I was working through my list of stuff to see and do – the neighborhoods I wanted to visit, the Moorish castle in Sintra, Belém, a few beaches along the Cascais train line… – but I wanted to know what I might be missing. So I googled something to the effect of “different things to do in Lisbon” and the first thing that popped up was We Hate Tourism Tours (WHTT).
I’m a sucker for their punk rock attitude and surf style designs, but I also could tell they were on to something different and unique.
I wanted to know about things that were overlooked in Lisbon. I wanted to know the unusual stuff that could easily slip under a tourist’s radar. It was clear that’s what these guys were about – they’re more than guides, they make the magic that happens when you visit friends who know and love their city.
For 25 to 45 euro, depending on the tour, they’ll take you around Lisbon, or to Sintra and Cascais or into the Bairro Alto for dinner. They also have a “pirates” tour and are in the midst of creating a “crooks of Lisbon” tour as well.
Are they just for the young and hip? Well, reading their many positive reviews on Tripadvisor, I get the impression that their clients represent a pretty wide mix of ages and backgrounds. Clearly these guys aren’t set out to only capture the ex-skater dads like myself – they offer something way beyond the scripted history lesson or flag carrying guide with a microphone. They want you to truly know the city and to help you understand the Portuguese mentality and culture, why things are the way they are, combining history and facts with a hand’s on experience of Lisbon life. They want you to be a temporary local.
The founder, Bruno, told me this story that puts who they are and what they do into perspective:
It’s the early days of the company and Bruno has decided that when he schedules a tour, it’s going to go even if there’s only one person. So he pulls up to the meeting point in his black, open top vintage jeep and meets his client – a single, American guy, who jumps in and asks Bruno if he’s the only person on the tour. Bruno says, “yeah” and the American guy responds, “well, you’re not going to make much money today!”
“Thats ok – maybe I’ll make a friend instead!” Bruno says.
I met three of their guides – Jose, who was doing his first day in training as a driver, and who manages this apartment just above the old Bairro Alto quarter that’s famous for its nightlife. I met Marcos, a smiling surfer guy who is clearly into what he does and never tires of infecting people with his love of Lisbon, and Bruno, the founder (and now friend). They’re about 7 people strong and run a few tours a day, rain or shine, despite how many people sign up. However, I think the days of having just 1 person on a tour are long gone!
For great local info from the WHTT crew, follow these links:
Check them out, or as they say on their site, “stay home and cry!”