TOP 10 amazing places to visit with kids in Lisbon
Planning to visit Lisbon with kids? Supertastic idea! This city is made for little explorers! I’ve gathered here our TOP 10 from the Portuguese capital.
1 Baixa or downtown is the heart of Lisbon. Just walk around here, take your time. In Baixa you can find streets named after shopkeepers and craftsmen who traded in the area. Old trams (for many the symbols of Lisbon) take you around, hop on one and feel like a local. Picturesque squares invite for a coffee and pastel de nata (traditional Portuguese custard tart you must-must-must try!). Fall in love with cobbled mosaic pavements of Avenida da Liberdade (city’s main avenue), explore Rua do Augusta (one of Lisbon’s most popular shopping streets), have a glimpse over the city at Santa Justa elevator (this building reminds a bit of Eiffel Tower) and do visit Praça do Comercio that opens up to river Tejo (Tagus). Near the square, just behind the Arc is MUDE – museu do Design e da Moda – design and fashion museum that is free of charge and fun to visit with kids also.
2 Alfama is the real old town with medieval streets and old traditional houses that have colorful tiled facades. Narrow passages and tiny squares take you back in time to the pre-earthquake era (in 1755 an earthquake destroyed half fo the city but Alfama remained untouched). It is also a place where to visit real Fado houses and Fado museum. Kids also love Alfama’s miradouros (sightseeing platforms) and flea markets where you can find just about everything! If you are planning a longer stay then take a few days to discover the area.
This trendy neighborhood has some of the most beautiful houses, the best restaurants (try Bairro do Avillez or Cantinho Avillez for example) and the most famous hand made ice cream – Santini! If you see a crowd behind Santini’s then it’s a good sign, they are open! Try cereja (cherry) with maracuja (passion fruit) or pistachio with canela (cinnamon) and you know what real gelado is about and why people are willing to stand in a very-very long line to have a taste of this icey sweet.
After having an ice-cream or two just walk around in this elegant neighborhood. It’s one of our favourite areas in town, especially if you walk up the hill to Principe Real where you can find cool gardens, inspiring little design shops and palaces like Embaixada (the Embassy).
Embaixada is one of the most iconic buildings in Chiado. What used to be an Arabian palace is now a cozy home to unique conceptual stores. It is also here where you can find Portuguese kids fashion and footwear labels and discover new crushes.
Sounds like a lot to handle? Well… it is! Especially when you are traveling with kids. So better take two days to discover this wide and fascinating neighborhood. It was here where the Portuguese explorers embarked to discover far away lands and it was here where the story of pasteis de Belem (most famous Portuguese custard tarts) started.
Belem is also home to the modern art museum where kids can have their first rendezvous with the works of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons (Museu Berardo) and to the Portuguese president who’s pink palace is like a candy for the eyes!
5 Knowledge Pavilion
We’ve been to the Pavilhão do conhecimento (Knowledge Pavillion) (at least) six times. It’s the most amazing place for both pre-school and school kids because it really makes science comprehendible and fun. And you can touch everything! The exhibitions change yearly and are always fascinating – learn about the science of light, how viruses spread, how your body works and oh-so-much-more. Situated a little bit outside of the city center, in Parque das Nações, the popular ultra modern area which housed the World Expo in 1998. Plan at least a day for Knowledge pavilion and Parque das Nações because this neighborhood is also the home for Lisbon Oceanarium.
… is one of city’s landmarks. The Ocenarium gives an amazing glimpse on underwater life. Well actually more than a glimpse, you can experience what life under water is about because it is the home to so so sooo many species. Lisbon (and actually entire Portugal) has a very special relationship with water – river, sea, ocean… and The Oceanarium is dedicated to educating the public and for giving some food for thought on how important water is to us and how connected we all are.
There is so much to see here that you can easily spend a day at the Oceanarium greeting penguins, admiring sea dragons (really the cutest creatures!) and letting the nature dazzle you.
Afterwards take a walk in this ultra modern neighborhood (Parque das Nações, which housed the World Expo in 1998) and a ride on the cable car that takes off just behind the Oceanarium and gives a nice overview of the area.
7 Lisbon zoo
Jardim Zoologico or Lisbon Zoo is situated in the heart of the city in a huge botanical garden where animals can (almost) freely wonder around. Take a tour with the cable car (it takes 20 minutes and is for free!) around the zoo to get the first glimpse of the area and then make your choice what and when to see. Besides walking around and greeting giraffes, lions and monkeys Lisbon Zoo’s dolphins, sea lions, parrots and other wild birds give fantastic (animal-friendly) shows. Just take a look at the schedule when you enter the park so you will not miss them.
8 Hippo trip
Hippo trip is something extra special – you will get to know the city by land and sea during the same tour! The trip starts as a guided sightseeing bus ride in Lisbon city center and ends with a boat trip on river Tejo (Tagus), all that in the same vehicle and with a super fun tour guide! Try to book your Hippo trip as soon as you arrive in Lisbon because it gives an amazingly nice overview of the city. And not only about its famous landmarks but you will get to know about the famous explorers, kings and queens and even how did ‘tea’ get its name!
Although a bit outside from Lisbon (half an hour’s drive) it is a must-visit for every dream catcher. Sintra (knowledged also as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is famous for its magical streets, picture-perfect houses and super tasty pastries. But it is The Pena Palace on top of the mountain that brings us here. Take a hop-on-hop-off bus from Sintra’s city center to reach the palace, because it really is on a hill! And know that it is a bit difficult to handle a really tiny toddler inside the palace… but the gardens are just perfect for every age.
But, about the Pena Palace! This colorful and a bit Disneyland-like palace used to be the summer home for the Portuguese royal family. It is a magnificent example of what dreams (and money) can build. I would not say it is tasteless, but it really is a bold form of architecture that you and your kids will sure remember from the trip!
10 LX Factory
A hip creative ‘island’ in Lisbon. Built on an old abandoned factory complex, it is now a home to many independent design stores, cozy cafes and restaurants. It also has one of Lisbon’s most lovable bookstores and the coolest works by graffiti artists.
P.S Bare in mind that Lisbon spreads on seven hills so there’s a lot of climbing if you wanna catch the best views over the old town and the river Tejo. But it sure is worth the climb!