A Long Weekend in Lisbon with Children
02 October 2017
Family life is woven into the fabric of Portuguese life, with the capital of Lisbon making for a welcoming and well facilitated destination for families looking for a short break in Europe. Offering a viable alternative to the beaches of the Algarve, laid-back Lisbon is a great way for children to discover a European city which is less frantic and stressful than many of its contemporaries, with its manageable size ensuring you will feel like a local after only a couple of days.
Allow Lisbon to bring you under its spell with our handy guide to travelling to the city with children.
Deciding where to stay is paramount when taking kids anywhere outside of their comfort zone. As a family friendly city regularly topping ‘best of’ travel lists, family rooms are naturally available in many hotels and apartments across Lisbon.
Where to stay
An apartment option with kitchen facilities is a good option with babies and toddlers in particular, as you can cook meals and warm bottles as part of your usual routine, while you’re more likely to get that all important peaceful night’s sleep.
The Martinhal Family apartments in Chida district are highly recommended when staying in the city with children, with fully-equipped kitchen areas complimented by an on-site Kids’ Club parents can enjoy their own downtime as well!
Where to eat
Portuguese children can stay in restaurants even during later hours, so travellers can share the same privileges, while many cafes and eateries provide flexibility in reducing portion sizes for children or blending soups for babies to eat.
Dining out is relatively inexpensive when compared to other European capitals, with the more established eateries in Lisbon simultaneously some of the finest family friendly-restaurants on the continent.
Popular family dining spots among both travellers and locals include Bella Lisa Elevador in Chiado, offering scintillating views over the city to admire while the whole family tucks into delectable pasta dishes, while Portugalia boats a picturesque location on the banks of the river, incorporating large tables for group and family gatherings with room to spare.
Activities and sights
The beauty of Lisbon as a port city ensures kids are rarely far from a beach. With average late summer temperatures still reaching as high as 22C, Praia de Rainha or the Guincho beach made famous as a backdrop in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, make for great weekend day excursions where parents can sunbathe and kids can play in the sand to their heart’s content.
City based sites of interest for families include the renowned Oceanário in Parque das Nacoes, situated within a scenically redeveloped promenade as one of Lisbon’s most striking buildings that also happens to be the largest aquarium in Europe. Highly attuned underwater acoustics envelop visitors in the sights and sounds of the ocean upon entrance, with several themed areas representing different parts of the globe moving into a giant aquarium space housing dozens of interesting species.
For a novel sightseeing option in Lisbon, choose to hop aboard the Hippotrip, an amphibious vehicle which tours the city before jetting into the River Tagus, much like a scene from the aforementioned James Bond movies. This excursion will appeal to adventurous families who enjoy observing the sights and sounds of a new city while trying something a little different, with key landmarks such as the Jerónimos monastery and the Alcantara district on the itinerary list.
Before deciding on your hotel or apartment stay, it is advisable to check how steep the street you are staying on is, as the cobbled streets of Lisbon can be steep in parts. If you are bringing babies or toddlers in particular, purchasing a carrier or baby sling may ensure getting around the city is a lot more straightforward.
The public transport system is both effective and affordable, with buses and taxis arguably the best way to travel around the city, while the metro system is renowned as one of the best in Europe.