Where to Stay in Lisbon with Family: An Expert Guide
Looking for where to stay in Lisbon with family? Here's our guide to family-friendly 'barrios' for the perfect getaway to Portugal’s capital
Everyone loves a long weekend away, and Lisbon - with its wonderful waterfront location, rickety trams, gorgeous gardens, balmy climate and family-friendly music-filled fado tavernas - stands out as special. Make no mistake: to say that that the city, which sits atop seven steep hills, has been through a lot is akin to calling Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo an adequate player: a major understatement. Portugal’s charismatic capital city endured an earthquake and tsunami in 1755, a huge fire in 1988, followed by the Great Recession which led to mass unemployment. Nonetheless Lisbon has risen from the ashes to become one of Europe’s loveliest and liveliest cities.
Decided to make Lisbon your next city break? Good call. Now you need to know the best barrios (areas) to stay when travelling with the kids in tow…. Whether your family is interested in castles, custard tarts (say hello to the iconic pastel de nata) or the beaches of Cascais, we here at Plum Guide have got the low-down on the neighbourhoods that need to be on your family travel radar, courtesy of our extensive research. Read on for the full reveal on where to stay in Lisbon with family.
Families with teenagers would do well to base themselves downtown in Baixa, a rejuvenated neighbourhood that’s currently the hottest corner of Portugal’s capital, with funky new boutiques and bars opening every week. Teens desperate for independence will appreciate spending an afternoon ambling around the atmospheric barrios taking in the sights, smells and shops. Then stop off for a freshly baked pastel de nata (custard tart) in one of the area’s Art Nouveau cafés where early 20th-century literary giants like Fernando Pessoa penned their prose. For everyone else, there’s Sao Jorge Castle - a majestic Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon and the Tagus River - that’s easily reached by hopping aboard one of the thrillingly old fashioned trams.
Arguably the jewel in Lisbon’s crown, Belem often tops lists of where to stay in Lisbon with family. It’s packed full of fascinating maritime history (this is where the Spanish Armada assembled in 1588) and mind-blowing museums - the Museum of Art and Technology (MAAT) anyone? - that aren’t just for adults. Designed by Stirling Prize-winning British architect Amanda Levete, the MAAT's expansive roof doubles as a public park - while the institution’s striking construction is certainly one for your teen’s social media feed.
When the whole family has had their fill of museums, make for Pasteis de Belem, an iconic pastry shop that's been making warm pastels de nata (buttery pastry flakes punctuated with vanilla and cinnamon) right before patrons’ eyes since 1837. Our tip? Push past the tourists and secure a table in the shady courtyard - the perfect place to enjoy this sweet, sugary treat with your tribe.
Avenida da Liberdade
The commercial heart of Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade is synonymous with luxury and is often referred to as 'the Avenida' - Portugal’s answer to the Champs Elysées - so it might surprise you to hear that this area is also a great location for families to rest their heads.
This neighbourhood is home to the city’s largest park - step forward Eduardo VII - where little ones can let off energy. Elsewhere the barrio boasts the city’s oldest funicular, the Ascensor do Lavra, which opened way back in the 1880s. The entire family will love a ride on the graffitied cable car, which remains the easiest way to travel from Avenida da Liberdade to the Torel Garden (Jardim do Torel)…and for less than €2. Bargain.
Back down in Avenida da Liberdade, the barrio’s designer stores aren’t for teen budgets, but window shopping doesn’t cost a thing. Shopping not your bag? Put the panic on hold as you're within walking distance of virtually all of the major sights in central Lisbon (cementing its spot on our 'where to stay in Lisbon with family' list).
If a beach is high on the family holiday-list, then consider checking out Cascais. A straight-forward, 30-minute train journey from Lisbon proper, this attractive seaside resort provides the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the capital - and can count King Luís I as a high-profile past guest. The monarch was one of the town’s earliest tourists circa 1870. Today the country’s current prime minister, António Costa, calls Cascais his non-official home and can often be spotted starting his day here with a swim. Easily one of Portugal's most scenic spots, Cascais boasts a string of brilliant beaches offering an array of water sports to keep both little and big kids entertained. Cascais is close to Sintra, the candy-coloured, fairytale town that inspired Lord Byron and is sure to capture your family’s heart too.