When I first heard the company´s name, We Hate Tourism Tours, I was intrigued.
I’ve been on a lot of tours and it’s sometimes a mixed bag. I’ve taken tours that were so inauthentic and bland that I’ve left feeling like the one thing an independent-minded traveler never wants to be: just another tourist. It was with these experiences in mind, I knew We Hate Tourism Tours would be different. I love travelling… but sometimes I hate tourism too.
Our group met at Rossio Square for the King of the Hills tour (€25, 3 hours) where we were greeted by our fearless leader for the day, Bruno. When he founded the company five years ago, he had been showing friends around Lisbon for years, giving them an inside look at the city where he was born and raised. When a friend suggested he start his own tour service, Bruno laughed it off saying ¨but I hate tourism!¨
After mulling the idea over, he decided to start his own company offering tours of Lisbon that would be affordable, fun and help travelers discover the city like a local. We Hate Tourism Tours was born. Now, Bruno has turned his passion into a thriving business with six tour guides showing visitors the best of Lisbon, Porto and Lagos.
We piled into the back of a custom-painted vintage UMM 4×4 jeep, perfect for scaling the steep hills of Lisbon, and took off. Bruno navigated the jeep up and down tight, winding streets demonstrating the confidence and expertise he’d gained living there his entire life. At one point, we drove through a street so narrow, we had to fold in the jeep´s mirrors to get through!
The Wild Ride
The tour took us through many of the famous neighborhoods in Lisbon, pausing to take in the views and learn more about the past and politics of the area. Bruno was great about educating us all the while keeping us entertained with personal anecdotes that made the history come to life. About the the famous April 25th 1974 ¨Carnation Revolution¨that overthrew the reign of the authoritarian dictatorship: ¨Most people really didn’t participate that day; since work was cancelled, my father just took my mother to the cinema.¨
We started in the Alfama district, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood and the only area that wasn’t destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wiped out most of the city, famous as a destination to hear Portugal’s famous Fado music. One of the things I appreciated about this tour was Bruno’s honesty. When giving advice about where to go to hear Fado, he pointed out the tourist traps and clued us into lesser known hole-in-the-wall type places where we could get a more authentic experience. “No matter where you go to hear Fado, you’ll be surrounded by tourists though,” he confessed.
Continuing on to the Bairro Alto neighborhood, famous for its nightlife, Bruno navigated up and down the inclined streets stopping the jeep in the middle of a road for a view and some background on the area. Though the streets aren’t exactly hopping during the day, we were assured that the nightlife is a much different situation with all of the abandoned-looking storefronts opening as bars.
The tour then led us to Parque Eduardo VII with its geometrically landscaped lawns and my favourite view overlooking the entire city and the Tagus river. Moving on, we checked out the Chaido and Baixa Alto neighborhoods followed by the Estrela district’s serene Jardim de Estrela before concluding in Largo do Carmo. There, at the top of the amazing Elevador de Santa Justa, we took in another beautiful view and a close up look at the Igreja do Carmo, a 14th century Gothic church that still remains in ruin after the massive earthquake. We finished off the day with a shot of sweet Ginjinha, a famous Lisboan cherry liqueur and parted ways.
A Cooler Way to See Lisbon
I really enjoyed this tour. Being led by Bruno was like making a new friend and having him show you around, giving you a real look at Lisbon. The UMM jeep was a blast to fly around in, if at times a little scary, but I wouldn’t recommend it for children or anyone with limited physical capability as its quite a step up to get into. WHTT also offers vans for rainy days so those might be a better option if the jeep isn’t for you.
Other available tours include day trips to Belem, Sintra and Cascais (€45), the Dinner and Night-time Driving Tour (€45) and Pirates of the Cruise Ship (€60), a tour aimed at those visiting Lisbon as part of a cruise vacation. They are also beginning to offer trips that travel from Lisbon to the beaches of Lagos and Sagres for two nights and back (hostel included, €50) and they’ll customize trips for you on request as well. http://wehatetourismtours.com