If you read my previous post on falling for Lisbon you will know that our first experience of this city was a very brief one. This time around we had several days to explore at a more leisurely pace as well as a local to guide us around, showing us all the best attractions and local spots, which gave us the chance to fully appreciate this beautiful city.
Many parts of Lisbon are made up of a maze of steep hills and narrow cobblestone streets – particularly the old district of Alfama with its historic colourful houses and superb viewpoints. Pretty to look at but not so ideal to visit with a baby in a pram! I found this out the hard way on our first visit (I’m surprised the wheels didn’t fall off), so I would recommend taking a baby carrier for these areas to save yourself the workout of pushing a pram uphill that you most definitely did not sign up for on a city break. Other easy ways of getting around are Uber or tram. Most of the Uber drivers we used had a baby seat in the back and the tram is always fun for little ones to take a ride on.
There is so much to see here and I still feel like we only skimmed the surface of the Portuguese capital. If you’re travelling to Lisbon with kids here is my guide on the top things to do to keep them entertained – everything is also fun and interesting for the grown ups too!
♥ what to do in Lisbon with kids ♥
♥ Oceanário de Lisboa
One of the biggest aquariums in Europe, Lisbon’s oceanarium is the perfect rainy day activity. Its huge central tank, holding 5 million litres of seawater, can be viewed from all over as you wander through the marine exhibits. My favourite part was watching the giant sting rays gliding silently through the water while Evie was overjoyed at the fluffy otters diving and splashing about.
♥ Pavilhão do Conhecimento
We didn’t have enough time to visit Lisbon’s Science Museum but it’s another great place for kids to explore the interactive exhibits and fun educational play areas. It’s right next to the Oceanarium so both can be combined in the one day – unless you end up spending hours staring at the fish like we did!
Once the starting place of Portuguese explorers off on their voyages, this was one of my favourite areas of the city. It’s much more spread out and relaxed than Downtown (plus nice and flat so no uphill climbs!), with lots of open squares and grassy areas for children to run around on, a long riverfront promenade with views across the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge, and musicians creating a lively fun atmosphere.
Several of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks can be found here including the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the funky modern design of the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology). And not forgetting Pasteis de Belém, the most popular place for the infamous Portuguese custard tart!
♥ Torre de Belém
The Belém Tower is the main attraction in this part of the city which means the queues are often fairly long to get inside this old fortress. The sun had just come out when we arrived so, even though the view from inside is supposedly pretty impressive, we decided to skip the queues and appreciated the view from outside instead, playing on the little sandy beach throwing pebbles into the water.
♥ Take a ferry boat ride
From the centre of the city it’s just €1.50 for a short ferry ride across the Tagus River. There are some wonderful views looking back over the city and some quieter areas to explore on the other side including a little beach that we had all to ourselves at Porto Brandão.
♥ Fragata Dom Fernando II e Gloria
This Portuguese Navy ship can be found after the ferry ride across the river to Cacilhas. The frigate has been restored so visitors can go up onboard deck as well as inside all the way down to the bottom (can you tell my knowledge of boats is very limited?!), exploring the different parts of the ship where the sailors would sleep, eat and work. What little explorer doesn’t love running around a ship and climbing up on cannons?!
♥ Time Out Market
This historic market hall has been transformed into a family friendly open dining experience with a huge selection of food and drink kiosks showcasing some of the best delicacies and chefs in Portugal. Grab your food, take a seat at the casual style long tables, and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. There’s also a small playground area right outside for little ones. The old traditional style market selling fruit and veg is still open on one side where we bought some freshly washed strawberries that Evie happily devoured before we’d even arrived at the next stop on our itinerary.
♥ Jardim da Estrela
A pretty garden not too far from The Explorer’s Home with one of the best playgrounds in Lisbon. It’s the perfect relaxed spot for a weekend family picnic, often with live music in the summer, where the kiddies can run around on the grass, climb the huge trees, feed the ducks in the pond or watch peacocks roaming around.
♥ Pink Street
Being the pink lovers we are, we couldn’t miss taking a walk along Lisbon’s Pink Street, Rua Nova do Carvalho. Once the Red Light District, the street has now been turned pink and transformed into one of the city’s best nightlife spots – albeit without all the brothels and seedy sailors coming to visit! Obviously not the place to go with children at night, but during the day it’s pretty quiet (with only a slight leftover smell of beer from the night before) and Evie loved racing up and down the colourful street.
♥ Pena Palace, Sintra
If there is ever a castle for the fairytale seekers, magic believers and Disney lovers (aka me), it is here. Pena Palace is like nowhere I have ever seen before. Sitting on the top of a hill, surrounded by lush green forest and clear blue sky, it’s bright bold colours, elaborate style turrets, intricate tiled walls, and mythical carved statues, honestly made me feel more like we were in the pages of a storybook rather than visiting a magnificent 19th century real life castle.
Just a thirty minute drive out of Lisbon, Sintra is the most popular day trip from the city with several other castles and attractions to visit in the area too. But we were so impressed with this place that we ended up spending five whole hours wandering around, exploring every part, inside and out, and staring in awe at the stunning vistas over the mountain town of Sintra. Evie didn’t get bored or frustrated once and was still pulling us into new rooms and hidden doorways when the rest of us were all ready to go home!
If you want to get out of the city and hit the beach so the kids can have some fun then Cascais is the place to go. A lovely little coastal town with a row of charming shops and restaurants (including Santini, the best place for gelato), a lovely little grassy square with a carousel and some beautiful beaches.
♥ Boca do Inferno
Possibly not so great with tiny kids but still somewhere I’d recommend stopping during a visit to Cascais purely for the breathtaking views out over the dramatic cliffs and the crashing waves of the ocean, giving this spot the nickname “Hell’s Mouth”. It reminded me of the spectacular coastline of Portugal’s Algarve with its rugged cliffs jutting out into the blue sea. This was the spot that Evie decided to throw her Nemo toy into the air and we watched in slow motion as he bounced his way over the edge of the cliff and back into the sea where he belonged!
♥ Where to stay in Lisbon with kids ♥
After all this sightseeing it’s lovely to be able to go back somewhere cosy and homely. The Explorer’s Home is the perfect place for this with a selection of children’s books and a big box of Lego for the children to enjoy while the grown ups relax for the evening. You can read my full write up of The Explorer’s Home here.
This is only a brief guide to Lisbon – if you want the full history and story of all these places then you’ll have to stay here. The apartment comes with a full guide to the city plus route maps and a host who will answer any questions and give helpful advice and tips.
We ate at far too many fantastic places to include it all in this sightseeing guide so the food gets a whole post of its own – 10 of the best foodie spots in Lisbon
Have you visited Lisbon? What activities do you enjoy doing with kids when you travel? Let me know in the comments below or at: