The Oceanarium, Lisbon

Top 10 Lisbon Attractions for Kids

Introduction

Imagine exploring winding, cobbled streets, past vibrant houses, while the scent of freshly baked pastéis de nata fills the air. Welcome to Lisbon, a city where history meets modernity and an absolute delight for families. Uncover the top ‘Lisbon Attractions for Kids’ in this guide, crafted from my personal experiences of this charming city’s allure for both adults and young ones alike.

Preparing for Your Lisbon Adventure

Before you set foot in the vibrant city of Lisbon, a little preparation goes a long way to ensure your trip is as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Here’s the scoop.

When to Visit

One of the first things people ask me is, “When is the best time to visit Lisbon?” Well, I believe Lisbon is a charmer all year round, but if you’re traveling with kids, the best time to visit is between April and June. The weather is exceptionally pleasant, with the sun brightly shining and the temperatures just right for outdoor activities.

During this time, the city is dressed in its spring best, making it an ideal time to enjoy Lisbon’s many parks and outdoor attractions. We visited the Lisbon Zoo in May, and the experience was delightful. The animals were active, and the lush surroundings added an extra layer of beauty to our visit.

Language Essentials

While English is widely spoken in Lisbon, it can be helpful and fun to learn a few essential Portuguese phrases. “Olá” for hello, “Obrigado” for thank you, “Por favor” for please – these simple phrases can make your interactions with locals more engaging. My kids loved the challenge of learning new words and using them during our trips to local markets and restaurants.

Packing Right

Packing for Lisbon is all about being ready for anything. The weather is mostly mild, but it can be unpredictable. So packing layers is the key. T-shirts and shorts or light dresses work great for sunny days, while a light jacket or a sweater is perfect for cooler evenings.

Lisbon is a city of seven hills, so pack comfortable walking shoes for those steep, cobbled streets. If you’re visiting beaches or planning on some pool time, don’t forget the swimsuits and sunscreen. A reusable water bottle is another must-have to keep the family hydrated as you explore the city.

Remember to pack any essentials for your children as well, such as diapers, wipes, and their favorite snacks. While you can find most things in Lisbon, having familiar items can make children more comfortable.

Navigating the Charm of Lisbon: Transportation Guide

Moving around Lisbon is part of the fun. The city’s transportation system is a blend of old-world charm and modern efficiency, making it not only a way to get around but also a means to experience Lisbon’s vibrant character.

A Journey Through the City: Public Transportation

Public transportation in Lisbon is extensive, covering every nook and cranny of the city, and it can add a touch of local flavor to your trip. You can choose from metros, buses, trams, and funiculars (cable railways) to navigate the city’s streets.

Tram 28 travelling down a road from Graca, Lisbon attractions your kids will love.
Tram 28

One of my favorite things about Lisbon’s public transportation is its historic trams. These are not only a practical way to move around but also a delightful journey into the past. Tram 28, for instance, is a popular route that takes you through many of Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods. My kids loved the tram rides, with their slow pace offering a fantastic way to absorb the city’s sights and sounds.

Lisbon’s metros are another efficient way to travel. They’re modern, quick, and cover a vast area, including some of the top Lisbon attractions for kids. Stations are well-signposted in English, making it easy for first-time visitors.

Buses complement the metro system, reaching areas of the city that the metro doesn’t. Many of the buses are also stroller-friendly, a huge plus if you’re traveling with toddlers.

Family Travel Tips for Public Transportation

Traveling with kids on public transport can seem daunting, but Lisbon makes it easier. Children under the age of 4 travel free on public transportation and those aged between 4 to 10 have a significant discount, making family travel quite economical.

Remember to get the Viva Viagem card, a rechargeable card for travel on buses, trams, funiculars, and metros. It’s a handy thing to have in your pocket.

To Rent or Not to Rent: Car Hire in Lisbon

With Lisbon’s efficient public transport and walkable city center, a rental car isn’t necessary for most visitors. However, if your itinerary extends beyond the city limits or you have value-added flexibility, car hire is a viable option.

Over the years, I’ve found Centauro to be a reliable choice. Yet, keep in mind Lisbon’s narrow streets, busy traffic, and costly city-center parking. For families, remember that Portuguese law requires car seats for children under 12 or below 135cm.

Before driving off, I recommend documenting the car’s condition with photos or a video. This precaution helps avoid potential disputes upon return.

