A self-guided tour. A gamified walk. An outdoor escape room or a treasure hunt of sorts. There are many ways you can try to describe what city discovery walks by Secret City Trails are all about.
Even though the idea is quite simple, it’s a rich and engaging experience. I hope this recap of my first discovery walk encourages you to give it a go and try it yourself!

It's a Playful Experience

As another weekend was approaching, I decided to go outside and reconnect with Lisbon, a city I’ve called home for a few years now. A couple of friends, locals for most of their lives, joined me to try that ‘city discovery walk’ experience by Secret City Trails. We still were not sure what to expect exactly at this stage, but it sounded like fun. Another friend, who recommended it to me, said it’s a bit like a treasure hunt – something we loved playing as kids – a mix of solving location-riddles, learning about the city and discovering cool spots.

We chose a trail in Graça and Alfama. Upon buying the game, we received an email directing us to the starting location, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte – Lisbon’s highest viewpoint. We pressed ‘Let’s Play’ and our journey began.

It's a Playful Experience

As another weekend was approaching, I decided to go outside and reconnect with Lisbon, a city I’ve called home for a few years now. A couple of friends, locals for most of their lives, joined me to try that ‘city discovery walk’ experience by Secret City Trails. We still were not sure what to expect exactly at this stage, but it sounded like fun. Another friend, who recommended it to me, said it’s a bit like a treasure hunt – something we loved playing as kids – a mix of solving location-riddles, learning about the city and discovering cool spots.

We chose a trail in Graça and Alfama. Upon buying the game, we received an email directing us to the starting location, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte – Lisbon’s highest viewpoint. We pressed ‘Let’s Play’ and our journey began.

Venture Off The Beaten Path

There were small huddles of other people admiring the view of the Tagus River, but the first riddle popping up on the phone – “following 18 flowers that always blossom” – guided us to a quiet street away from any crowds. The question was specific to where we were at the time and had us searching for murals. We had to take a closer look to count birds, ships and other details we might have otherwise missed. It took us two attempts, but we solved the puzzle and unlocked a story about Lisbon’s famous decorated tiles, azulejos. I don’t want to spoil any riddles, because the satisfaction of finding the correct answer is priceless!

Just to give you an idea, we followed a sculpture’s gaze, looked angels in the eyes and found messages hidden in beautiful street art pieces. The riddles were diverse, with varying difficulty levels. By the way, if you can solve that one near a shop with traditional Portuguese conserves in three guesses or less, then your detective skills are impressive! It took us many tries and we even had to use a hint, but once we found the correct answer it seemed so obvious we couldn’t stop laughing.

Venture Off The Beaten Path

There were small huddles of other people admiring the view of the Tagus River, but the first riddle popping up on the phone – “following 18 flowers that always blossom” – guided us to a quiet street away from any crowds. The question was specific to where we were at the time and had us searching for murals. We had to take a closer look to count birds, ships and other details we might have otherwise missed. It took us two attempts, but we solved the puzzle and unlocked a story about Lisbon’s famous decorated tiles, azulejos. I don’t want to spoil any riddles, because the satisfaction of finding the correct answer is priceless!

Just to give you an idea, we followed a sculpture’s gaze, looked angels in the eyes and found messages hidden in beautiful street art pieces. The riddles were diverse, with varying difficulty levels. By the way, if you can solve that one near a shop with traditional Portuguese conserves in three guesses or less, then your detective skills are impressive! It took us many tries and we even had to use a hint, but once we found the correct answer it seemed so obvious we couldn’t stop laughing.

Unlock Local Stories & Recommendations

There were a couple of breaks as part of the experience and they included spot-on local recommendations. We tasted the most delicious basil and lemon ice cream on Miradouro da Graça, and had authentic homemade white gazpacho for lunch at A Janela da Voz Do Operario (using a discount from the game, yay!). Just so you know – the experience is pretty flexible and you can have a break whenever you feel like.

This fun walk allowed us to feel that rush of excitement coming with each discovery – I bet you know that feeling while travelling and exploring new places? There it was, but in our own city. Every quirky sculpture and every hidden side alley sparked our curiosity, whether it was part of the trail or not. Each story we unlocked along the way allowed us to get to know, and connect with, the neighbourhood.

Unlock Local Stories & Recommendations

There were a couple of breaks as part of the experience and they included spot-on local recommendations. We tasted the most delicious basil and lemon ice cream on Miradouro da Graça, and had authentic homemade white gazpacho for lunch at A Janela da Voz Do Operario (using a discount from the game, yay!). Just so you know – the experience is pretty flexible and you can have a break whenever you feel like.

This fun walk allowed us to feel that rush of excitement coming with each discovery – I bet you know that feeling while travelling and exploring new places? There it was, but in our own city. Every quirky sculpture and every hidden side alley sparked our curiosity, whether it was part of the trail or not. Each story we unlocked along the way allowed us to get to know, and connect with, the neighbourhood.

Experience For All Interests

We finished the walk in the garden of Botto Machada, sipping freshly made iced tea in the sun. So which trail would we like to try next? The one that features a labyrinthic cemetery, or the trail of Lisbon’s best local food specialities, or perhaps the one that takes players around the city’s most amazing rooftops? Choosing between them was just another puzzle to crack that day – and as we’d found out from the walk creators, we had riddle ninja skills.

Secret City Trails have over 120 different discovery walks across 50+ cities in Europe, so make sure to check if there is one near you. You don’t need to save your adventures for the holiday, go exploring in your own city!

Intrigued? Try it yourself!

Enjoy in 50+ cities in Europe

Unlock a secret discount!

It’s going to be fun!