It became a habit of ours to join a free-guided tour through the cities that we visit on one of the first days. Prior to the trip I searched the internet and found two providers in Lisbon.
I made the final decision based on the ratings on the usual tourist sites, but also as a result of comparing the internet pages of the two. The site of the counterparty seemed so chaotic and confusing to me that I didn’t feel like clicking my way through it to find all the information I needed.
So the choice fell on the Free Tour of Lisbon by Sandmans neweurope. First I registered online on the homepage. The booking system is really easy to use.
The company offers tours every day, and also has additional tours on offer, for which they charge.
In Lisbon, free tours are offered in Portuguese and English.
Next, we received a confirmation email from the company’s headquarter in Berlin. Amusing how we booked a tour through Lisbon from Berlin with a company that also happens to be based in Berlin.
Really nice about the booking was the email reminder one day before the tour. Especially if you plan ahead, this can be a good reminder.
Our meeting point was at the Camões Monument in Largo de Camões, at 10.45. They divided us into a small Portuguese-speaking group and a larger English-speaking group. At 11 o’clock the guide started walking with us – about 100 meters – only to then stop in one spot for around 20 minutes. There he summarised 3000 years of Portuguese history. Honestly, that was a bit lengthy. He could have split that all up into smaller chunks and little stories that he could have told us along the way at the appropriate stops.
Then the guide took us through a small part of Lisbon. The route took us not only to well-known places like the huge elevator, which brings people up and down the mountain the easy way. We were also guided through small streets and were so able to see, for example, one of the few houses that still remain from the time before the great earthquake of 1755.
A lot of the information given during the small town tour was really interesting. What we always like very much, are the small tips from the local guides that they build into their stories. Through these, you can learn, for example, which cafes have good prices or which “tourist trap” you should perhaps avoid.
We enjoyed the free-guided tour Lisbon. The guide was friendly and competent. It was easy to see that he was really into the history of Lisbon. We would have fancied more architectural information. But I think every guide has their own speciality and a tour with another guide would have a completely different focus.
Would I recommend a free-guided Lisbon tour?
I think this kind of tour offer is very good for the tourists. Since the guide does not get a salary from the provider but gets “paid” in tips from the guests, they are more eager to do a good job. That brings them more tips and the tour might even get recommended.