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Thursday 20 July 2017

Lisbon: a city in which to expect the unexpected

Portugal’s national capital, Lisbon, is one of the most under-rated destinations in Europe. 

Not only are prices lower than in most other western European destinations, but Lisbon is a vibrant, safe city with its own unique character.

The locals boast that Lisbon boasts one of the longest histories, warmest climates and most enticing nightlife of any major European city, alongside its dramatic location sprawled along seven hills overlooking the river Tagus and the country’s west coast.

Famed for its year-round sunshine and beauty and characterful trams, Lisbon’s grand architecture dazzles and its old-world charm shines. The fresh seafood and local wines are outstanding and affordable.

With some guidance from local experts, visitors can decide whether they want to discover the secrets of Portuguese gastronomy, learn to horse ride or take to the waves in one of the world’s top surfing destinations. This is a city in which to expect the unexpected.

Here are some of the experiences being promoted:

Traditional Portuguese Cooking
Visitors can explore Lisbon’s rich gastronomic history with Portugal on a Plate's food and wine tours and culinary walks. Local cooking experts share their knowledge and passion for Portuguese ingredients and regional flavours, as well as revealing what shaped Portugal’s food culture, and how Portuguese gastronomy has influenced the world. Guests will learn how to order in a traditional Lisbon restaurant and how shop to locally, including the chance to pick up some great ingredients to take home.

Fado Performance Workshop
Haunting and poetic, fado is considered as one of the purest expressions of Lisbon’s ‘soul’, and is believed to have originated from the sorrow felt by the sailors and their families who were separated by Portugal’s explorations around the globe in the 19th century. The narrow streets of Alfama, the city’s oldest district and most associated with this iconic song, is home to numerous “fado houses” as well as the Fado Museum, which is the best place to discover everything about this unique art form. Here, visitors can take part in a one-hour group workshop, which concludes with participants singing their own fados – no embarrassment allowed. If they are confident enough, then visitors can then head to the Mouraria neighbourhood, next to Alfama, and try one of the houses offering “fado vadio” or ‘amateur’, where anybody can stand up and start singing!

Horse Riding
Set in a vast pinewood forest in Sintra, and certified by the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, “O Paddock” trains riders of all ages and skill levels, from international athletes to amateur riders. With a capacity for more than 100 students, the club also offers the opportunity to explore the region from a different point of view. Its location makes every ride calm and picturesque, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to visit some of Lisbon’s most historical monuments, country estates, golden sandy beaches and rugged cliffs, whilst on horseback.

The Lisbon region offers some of the best surfing in the world, and visitors do not have to be experienced to enjoy the best that the destination has to offer. From Ericeira (my favourite resort in Portugal), Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve, to the Costa da Caparica and the Estoril/Cascais coast, there are locations that are perfect for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers. Lisbon Surf Tours, Carcavelos Surf School and Guincho Adventours all offer multi-lingual tuition for all ages and skill levels., and

Discover the Local Wines
Visitors to the region can learn all about the history of Portuguese wine and its grape varietals, on a wine journey that begins at the converted wine cellar, Rota de Vinhos. From a lesson with a local wine taster in how to choose and taste regional wines, to a wine cruise along the Sado Estuary, everyone from the wine beginner to the wine connoisseur will enjoy a visit. For those looking to get their hands dirty, there is even the chance to take part in traditional wine treading.

For more information, ideas and inspiration on visiting Lisbon, please go to

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