Lisbon is one of the top city destinations in Europe for families. Here are 7 of the best attractions to see while visiting the city with the kids.
By Rowena Carr-Allinson
Lisbon’s historical center skyline. (Courtesy Turismo de Lisboa )
The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is a beautiful, historical and fun place to visit – one of the safest cities in Europe – packed with family-friendly attractions and plenty to see, whether you are into your culture and history or your wildlife, or simply like to soak up the atmosphere!
Here are seven great attraction recommendations that both you and your kids will enjoy, plus some hotel recommendations, to help with your planning!
Oceanario de Lisboa
Oceanario de Lisboa is the largest of its kind in Europe. (Courtesy Oceanario de Lisboa)
This fantastic indoor aquarium is the largest of its kind in Europe. Don’t miss the Global Ocean, North Atlantic, Antarctic, Temperate Pacific and Tropical Indian habitats all showing the various marine life you’ll find in each geographical location. It’s an eye-opener! The kid-friendly House of Vasco exhibit on weekends allows kids to find out more about the environment in a fun way while Music for Babies is great for live music for the tiny ones!
Know for its endangered species, Lisbon Zoo also home to a range of monkeys from gorillas to chimpanzees, pelicans and even tigers! Kids will love the twice daily dolphin show or the Sea Lions feeding. Another kid-friendly part within the zoo is the domestic animals farm. Prefer creepy crawlies? The reptile house is packed with iguanas, snakes and alligators if those are your thing! There are train rides and cable car rides too.
The Badoca Safari Park
Zebras at the Badoca Safari Park (Courtesy Badoca Safari Park)
Who needs Africa when you’ve got the Badoca Safari Park? Definitely kid-friendly, this African adventure theme park is home to 600, including the very cute miniature horses, llamas and donkeys that the smaller kids will enjoy petting. The park is also home to giraffes, zebras, buffalo and exotic birds as well as Chimpanzees who have their very own island. Pack a picnic or opt for the Panoramic Restaurant with its lovely views.
Castle of Sao Jorge
Castle of Sao Jorge, with a view of the city. (Courtesy Turismo de Lisboa )
The entire family can find out more about Libson and its fascinating past in the museum and historical landmark that has become synonymous with Lisbon. The iconic sight even has an Archeological Site section where you can see the Moorish vestiges dating back to the 11th century. There’s a free tour and a ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ exhibit as well as great vantage points for views over the city. Don’t miss the gardens, just the spot for a wander and some perfect backdrop pictures!
Museu da Marioneta
Not quite your usual museum, this kid-friendly attraction was created in 1987 and is housed in an old convent. All puppets are the art of puppetry, kids will love to see the amazing collection of marionettes on offer, from all over the world. There’s also a (some might say quite spooky) masks collection, and yes, the kids can pull those strings!
Ride the tram
What could be more kid friendly than riding the trains? The tram network of vintage trams that snake around the city are a great way to see the city without walking and while enjoying the classic pre-war Remodelado trams in the Alfama neighbourhood. You can also get to Belem thanks to the tram from the center of the city, though those are the modern big sisters of the vintage models!
Get out of town
The neighboring coastal town of Cascais. (Courtesy Turismo de Lisboa )
If all else fails, it’s worth remembering that Lisbon is set on stunning coastline with its fair share of beautiful beaches, mostly accessible by public transport from the city! It would be rude not to escape for a day at least and make the most of the sandy Atlantic shores. One of the most popular is Praia de Carcavelos where you can surf or just enjoy the beach. Try Cascais, just 25km away, to take in some more traditional fishing town charm or the untouched Praia Guincho where the hard core surfers go.
(MORE: Find more great ideas for a European vacation with the kids.)
Where to stay
The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a no brainer family-friendly hotel where luxury meets discreet service and a great location amongst the Portuguese capital’s historical sites. Cute kid-friendly amenities include junior bathrobes, kids’ menus and a kids stay for free policy. Another option is the smart Hotel Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade, a 5-star luxury hotel with a Renaissance-era style decor. The Intercontinental Lisbon is another family-friendly hotel in Lisbon. Overlooking the Tagus river, this stylish new addition even provides a Family Welcome kit on check in and babysitting services. Prefer to stay in a castle? Head to the opulent Lapa Palace with its sub-tropical gardens, beautiful pool and history dating back to 1870. It’s even got a kids playground!
Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime. Since the arrival of her son in 2011, she has taken him everywhere from Bangkok to NYC, writing family friendly articles en route.