Skip to Content
Bairro Alto as seen from the Miradouro (Belvedere) de Santa Caterina, Lisbon, Portugal

10 Reasons to Take Your Kids to Lisbon

Article by Julie Dawn Fox 06.20.2016 Photographed by Xavier Duran

Portugal’s capital is a city of contrasts and character. Teeming with playful parks, hands-on museums and family-friendly cafés — not to mention modern complexes like the Park of Nations and medieval towers — Lisbon is a wonderful place for a family vacation. Here are the top 10 reasons to share this gracious Old World capital with your little ones.

1. Join local families for a stroll, an ice cream by the duck pond or a picnic in the charming 19th-century Jardim da Estrela with its well-equipped playgrounds, ornate bandstand and benches in the shade of monkey puzzle trees. 

Jardim da Estrela in Portugal, Lisbon

2. Escape the city streets to Estufa Fria, a fantasy of labyrinthine trails, steppingstones and grottoes that lead to a trio of greenhouses. The winding walkways delight kids in search of fairies and goblins; inside the greenhouses you’ll find botanical delights including gigantic hairy cacti and sugar cane.

3. Dragonlike seahorses, massive sunfish and tiger sharks are among the highlights at the Lisbon Oceanarium, which TripAdvisor visitors rated the best aquarium in the world. 

Lisbon Aquarium building at night

4. Everyone loves a castle, especially one from the 11th century. At the São Jorge Castle, kids can gawk at the cannons, adults can admire the spectacular city views and everyone can look out for peacocks near the on-site café. 

Families walking in a fortress in Lisbon, Portugal

5. Hippo Trip’s amphibious vehicles drive around the city-center sights before plunging into the Tagus for a river cruise past the iconic Belém Tower. Lively tour guides make the information fun for both kids and grown-ups.

Sightseeing amphibian bus HIPPOtrip

6. Lisbon’s most famous cake, the pas­tel de Belém, is a custard tart made from a well-guard­ed recipe. Watch the pastries being prepared at Antiga Confeitaria Belém and see how many weird and won­derful animals you can spot in the hand-painted azulejo tiles that decorate the café walls. 

Portuguese egg custard tarts

7. The LX Factory, a group of reclaimed warehouses in the Alcântara district, has turned this neighborhood into a creative cultural space brightened by colorful street art. Amid this multifaceted destination, look for flying bicycles in Ler Devagar bookstore, find inspiring décor at Lifetime Kids Rooms, or savor an informal bite at restaurants like Cantina LX.

8. Built for the 1998 Expo, Lisbon’s modern Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) is high on most family itineraries. A cable car provides a scenic riverside journey, the volcano-shaped fountains catch everyone by surprise, and kids enjoy running up and down the wavy lawns and making melodies in the mu­sical garden.

Cable car going to the Park of the Nations, Lisbon Portugal

9. For hands-on science fun, the Pavilion of Knowledge is hard to beat. Brave souls can ride a bicycle along a tightrope or put on an astronaut suit and defy gravity. Little ones are invited to do their bit to help build the Unfinished House, a no-adults zone. 

10. With its easy proximity to Lisbon, Praia de Carcavelos is the area’s most popular beach. This beautiful stretch of shoreline is known for its golden sand and reliable waves. It’s a great location to sign the family up for surfing lessons or just enjoy a day of leisurely relaxation.  Families will also find the tranquil waters of Estoril and Cascais beaches ideal for children.

Estoril coastline near Lisbon in Portugal

Plan Your Visit to Portugal

  • Penha Longa Resort

    Location Sintra, Portugal

    Experience A quintessential retreat among rolling hills and mountain lakes.

    • A palazzo estate steeped in history
    • Unlimited championship golf experiences
    • Set within a 1355 monastery