Priceless Lisbon

by Amy & the world

Museu Colecca Berardo, Bélem. Photo Credit: Wikitravel

Lisbon is a great city for those travelling on a budget. Food and drink is affordable and much of the experience of the city is in discovering its many miradouros, listening to the strains of fado in the backstreets of the Alfama and getting lost in the the Bairro Alto.

And, even better, many of the cultural sites that would come at a price in many other European cities are free. Here are my three favourite priceless cultural discoveries during our time in Lisbon. This said, with only three days to explore we couldn’t cover even a tiny percentage of what was on offer, so I know I’ll have missed some great sites here. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments. (NB. I will be covering the majority of Belém attractions such as the monastry in a separate post. Promise!)

Wine bottle tree, Museu Colecca Berardo. Photo Credit: Fat Pig in the Market 

Museu Coleccao Berardo, Belém
Open 7 days a week, 10am – 7pm (last entrance: 6.30pm)

This modern art museum is home to the collection of billionaire José Berardo. It features both permanent and temporary exhibits by new contemporary artists and renowned names such as Warhol, Picasso and Hockney. My favourite exhibit was Mappa Mundi, a temporary collection featuring artworks inspired by geographical maps, from collages to more political pieces.

There’s plenty here to keep contemporary art lovers entertained for hours. However even if you think that’s not your thing, it’s still worth paying the museum a visit if you’re in the area. After all, it being free of charge you can’t really go wrong. And it’s got really good air conditioning.

MUDE Museum, Lisbon. Photo Credit: Archdaily

Mude: Lisbon Design & Fashion Museum
Free of charge
Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 10am – 6pm (8pm in summer)

If our B&B host hadn’t recommended it, we would have walked straight past the Fashion & Design Museum. It’s not that it’s hard to find – with a huge sign outside of its central location it’s arguably harder to miss – but we just wouldn’t have considered paying it a visit. In fact, even then the only reason we did go in was because we were walking past and had some time to spare.

Actually, the Museum is worth planning into your trip, if only to catch a glimpse of the warehouse-style building in which it is housed, complete with exposed plaster and concrete. Its contents are pretty interesting too. Arranged by decades, they take you on a journey through the history of fashion and design by designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Yves St Laurent and Phillipe Starck. The decades are accompanied by a brief overview of history during the period, contextualising the designs of the time. , 50’s, 60’s and 70’s music plays softly in the background, growing louder as you approach those decades.

Fascinating and informative and full of lovely pieces to lust over, this museum is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re into vintage looks or design and fashion in general.

Roman Ruins, Lisbon. Photo Credit: Polewn

Núcleo Arquelógico da Rua dos Correeiros
Rua dos Correeiros, no 9, Baixa
Very limited hours, visit the website for more details

I’ll be honestI can only really half recommend this attraction. We did go in to the museum section, featuring a number of artefacts. But, unless you’re an archaeologist or ancient historian, this small space is unlikely to hold your attention for long, although the woman working there when we visited was extremely knowledgeable and definitely worth talking to.

However, what I really want to recommend is the Roman site – a critoportico – which lies under this space, offering an insight in Lisbon life before an earthquake destroyed much of the city in 1755. The bank offers occasional tours of this area, some of which are conducted in English. We left it to late to enquire about when the next tour would be (unfortunately we had to be on a bus to the airport at the same time), so I can’t recommend it first-hand. However it’s definitely something I’ll make an effort to to try and arrange if I ever find myself back in Lisbon. Learn from my mistakes and investigate early on in your trip if you’re interested.