Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
We’ll admit it: we’re fans of the TV show “Lost” (Aaron’s a member of the Oceanic Six?? Helloooo curveball!) We’ll also admit that today is an exceptionally wintry, snowy, icy Friday in New York City and we’re finding it hard not to daydream about Lost-y seaside escapes.
Thus inspired, we’ve decided to plan a spontaneous (if imaginary) last-minute trip for next weekend somewhere warm and sunny. Where could we walk on a beach, eat great seafood , see interesting sights, and make our euros stretch to the max?
Oh yeah, and stick to a budget of less than $1,000? Here’s our plan:
Why? It boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year, is currently 65 degrees, has great nightlife, tasty food, and is budget-friendly. In short, we love Lisbon.
An initial search on CheapTickets.com found a flight for $590 departing Friday at 6 pm (heck, we’d only have to leave work a couple hours early) and returning to NYC on Tuesday night at 7:25 pm. We found a marginally cheaper flight ($577) on Farecast, but it required a nearly 23 hour return flight… maybe next time.
Where to stay
After a quick CheapoSearch for Lisbon we found over 50 central accommodation options for under $100. Twenty of these are under $60. Now we’re talking! We considered the “Lisbon Poets Hostel” for $29 per night. After all, Charlie would stay there, right? However, considering that we’re already “sleeping” one night on the airplane, we’d appreciate a private room rather than a four-person shared room. Instead, we settled on the “Pension Royal” in the desperately beautiful Bairro Alto, where a private single can be snagged for $53 per night, and you’re situated just steps from cafes and nightlife.
Total cost for three nights: $159.
Where to eat seafood
There are endless choices of great restaurants in Lisbon, but one of the absolute gems is Nariz Do Vinho Tinto, located in the Lapa district. While the prices aren’t super-budget (entrees are around $15), we’re looking for great food and the owner, José Matos Cristovão, is also editor of the Portuguese edition of Epicur, a Spanish food magazine. We’re in!
Approximate weekend food budget: $100
Where to go
Sticking to a tight budget in Lisbon is easier than many other European cities. In order to save on my “splurgy” seafood extravaganza (we all make choices, after all), I’ll be picking up a 48-hour Lisboa Card ($37) to receive discount entrance fees to museums and free rides on the CARRIS system.
Specific attractions include the Basilica da Estrela and our favorite Cheapo park, Jardim da Estrela. The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is free until mid-afternoon on Sundays, too…perfect.
Total cost with a couple museum admissions thrown in: $50
Total Cost of the Getaway
Adding it all up, this escape, including flight, hotel, seafood, and daytime activities could be ours for $899. You could spend more than that staying in New York! (We’ll just keep telling ourselves that!) OK, so it’s just a snowy daydream… but it’s good to know that somewhere affordable the sun is shining.