Lisbon and I have quite some history together and the better part of it evolves around me as a mother. It was here that I came when my son was only 4 months old. The place I chose to spend the first leg of winter in as by no means I was keen to spend it in Germany. At the time, this was in 2014, I had rented an apartment in Graca, walked around lots, took short trips to the Algarve and Porto and had friends with and without kids visit me throughout the 6 weeks I spent here.

From that time I remembered Lisbon to be a place full of friendly people. Even on my flight over to Lisbon, we were upgraded to sit in business class, my son and I had a bunch of men and women in suits behind us who were all broadly smiling and making funny faces for my little guy who was happy to return the favor.

4 years later Atlas, my son, and I returned for a week and it was pretty special for me to revisit all the old places I had been to with him when he was just a baby. What had not changed however, was the feeling that this was a really great city to visit with children. It’s so walkable, full of kidfriendly inhabitants and, as it turns out, some really great stuff to do with children.

Where to stay

As of 2016 the Martinhal group has opened what is considered “The World’s First City-Center Elegant Family Hotel” in the central part of Lisbon called Chiado. This 5-star hotels boasts 37 loft-style apartments, specifically designed to cater to families. Most of the 1 and 2 bedroom apartments here will include options for additional fold out bunk beds, allowing up to 6 or even 8 people to stay in one of them. What makes the Martinhal Chiado so special is that there is an all day open kids club here, a total novelty for a city hotel, which means you can drop off your littles to play, craft, watch movies and make friends while parents can wander off and explore Lisbon from its very heart and center.

We loved being only a 2 minute walk away from some of the city’s best restaurants, making the use of taxis superfluous. Even better: the free childcare at Chiado is available until 9.30, and can be extended through the use of a babysitter hire for just €10 an hour – a steal, I’d say! Especially with younger children city travel can be daunting, because the littles simply don’t like walking and I will say that Lisbon is a horrible place for strollers due to its many hills, cobbled streets and tiny side walks. So if you have kids under 4 and still want to get to know Lisbon, the Martinhal Chiado is your very best bet.

What to do

I did what I always do when I arrive in a new city together with my son: i hit the interwebs in search of recommendations for things to do with children. I also asked people and in both circumstances everyone’s first answer was the Oceanario. My personal opinion is that aquariums and zoo’s just don’t do it for me and while I did check out the Lisbon Oceanario 4 years ago I can’t say that it’s more exciting than many other aquariums around the world. Long story short, if you’re the type to enjoy these types of places, by all means go. For everyone else, maybe the following places will be for you.

Museums

I’m not really the big museum goer but my son actually loves them. Especially if dinosaur skeletons are involved! In the case of Lisbon there are 2 really great museums, both of which are well suitable for (small) children. They also happen to be right next to one another which is perfect in terms of convenience.

One is the Electricity Museum which has many interactive elements and therefore is great for kids because it’s not just about being quiet and looking at things you cannot touch. My son loved it so much we actually came here 2 days in a row.

Just next door is the MAAT, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. It’s housed inside an incredible cool building, right by the river, and is quite possibly Lisbon’s most impressive photo opportunity (if that’s even possible with so many incredible viewpoints around town). To visit one museum it’s €5 or €9 for both, so definitely a good deal.

Parque das Nações

There is more than one reason to come here. First and foremost your kids will likely enjoy riding the cable car, which is a very pleasant and inexpensive experience for the entire family. There are various interesting art sculptures here (many of which have a childlike, playful vibe) and some interesting water features. It’s also located right by the river, meaning you can just grab a seat on a bench and enjoy the silence while overlooking the water.

Beaches

On this particular trip it was a bit too cold to hit the beach but in the past I have spent many days at Lisbon’s wonderful beaches. Get here by public transportation or a cheap taxi ride and enjoy having an ocean so close to the city. My favorite beach was always Costa da Caparica but I also hear good reviews about Carcavelos and Avenca. Grab some empty yogurt cups and a spoon if you’re not equipped with full on sand toys and treat your family to a day by the sea.

Daytrips

Cascais. There are a number of great day trips to go on while you’re in Lisbon. Cascais is certainly one of them and it’s easy and convenient to get to by train, if you’re deciding not to rent a car. Cascais has a small but popular beach right in the center, there are some lovely restaurants around and strolling around here is a lot of fun.

Sintra is another wonderful option, especially for those who are interested in spectacular views and history. Coming here transports you right back into the middle ages and there is no shortage of incredible photos to be taken. Make your friends at home jealous and fuel your culture jar all the way to the top.

Palace of Queluz. Does your family enjoy stories of kings and queens? Then a visit to the stunning Palace of Queluz might be perfect for you. The 18th century palace is an impressive example of modern Renaissance architecture and the adjoining gardens are the perfect setting for a lovely walk. Special perk: the palace does not usually get overrun with tourists, so you’ll really have time to soak it all in on your own time.

Where to eat

Coming across good food in Lisbon is really no big challenge. I mostly ate very well when coming here and last time was no different. A place that completely lives up to its hype is Ao 26 Vegan Food Project which boasts super delicious vegan meals at huge portions and reasonable prices. The burgers are out of this world but I am told that everything is actually pretty great here.

Another place that’s a good destinations with kids is Bowls&Bar in the Sao Bento neighborhood of Lisbon. Come here for fresh veggie bowls, nice soups and smoothie bowls. The desserts here are great as well!

If you have a babysitter (or are leaving your kids with the Martinhal evening kids club) I recommend you try the Cantina Peruana (try the ceviche!) or Pesqueiro 25 (incredible seafood platters). If you still feel like swinging your dance leg after some good old wine and dining, head to nearby Pensão Amor to do just that.

Hope you were able to get some good inspiration on how to have the best possible time when going to Lisbon with your kids. I can honestly say that it is one of my absolute favorite cities to travel to with a child.

If you have any other tips, please do share them in the comments.