I’ve always been a big fan of the Portuguese capital and was looking forward for another visit. It had been a while since my last trip there, so I was keen to go on a tour of some kind. Then I decided to go on a food walking tour of Lisbon, one that would allow me to taste local flavours and, at the same time, give me that extra information about the city and the Portuguese history.
Our Lisbon food walking tour started at Restauradores Square, where I met Jorge, the guide, and two British couples, one of them celebrating their wedding anniversary and in love with the city. After introductions, Jorge started talking about the history of Restauradores Square, with its 30m tall obelisk, built to celebrate Portugal’s independence after more than half a century of Spanish rule. The square is surrounded by some very imposing buildings, including the Eden Theatre, a great example of Art Déco, and the Palácio da Foz.
From there we walked past Rossio Station, towards the Mouraria suburb. This is where most of the jews and Arabs used to live, before they were expelled from the country centuries ago. The area, very central but well off the traditional tourist trail, still keeps its multicultural aspect. I visited nearby São Domingos Church briefly, after hearing it was destroyed by a fire in 1959 – you can still see the dark walls and there’s a light smell of smoke int the air. Today, they celebrate masses as usual.
We continued our food walking tour to finally have our first break. It was early morning, but it was already time for a snack. Jorge guided us through this small alleyway, which ended in a small courtyard, from where we could still see laundry hanging – I sight I really enjoy but, understandably, not for everyone.
Our table was laid there and it was good to sit down for a moment. We had some coffee, Portuguese style, with two very local snacks: “pastéis de Belém”, a typical local egg tart with custard cream, and beans tart, way better than it sounds. Sweet!
From here we crossed Martin Moniz Square and went through some local shops selling all nick-nacks you can think of. Before we realised, we were at a traditional deli shop, near Dom Pedro IV Square. They sold fresh fruits, as well as cheese, dried ham, Portuguese desserts and wine.
Here we tried a hearty Port wine with marmalade and cheese. That’s a very Portuguese mix known as Romeo and Juliette – really to die for!
From here we continued our Lisbon food tour for another 15 minutes uphill, while Jorge entertained us with lessons of Portuguese history.
Soon we were at one of the Lisbon’s many lookouts. São Pedro de Alcântara lookout offered sweeping views over the city centre and right opposite was Saint George Castle, one of the city’s main attractions. The square itself wasn’t busy, so we split for a few minutes to take pictures, only to return and find a table ready for us. With that view and the warm weather, only one thing was missing: a nice cold beer. Well, Jorge had taken care of that and we all had our choice of Portuguese beer – Sagres, please?
Slightly tipsy, but still in control of the situation – I’m not a real drinker, see – we walked around the historical and now trendy Chiado area, going downhill towards Cais do Sodré. Yes, we were going to take the ferry.
We went to nearby Cacilhas, a small fishing village about to turn tourists’ little darling. We went around the area for a few minutes, then walked to our waterfront restaurant. It’s a family owned establishment, decorated with typical Portuguese blue tiles.
We were greeted with a refreshing bubbly – cheers! – and soon the food started coming. We were at an old fishing village, so it was only fair that we tried their freshly caught produce.
Now, while sipping our sparkling wine, we were all sharing a joke – mainly about British weather – excited about lunch. We were served several portions of fresh prawns, cod cakes and prawn risole.
The portions were ideal for the size of our group, but so good that I wish we had had some more. Well, this is just my greedy self talking.
We soon returned to Lisbon and said our goodbyes. The tour, in total, was about 4 hours, but we all agreed we could have continued for that many hours again.
Disclaimer: The tour was a courtesy of Viator Travel. But as always, all opinions and long sentences are my own.