Learn to surf in Lisbon (Dreamstime)
List Words : Insider Secrets | 19 August

5 new skills you can learn in Lisbon

Lisbon isn’t just the hottest destination in Europe. It’s also a great place to pick up new skills, with local experts on hand to teach you the secrets of Portuguese cooking, fado, surfing and more...

1: Cook a traditional Portuguese meal

Grilled sardines (Dreamstime)
Grilled sardines (Dreamstime)

Lisbon has a rich gastronomic history, shaping Portugal’s food culture and influencing cuisine around the world. Portugal on a Plate offers food and wine tours and culinary walks where local cooking experts share their knowledge and passion for Portuguese ingredients and regional flavours. They’ll also teach you how to order the best dishes in traditional Lisbon restaurants and show you where to buy the best local ingredients to take back home.    

For a more hands-on cooking experience, try their five-hour 'Cooking with 6 Hands' tour. Starting at the famous Mercado da Ribeira, you will choose the catch of the day before moving on to work alongside innovative chefs Tiago Feio, David Eyguesier and Hugo Brito in their respective restaurant kitchens: Leopold, Os Gazeteiros and Boi Cavalo. The highlight, of course, is the opportunity to taste your own handiwork.

2: Write and sing your very own fado

Fado club in Alfama (Dreamstime)
Fado club in Alfama (Dreamstime)

Haunting and poetic, fado is considered one of the purest expressions of Lisbon’s soul. It is believed to have originated from the sorrow felt by the sailors and their families who were separated by Portugal’s explorations around the globe in the 19th century. 

The narrow streets of Alfama, the city’s oldest district and the one most associated with this iconic song, is home to numerous 'fado houses' as well as the Fado Museum, which is the best place to discover everything about this unique art form.

The museum offers a one-hour group workshop, which concludes with participants singing their own fados – no embarrassment allowed. If you are confident enough, your teacher will take you to the Mouraria neighbourhood, next to Alfama, to one of the houses offering 'fado vadio' or ‘amateur’, where anybody can stand up and start singing.

3: Ride a horse the Portuguese way

Horse in the Portuguese countryside (Dreamstime)
Horse in the Portuguese countryside (Dreamstime)

Set in a vast pinewood forest in Sintra, and certified by the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, O Paddock trains riders of all ages and skill levels, from international athletes to amateur riders. Its location is calm and picturesque, making it the perfect place to learn to ride.

O Paddock is also close to some of Lisbon’s most interesting historical monuments, country estates, golden sandy beaches and rugged cliffs, the perfect place to try out your new skills. The club also offers horseback tours throughout the region, tailored to your level of ability and interests.

4: Surf a world-class break 

Sunrise surfing at Ericeira (Dreamstime)
Sunrise surfing at Ericeira (Dreamstime)

The area around Lisbon offers some of the best surfing in the world. From Ericeira, Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve, to the Costa da Caparica and the Estoril/Cascais coast, there are locations that are perfect for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers.

There are also plenty of surf schools, keen to teach you how to master the Portuguese waves. Lisbon Surf Tours, Carcavelos Surf School and Guincho Adventours all offer multilingual tuition for all ages and skill levels.


5: Learn to taste and choose wine

Wine shop in Lisbon (Dreamstime)
Wine shop in Lisbon (Dreamstime)   

First introduced by the Romans, Portuguese wine was soon so good that it was exported back to Rome. You can learn all about the history of Portuguese wine and its grape varietals on a wine journey that begins at the converted wine cellar of Rota de Vinhos.

The tour also includes a lesson from a local wine taster on how to choose and taste wines, along witha wine cruise along the Sado Estuary. Finally, for those not afraid to get to get their hands (or feet) dirty, there's the chance to take part in traditional wine-treading.


For more information on learning in Lisbon, drop by Visit Lisboa.


Main image: Learn to surf in Lisbon (Dreamstime)

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