Lisbon is the perfect choice for a family city break. On arrival in Lisbon airport we made our way to the city centre by metro. A clean, cheap and efficient system which we used throughout our stay and the novelty never wore off for the children. Travelling in April, we were spoilt with beautiful weather for most of our stay. After travelling early in the morning, we decided to take the children for a fun packed day at Lisbon Zoo. Set in attractive gardens with an extensive range of animals, it was enjoyed by all. The dolphin show was not to be missed along with the cable car rides giving you a great view of the animals. Hanging over the hippo enclosure was a little nerve racking though.
The next day, after enjoying some traditional Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) from a local bakery, we headed up to São Jorge Castle. Taking the traditional Lisbon tram no. 28 up through the steep, narrow streets of the Alfama district was a nostalgic experience. It was a grey, wet day but this just made it all the more atmospheric. At the top, we were greeted by stunning views over the city below with its terracotta roofs. A wander around the castle walls was a great opportunity for the children to act out their knight skills and pretend to fire the cannons. After some delicious fresh sardines in a local restaurant, we made our way down through the cobbled streets with white washed buildings.
In the afternoon, the weather transformed into a glorious, sunny day. A much-needed break in the Eduardo VII park was enjoyed by all. A lovely, modern café with great coffees and of course ice cream for the kids and a big galleon-shaped play area where the children could burn off some energy.
If the children are longing for some sea and sand, head to Cascais for the day. Only an hour by train from Lisbon and you are in the town of Cascais. A short walk from the station brings you to the traditional Portuguese mosaic streets of Cascais old town with its seafood restaurants and shops. There are various town beaches within walking distance. We spent a few hours on Praia de Rainha. A pretty beach situated in a rocky cove, perfect for a little paddle and some sand castle building.
After enjoying some time on the beach, we walked to the delightful Parque Marechal Carmona, less than 10 minutes from the centre of Cascais. This is a beautiful park filled with exotic trees, duckponds, peacocks and tortoises. Wooded trails with towering trees provide a shady retreat. There is also a well-equipped play area catering for all ages.
If you have time, Lisbon Aquarium is also definitely worth a visit. Europe’s second largest aquarium housing some 8,000 fish and marine animals. It is divided into four tanks recreating each of the main ocean ecosystems. Favourites were the Antarctic tank with penguins, the Pacific tank with otters in their rock pools and the brightly coloured tropical fish in the coral reefs. The huge central tank which you can view from different levels was great for watching the sharks circle.
Overall, a vibrant city offering plenty of fun filled activities for the children. The family orientated Portuguese will make you feel very welcome.