My roommate and I only got half of a day to spend in Lisbon before we had to leave. Fortunately, that left JUST enough room for us to take a free walking tour of the city! It’s free because it’s given by students who aren’t professional guides, so it would be illegal for them to charge, but they definitely know their way around. They’re usually studying tourism or hospitality (or translation, in our guide’s case), which allows them to gain TONS of experience with foreign tourists! Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
After our group was set, we stopped to pick up groups of travelers from the other hostels in the area on the way. Once everyone was together, we introduced ourselves, then got a super-condensed version of about 1,000 years of Portuguese history before starting our city hike.
When I say it was a hike, I mean it. This was no leisurely stroll in the park. We were climbing hills, going up stairs, winding down twisty little cobblestone streets. I don’t think girls in Lisbon could ever wear heels out and be safe.
Our guide wasn’t a professional, technically, but she was a local. In a span of 3 hours, she showed us all sorts of small interesting pockets of Lisbon that we most likely wouldn’t have found on our own.
We ended in the plaza shown above and learned about how Portugal wasn’t a big fan of the king who’s represented by the statue. He was kind of a jerk after that earthquake they had back in 1755. All the pieces of the statue, when looked at separately, are little slaps in the face; for example, the statue has its back facing the city since the king “turned his back” on his people following the earthquake. The symbolism’s so fun!
We wanted to stay longer and hear more about lovely Lisbon, but we had a plane to catch. I’ve heard people say that free walking tours are one of the best ways to get to know a city, and now that I’ve finally done one, I definitely agree. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t take advantage of the one in Madrid. If you’re going somewhere new, listen to me, and GO TAKE THE TOUR!
**We went with Wild Walkers, which gives tours (and bar crawls) in Lisbon and Porto. I highly recommend it! Our guide was fantastic, really friendly, and we learned a lot!