Lisbon has a fascinating and unique history spanning more than 3,000 years. Visitors and locals are drawn to the culinary scene, beautiful vistas, and architectural gems.
Plus, the seven hills, narrow streets, and colorful houses make it the perfect city to discover on foot.
There are essentially 5 types of free Lisbon tours and this post will explain what you will see, tour start times, and other important information.
OVERVIEW + SCHEDULE
There are multiple neighbourhoods and districts in Lisbon, many of which are home to some of the most historic sites in the city.
And there are several free walking tours you can take which cover a variety of different topics and notable landmarks throughout Lisbon.
The most popular tours focus on downtown Lisbon, and they typically provide stops at various locations in Bairro Alto, Chiado, and Baixa, which are often called "downtown tours".
Alternatively, you may also want to consider taking a tour of Alfama and the Mouraria neighbourhoods, considered by many to be old Lisbon.
Here you can also see one of the most famous castles in Portugal and learn about the modern culture of street art in these areas.
There are also tours of Belém which provide information about the important role Lisbon played in the Age of Discovery while revealing some of the most significant and historic buildings in the district.
There are even free tours in both Sintra or Cascais, which are worthy day trips from Lisbon.
You can also take tours which cover details about Fado music and its origins, as well as where you can hear some of the best examples of it nowadays.
Most of these services are pay-what-you-wish walking tours, which means you can decide how much you think they were worth when the tour is over.
According to online reviews, participants often pay between €10-€20/person on average.
While there are a lot of historic sites spread throughout Lisbon in many different neighbourhoods, the downtown area has some of the most notable landmarks.
You can expect to visit some of the following locations on these tours:
- Luís Vaz de Camões Square
- Elevador de Santa Justa
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
- São Domingos Church
- Praça do Comércio
- Jewish Memorial
- Carmo Convent
- And more!
If you’re interested in seeing any of these historic sites, consider taking one of the free walking tours listed below.
Find out what you are likely to see with our self-guided tours of each area.
We offer an audio tour of Bairro Alto/Chiado/Baixa, researched, written, and recorded by one of our own tour guides.
Here’s a sample.
- Purchase an audio tour.
- Get a confirmation email with .mp3, .pdf and embeddable Google Map
- Enjoy the tour(s).
This is a small local Lisbon tour company that is focused on creating experiences that move away from mass tourism.
Their 2 ½ hour downtown Lisbon tour is available 3 times per day in English as well as Spanish.
- 10:30 am
- 11 am
- 14:00 (2 pm)
Guests who have taken the tour indicate that their guides also provide tips for the best places to eat and how to skip the lines at popular attractions.
While this pay-what-you-wish walking tour focuses on Baixa, Chiado, and Bairro Alto, you’ll also see sites in neighbourhoods like Bica and Cais do Sodré.
You can take this 3-hour tour in English from Monday - Saturday at 15:00 (3 pm) and in Spanish on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the same time.
This company offers one 3-hour long free tour.
We refer to it as the Grand 4 Neighborhood Tour, as it visits 4 main neighborhoods, Bairro Alto/Chiado/Baixa/Alfama.
This tour is very efficient when it comes to discovering the city and a great choice if you are short on time.
However, in order to visit Alfama, this tour has to sacrifice time in the main downtown neighborhoods and do not cover Alfama as in-depth as tours that are focused on Alfama.
You can book their tours here in both English and Spanish.
They average 5 out of 5 stars on both Google and TripAdvisor.
Tours of My Life
There is another tour company called Tours of My Life that offers a similarly comprehensive tour (so it also visits Alfama).
Additionally, this company includes a free tasting of what they say is the best Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart) in Lisbon.
Self-Guided Exploration Game
There is a self-guided treasure hunt game you can use to discover the area on your own as well.
This 2-hour game puts you in the role of a private investigator solving a mystery, and along the way, you'll learn about some of the most notable locations in the city.
Although it's not free, this outing is pretty affordable at just €14.99.
Located just to the east of the downtown area, both Alfama and Mouraria are some of the most beautiful and historic districts in the city.
These are some of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, and they are also very close to the Tagus River, allowing you to enjoy one of the most excellent views of the water.
Here are a few of the historic sites you can expect to discover on these outings:
- São Jorge Castle
- National Pantheon
- Santa Luzia Viewpoint
- São Vicente de Fora Church
- Saint Christopher Street Art Mural
- And more!
If you’re interested in seeing and learning more about these locations, the following free walking tours are excellent options.
You could also read our self-guided tour of Alfama to preview where you will visit.
In addition to their downtown Lisbon tour, this company also offers a free walking tour of Alfama & Mouraria.
You’ll see plenty of street art as well as learn about the Patron Saint of Lisbon.
This 2 ½ hour tour is available daily at 15:30 (3:30 pm).
Aside from their downtown walking tour, this company also provides a walk of some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.
They focus on the area’s multiculturalism and rebuilding after the great earthquake.
If you go on a Tuesday or Saturday, you’ll get to end up at the famous flea market. On the other days, the Castle will be the endpoint.
This 3-hour free walking tour is available daily at 10:30 am in both English and Spanish.
This company will give you a great overview of the city’s 3,000-year history and the people who established both the Alfama and Mouraria neighborhoods.
