EcoTuk-Tuking in Alfama // Lisbon, Portugal
Buzzing through the streets of Lisbon’s historic Alfama district in the back of a tuk-tuk wasn’t just convenient, it was a entertaining.
At 9AM our guide, Hugo, met us outside of our apartment with his environmentally friendly and delightfully comfortable tuk-tuk. Eco Tuk Tours have been providing tours to Lisbon visitors for years now. At one time one of the only tuk-tuk tours available, you’ll now see tons of these auto rickshaws cruising all over town. The majority of them though are painfully noisy as they blast the smell of diesel into the air.
On foot Lisbon is great for the quads. There are so many sights to see, all accompanied by their own set of steep stairs. Dan and I had already had our share of city hiking at this point (here) so when we were offered a cruise with Eco Tuk Tours we immediately agreed.
After a brief introduction, Hugo expertly navigated the narrow cobbled streets of Alfama towards the Sao Jorge Castle. Scooting away from the crowds towards a little-known backstreet butting against the castle walls, we spotted peacocks fanning in the bright January sunshine.
^^As a longtime resident, Hugo knew just about everyone in the area, including this dog-loving chap. Hugo shared that at one point this man was a carpenter but now spends his days, happily singing hymns outside the steps of the castle. We joined Hugo in waving at the man as his pups leisurely perched nearby.
With each winding passage Hugo pointed out artifacts that our eyes never would have spotted. Markings on buildings dating back to Roman occupation, impressive artistic graffiti, and famous residences. Where I had initially categorized the area as simply a scenic neighborhood to take pictures, the streets began to come alive with stories and gossip from years past.
Stopping at ‘Miradouro das Portas do Sol’ viewpoint, we took note of the various churches, synagogues and winding streets below. Far in the distance we could see a sailing regatta taking place. The scene was incredibly beautiful and was exactly what I was hoping to witness during our visit to Lisbon.
Back in the tuk-tuk, the tour proceeded with stops at some of the famous cathedrals and an impromptu Portuguese wine tasting at one of Hugo’s favorite little wine bars. While there, he bumped into a family friend who he’s known for decades, a friend of his grandmother. It was only then that it really dawned on us that this charming little district was actually a living, breathing community. A tiny one at that. Spending the morning with a true local brought us in the loop on the bigger picture of Lisbon-living.
^^Picking up a few cans of sardines for sale at the wine bar! Maybe it was the wine talking but they’re actually really tasty!
Since the itinerary was all our own, we opted to wrap up at the beautiful ‘Miradouro da Graca’ overlook. To put it simply, there’s soo much to see and do in Lisbon. The good news is that the weather is great nearly year-round. Our visit was in January and mid-weight jackets were all that was needed.
All and all, we had a really enjoyable and informative morning with Hugo and EcoTuk Tours. Cruising around in a cushy, quiet tuk-tuk is one thing but spending time with a true local was altogether different and incredibly memorable.