Exploring Lisbon: On Foot

Slippy tiled streets of Lisbon
Take care on the slippy tiled streets of Lisbon

Sometimes, the best way to truly get to know a city is by exploring it on foot. This is particularly true in Lisbon, where many of the city’s top attractions are nestled close together, particularly in charming neighborhoods like Alfama and Baixa.

Walking through Lisbon’s streets allows you to experience the city’s vibrant life up close, discover hidden gems, and truly appreciate its distinctive architecture. Yet, it’s essential to note that many of Lisbon’s streets are tiled, which can be slippery even without rain. So, I strongly recommend wearing suitable, comfortable footwear to ensure your walking adventures are safe and enjoyable.

Belém Tower: Stepping into the Pages of History

Belem Tower at night
Belem Tower at night

The Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks. This historic fortress, standing at the mouth of the Tagus River, serves as a gateway to Lisbon’s past. With its many levels and winding staircases, it offers young explorers a unique, hands-on history lesson, while the breathtaking views of the city and the sea offer a splendid backdrop for memorable family photos.

For the latest prices and times visit the official Belem Tower Website.

Oceanário de Lisboa: An Underwater Odyssey

oceanariolisbon
Inside the Oceanario de Lisboa

The Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the world’s largest and most impressive aquariums. Rated 4.7 out of 5 (>77,000 reviews) on Google and housing a vibrant array of marine life from around the globe, this oceanic wonderland offers a thrilling dive into the underwater world. From the fascinating creatures of the tropical seas to the mysterious inhabitants of the dark Atlantic depths, the Oceanário de Lisboa is a feast for the eyes and a boost for marine conservation awareness.

For the most up-to-date information on admission fees and opening hours, kindly refer to the official Oceanário de Lisboa website.

Home to over 2000 animals from 300 different species, the Lisbon Zoo is a dream destination for animal lovers. But it’s more than just a place to see animals. The Lisbon Zoo is a proactive conservation center, that educates its visitors about the importance of biodiversity and conservation. The various interactive shows and feeding sessions offer a unique, up-close experience of the animal kingdom.

Parque das Nações: A Modern Marvel

The cable cars at Parque das Nações
The cable cars at Parque das Nações

Parque das Nações, translated as Park of Nations, is a testament to Lisbon’s innovative spirit and a beacon of modernity in this historic city. Born from the remnants of the 1998 World Expo, this district seamlessly blends leisure, culture, and architecture, making it a must-visit destination for families.

Once an industrial wasteland, Parque das Nações today is a bustling hub, teeming with contemporary attractions and green spaces. Its skyline, punctuated by futuristic architecture, contrasts beautifully with the traditional charm found in other parts of Lisbon.

At the heart of the park lies the world-renowned Oceanário de Lisboa, one of the largest indoor aquariums globally. Its impressive collection of marine species offers a deep dive into the underwater world, captivating children and adults alike.

Adjacent to the aquarium, you’ll find the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, an interactive science and technology museum. Here, learning comes alive through hands-on exhibits, making it an exciting educational experience for young minds.

Parque das Nações is also home to one of the longest bridges in Europe, the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Its sweeping form serves as an iconic backdrop to the area and a symbol of modern Portugal.

vascodegamabridge
The Vasco Da Gama bridge

One of the most loved features by families in Parque das Nações is the network of pedestrian paths running along the Tagus River. It’s a perfect setting for leisurely strolls, bike rides, or picnics. The cable car ride along the river adds a touch of adventure, offering a bird’s eye view of the park.

Not just a visual spectacle, Parque das Nações is a gastronomic delight as well, with an array of restaurants offering global cuisines, and the local Mercado da Ribeira, which showcases the best of Portuguese food.

Tram 28: A City Adventure on Wheels

Tram 28 isn’t just a public transport route, it’s a journey through Lisbon’s rich history and vibrant culture, all wrapped up in an exciting tram ride that’s sure to captivate kids and adults alike.

Tram 28
Tram 28

The vintage yellow trams of Lisbon are iconic, and Tram 28 is the star of the show. As it rattles and rumbles through the city, it offers a charming and relaxed way to take in many of Lisbon’s key sights, making it a perfect option for families.

Starting from Martim Moniz Square, the tram winds its way through a picturesque route, navigating narrow, winding streets, steep inclines, and offering stunning vistas along the way. From the historic Alfama district with its ancient houses and charming Fado restaurants to the lively Bairro Alto, known for its vibrant nightlife, Tram 28 covers a diverse tapestry of Lisbon life.

