As you know, we’re totally obsessed with Lisbon here at Hostelworld HQ. But did you know that the city is also a parkour lover’s dream? We asked free-runner Luis Alkmim, the superhero behind our hair-raising Lisbon video, to share some of his secrets on how to get a unique perspective on Lisbon…
Find a local parkour buddy
This really is the best way to get off the beaten track and find the coolest parkour spots in a new city. To connect with Lisbon’s thriving parkour community, join the Facebook group “Quem vai treinar Parkour?” and you’ll find people down for some street time almost any day of the week. Most people speak English well, and because the community is so active, the locals are used to seeing people playing super heroes on the streets.
Take your sightseeing to the next level
Visiting one of Lisbon’s many viewing points, or “miradouros”, is guaranteed to make you fall in love with the city. But sometimes you can get an even better view by getting away from the crowds. The Miradouro de Santa Luzia, for instance, has two “official” viewing areas. But you can easily “wall run” to find higher, more unique views over the city. Just don’t go trying out any crazy new moves up there – save those for the square nearby, where there are challenges for all abilities, and grass in case you need a soft landing.
Make the most of Lisbon’s architectural diversity
What makes Lisbon so great for free runners is the huge range of architecture and parkour challenges: while areas such as Alfama, Baixa and Chiado look like you are inside a colourful history book, you’ll find skyscrapers and modern architecture on the other side of the city, particularly around Parque das Nações. This park is actually one of my favourite places to free run – it includes an awesome open-air skate park under the Vasco da Gama Bridge, and features walls and jumps of every kind.
The suburbs are a free-runner’s dream
If you’re a shy beginner, why not head to the outskirts where there’s fewer people and more room to experiment? Take a bus, tram or train from the centre to Algés, which is arguably the best neighbourhood in the world for parkour. The main spots here are Kaos with its grey walls and urban energy, Horta which looks like a maze of jump possibilities and the Cubes that are a dream come true for parkour athletes. Make sure you visit the nearby Bélem Tower (pictured) which is no hidden gem, but makes for an amazing backdrop.
Other good places to get the metro to from the city centre include Telheiras, Pontinha, Alto dos Moinhos and Cidade Universitária.
If you’re in Lisbon at the height of summer, it’ll be too hot to do much parkour in the city centre. If you want to stay local, take a walk along the river from Terreiro do Paço to Cais do Sodré. You’ll find sandy riverside spots perfect for practising your moves safely, grassy banks on different levels, big rocks, and plenty of jumpable walls that are great for practising the classic “cat pass” move. You can work up a sweat, then jump straight into the river to cool down.
If you have a bit more time on your hands, why not get out of the city and head to the beach? You can catch the train from Cais do Sodré – one of my favourite routes is to get off at Santo Amaro de Oeiras and jump/run your way along the coast to Carcavelos. Getting the train to Estoril is also a great option – the coastal route to Cascais features parkour-friendly obstacles from the moment you get off the train. And if you like to hike up mountains, swing through forests, flow like water onto rocks, and explore mysterious castles, then Sintra might become your favourite place in the world.
Beware the siren call of Lisbon’s rooftops
With so many accessible, closely-spaced buildings – Lisbon’s rooftops look like a free-runner’s paradise. Although you may be tempted to dive straight into this orange heaven, extreme caution is needed: most Portuguese rooftops are very fragile! Each one of these handmade tiles are ceramic and will not support your body weight.
It is still possible to explore Lisbon’s alluring rooftops, but you’ll need to be careful, and make use of local knowledge: get in contact with a local parkour buddy (see tip #1) who will be able to guide you to the safe rooftop adventures the city has to offer.
Don’t let Lisbon rain on your parkour parade
If you’re unlucky enough to catch Lisbon on a rainy day, head to Spot Real, a recently opened Parkour Academy a few kilometres from the city centre. Alternatively there are some free indoor spots that are worth exploring in Miraflores, Avenida da Liberdade and Olaias.
Ready to start your own Lisbon adventure? Check out some of the amazing hostels the city has to offer.
What to read next?