Lisbon with children

 

Lisbon is a child-friendly city as well as a quite affordable destination in Europe. It's a fascinating city to simply wander around with the kids and our four days' break was fascinating for my 10 year old son Diego who could appreciate the beauty of old buildings and art.  

 

 

WHERE TO STAY   Hotels are old school these days so we booked an affordable but yet amazing accommodation with Airbnb, a flat right in the city centre. Our accommodation was very new, clean and comfortable as well as very central (10 minutes walk from downtown). The hosts Patricia and Arthur were adorable, super friendly and gave us lots of information about where to go, maps, magazines and precious guides. I totally recommend it!    

TRAVEL

Getting around

The metro system gets you everywhere. Alternatively buses are quite efficient as well as electric trams (beware of pickpockets everywhere!), though.  

 

WHAT’S TOPS

Here are my recommendations.   First evening (upon arrival) Our Airbnb was near the Santa Marta area (where most hospitals are based), so we strolled a bit and within minutes we reached Baixa (downtown) and looked for a restaurant where we could have a typical family meal.  

First day

  On the first full day we decided to soak up the atmosphere, watch the Lisboetas (ladies from Lisbon) strolling and chatting at patio restaurants and cafes. Diego and l loved watching the mosaic-paved footpaths and the amazing tiled buildings.  

I have taken at least 300 pictures of just tiles.

The most beautiful ones are called azulejas because they are azul, light blue. Gorgeous!

To get an idea of the city structure and feel the vibe we lined up at the stop of the historical bright Yellow tram number 28 for a roller-coaster ride through the ancient Alfama district to the Castelo.

The tour lasted one hour and covered most of the old part of town up and down the hills. A word of advice: Careful on tram 28! It's full of pickpocketers. I was stolen all my cash (200 euros!) from my little purse which was attached to my body. I did not even notice how they did it. The thieves are professional here. We also caught an old cable car and went to the vintage Elevator de Santa Justa that goes up to a cafe with a superb view. Diego ate a wonderful crepe with Nutella while enjoying the view. There are three elevadores and ascensores (funiculars) that travel up the city's steepest hills. At the hilltop Castelo de Sao Jorge has a great playground for kids to enjoy.

Praca do commercio next to the river side is very close to that so you can stroll along two elegant roads Rua Da Prata and Rua do Ouro. Barrio Alto, Baixa - If you have time, visit cafe A Brasileira, the cafeteria where Portuguese poet Fermando Pessoa used to hang out. It's at 120 Rua Garrett (Largo do Chiado) near the Baixa Chiado metro stop. We did not manage to go there but I was told that it is a real treat for the literature lovers.

 

Second day: Belem

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (cloisters of Jeronimos) https://www.lonelyplanet.com/portugal/lisbon/attractions/mosteiro-dos-jeronimos/a/poi-sig/400967/360366 This old monastery is not far from Belem and at easy reach from city centre by tram.

The queue to get into the monastery is very long under the sun at 28 degrees (in April) so unless you turn up really early,  it's not recommended with young children nor grumpy teenagers.

Better to go to the Belem tower and also spend some time to the nearby patisserie Pasteis de Belem which is the home to the Pasteis de nata.

The monks from the monastery created the original recipe in 1837 which is made every day since. The custard tarts are amazing also with cinnamon powder.

We also bought Pasteis de bacalhau and seven other savoury pastries filled with fish, vegetables and chicken (similar to Cornish pastry but much much better).

Torre de Belem (not far from mosteiro dos Jeronimos) with the Pasteleria or coffeehouse called Pasteis de Belem from 1837 where they make the best pastel de nata in the world.

 

Third day

SINTRA

Take a train out to Sintra and see Pena Palave.  It is one of the most remarkable views!  Sintra is a gorgeous little town 30 minutes on a train just outside the city. It’s a spectacular mountain retreat filled with fairytale palaces and castles, which you can visit by horse or even carriage. Pena Palave palace has a remarkable view.

To reach the local beach called praia das macas, we took an old cable car train from 1905-1920 and it was real fun watching the countryside scenery. The Journey takes 45 minutes.

On the way back to Sintra station we caught the bus which is faster (15 minutes). Make a note of timings as there aren't many buses.

 

The food there was superb and much better than in Lisbon: we ate the freshest grilled sea bass ever tasted. http://lisbonbeaches.com/index.html

You need to stop at an amazing old patisserie Queijadas da Sapa which is now very famous and busy but still run by the family.

 

They sell the best biscuits on the planet! We bought 5 packets in the end. And once back I regretted not getting 20...  

Just on the safe side, take a raincoat and/or umbrella - people too easily forget Lisbon has an Atlantic coastal climate, not a Mediterranean one!

 

Fourth and last day (Saturday)

 

ALFAMA

  It's the old borough of Lisbon, the most authentic and rough at the same time. Keep your possession close as there are a lot of thieves in the area. It’s not a common place, and unfortunately I experienced it first hand.

Every corner of this part of town has a stunning view of the city and the river though.  

ORIENTE

  On our way to the airport we visited the metro station called Oriente created for the Expo. The modern architecture is stunning and its style can be defined as modern gothic.

 

EAT

Portions are quite generous in Portugal. A dose (portion) is usually big enough for two people. For children you can ask the waiter for meia dose (half portion) at half price. Grilled fish is a must. We loved the sea bass, sardines, fried calamari, seafood and bacalhau stews.

  

 
Pasteis de bacalhau - codfish cake

Pastel de bacalhau com queijo da Serra

Pasteis de nata de bacalhau  
 
Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) http://pasteisdebelem.pt
 
Pudim flan (crème caramel)

Ginjinha or Ginja - liquor made with berries 
 

Ask me any question if you need more advice. I have now cracked this city break and can give more info than the ones I have written in this post.

 

All images shown in this page were taken by myself with my new Kodak Pixpro FZ201 Camera.

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About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London http://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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