Children are sure to enjoy the sheer fun of the ride, with its vintage charm and the thrill of peering out of the windows at the bustling city scenes. They’ll pass by majestic churches, leafy parks, colorful markets, and even the imposing São Jorge Castle, perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the city.

Yet, the magic of Tram 28 isn’t just in its destination, but also in the journey. It presents an opportunity to teach kids about the city’s history, its architecture, and its daily life. It’s more than a tram ride; it’s a moving story of Lisbon that unfolds as you journey through the city.

A word to the wise: Tram 28 can become quite crowded, especially during the peak tourist season. To ensure a more comfortable journey, try planning your ride during off-peak hours. And be prepared for the tram’s sudden starts and stops – it’s all part of the fun!

Additionally, consider purchasing a 24-hour public transport ticket from any metro station. Not only does this ticket provide great value, but it also saves you the hassle of buying individual tickets for each ride. This way, you can fully immerse yourselves in the adventure that awaits aboard Tram 28, hassle-free!

Quake: Lisbon Earthquake Centre: An Unforgettable Journey Back in Time

Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey at the Quake: Lisbon Earthquake Centre. This extraordinary museum invites you to step back in time to 1755, immersing you in one of the most transformative moments in Lisbon’s history – the Great Lisbon Earthquake.

Through an innovative blend of interactive 4D technology, state-of-the-art simulators, and engaging video mapping, you’ll not just learn about the history and science behind earthquakes but actually experience the seismic tremors that shook Lisbon centuries ago.

The breathtakingly realistic exhibit at Quake
The breathtakingly realistic exhibit at Quake




From a personal standpoint, the Quake Centre’s immersive experience was nothing short of impressive, completely transcending my expectations of what a museum can be. This enthralling attraction invites you to engage with Lisbon’s past in an interactive and deeply impactful way, leaving you with a profound understanding of the city’s resilience and rebirth. This is undoubtedly a must-visit on your family trip itinerary to Lisbon. Prepare to be moved – quite literally!

For the most up-to-date information on admission fees and opening hours, kindly refer to the official Quake website.

These attractions are just a snapshot of the kid-friendly fun that Lisbon offers. Whether your family is stepping back in time at Belém Tower, deep-diving into marine life at the Oceanário de Lisboa, or embracing the city’s modern spirit at Parque das Nações, Lisbon’s diverse attractions promise an unforgettable family adventure.

Savor the Flavor: Family-Friendly Dining in Lisbon

When it comes to food, Lisbon is a city that takes the cake (and the custard tarts!). With its delicious cuisine and a host of family-friendly dining options, meal times in Lisbon become an opportunity to explore, bond, and create memories.

A Taste of Portugal: Kid-Friendly Cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is known for its robust flavors, fresh ingredients, and a touch of Mediterranean influence. What’s great about it from a family perspective is its simplicity and variety, making it a hit with kids and adults alike.

The staple diet of grilled meats (like the famous Frango Assado – Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken), fresh seafood, and plenty of vegetables can cater to even the pickiest eaters. And let’s not forget the pastries. Portugal’s sweet treats are renowned, with pastéis de nata (custard tarts) leading the charge. Trust me, these creamy, flaky delights are a guaranteed favorite among the little ones.

Lisbon’s Top Family-Friendly Restaurants

Lisbon’s restaurant scene is diverse and caters wonderfully to families. For delicious seafood, try Ramiro, an institution in Lisbon that’s been serving locals and visitors alike for decades. They’re known for their fresh seafood and relaxed atmosphere.

Another great spot is Casanova, a pizzeria located on the banks of the Tagus River. It’s not only the stone-baked pizzas that are a hit with kids but also the bustling atmosphere and the great views.

If you’re in the mood for burgers, head over to Honorato, a homegrown chain that serves a variety of burgers including vegetarian options. Their relaxed vibe and delicious food are bound to make your family meal a success.

The Wild Mediterranean dish at Honest Greens
The Wild Mediterranean dish at Honest Greens

For a refreshing blend of speed, health, and taste, Honest Greens Cais do Sodré is an excellent choice. This “fast-food” restaurant serves filling, delicious, and healthy meals that are also great value for money.

