We lived in Lisbon for over 2 years, and have found a city that has a wealth of activities for children, ranging from exciting museums, like the Pavilhao do Conhecimento (science museum), to small neighbourhood festivals and markets. This city is alive, and kids are very much a part of it.
There are a few basic tips I’d like to share with you, which will hopefully help you while in Lisbon. If you’d like to read more about exploring Lisbon with children, ideas for what to do when it rains, and specific days out I have a range of articles exploring the Lisbon region.
Leave the buggy at home
If you’re visiting Lisbon with a baby/toddler, then we strongly recommend leaving your buggy at home and bringing a baby sling or carrier (I love the Ergo 360). That’s because, although Lisbon’s cobbled streets are fascinatingly beautiful, they can be a nightmare for getting wheels stuck. Pavements can also be narrow, and the whole city is built on steep hills. We tend to use our buggy only when we really need it.
Eating out in Lisbon with kids
Lisbon is a child-friendly city, and despite lacking on some basics like offering child-seats and child-menus, restaurants will offer a ‘meia-dose’ (generous half-portion), or will blitz the daily soup for your baby/child. Menus also usually have omelets, great grilled fish and meat and other child-friendly foods like rissois (pastries with fish or meat filling) and croquetes (usually meat-filled).
Where to stay in Lisbon
The city has a wealth of apartments and hotels, but not all are suitable for families. We’re partial to an apartment instead of a hotel in the city, as it will give you the option of being able to cook/warm bottles/have a peaceful nights’ sleep. One of our favourite places are the Martinhal Family Luxury apartments in Chiado. Find out more with my guide to where to stay in Lisbon with kids.
Getting around in Lisbon
The metro system is fantastic, but not widely available, so you’re probably going to be travelling on the bus and by taxi. Babies don’t need a car seat when riding in a taxi in Lisbon, and prices are fairly cheap so for a family of 4 it may be worth considering. The 28 tram is a must but be aware of pick-pockets, they’re rife on this ride.
1 :: Parque das Nacoes: Oceanarium, Pavillion of Knowledge, Cable Car
Lisbon’s renowned Oceanário is located in Parque das Nacoes, a redeveloped quarter steeped in statuesque modern architecture, a long and scenic promenade, and LOTS of family-fun opportunities. The Oceanário truly is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful buildings – designed by the American architect Peter Chermeyeff, it’s also the largest aquarium in Europe.
As you enter the building over the suspended bridge you gradually become immersed in the sounds of the ocean, with underwater acoustics surrounding you.
Inside there are several distinct areas including a chilly Antarctica where the cute penguins live and the misty Tropical Indian zone.
The separate zones branch off from the aquarium proper, which has a huge perplex glass wall to bring you that much closer to dozens of species. While this is one of the city’s priciest visits, it’s definitely worth coming here for half a day. It’s a good alternative for a rainy day, in a fantastic location to boot.
Pavillion of Knowledge
A highly interactive and creative science museum, geared at children 4+. We last went when our son was 2 1/2 and he was too young to appreciate it. Us adults on the other hand, loved it!
The permanent and temporary exhibitions will entertain your children, and engage them with their surroundings and science. There is a space specifically for children between the ages of 3-6.
How to get there: Taxi (€6-€8 from Baixa/Chiado area) | Bus: 5, 10, 19, 21, 28, 50, 68, 81, 82, 85 (exit at ‘Oriente’) | Metro (exit at Oriente)
- Ticket prices:
- Oceanário: Adults €13 – €16 | Under 12s €9 – €11 | Under 4s Free
- Pavillion of Knowledge: Adults €9 | 3 – 6 €5 | 7 – 17 €6| Under 2s Free
- Opening hours:
- Oceanário: Summer : 10am – 8pm | Winter: 10am – 7pm
- Pavillion of Knowledge: Closed on Mondays. Tues-Sun: 11am – 7pm
2 :: Jardim da Estrela & Campo de Ourique
Jardim da Estrela is one of Lisbon’s most popular parks, and you can easily see why. This large green space is a haven despite being located in the centre of the city and it features two inviting cafés, a large playground with a separate climbing frame (next to the café), a garden library, a wonderful collection of exotic trees and lots of hidden treasures for you to find. We come here nearly every dat and find it to be a fantastic spot perfect for families on holiday and locals alike.
