The Most Fun Things to Do in Lisbon with Kids
Wondering how to entertain the whole family during your trip to the Portuguese capital? Leave it with us
Let’s face it, if you’ve brought your children to the undulating capital of Portugal, there’ll likely be plenty of complaints as you sore up and down the historic centre about sore knees and tired legs. The kids might start complaining too. But don’t worry, Lisbon has plenty of fun family attractions to keep them muito feliz e tranquilo (very happy and calm).
It’s a cool and trendy city, with crumbling vestiges draping the hills of the Bairro Alto, and exclusive restaurants nestled beneath cave-like portals. But there are also plenty of things to do in Lisbon with kids, including visiting the modern science museums and aquarium. They’ll love visiting the beaches outside neighbouring Sintra, checking out the historic highlights and stuffing their faces with custard(ish) pastries, before seeing the city from above in one of its cable cars – the perfect place for them to eject that custard all over unsuspecting Lisboetas down below. Ah, kids...
Parque das Nações
This is where we’d take our Plum Guide kids. That’s right, we’re a person. Guide is our surname, what did you think? (Joke.) You could spend an entire day in this modern part of town, where you’ll find the Oceanário de Lisboa, which is a Portuguese way of saying aquarium. And that it is: it’s got all sorts of fish and sharks and weird squiggly things from the bottom of the oceans that you were never supposed to see with human eyes.
Go even deeper (into the minds of your kids), with a trip through the mind-bending exhibits of the adjacent Knowledge Pavilion. Then, browse the shops of the Centro Vasco da Gama mall and watch a film in the cinema. Dine at one of the restaurants in the open-air part. Remember our idea of kids vomiting from great heights? Right next-door stands the Telecabine Lisboa that works to serve this exact purpose.
Something a little different from the historic relics of the city centre, the LX Factory is another fascinating destination that shows off part of Lisbon’s modern, trendy side. Made up of a range of converted warehouses, the fun and outlandish art exhibits here will mesmerize the kids. And if they’re not the arty types, they won’t mind picking up a few pastéis de natas (custard-like pastries) or brigadeiros (chocolate balls) in one of the cafés.
Lisbon is home to a fierce futebol (spelt the Portuguese way to avoid a conflict that’d reduce our English and American readers to the brutish hooligans we know you are deep down) rivalry. Benfica and Sporting Lisbon have shops spread out across the city, sporting (see what we did there) their teams’ colours and memorabilia. For the real game experience, head to Benfica’s Estádio da Luz or Sporting’s José Alvalade Stadium – no doubt one of the most memorable things to do in Lisbon with kids.
Don’t worry, we’ll get to the typical city centre stuff soon. For now, we want to keep you privy to the best-kept secrets, including this children’s paradise. If you take your kid to this mini-city for little ones, you won’t have to do anything else for them all holiday. It lets kids play at being adults for the day, so they can flip burgers and spend the money they earn from a hard day’s work. If only they had as much fun doing chores at home.
Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa
Again, this is fancy Portuguese speak for Lisbon Zoo. And it’s another <s>opportunity to climb into cable cars and throw up everywhere</s> of our favourite things to do in Lisbon with kids. Look down on the giraffes and primates, before watching a dolphin show. The miniature train and cable car offer respite for aching ankles after trips through the city centre.
The hilly historic centre of Lisbon is a no-go zone for grumpy and tired children. At least, it would be, if it weren’t for the charming old-world trams. Get on board the Eléctrico 28 and meander through the Bairro Alto, taking in the sights and laughing at your partner, who stubbornly decided to walk and is struggling to keep up. The tram system dates back to 1873, so it’s as old as you’d feel if you had to walk through this bumpy district. It has six lines, helping you navigate the city with ease from your Plum home.
Lisbon may be Europe’s westernmost capital, but just when you thought things couldn’t get any more western, you found out about Sintra, a magical place replete with castles and…more hills and even mountains in the city’s western peripheries. Kids might love some of that stuff, especially if you pretend the Sintra National Palace and the National Palace of Pena belonged to Disney characters. But the main draw will be the beaches spread along Portugal’s golden Atlantic Coast. Sunbathe on the Praia das Maçãs, the Praia Grande and the Praia da Ursa among others.
So, that's the family-friendly itinerary sorted. Now all you need to do is choose your family-friendly Plum Guide home in Lisbon – our team of home critics have carefully curated each and every one within our collection, because we know that family holidays can be enough of a strain should be perfect.