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Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Countries, Eco-projects, Europe, Portugal, UNESCO, Urban | 3 comments

Ecotourism – Lisbon – an Eco friendly tour

Ecotourism – Lisbon – an Eco friendly tour

Ecotourism: Belem is one the most interesting neighborhoods of Lisbon, combining 2 UNESCO sites and delicious famous pastries! 

I’ve been asking my self if I could find urban Eco-tourism that could be both exciting, fun and an alternative to all the other organized tours that offer nothing new. So I started making google searches for local, family oriented Eco-projects in Lisbon (convinced I wouldn’t find anything interesting). And guess what??? I DID!

I shot an email to Lisbon Eco-tours immediately, and a few days later my buddy Martin and I hopped in this incredible electric Renault Twizzy, and headed our way to explore Lisbon! Pollution free!

 

 

If you come to Lisbon, you will notice a huge amount of Tuk tuks around town. We didn’t have tuk tuks till very recently and a huge wave of concern and anger is starting to rise from local residents and folks who work in the city center. Tuk Tuks are incredibly loud and pollute so much, that in certain areas, people are now struggling with the black smoke.

The Little electric Eco car was the extreme opposite, silent, fun, respectful of the environment and the local residents. And so we headed to Belem, Eco style!

 

ECOTOURISM IN PORTUGAL

 

 

My Eco adventure would pass by 25 interesting landmarks in Lisbon and the GPS Audio guide, would make sure I wouldn’t miss a thing, by explaining some facts and history behind every single spot we passed by. Although I was born in Lisbon and know the city fairly well, I have to admit;  even I learned new things about my home town!

 

PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS

 

An important landmark located in Belem, symbolizing the discoveries period of the Portuguese history. The views across the river are breathtaking!

 

Photo by Veronique

 

The gigantic mosaic near the Padrão, showing the gigantic world map and the areas conquered by the Portuguese. Travel lovers like me, stand there daydreaming about our next destinations.

 

Photo: Bernd Rostard

 

 

TORRE DE BELEM / BELEM TOWER

 

Classified by UNESCO in 1983 as a World Heritage Site, the Tower of Belem was considered one of the 7 wonders of Portugal.

 

 

 

The Tower of Belem is one of the most iconic monuments in Lisbon.

It’s said it was built in a small island in the Tejo river. The tower is nowadays surrounded by the yellow sands of the river and a wood bridge connects it to the shore. This monument was built on the 16th century and is a patriotic symbol of the power and greatness of the Portuguese empire during discovery times. It’s a full expression of the unique Portuguese Manueline style.

 

 

The main function of the Tower was of defense, but with time, it started to lose it’s defensive function. It became a prison political prisoners from 1580 to 1656.  The prisioners living in this tower were few in number, but of a certain political importance.

 

MOSTEIRO DOS GERÓNIMOS / GERÓNIMOS MONASTERY

 

Another UNESCO heritage site, the Mosteiro dos Geronimos is one of the most impressive and mind blowing monuments in Lisbon. The intrinsic and very detailed carvings are stunning. When I think all those statues and details are made by hand, I have no doubts why this is one of Portugal’s most beautiful landmark.

 

 

Only part of the Monastery is open for free, which is the  church part where the mess is still celebrated. If you’re a catholic, come for the mess and experience it inside this inspirational place.

 

 

To enter the rest of the Monastery you’ll have to pay for an entrance, but it’s well worth it! Take some time to appreciate the details.

 

ENJOYING LUNCH IN BELÉM

As you might find during  your visit to Belem, this place is extremely touristy and crowded.

There are plenty of nice and small restaurants and snack bars in Belem, most of them with inflated prices for tourists, but I found a tiny little cafe that served food.  I had a typical vegan soup, that cost me 1.20€.

 

 

PASTEIS DE BELÉM

 

Famous all over the world, the Pasteis de Belem are a unique pastry, loved by tourists and locals alike. The recipe is a mystery and because of its secret ingredients, all other versions taste a bit different or have a different consistency.

 

 

Photo credits: Portugesediner

 

 

 

The majority of tourists who come over to buy the Pasteis, stand on the line and leave right after. They have no idea they can watch the cooking process from a gigant window wall. So, go inside and walk around this incredible cafe, filled with history.

 

 

There’s more to the Cafe than the Pasteis de Belem. You can buy all sorts of traditional Portuguese pastries.

 

 

When visiting the Cafe, pay attention to the ancient tiles covering the walls. They’re centuries old and painted by hand.

 

 

Our amazing Eco-tour through Lisbon’s Unesco monuments and traditional foods was over now.

We had a blast cruising the streets of Lisbon in this tiny, silent and pollution free little Twizzy. We were the center of attention everywhere we passed by or parked it.  By the end of our day, my buddy Martin admitted he’d love to have one like this. And hopefully, little ecological cars will be the norm in thee near future, not the exception.

 

 

This is a unique Eco-project within Europe and it makes me really happy to find it on “my back yard”. The Little Eco-car and its GPS audio are GREAT! My honest advice is: Don’t go on a Tuk Tuk, rent this little guy for a couple of hours and have a blast just like I did.

 

VEGAN FOOD IN LISBON

 

Well, time for some food before heading back home. We passed by a Chinese restaurant in Mouraria, that serves incredibly cheap vegan meals. We paid 9.30€ in total (for 2 people, yes!) and this is what we got: Vegan Chinese dumplings, rice and tofu crumble with greens and sauce.

 

 

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LISBON AND PORTUGAL? CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES:

10 reasons why you should visit Portugal       Lisbon travel tips- explore Lisbon like a local

Madeira islands – Funchal Portugal!     5 things to do and eat in Belem!

3 Comments

  1. What a cool way to explore Lisbon Yara and the vegan lunch looks delicious! Even though I’m (admittingly) not so eco-conscious I love reading your posts. They show that you can be a bit more eco-friendly by small things (e.g. choosing a eco-car).

    • Yes Manouk, sometimes it takes small gestures to turn a regular trip into an Eco-experience that is both good for the environment and for the local economy. I had a blast riding this little electric car through the bumpy streets of Lisbon :) Totally recommend it and it’s not expensive

  2. What a great way to explore Lisbon! I’ve been to Belem before and really enjoyed it although I didn’t queue at the famous bakery, we ate at a small cafe typico with mostly workmen in there – always a good way to spot a good value cafe :) It’s such good news that you can now take an eco-car – that looks like fun!

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