Lisbon is awash with sightseeing tours, but there’s one excursion that’s making a big splash.
Hippotrip is offering tourists a new way to explore the Portuguese capital, and it’s streets ahead of its rivals. That’s because when it runs out of road, it takes to the water; Hippotrip is the first sightseeing attraction in Lisbon to use an amphibious vehicle to combine a city tour with a river cruise.
Half bus, half boat - the Hippotrip sightseeing excursion takes to the water after hitting the streets — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Operating out of Doca de Santo Amaro in Alcântara, the Hippotrip transport is half bus, half boat – a custom-made coach that looks like a longboat on steroids! But this is no fish out of water. On land, it easily navigates Lisbon’s sightseeing circuit and treats passengers to a veritable guidebook of cherished landmarks and historic monuments.
Its route takes it past places like Terreiro do Paço and Praça da Figueira and up Avenida da Liberdade towards Marquês de Pombal. (You should see the look on motorists' faces as this huge yellow guppy-like wagon positively swims round this notoriously grid-locked roundabout.)
After Estrela passengers are soon in Belém, being taken past the fabulous 16th-century Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and then the modern Centro Cultural de Belém. But this is where journey becomes voyage as the bus crosses the highway, edges around the marina at Doca do Bom Sucesso and is slowly driven down a ramp into the River Tagus. Suddenly you’re floating!
Maneuvering out of the harbor, the vessel charts a course to Torre de Belém. Gazing towards this fantastic 16th-century tower from the sea is a privileged experience. Changing tack, the watercraft is then propelled towards the Discoveries Monument. Bemused onlookers wave from the shore. Then, with a "hippo hippo, hooray!" it's back to port and dry land.