One thing is certain when joining a tour with Bike By My Side — you’ll feel a little like a celebrity when you roll up to a tourist spot in this classic motorcycle and sidecar.
“Can I take your photo?” and “Where did you get that ride?” were among the questions asked within the first few minutes of joining the tour. Now we know how George Clooney must feel!
A few months ago, I began doing research on unique things to do in Lisbon. Our readers are always on the lookout for something different while traveling — and this tour is certainly that!
I reached out to guide/CEO Daniel Coelho who created the concept for this company, which also operates sidecar tours in Algarve in South Portugal. Within minutes, he responded back with an itinerary that covered most of the major sites in Lisbon. I was sold! And even better yet – we’d get to do it in the comfort of a motorcycle side car. And trust me, after a few days of walking these steep hills, your feet could use a rest!
Our guide Jorge picked us up from our hotel around 10 AM. While the original forecast called for rain, luckily it held off. Though, he did come prepared with rain gear if needed. I hopped on the back of the cool ride, while Kevin got in the side car where he enjoyed his hot tea he didn’t finish at breakfast (or at least used that as the excuse to ride in the side car!).
We zipped up the hills through many of the picturesque neighborhoods where we made our first stop at the gorgeous 26 hectare Eduardo VII Park. And like many times on the tour, had other tourists snapping our photos as we got off the bike. I felt tempted to come up with a story that we were Hollywood YouTube stars!
Eduardo VII Park is the largest public park in Lisbon. It was initially called the Liberty Park, but when the king of England visited Portugal to reinforce diplomatic relations between the two countries, the switch occurred. Jorge also pointed out the large pillars and a fountain that commemorates the revolution of 1974. This movement would lead to the fall of the Estado Novo (second republic) and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies.
Lisbon also has an extensive aqueduct system that feeds various fountains and locations. We zipped to our next stop, which was the Water Museum. We didn’t go inside but learned that the Water Museum is but one of four facilities, operated by the water utility company, and open to visitors. The museum maintains an exhibition detailing the evolution of the water supply to Lisbon, from the time of the Romans to the present. Jorge pointed out the various spots in the city where the water once flowed into.
We covered a lot of ground, but it wasn’t all by bike. At this point of the tour, we got out and stretched our legs around the Santa Justa Lift, also called Carmo Lift. You could take the elevator to the top – but no need when you have a motorcycle to take you there!
One of the best parts of this tour is that it’s highly customizable – I mean, we were the only two people on it! We told Jorge that we wanted to explore Belem and try out the famous pastel de nata (custard pie). And he zipped us over – first pointing out the cool, hipster hot spot called FX Factory, full of cool bars and restaurants.
Upon arrival in Belem, we got more photo requests (obviously!) and hopped out to taste more pastel de nata (custard pies) at Pasteis de Belem.
Be prepared – because Pasteis de Belem is clearly a hot spot. But Jorge showed us an insider tip, where we nearly bypassed the entire line! Talk about VIP!
The tour wasn’t done yet! We got up close to many of the top sites in Belem including a look at the Belem Tower, the monastery, the royal palace and the massive Monument to the Discoveries (commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator).
We headed across town to the historic Alfama district, zipping around the atmospheric streets and climbed our way up the steep hills to one final viewpoint. And what a scenic way to end the tour! And get a wonderful overview of the city.
THE LOW DOWN:
- Bike My Side offers a variety of half and full day tours
- Tours are offered both in Lisbon and Algarve
- For reservations, reach out:
- Prices vary by length of tour and customization
- Perfect for those who want to see a lot in a short amount of time (and to take a break from all the hills!)