With the summer holiday season under way, travelers are looking forward to reconnecting and spending time with the people that are important to them. And when groups of friends, family and loved ones travel together, it’s important to find a destination that has plenty to offer a range of ages and interests. Boasting 290 days of sunshine a year, as well as a reputation for great value, Lisbon is a truly diverse destination with something for every type of visitor. From city buzz and local flavors to sunny beaches and outdoor action, here are some fun-packed activities for groups of all ages.
With miles of golden beaches, Lisbon has plenty to offer the most dedicated sun-worshipper. But the Atlantic coastline is also packed with choices for travelers looking to get active, whatever their fitness level. For a fun afternoon of “who can stand up the longest”, paddleboarding is the ideal way to make the most of the sunshine and the ocean. The beautiful Lagoa de Albufeira lagoon in Sesimbra has no wind or currents making it ideal for beginners while Oeiras Marina is a picturesque location to spend a day on the water.
Kayaking is another great option for family and friends to have fun together, as well as discovering parts of the coastline that are not accessible by road. The emerald and blue waters and spectacular cliffs of the Arrábida Natural Park make an unforgettable location for a group kayaking adventure, with sea caves and hidden beaches just waiting to be explored.
And as one of the world’s top surfing destinations, Lisbon’s surf schools give groups of travelers the ideal opportunity to try this invigorating sport, or for seasoned surfers to catch a wave or two. The Costa da Caparica’s beaches extend for over 30km and are the perfect spot for all levels of experience while Ericeira, Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve, features approximately 8 km of coastline and a wide diversity of outstanding surf spots, including iconic breaks such as Ribeira d’Ilhas and Coxos, among others.
Away from the water, a two-wheeled adventure in the magnificent Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, with its forest-covered mountains sloping towards the ocean, is hard to beat. Whilst adventurous travelers will enjoy the challenging mountain biking trails, mixed ability groups can take an e-bike tour together, combining the tranquil natural setting with uninterrupted views over the blue Atlantic Ocean.
Or for a “slow travel” experience on four legs instead of two wheels, there’s nothing more relaxing than a horseback tour, whether through Lisbon’s picturesque countryside or along the beach.
No visit to Lisbon is complete without sampling the local flavors, from bacalhau and sardines to the famous pastéis de nata. But for something more interactive – and fun – travelers can take a food tour, giving them a more “hands on” experience of the local food scene. Options include market tours to select fresh produce followed by a cooking class, food walks to discover lesser-known foodie areas such as the gastro-trendy neighbourhood of Campo de Ourique and homemade meals at a local home, perfect for discovering traditional recipes as well as a glimpse of daily life in Lisbon.
Lisbon also has a growing reputation for the quality of its wine, and the local vineyards provide a variety of experiences for groups to enjoy together. Options include wine tastings, wine-making courses and “create your own wine” experience, vineyard buggy tours and carriage rides, foot treading and picnics in the vineyards.
Lisbon sits where the river Tagus meets the ocean, and the mighty river offers multiple options for groups to enjoy the city, and each other’s company. Hiring a boat for a private river cruise is a great way to spend time together, with choices of craft varying from vintage sailboats and catamarans to traditional boats and motor yachts. A sunset cruise with food and drink is a particularly memorable and relaxing way to end the day.
Or for something a bit different, amphibious tours deliver a fun experience for groups of all ages, switching between land and river, all without the passengers having to leave their seat! The 90-minute tours pass important Lisbon monuments, such as the Belém Tower (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, as well as sharing local myths and legends of the city.
City sights and musical nights
The city’s iconic, century-old yellow trams are a nostalgic way to explore Lisbon. The No 28 Tram is the most popular, its picturesque journey covering some of the city’s key sights, including the ancient Moorish district of Alfama and the Sé de Lisboa cathedral. Visitors can either hop on and off the tram on its regular route or larger groups can even hire the entire tram for a private tour!
As one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, Lisbon has plentiful choices for night owls to party until dawn, from the trendy districts of Barrio Alto and Cais do Sodré – where the famous ´Pink Street´ is located – to the Chiado and Príncipe Real neighbourhoods for a chic vibe. For something a bit different, Fado is the unmistakable sound of Lisbon and fado tours are a great way to learn about this distinctive artform. Perfect for small groups, these immersive experiences take in renowned fado districts such as Alfama and Mouraria as the guides explain its history and meaning, followed by a visit to a fado house for a live show, usually accompanied by dinner or petiscos (small bites). Or groups feeling up to the challenge can join a one-hour ´Sing Fado´ workshops at the Museum of Fado, where they will not only learn about this unique music but can challenge each other to a singing contest, as the experience includes having a go at a fado song!
For more information, ideas, and inspiration on visiting Lisbon, please go to www.visitlisboa.com