Sometimes it takes a local’s guidance to help you get under the skin of a city. This list of Lisbon tours has something for every taste and budget, whether you’re after unusual culinary delights, a crash course in Portuguese culture or just some dreamy sunset views from the deck of a boat.
Make room in your stomach for this three-hour tasting tour of local dishes, with a gut-busting 10 stops. Discover local shops on foot, some of which have survived hundreds of years and are now considered the cream of Lisbon’s culinary crop, sampling cured meat, salt cod and other delicacies. Then balance your palate with something sweet – try a pastel de nata followed by a shot of ginja, a Portuguese cherry liqueur. One added benefit is that the tour groups are small, so they can customise the itinerary for most diets – except vegans (sorry).
You may know the Bairro Alto and Chiado as some of Lisbon’s most trendy neighbourhoods, filled with boutique shops, cafés and trendy bars. But did you know the Bairro Alto was once the epicentre of Lisbon’s journalism and the secret meeting place of the rebel army during the Carnation Revolution? On this tour, learn about these neighbourhoods’ storied pasts and enjoy the fruits of gentrification at local coffee shops, where you can sip a galão (coffee with milk), and nibble on fresh local pastries.
In Sintra, set aside one to two hours to visit the National Palace of Sintra, recognised as the best example of preserved medieval palaces in the country. Built in the 15th century, it was the royal residence of Portugal’s nobility for four centuries. Set aside time for a tour through this unique “museum”, filled with preserved furniture and ancient decorative styles. Regular entrance tickets cost €9 (£7.85) per person.
If you think every good view must be hard-won, then you probably won’t enjoy this electric-bike tour, which invites visitors to cruise to the top of Lisbon’s seven hills with the freedom of a bicycle (but with none of the heavy peddling). Wind around the Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood and the birthplace Fado music, with vintage flair astride these retro-designed contraptions. Glide up through the cobblestone streets, past the St George Castle to catch the views from the Mouraria and Graça district. Stop for sardines or a pingo (espresso topped off with a dash of milk). Meeting point: Rua dos Douradores 16, Lisbon
Follow your guide (and stomach) to pure foodie bliss on this walking tour of Lisbon. Explore hidden culinary gems of the city, but prepare to stop for freshly grilled sardines from a street-side vendor. If you dare, try the local delicacy pecebres (goose barnacles), which need some muscle to crack open but are well worth the effort. Sip on a glass of vinho verde (green wine), a fresh-tasting Portuguese wine that is known for its effervescent taste. At the end of the tour, rest your feet on a boat ride across the Tagus River before being dropped off for a wine tasting in the nearby Almeda.
A giant relief sculpture of a raccoon made out of corrugated metal, a spray-painted monster from the movie Alien (1979), and a 40-foot (12-metre) tall painting of a soldier from the Carnation Revolution are just some of the memorable murals that decorate Lisbon’s cityscape. Lisbon has embraced its graffiti artists as contributors to the texture and vibrancy of the city’s culture. Discover the visual feast of urban art on this walking tour, which will direct you to some of the most iconic pieces in Lisbon. The best part is that when it comes to street art, the city is an ever-changing museum – so no two tours will ever be the same.
Portugal, and specifically the western coast near Lisbon, is known for its world-class waves. Every year professional surfers and amateurs come from all over the world to try their luck on the enormous Atlantic swells. To get a taste of the action, take a shuttle on this tour down to the cliffs of Caparica in Almeda, where you will be shielded from the most intense waves coming from the west. It’s a perfect spot for beginners and amateur surfers not ready to go it on their own.
To truly understand Lisbon you have to visit its oldest neighbourhood, the Alfama. The Alfama district was one of the only neighbourhoods to survive the 1755 earthquake with most of its buildings intact. As a result, it now contains some of the few remaining examples of the Roman architecture that the city was built on. It is also the birthplace of Fado, the iconic music of Lisbon that was first sung by sailors in the local bars near the docks. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes on this excellent walking tour, to help you navigate the uneven Portuguese sidewalks and cobblestone stairs.
Foodies will love this tour of Belém, which kicks off with a sampling of a pastel de Belém at the original shop that invented this delicious custard pastry. From here, allow the egg and sugar to fuel your walk along the Tagus River to visit nearby attractions, including the Monument of Discoveries: a tribute to Portugal’s seafaring history. During your visit to the 15th-century Jeronimos Monastery, try to find the secret symbols put there by the Knights of the Templars who had a hand in its 100-year-long construction.
If you’re not used to hills or cobblestones, Lisbon’s streets can be exhausting for new visitors to the city. Electric tuk-tuks are a great, eco-friendly alternative to walking (and a safer alternative to biking). Rest your weary feet on this tour as your guide recounts the history of the city as they drive you around its best neighbourhoods. Drive through the Alfama, past the Fado bars, through the Bairro Alto and Chiado where Carnation Revolution took place, and stop at the Miradoura Senhora do Monte in Mouraria – the highest lookout peak in the city.
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