It’s not all port and pastel de nata in Lisbon (although you should make sure to sample both of these in abundance). From dolphin spotting at the Bay of Setúbal and gravity-defying cable cars at Parque das Nações to the world famous Oceanário de Lisboa and Museu de Marinha, there are plenty of family-friendly pursuits to enjoy in the Portuguese capital. For those looking to uncover Lisbon with kids in tow, here are a few of the best places to bring your brood.
The smartphone-wielding children of today may not know who Flipper is, but dolphin watching is still a certain crowd-pleaser. Catch a cruise trip from the Bay of Setubal (dubbed the Bay of Dolphins) to spot bottlenose dolphins in a UNESCO recognised area of extraordinary natural beauty. If the kids still have some energy left after the boat trip, take them on a hike or a bike ride in the nearby Arrábida Natural Park.
The perfect opportunity to see all kinds of sea life, from spider crabs to sharks and seahorses, the Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Housed in a state-of-the-art building designed by starchitect Peter Chermayeff and home to over 16,000 marine animals, this is one of the most popular places to visit in Lisbon with kids. Make sure to attend a penguin feeding as well as make friends with the aquarium’s star residents, otters Amalia and Eusebio.
Granted, amphibious vehicles are among the most embarrassing means of transport for touring in existence. But when trying to inspire a passion for sightseeing we can’t think of a better way to go – just think of the look on your little one’s face when you glide effortlessly off the road and into the water. A cross between a retro yellow school bus and a small boat, the HippoTrip tour starts from Alcântara and explores Torre de Belém and The Monument to the Discoveries, as well as parts of the River Tagus, before depositing passengers back on dry land.
Lisbon’s old-fashioned red trams offer one of the best ways to see Lisbon with kids. Tickets are valid for 24hrs and allow passengers to hop on and off wherever they choose, making toilet breaks and ice cream stops refreshingly easy. The Hills Tramcar Tour leaves from Praça do Comércio, right by the riverfront, and travels around some of Lisbon’s most famous districts, including Alfama, Castelo and Bairro Alto.
The Portuguese have a special relationship with the sea, so it’s no surprise that the Museu de Marinha (the Navy Museum) is one of the city’s top attractions – especially for those exploring Lisbon with kids. Set in a wing of the Jerónimos monastery, you’ll find everything from cannon balls to historic maps, medals and antique armour on display at this maritime museum. Take a little time after to track down one of Belém’s famous custard tarts.
A scenic strip of land that runs along the River Tagus, Lisbon’s Parque das Nações offers beautiful gardens, urban art and exciting, modern architecture. Take the kids up to the viewing tower and look down on the Vasco Da Gama Bridge (the longest bridge in Europe), before taking a cable car ride above the river for a thrilling aerial tour.