We all like to save money, especially during this prolonged global economic downturn. Even if you’re on holiday with a few extra pennies in the pocket, it’s still a great feeling to hold on to your hard-earned cash. So when you’re thinking of things to do, decisions can be made that much quicker if they’re free. And if those things just happen to be some of the best visitor attractions in town, well that’s a real bonus. Such is the situation in Lisbon.
For example, did you know that one of the most important Roman archaeological digs of recent times is absolutely free to enter? The Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros is a permanent exhibition of Roman and Moorish building foundations and remnants of later, medieval dwellings. Historic artefacts such as coins, buttons, knives, and decorated earthenware are on display in this fascinating underground museum, which in fact is installed in the basement of the Banco Comercial Português. Now there’s a novelty – no bank charges!
Coincidentally, within walking distance is another fabulously free visitor attraction, MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda. This showpiece museum is dedicated to the constantly evolving world of fashion and design (in English, mude means “change”) and in keeping with the theme, the many vintage gowns, dresses, skirts and accessories displayed here are rotated every three months to accommodate the estimated 2,500 individual exhibits that make up the private collection of Francisco Capelo. In addition to fashion, MUDE showcases rare pieces of furniture and consumer products from the world of industrial design. Check out the 1950s food mixers! As a bonus, the public can explore the basement strong rooms of the former Banco Nacional Ultramarino, where the museum is housed.
If you carry on walking south past MUDE on Rua Augusta you’ll pass under the huge Triumphal Arch to enter Praça do Comércio, the location of yet another freebie.
Across the square is the Sala Ogival de Lisboa, the wine tasting rooms of ViniPortugal. The salon is designed in an elegant hall under vaulted ceilings and offers visitors an opportunity to taste wines from all over Portugal.
The selection changes every three months and some of the wines available for tasting can also be purchased. Admission to the salon and tasting is free, the idea behind the concept being that it’s more about making visitors aware of the vast range of wines Portugal produces rather than luring tourists in and charging them for a simple glass of red or white.
All three of the above are within a short walk of each other, easily making these the best value for no money recommendations in the city.
But one place still needs to be mentioned because while it’s also free to enter, the Museu Colecção Berardo is one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art in Europe, if not the world.
The collection encompasses the most important and influential names in abstract, surrealist and pop art from the last 100 years. Art buffs can feast their eyes on original works by Picasso, Hockney, and Warhol, among others. The gallery is housed within the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Belém. The entrance is easy to spot: just look for a huge elongated sculpture comprised of hundreds of green, upturned wine bottles by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. A free drink if ever there was one.