joy, Port wine; or marvel at the lavish carvings inside São Francisco Church, all without denting the bank account too much.

And for any Harry Potter fans, a visit to Livraria Lello is a must. This Neo-Gothic bookstore, filled with golden columns and ornate ceilings, was supposedly a source of inspiration for JK Rowling during her period of residence in Porto. Home to a variety of unique editions of the Harry Potter collection, you may even be tempted to bag yourself a new copy.

So, with historic charm, great cafes, and a slightly more relaxed vibe than Lisbon, Porto has a lot to offer. And with several low-cost airlines flying into Porto, it is fast becoming the place to go for budget travel.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €52 ($59), hostel €13 ($15)

Food – €11 ($13) for the average meal

Daily budget – €57 ($65)

Sintra

Castle in Sintra.
Image by Essuera via Pixabay

If you want to feel like royalty while still on a budget, there’s no better place than Sintra. Home to exquisite castles bursting with color, this fairytale setting is one of the most beautiful in the country. Located just half an hour from the capital, many city dwellers flock here for a little slice of nature. You will find it perched on the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, where Romanesque, Neoclassical and Gothic architecture is nestled amongst the lush, forested terrain.

So, with so much beauty on offer, you may be surprised that it’s still one of the cheapest places in Portugal. And if visiting Sintra on a family vacation, be sure to pick up the family ticket for Pena Palace at just €26. This top attraction was once a 19th-century summer retreat for Portuguese royalty. Although, with its pastel-colored exterior, it certainly wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney movie today.

With easy access to stunning beaches, such as Praia da Ursa and Praia Grande, as well as an abundance of luscious greenery, there are various ideal spots for a picnic to keep the costs down even more.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €45 ($51), hostel €12 ($14)

Food – €14 ($16) for the average meal

Daily budget – €53 ($60)

The Algarve

Beach on the Algarve.
Image by Paula Sotomayor via Unsplash

According to recent research, the stunning Algarve region is also surprisingly one of the cheapest places in Portugal.

Portugal’s southernmost region boasts the finest beaches in the country. Here you will find grottoes galore at Lagos’s Praia da Dona Ana and transparent blue sea at Tavira’s Praia do Barril. Or you can hop to the likes of party central Albufeira, where you can paint the town red on the infamous neon-lit Strip.

Aside from spectacular beaches and jumping nightlife, the Algarve also offers an array of stunning architecture. Take a glimpse into the country’s Moorish past in Olhão or admire the stunning Gothic-style Cathedral of Faro. But there’s certainly no shortage of jaw-dropping sights to mark in the day planner.

When it comes to accommodation and food, prices can get a little steeper at the major resorts but keep your eyes peeled for family-run establishments. These are the perfect spots to be treated to authentic Portuguese lodging and dining without pulling on the purse strings too much. In fact, in some places, you can even get a scrumptious three-course meal for just €10 per person.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €36 ($41), hostel €16 ($19)

Food – €9 ($11) for the average meal

Daily budget – €44 ($50)

Funchal

Port in Funchal.
Image by Monikaw1999 via Pixabay

The capital of Portugal’s Madeira islands, Funchal is an enticing collection of exotic gardens, historic monuments, and nearby beaches. Funchal is also the perfect place to sample the island’s specialty, Madeira wine. Here you’ll find an assortment of vineyard and wine cellar tours for a little tipple.

But one thing that makes Funchal one of the cheapest places in Portugal is its many affordable restaurants. Although upmarket, expensive restaurants tend to take up the prime positions, venture down the cozy side streets to find something a little more budget-friendly but equally tasty.

You can also enjoy a variety of activities without spending a penny. The first stop should be the stunning 16th-century Cathedral of Funchal. Admire the exquisite ornate ceiling, made with Madeiran cedar inlaid with ivory. It was also once home to the world’s largest diocese. And why pay for art galleries when you can simply wander the streets of the Old Town? Rua da Santa Maria is one of the oldest and most colorful streets in the city. Here you’ll find over 200 art displays gracing walls and doorways. A budget-friendly way of getting in your art fix.

And as if that weren’t enough, if you’re lucky enough to be bringing in the new year here, the capital puts on an epic fireworks show.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €41 ($47), hostel €22 ($25)

Food – €10 ($12) for the average meal

Daily budget – €53 ($60)

Azores

Azores island.
Image by Martin Munk via Unsplash

An archipelago of islands, the Azores is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery of the country. And it’s for this reason that it’s also one of the cheapest places in Portugal to vacation. What better way to save your pennies than to escape to a nature haven where trekking, surfing, and swimming are the orders of the day.

Despite their Mid-Atlantic location, the Azores are part of Portugal and are often called the Hawaii of Europe. The nine islands were actually formed from volcanoes and Algar do Carvao is one of the few volcanoes on earth you can explore inside on foot.

While there are certainly luxury villas to take advantage of, the Azores is the perfect place to simply pitch a tent and be one with nature. But if you’re looking for something in between luxury and slumming it, there are bundles of B&Bs and guesthouses to suit your needs.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €54 ($62), hostel €23 ($27)

Food – €14 ($16) for the average meal

Daily budget – €61 ($70)

Tomar

Buildings in Tomar.
Image by Andrea Junqueira via Unsplash

Headquarters for the Catholic military order, the Knights Templar, the central city of Tomar is one of the most historic places in Portugal. Here you will find the hilltop jewels of Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ, both built in the 12th century. But the Templar sights don’t stop there. All around town you will find landmarks associated with this medieval group.

But if history is not your thing, Tomar has plenty more up its sleeve. The National Forest of Seven Hills offers a selection of superb hiking trails. And if you’re feeling adventurous, how does the sound of walking atop a 6km long medieval aqueduct sound? Due to a lack of handrails, anyone with a fear of heights may want to give this one a miss. Or for something a little quirkier, head to Museu dos Fosforos. Over 40,000 beautifully decorated Matchboxes can be found here, making it Europe’s largest collection of matchbox designs. So, even if you’re not a matchbox enthusiast, you’re sure to snap a cool picture or two here.

And after a day of sightseeing, a host of budget-friendly restaurants await, ready to serve you a plate of Portugal’s finest grub. Tabernáculo do Rio serves up a mean Chanfana (lamb or goat stew) for under $10.

So, if you’re after one of the cheapest places in Portugal that still offers that traditional Portuguese character, Tomar is calling.

Accommodation – Mid range hotel €30 ($34), hostel €15 ($17)

Food – €10 ($12) for the average meal

Daily budget – €44 ($50)

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