The spacious and air-conditioned interior offers a comfortable dining environment, while the extensive outdoor area provides an excellent spot for a family meal under Lisbon’s sunny skies. This restaurant’s commitment to wholesome, flavorful food and its welcoming atmosphere make it a standout among Lisbon’s family-friendly dining options.

For dessert, don’t miss a visit to the iconic Pastéis de Belém, where you can try the original pastéis de nata. The sight of these golden, creamy pastries is one the kids won’t forget!

Trying Local Delicacies

Eating out in Lisbon also gives your family the opportunity to try out local delicacies. As mentioned, the pastéis de nata is a must-try. But there’s also a host of other Portuguese sweets like the rice pudding (arroz doce) or the almond cake (Bolo de Amêndoa) that are likely to find takers among the little ones.

Bifana, a scrumptious pork sandwich that is a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Of all the places I’ve tried, Afonso’s stands out as the purveyor of the best Bifana in Lisbon.

The Pork Bifana at Bifana Do Afonso
The Pork Bifana at Bifana Do Afonso

At Afonso’s, the Bifana isn’t just a sandwich; it’s a work of art. Thin slices of marinated pork are cooked to tender perfection and served in a soft roll, often with a tangy, spicy sauce. The pork Bifana here is a gustatory delight that I highly recommend.

The staff at Afonso’s add to the charm of the place. The server I interacted with was incredibly friendly, comfortably conversed in English, and always greeted me with a warm smile.

Please note, though, Afonso’s popularity can lead to long queues during peak hours, and seating is not available. But the wait is well worth it, and enjoying a Bifana while standing is a unique experience in itself, a testament to the appeal of this humble yet flavorful delicacy.

Embracing the Great Outdoors: Family Activities in Lisbon

Lisbon, with its scenic beauty, pleasant weather, and abundance of outdoor spaces, is a fantastic playground for families. Whether you love the beach, enjoy hiking, or just want to relax in a park, Lisbon has it all.

Fun in the Sun: Beaches Near Lisbon

Estoril beach
Estoril beach

If your family loves the sea and sand, then you’re in for a treat. A short train ride from Lisbon will take you to some of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches.

Cascais and Estoril, located on the Lisbon coastline, are perfect for families. The sandy beaches are wide, the water is calm, and there are plenty of beachfront cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. Don’t forget to pack a picnic, swimwear, and plenty of sunscreens!

Hiking Trails for the Adventurous

Coastal hiking through Arrabida National Park
Coastal hiking through Arrabida National Park

For families with older kids who enjoy a good hike, the areas surrounding Lisbon offer a variety of trails. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, is a great place to start. The park offers several trails that wind through dense forests, and dramatic cliffs, and even lead to hidden beaches.

Another fantastic location for family hikes is the Arrábida Natural Park. Here, the hiking trails offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful flora, and opportunities to spot wildlife. It’s an excellent way for your family to enjoy nature while getting some exercise.

City Parks: Green Escapes

Lisbon’s city parks are green havens, perfect for families to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

A group of women walking through Estrela Park in Lisbon
Jardim da Estrela

The Jardim da Estrela is a charming park with a relaxed atmosphere. With wide-open spaces, a playground, and even a small duck pond, it’s a wonderful spot for a family picnic.

The Parque das Nações, located in a modern part of the city, offers an extensive outdoor area for kids to run around, with interactive fountains, cable car rides, and a boardwalk along the river.

These outdoor activities offer a different perspective of Lisbon, one where nature takes center stage. By interspersing your city adventures with these outdoor activities, you’ll keep the kids engaged and make your Lisbon trip an unforgettable family experience.

Retail Therapy in Lisbon: Shopping with Kids

One of the great joys of travel can be shopping for unique souvenirs that remind you of the adventures you’ve shared as a family. From vibrant markets to fashionable boutiques, shopping in Lisbon is an exciting experience for both kids and adults alike.

Children’s Stores: Discover the Joy of Retail

Lisbon has a variety of children’s stores, ranging from clothing to toys and books, meaning you can easily find something for every age and interest.

For a one-stop shopping experience, you might want to visit El Corte Inglés. This Spanish department store chain, located in the São Sebastião area, has an extensive section dedicated to children. Here you can find everything from clothing and toys to books and school supplies.

In Baixa, the city center, you’ll find several stores selling high-quality children’s clothes and shoes with a European flair. Look for unique pieces with traditional Portuguese embroidery or nautical themes – perfect keepsakes from your trip.