The guides also focus on modern culture in these districts, as well as where to find the best restaurants. You can take this 3-hour tour daily at either 11 am or 15:30 (3:30 pm).
Additional Alfama and Mouraria Tours
As we mentioned in the downtown Lisbon tours, there are a few other companies that visit Alfama, but they don’t really focus on this area.
That said, if you’re only interested in a few of the sites in this part of the city, you might also want to consider one of the following options:
Belém is an absolute must-see which includes multiple historic landmarks.
It is essential to visit if you want to learn about the Portuguese Age of Discovery, see most of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or try the nation’s favorite pastry in the place it was invented.
Monument to the Discoveries
These tours cover several subjects such as the Marquis of Pombal, the Távoras Massacre, Henry the Navigator, The Great Age of Discovery, and many others.
While learning about these topics, you can expect to visits some of the following sites:
- The Great Age of Discoveries
- Afonso de Albuquerque Square and Garden
- National Palace of Belém
- The Marquis of Pombal and the Távoras Massacre
- Jerónimos Monastery and Henry the Navigator
- Imperial Gardens of Belém
- Monument to the Discoveries: Padrão dos Descobrimentos
- Compass Rose and Mappa Mundi: Rosa dos Ventos
- Gardens of the Tower of Belém
- Tower of Belém
- Bom Sucesso Fort
- Custard Tarts: Pastéis of Belém
You can expect to see and learn more about these locations on the following free walking tours.
You can also learn more about Belém with our self-guided tour.
Find out how this district became one of the most historically relevant locations during the Age of Discovery while taking this 2 ½ hours walking tour.
You can enjoy this service every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday at 10 am or on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 16:00 (4 pm).
During the course of this 2 ½ hour free walking tour, you’ll learn about the role Belém played in making Portugal one of the wealthiest empires in the world.
If you can’t manage to book the Take Lisboa tour, this outing is very similar and available on different days/hours.
You can enjoy this service on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10:30 am.
This company offers a pay-what-you-want walking tour through Belém in order to help visitors learn about the Portuguese Empire during the Age of Discoveries.
You can take this 2 ½ - 3-hour free walking tour from Thursday - Monday at 10:30 am.
OTHER TOURS OF BELEM
If you’re looking for something a little different, there are other ways to see Belém!
Lisbon is home to one of the most unique forms of music you’ll ever hear, and there are several locations throughout the city where you can enjoy live performances even to this day.
If you’re interested in learning more about Fado music, there are also a few tours you can take which cover the history of this musical genre and some of the more notable locations related to its origins.
While on these tours, you can expect to learn about some of the following subjects:
- Notable Fado Musicians
- The Portuguese Guitar
- The Origins of Fado
- Brazilian Influence
- Different Types of Fado
- And more!
Take one of the free walking tours listed below for more information about these topics.
Although most of their tours focus on the neighbourhoods of Lisbon, this outing is all about the history of Fado music.
You can expect to visit multiple sites in Alfama and Mouraria.
This 2 ½ hours tour is only available once a week on Monday at 16:30 (4:30 pm).
Live History Tours
This company offers a pretty great Fado walking tour which includes both an actual performance and some tastings at Mouraria’s School of Fado.
This 2-hour pay-what-you-want walking tour is not currently available as of July 2020, but you may still want to check and see if this service will be offered when you visit Lisbon.
Additional Fado Music Tours
There are several paid tours and tickets for performances that you can purchase if you can’t manage to fit one of the free tours into your schedule.
Some of these services include full concerts, food samples, meet-and-greets with actual Fado musicians, and more.
If you’re interested in one of those experiences, make sure to check this list of Fado music tours and shows to find one that fits your interests.
There is currently only one company offering free walking tours in either Sintra or Cascais, but they provide separate outings for each neighbourhood.
While on these outings, you’ll learn about some of the most notable locations in these districts and the history behind them.
Here are just a few of the sites you can expect to see on the Sintra tour:
- Moorish Fountain
- Sintra National Palace
- São Martinho's Church
- Quinta da Regaleira
- Queijadas of Fábrica da Sapa
- And more!
If you’re more interested in visiting Cascais, you’ll see some of these attractions:
- City Hall
- Boca do Inferno
- Bay of Cascais
- Historical Centre
- Condes do Castro Guimarães Palace
- And more!
No matter which area you’re interested in discovering, you can find out even more about them on one of the following free walking tours.
In addition to all the other great free walking tours this company offers, they also provide outings in both Sintra and Cascais, each of which covers the history of the respective districts.
Learn about a variety of subjects such as the Knights Templar, the origin of James Bond, Freemasonry, Arabian Heritage, and much more on these pay-what-you-wish walking tours.
Their Sintra tour is 2 ½ hours long and available every Thursday - Monday at 9:40 am and 10:40 am.
Alternatively, you can take the 2 ½ hour Cascais tour every Thursday and Saturday at 10:45 am during the summer (Apr-Sept).
Additional Sintra and Cascais Tours
Although there aren’t any other free tours of these districts available, you might want to consider taking a paid tour instead.
These outings are often limited to small groups, ensuring your guide will have more time to give you personal attention and answer any questions you may have.
You may also want to consider purchasing tickets for some of the most notable attractions in either district.
Check the following sources to find a tour or service you’ll enjoy in Sintra or Cascais: