Visiting Lisbon with kids wasn’t high up on our priority list of European cities. Having experienced it first hand, I’m wondering why it isn’t as well travelled as other destinations? It seems to have everything! From history, architecture, charm and culture, to an abundance of family friendly activities and attractions. We squeezed in plenty of experiences in our two days, but I feel three to four days would have been the perfect amount of time to see and do everything at leisure in Lisbon with kids.
Based at the mouth of the Tagus River, Lisbon City is stacked on steep hills. The buildings either boast patterned tiles on the entire exterior or have a crumbly pastille coloured paint. This makes for a great view from many of the elevated points throughout the city, especially at sun set. Many of the cobbled streets are steep and windy. Every once in a while a yellow old-school tram chugs along. Laundry hangs from the windows above giving the streets a vibrant colour.
The layout of the city made site seeing a little more strenuous being heavily pregnant. Equally the cobbled streets are not so good for pushing buggies with small wheels. However a carrier worked really well for us and transport is easy around the city. In my usual format here is where to eat, sleep and play in Lisbon with kids.
Lisbon with kids
Lisbon is quite multi-cultural in its variety of restaurants and eateries. From sushi, to traditional Portuguese, you will find whatever you are feeling like. Our daughter is quite fussy but we had no issues in finding things she likes to eat. Many of the traditional Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon provide cheese, bread, olives and other snacks as customers sit down at their table. It’s worth noting, they are not complimentary, however they are still put on your table without ordering them. It racks up around an extra €10 on the bill, they can be politely declined. If you are interested in trying some of the traditional foods. Seafood is a major part of the menu. Custard tarts as well as sheep milk cheese seem to be quite popular ‘must try’s’. Here are some of our favourite food finds in Lisbon.
Time Out food hall
Based in a historic hall full of character, are 24 fine-dining restaurants. It’s an absolute foodies heaven. From hamburgers, to steaks and caviar, there is so much to be enjoyed. Long wooden benches fill the centre of the hall where punters eat together. It goes without saying, it’s a really busy area at peak meal times. So if you intend to visit with little ones, try to go early. The table set up isn’t ideal for kids but there is a playground and grass area just outside the door where a takeaway could work perfectly.
Very close to the Belem Palace is Rua Bartolemeu, a street full of restaurants with outdoor dining space. It’s the perfect place to have lunch after visiting some of the nearby attractions. The majority of the options are Portuguese food. We ate at Dino’s but there are plenty of others that looked really good. We really enjoyed the salad and marinated prawns! Next to Rua Bartolemu, is a large open green space where there is a playground and ice-cream stand. Perfect for a dessert perched in the grass whilst soaking up the sun.
Rua Garett is a pretty courtyard area in the Chiado district. Its tucked away from the busy streets and has three restaurants with indoor and outdoor dining space. The most popular of the three places seemed to be Mezo Giorno restaurant. They serve a variety of pizzas, pastas and salads. The food was great and quite reasonable too. This was definitely one of the nicer areas we found in the Chiado area.
We stayed at the fabulous Martinhal Lisbon Chiado Family Suites. They offer spacious serviced apartments in the centre of Lisbon, specialising in luxury family stays. They are in a great location to access both central Lisbon and the shoreline of the Tagus River. Martinhal is most certainly the ‘go-to’ company if you want a family trip with ease. From free baby concierge, to pyjama parties, and freshly made food for kids of all ages, it really changed our thoughts on how we travel.
We stayed in a one bedroom apartment with open plan living and dining space. We had a large fully equipped bathroom with a walk-in shower and separate bath. They even had a potty and stepping stool for our daughter. There was another separate toilet and an area which could realistically be considered a second bedroom. It had two bunk beds that can be neatly folded onto the wall if not in use.
Martinhal think of everything for kids, as they also had a bed rail for our little one. All of the spaces were modern, clean and fresh with a splash of colour in the soft furnishings and Portuguese inspired art on the walls. It was such a lovely place to be.
The kitchen was fully equipped with all of the appliances including a washing machine and an espresso maker! It felt so nice to come home with little or no laundry after a holiday. I love how they leave an essentials pack for all guests. Inclusive of milk, orange juice, water and children’s savoury snacks. They really have the family at heart with all of these little gestures that make such a difference. Not to mention the gifts every child gets on their arrival. Esme hasn’t put down ‘Rasphino the Fox’ since we’ve left.
Eating at Martinhal Chiado
Having a kitchen in the apartment is super handy for making homemade meals. However, I must admit, we were quite lazy and ate out mostly. If we were staying for longer, I am sure we would have made some meals ourselves to maintain our budget.
Within the hotel, is M Bar/Cafe. Hotel guests tend to have breakfast there, we loved the continental option. They also serve a variety of light bites throughout the day. Inside the cafe, it has its very own old-school BMW mini! It was a real hit with all the kids who spent more time inside it than eating. The children’s menu was perfect, with plenty of healthy options and they even have baby food. It was so nice not worrying about what our little one would eat.
The hotel has its very own secure play area, staffed with the kindest childminders that looked after Esme so well. They run a variety of activities throughout the day and commence ‘pyjama party’ from around 530pm. Some of the activities include story telling, art and treasure hunts. They also have a different areas for babies. All of the facilities were clean and tidy with lots of toys. Esme just loved it! Lets say it was embarrassing getting her to leave. She always wanted to stay for five more minutes!
Day time childcare is complimentary. However PJ party costs €5 for four hours or €15 for the party and dinner. They take orders and discuss the meals with parents at the time of booking. We loved the options they had, all healthy but not boring, Any report of Esme cleaning up her food is a win for us. Similar to the day time child care, the PJ parties are themed. What was really fantastic, we had no guilt leaving her for some much needed adult time-out. We knew she was having lots of fun.
Martinhal offer a free baby concierge to all guests. Strollers, sterilisers, baby baths and cots are just some of the items that can be reserved. You can even pre-order nappies. We made use of the potties with our toddler. This is the first holiday we have gone on where we haven’t taken ten steps back with toilet training. All you have to do is contact the reservations department by email to reserve what you need.
Hotel transfers are quite reasonable and comparative with local taxis. They always had the correct sized car seat and bottles of water. They even had a DVD player that helped get our wriggly toddler into her seat.
There is plenty to do in Lisbon with kids both indoor and outdoor, making it a great city break all year around. Here are a few of the things we did during our two days in Lisbon with kids.
If you have read any of my blogs previously, you will know I am sceptical of any attractions involving animals or sea life. Oceanario is the largest aquarium in Europe. What I really loved about it is there are no oversized mammals that shouldn’t be trapped in a tank. There is one central tank which is just massive! There is plenty of room for all of the species to move around. The imitation of the natural environment was more than impressive.
It’s best to buy tickets online before arriving. They accept e-tickets which is handy. Under 3 years old is free of charge. We spent most of the morning at Oceanario, there are plenty of other things to do nearby, we really loved the on-site gardens and green area outside the cafe.
The cable car ride runs along the edge of the Tagus River and is just outside the aquarium. The views along the way are stunning of the pretty Vasco da Gama bridge in the distance. The 3/4 of a mile journey takes around eight minutes, allowing plenty of time to take in the scenery and snap pretty photos.
Route 28 tram
We jumped onboard one of the iconic yellow trams, not realising we would see some of the best sites in Lisbon along the way. It goes around in what feels like a big loop of the city. At only €2.90 per person, it’s a bargain. The only issue is if you don’t get a seat, its hard to see everything. Its best to go mid-morning to avoid the crowds. Our daughter enjoyed this different experience.
Tuk tuk tour in Lisbon with kids
There are so many tuk tuks around the centre of Lisbon that are readily available for site seeing tours. A tuk tuk tour is a great way of seeing the city with kids without it being arduous and boring for them. Its worth speaking with individual drivers to get the best offer.
The electricity museum is also on edge the Tagus River. Housing an old power station and many experimental electrical activities, there is something for adults and children alike. My personal favourite was the body heat map. We had some great fun playing around with that. Our daughter spent a long time in the experiment section. At only €5 an adult, it was a bargain for an hours entertainment.
There are many other places in Lisbon we would have liked to visit but ran out of time. To save you the research and if you have time, we would have liked to go to the Science Museum, Jardin da Estrella and Monstano National Park. I also heard of a kayaking trip that sounded like fun.
If you fancy combining a city and resort break, Martinhal also have a five star hotel in Cascais less than an hour away. We had three days there before arriving in Lisbon. It was quite a nice balance of experiences.
You may also like:
A review of Martinhal Cascais (the coastal Martinhal property).
Have you been to Lisbon with kids? Or maybe you are thinking of going? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon possible.
Disclaimer: We stayed at Martinhal Chiado on a complimentary bass in return for a written review. All views are my own and have not been influenced.