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4 Best Ways to Explore Lisbon
July 29th, 2020 | By: Matthew Williams
Lisbon is a vibrant city that has many fascinating places to visit, a welcoming liberal culture and a wonderful food and drink culture just waiting to be explored. The city is becoming an increasingly popular destination for short breaks with visitors attracted by its warm and sunny (290+ days of sun on average) year-round climate and reasonable prices. That said, for now Lisbon remains one of Europe’s least visited capital cities and retains a special character devoid of the usual tourist tattiness. Read on and plan your visit now with our top 4 ways to explore Lisbon.
Food and Walking Tours
Lisbon is well-known for its delicious delicacies, such as the many different versions of the national favourite bacalhau (salted cod), world renowned pastel de nata (baked custard tarts) and ginjinha (a cherry liqueur). The city is also home to numerous Michelin starred restaurants, as well as countless traditional tascas (taverns) serving simply amazing fresh seafood. One of the best ways to experience this bounty of unforgettable cuisine is to join one of the award-winning Cool Tours, Lisbon Food Walking Tour. During a fun tour of the city centre you will get to know the culinary traditions of the locals, try some of the best local fare and get to experience Lisbon’s largest fresh food market, the Mercado da Ribeira. There will be plenty of stops and the chance to appreciate some of Lisbon’s iconic sights with many snacks along the way. If you are also curious about the city’s fado traditions, you can join the Fado and Food Tour, which includes visits to multiple venues and traditional Portuguese dinner. All Cool Tours are relaxed and provided by guides who know the city and their topic intimately, so you will be in good hands!
Having been destroyed several times, most recently during an enormous earthquake in 1755, Lisbon has an intriguing past to discover. It has been inhabited for over 3000 years and has been home to Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and more over the centuries. The city is built across 7 hills along the Tagus river and is an exciting mix of old and new architecture, large public squares and wide avenues. One of the best ways to get an insight into the city’s past and see its most impressive monuments is to join on the many walking tours on offer. One of my favourites is provided by Hi Lisbon Walking Tours, who provide a range of different tours including free tours and small private group tours of the city. This company will show you the authentic side of Lisbon with knowledgeable guides offering insights in multiple languages. The passion of the guides really shines through and they can tailor the tour to the interests of their groups. There are 3 free tours available each specialising in a different area of the city – the Baixa-Chiado downtown area, the Alfama and Mouraria area and the Belém area.
For a city with 7 hills, a cycling tour might not sound like the most appealing activity for most people, but hear me out as there are some great options! The city’s historic centre is relatively flat and a range of companies have put together some brilliant routes that will show you Lisbon’s most well-known attractions. With Lisbon Bike Tour you can enjoy a three-and-a-half-hour tour beginning at the Parque Eduardo VII and finishing at the Tower of Belém. It is either flat or downhill, so no need to worry about straining those legs muscles pushing yourself up 7 hills! You get the chance to see some of Lisbon’s gorgeous green parks, as well as its infamous historical monuments. Cycling is a great way to explore the city, allowing you to see more in a short time. You will be provided with a bike, a helmet and will receive expert guidance from a local guide who knows all the best cycle routes in the city.
Lisbon is a maritime city from which famed explorers departed to discover the New World and one of the best ways to see the city is still from the waves. There are many different boat tour options available with something to suit every pocket and interest. For a cheap jaunt, hop on one of the Transtejo ferries that bring commuters in and out of the city. It is a great way to view the city from the water and will only cost you around €6 to go from Cais do Sodré station to Cacilhas where you can visit the Christ statue. Another fun option is one of the hop-on-hop-off tour boats that have a set of designated stops and run back and forth for most of the day. You can purchase a multi-day ticket and will get an informative tour between each stop. For a more memorable and luxurious experience opt for a cruise on a sailing yacht and enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles as you watch the sun go down. It is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Lisbon and some tours also give you the option of exploring further up the coast.
Whichever way you choose to explore Lisbon, you will not regret your visit to this beautiful and fascinating metropolis.
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