Local Markets: Fun and Educational Shopping Experience

Thieves Market, Lisbon
Feira da Ladra

Lisbon’s local markets are an explosion of color, sound, and aroma that can provide a unique shopping experience as well as a cultural immersion.

For example, the Feira da Ladra, or “Thieves Market,” is a famous flea market held twice a week. It’s a treasure trove of second-hand items, antiques, handicrafts, and much more. Older kids might enjoy the thrill of haggling and hunting for unique souvenirs.

Kid-Friendly Shopping Centres

If you prefer a more conventional shopping experience, Lisbon has several shopping centers that offer a variety of stores as well as entertainment options.

Colombo Centre, one of the largest shopping malls in the Iberian Peninsula, is home to a wide array of international and local brands, a food court offering global cuisines, and a multiplex cinema.

Vasco da Gama shopping mall, located in Parque das Nações, offers an impressive selection of stores in a modern setting. The mall also houses a food court, a cinema, and a large supermarket, making it a convenient one-stop destination for family shopping.

Shopping in Lisbon can be a joy for all the family, with a variety of options to suit different tastes and budgets. So whether you’re looking for the latest in Portuguese fashion for kids, hunting for unique trinkets at a bustling market, or exploring the wide aisles of a modern mall, Lisbon has you covered.

Ensuring a Memorable Journey: Tips for a Successful Family Trip in Lisbon

Lisbon, with its sunny skies, rich culture, and welcoming locals, is an ideal destination for family vacations. To make your trip smooth and memorable, here are some helpful tips to consider.

Entertainment During Travel

Long flights or car rides can be challenging for young kids. Keeping them entertained can make your journey much more enjoyable. Consider packing a travel bag with their favorite books, coloring materials, or small toys.

For older children, download a few movies or educational games on a tablet or smartphone. A deck of cards or travel-sized board games can also be a fun way to pass the time. These small preparations can make a world of difference in starting your trip off on a positive note.

Safety First

Safety should be a top priority when traveling with kids. Here are a few tips to ensure your family’s well-being during your Lisbon trip:

  • Stay Vigilant: Lisbon is a safe city, but it’s still important to stay aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded tourist areas.
  • Use Appropriate Gear: If you plan to rent a car, ensure you have the appropriate car seats for your kids. For stroller use, choose one that’s suitable for cobblestone streets.
  • Keep Emergency Information Handy: Have the contact information for emergency services and your home country’s embassy in Lisbon. Also, keep a note of any allergies or medical conditions your family members have in a readily accessible place.

Plan Your Budget

Exploring Lisbon, while more affordable than many other European capitals, does call for prudent budgeting. Consider all potential costs such as meals, transportation, attraction entry fees, and souvenirs. Also, keep aside a contingency fund for unexpected expenses. Encouraging kids to participate in budgeting during a vacation can be a priceless lesson in financial responsibility.

To further optimize your budget and enhance your Lisbon experience, consider the Lisboa Card. This card offers a host of perks that add value to your trip while keeping costs under control:

1. Unlimited Travel: Enjoy free and unrestricted travel on Lisbon’s subway, buses, trams, and funiculars of CARRIS lines. The Lisboa Card also extends to CP trains to Sintra, Cascais, and the south margin of the Tagus River, even including airport transfers via subway!

2. Deals and Discounts: Save on your expenses with 10% to 50% discounts on visits, tours, shopping, and nightlife experiences.

3. Free Entry: Gain complimentary access to over 35 places of interest, including some of Lisbon’s top attractions like the Torre de Belém.

4. Complimentary City Guide: Along with the discount vouchers, you’ll receive a city guide packed with useful information about Lisbon, such as attraction opening hours.

With smart planning and the use of resources like the Lisboa Card, you can ensure that your Lisbon journey is both financially smart and incredibly rewarding.

Respect Local Customs

Teaching children to respect local customs and traditions can make them more aware and accepting. In Portugal, simple courtesies like greeting shopkeepers when you enter a store or saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can enhance your interactions with locals.

Go at Your Own Pace

Finally, remember that you’re on vacation. Don’t rush to see everything. Instead, choose a few key attractions and take the time to enjoy them. Schedule downtime and be flexible. Some of the best memories come from the unexpected moments.

A family trip to Lisbon is a wonderful opportunity to create lasting memories. These tips can help ensure that your Lisbon adventure is as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Happy travels!

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