24 January 2019

How to spend the perfect first day in Lisbon

I'd heard so many fantastic things about Lisbon and Portugal and I couldn't wait to visit for the first time. I spent six incredible nights in the capital city and loved it so much I'm still dreaming of moving there.

My time kicked off to a fantastic start thanks to Inside Lisbon's Experience Walk.
In a small group, you get shown around by a friendly and passionate local guide to hidden local places, beautiful squares, spectacular viewpoints, and you get to try some of the top local cuisines and even catch a ferry.

It was the perfect introduction to the city and I highly recommend it to everyone to do on your first day in Lisbon.

The Best First Day

It was a typical blue sky day and our group's meeting point was at the centre of Restauradores Square at 10:30 am.

Our guide's name was Pedro and he introduced himself and what to expect from the upcoming four-hour tour. He kindly waited for a group that was running late before we set off on our explorations.

I had arrived the night before so it was my first time seeing the beautiful tiled and colourful buildings, the different styles of classical architecture were such an amazing sight to see.

We walked through a couple of different squares and learnt plenty of history and interesting facts along the way. We went inside a historical Roman Catholic Church that had been rebuilt after a massive earthquake and fire.

Stop #1

Our first stop and tasting of the day was at Manteigaria Silva, a popular local cold cut store.

We got to sample Porto wine and cheese with marmalade on top, which went really well together, they were the perfect pairing. Pedro also told us about the significance of salted cod fish of which there was plenty in the store.

We took a peek inside the store, I definitely wanted to come back later for more cheese and cold cuts!

We continued on to a new neighbourhood which was equally as beautiful. We spotted the castle on the hill and walked through small picturesque side streets.

Stop #2

We came to our second stop of the day where I got to try my first ever Pastéis de Nata. They are a flaky pastry with creamy custard inside. Portuguese are known for their sweet tooth and these are a national favourite.

They lived up to all the hype I had heard about them and I continued having them every single day I was in Lisbon. We also had a shot of espresso which was a great pick-me-up.
The stop was a family-owned pastry shop and cafe off the beaten path, which was a nice local experience.

We were off again walking through more stunning squares and admiring the buildings.
We stopped briefly and heard about a very well-known Doll Hospital, a family-run business founded in 1830 offering repair services for vintage & modern dolls.

We were now in a popular part of downtown and Rossio Square had to be one of my favourites. Pedro then led us to a secret entrance that only locals would know about to an amazing viewpoint.

Stop #3

Our third stop was at a truly stunning outdoor-seated bar with incredible views looking over the Baixa district and the castle ahead.

Any tour that stops for a refreshing beer midpoint is an absolute winner with me!
Sitting there in good company with such magnificent views was a very enjoyable highlight of the tour.

After that relaxing break, we ventured on to Elevador de Santa Justa, a 19th Century lift with a viewing platform. You have to pay to go up the lift but because our guide knew that secret entrance we could walk straight on to the bridge leading to it.

We were treated to more excellent panoramic views over the historic centre of Lisbon.

We headed back down to ground level and continued our walking tour. We went through Baixa Chiado, where we heard about the best cafe to go to and the oldest bookstore in the world.

We began heading downhill towards the River Tagus, passing the famous Pink Street along the way. We were also very close to the Time Out Market of which we were told was another must-visit in Lisbon.

We arrived at the waterfront and were given a return-ticket each for the ferry. Everything was pre-organised so we didn't have to wait around. It was also the perfect timing for the next crossing and we all boarded and took a seat.

We crossed over the river to Cacilhas, with beautiful sea views along the way.

Stop #4

Our final stop of the day, Cervejaria Farol, was located just by the ferry terminal. This was a popular restaurant known for delicious and fresh seafood.

As we walked in we were handed a glass of Portugal's famous green wine and we had our own set table waiting for us. We had a platter of fresh shrimp, a cod cake and a shrimp cake each to try. There was also a bowl of yellow Tremoços or Lupini Beans. They are a signature Portuguese salty snack that goes great especially with beer.

My favourite was the shrimp cake which was absolutely delicious, and we later found out it was the restaurant's speciality. Altogether, it was such a delightful feast and it was the perfect way to finish off the tour.

Pedro went around to each person, couple or group and took the time to recommend any restaurants based on where we were staying and answer any questions we may have had. We were also given a handy booklet with a map and further recommendations.

We crossed the ferry back over and said our goodbyes. It was a truly fantastic day out and it is 100% an incredible way to spend your first day in Lisbon.

The Details

Reviews: 5/5 stars out of 3,244 reviews on Trip Advisor

Price: Normally 45€ per adult (the current winter special price is 38,25 €)

Times: Every day except Sundays at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm (afternoon time not available during winter months)

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Final Thoughts

I can't recommend this tour highly enough, from start to finish it was an incredible experience. I felt like we got to see authentic Lisbon, full of historical highlights, culinary delights and it was a great insight into the local culture.

Our guide Pedro was an absolute star, he was so warm and friendly and made the tour all the more better. All throughout, he gave us great tips and recommendations on the top things to do and the best places to eat.

As well as having a professional guide show you around, all of the foodie stops and experiences are included in the price making it excellent value for money.

It was a top highlight of my time in Lisbon and I even booked a second tour with them, a day trip to Sintra, Cascais & Estoril which was absolutely incredible. I'll be sharing photos and that experience in the next post!

If you want to see a bit more, check out my Lisbon Travel Vlog I made for Youtube:

Happy Travels,

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