Make sure you visit the Basilica just over the road, and if you’ve got time to spare it’s worth walking 5 minutes uphill to Campo de Ourique and see all the gorgeous baby & children shops.
It’s full of immaculate outfits, cheap and great shoes, and wonderful wooden toy shops. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss out on the Mercado de Campo de Ourique, where you’ll find a welcoming newly-developed market full to the brim with insanely good food.
- How to get there: Taxi (€4-€6 from Baixa/Chiado area) | Tram: 28 from Baixa/Chiado/Castle (exit at ‘Estrela)
- What to do: Jardim da Estrela, Basilica da Estrela, Campo de Ourique
- Take: Some change, as your toddler will definitely want to go on a toy ‘number 28 tram’ ride (see photo above)
3 :: The Beach
For Lisboetas (Lisbon inhabitants), one of the best things about the city is just how close it is to a range of beaches. Within 15-30 minutes you can get to several stretches of gorgeous coast. I’ve put together a short list of different beaches, and how to get to each, and linked up their names with Google maps to make it easier for you to reach them. You can also read my guide to the best beaches in Lisbon.
CLOSEST TO THE CITY: The closest beach is the Costa da Caparica stretch, which at a mere 15 minutes drive from Lisbon is a dream on those hot summer days. It’s not very easy to reach by public transport, but a taxi will probably cost about €15. TIP: catch the taxi in Alcantara as it’s the closest to the bridge entrance you can get, this will lower your fare. We usually go to Sao Joao, with its lovely restaurants and excellent (paid) parking. FYI: At the entrance of Sao Joao, there is a great zip-lining centre and bouncy-castle soft play which is well worth a visit.
BEACH BY TRAIN: The train line that links Lisbon to Cascais is a lovely ride, offering stunning views of the city’s river Tagus merging with the sea, and lovely cities like Estoril and Paco de Arcos. Exit at Estoril for Praia do Tamariz (no steps, so good for buggies), a quintessentially cool beach that for many years was the playground of the city’s most glamorous crowd.
BEACH BY CAR: If you’re ready for a day out (and I would most definitely recommend this), then drive up to Cascais, visit the city and follow the coastline to Guincho, my favourite Lisbon beach. From here you can drive through the Sintra mountain into the historical city itself. To read more about the different beaches and Sintra, simply click on the links above.
4| Parque Infantil do Alvito (Monsanto)
When looking for large playgrounds to take our son to, I hadn’t really thought about Monsanto National Park. Even though it’s only a 5 minute drive from central Lisbon, it’s just something we never did as kids. Once we stepped foot in the Alvito Playground though, I knew Cholly would love it.
This is a gigantic 3-level playground, complete with teepees, swings, a pirate ship climbing structure, and endless amounts of slides for kids of all ages to enjoy. In the summer it also has a public swimming pool, which is why I intend on spending much of my non-working week-days there.
The park is located in the beautiful area of Monsanto, a protected national park within the city, usually called ‘Lisbon’s lungs’. From here there are a few nice trails you can follow to pretend you’re hanging out in the mountains – we do this often to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s free to get in, and your kids will definitely enjoy it.
- How to get there: Bus 24 | Taxi €4 – €8
- Food: Monsanto has lots of designated picnic areas, so bring your own. There is also a small cafe on site, and a few restaurants in the area.
5 :: Electricity Museum (now MAAT)
The Electricity museum is so impressive from the outside that you can’t avoid staring at it whenever you’re driving past. It always made us very curious of what wonders lay inside. Unsure if our son would get much from it, we had been patiently waiting to go, and when we got caught out in the rain whilst cycling in Belem, we decided this was the day.
And it was great! Us adults marvelled at the immaculate industrial interiors, whilst learning about the intricate details of coal energy, water dam energy, how electricity works and contemplating the energy solutions for the future (more interesting than it sounds, honest!).
The activity section, while aimed at older kids, kept my nearly 3 year old very happy indeed – exploring how batteries work, turning on a train set, and getting a tiny electric shock from mummy and daddy. This museum is so much fun that we intend to go back the next time we have a free rainy afternoon. If you find yourself in the city with greyish weather and wondering what to do – this is it.
Read more about the Electricity Museum here.
- How to get there: Tram 15 | Bus to Belem (exit Belem, then cross overpass to the river side) | Taxi €4 – €8
- Entrance fee: FREE
Have you visited Lisbon with children? What did you enjoy doing the most?