Living Like a Local in Lisbon

“Do you know where we can find the Obelisk?” We must have asked this question about a dozen times as we frantically searched for our meeting point for our Urban Adventures Tour in Lisbon. We were met with blank stares by all the locals as we posed this question.

We arrived with what we thought was plenty of time and really hadn’t anticipated getting so lost. Forty-five minutes later, heavy with disappointment, we had accepted the fact that this tour just might not be happening.  This came right after I commented on how well we’d done navigating the city so far.

For those out there who also had no idea what an Obelisk is, it’s a giant monument – likely found in the middle of a large European Square. A meeting point that would make total sense for a tour, unless you’re me.  Luckily we managed to meet up with our group – nearly an hour late. This was a tour I was thrilled not to have missed. In fact, it set the tone for our entire trip.

Urban Adventures is a company that offers day tours in various cities around the world. Small, intimate groups and friendly, knowledgeable local guides create the perfect atmosphere for a city tour.

On our second day in Lisbon, Portugal, we took part in the Lisbon Sunset Fado & Tapas Tour – which I would recommend to anyone visiting the city. Our guide Joana was fantastic and came running back to find us when she found out we’d been lost. We met up with the rest of the group and the evening finally began (only an hour or so late!).

The lovely Joana

After joining Joana and the others, we hopped on Tram 28, Lisbon’s famous yellow tram that runs throughout the city. A ride on one of these is a must for anyone visiting Lisbon. Our first stop was one of the many look-out points in this very hilly city. We sat and enjoyed a beer, looking out at the twinkling lights. Since we’d delayed the group, we unfortunately missed the sunset, but this didn’t change the tour one bit.

Tram 28 – Old meets new

Throughout Lisbon there are many view points and each one provides a different perspective on this stunning European city. Lisbon is a city of hills, so be prepared to walk – A LOT. The city definitely gives you a work out, but with all the great food and copious amounts of wine this is a good thing. After enjoying a Portuguese beer (called Sagres),  and the beautiful view we made our way to a part of Lisbon known as Alfama.

Alfama is perhaps one of my favourite areas of Lisbon and after our first visit with Joana we returned a number of times. Narrow, cobblestone streets, tiny doors and laundry fluttering in the wind, make this a magical area of the city. Many of these streets are much too narrow for cars and this is part of Alfama’s charm. Wandering through this district feels as if you’ve stepped back in time.

Narrow streets of Alfama

We followed Joana through the streets and made our way to a small outdoor restaurant, where we tucked in to a jug of sangria and a delicious selection of tapas. Having not eaten since about 2pm, we were famished. It was 10:30pm and, in Portugal, a normal hour to be sitting down to eat – although by this point my stomach was eating itself. My mouth waters now as I think of the fresh bread, cheese, chorizo sausage, prosciutto and cod cakes (my favourite and a staple in Portugal). As we indulged in these Portuguese favourites, we also experienced Fado music for the first time.


I’d never heard of Fado before planning my trip to Lisbon and it was something I may never have listened to were it not for the Urban Adventures Tour.

Melancholy. This is the best word to describe the feeling of Fado music. Even if you don’t speak the language you still understand that the songs are about love, loss and sadness. To be honest, I didn’t understand a word they were saying but the singers all convey their emotions through the songs. The Fado singers we saw perform were all accompanied by two guitarists, who play a crucial role in the performance.  This is a great night of food, wine and entertainment, but ladies leave your heels at home, or risk breaking an ankle.

Fado performance

Our tour wrapped up at nearly midnight and Joana insisted on driving the group home.  Those of us that weren’t quite ready for bed joined Joana for lemonade and learned a bit more about life in Lisbon. I’m not usually one for organized tours, but wouldn’t hesitate to go on another Urban Adventures experience. Unlike typical sightseeing tours, Urban Adventures allowed us to experience life as a local Lisboeta.

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About AdventuressAbroad

adventure seeker.traveling lover.occasional PR professional.

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2 Comments on “Living Like a Local in Lisbon”

  1. restlessjo Says:

    I’ll bear these guys in mind next time I’m in Lisbon. Sounds like a great tour, and I think I can find the Obelisk!


    • AdventuressAbroad Says:

      I’d definitely recommend a tour with Urban Adventures, they do a great job! I can be directionally challenged at times, so I’m sure you’ll have an easier time finding it than we did 🙂


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