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Free Bike Tours Lisbon
14 - tagus_tejo-lisboa_nature_lisbon_bike_walk_16-

Vila Franca - The hidden side of the Tagus River

Many of you who come to visit Lisbon have probably heard of the places that are part of other bike tours that I have already advised here (Cascais, Sintra and perhaps Estoril), but I’m sure that you have never heard of Vila Franca de Xira. This is enough for you to realize that it’s not part of the tourist routes in Lisbon

In front of Lisbon there is a large river that is named Tejo/Tagus. This river in Lisbon is so big that it looks like the sea.  Many tourists ask me insistently if it’s the sea. Usually the tendency of all people (including the Portuguese) is to walk in the way of Atlantic Ocean and the historic area of ​​Belém, the last corner of the river, but what I propose on this tour is to move in the opposite direction, instead of going down, going up the river (don't worry about that, because the path is almost flat). 

In this tour you’ll certainly not find the wonderful Portuguese sea, the beaches that enchant everyone, the rich and imposing monuments of the historic area of ​​Belém, fashion places and people – it’s not a trendy area. In this tour you’ll find another side of Portugal, very distinct, more genuine, more authentic, but which I also like a lot.
At the beginning of this tour you’ll pass by Alfama (oldest Lisbon neighborhood), where you can make the first stop to taste a “Ginjinha” (Ginja D’Alfama), then you will cross the port area until you reach Parque das Nações, the most modern area in Lisbon. Here you’ll find nice works of Contemporary Architecture. You’ll also pass under the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the largest bridge in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

And it is from this moment that everything changes a lot. Here you will start to see another reality, you will start to feel the silence, the peace and the serenity of the place, while you observe groups of flamingos and a huge variety of birds.

After this, you’ll get away from the Tagus River a little and you’ll enter an area of ​​very rudimentary agricultural land, amazing to see, because it looks like you came back 100 years ago, until you get once closer to the Tagus River.

When you get back there you’ll find once more absolutely extraordinary landscapes, pass through small communities and fishing river villages, where you’ll see small artisanal fishing boats (authentic treasures), very genuine and simple people. 

Along this tour you’ll find two villages where you can have lunch, something always important in these tours, Alhandra (a small village by the river) and Vila Franca de Xira (at the end of the tour), where you can find several restaurants with delicious regional dishes.

To finish this post, because you must be curious, I inform you that Vila Franca de Xira was a small village, which lived from river fishing and agriculture. It was and still is a land where there are many bulls and horses and where today there is a culture associated with bullfighting.

In July there are great festivities with free bulls in the small streets of the village. When you finish your tour, in Vila Franca de Xira, put your bike on the train and return to Lisbon, but take the opportunity to see beautiful tile panels in train station.


1 - O Forno €€– Vila Franca;
2 – Voltar ao Cais €€– Alhandra.

Route: Lisboa – Parque das Nações – Alhandra – Vila Franca and by train to Liboa

Distance: +/-45 Km

Level: 2/5 (With rain a strong wind do not take this tour).

Note: If you need help to plan this tour, rent bikes and / or if you need a guide let me know (, I’ll be happy to help you.

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