With its warm climate, historical and cultural sights, outdoor activities and proximity to the coast, Lisbon is a natural choice for a summer family holiday. The Portuguese capital has plenty to keep the whole family entertained, whether you fancy visiting Europe’s largest aquarium, relaxing in a leafy park with live music and a children’s craft workshop, or going on a scenic riverside cycle. Here are our top suggestions for how to spend your family holiday in Lisbon this summer.
A fun and novel way to see some of Lisbon’s greatest landscapes and avoid hiking up the city’s famously vertiginous hills, hop abroad the number 28 tram and see some of the capital’s most famous vistas from the comfort of this charming and historic mode of transport. Take the tram from Martin Moniz to Prazeres and try to sit on the double seats on the left as they have the best views of the river. Children will enjoy a ride upon this bright yellow vehicle as it winds its way up and down Lisbon’s seven hills whilst parents will be able to admire some of the city’s most picturesque and historic sights. En route, Look out for the imposing Graca Church, the panoramic views as you pass through the Alfama district, wonderful glimpses of Castelo Sao Jorge and atmospheric streets of Lisbon’s artistic Chiad neighbourhood.
Located in Estrela, Lisbon’s Fun Track can be found behind the Museu do Oriente and comes highly recommend for families on holiday in Lisbon. Adjacent to the river, families can hire their choice of roller skates, karts, tricycles, bikes or scooters and burn off some steam on the 400m track. Alternatively, hire bikes and amble along the 7km riverside cycle route, which runs from Belem to Cais do Sodre. Parents will also appreciate the adjoining café, which serves tasty snacks and healthy dishes as well as homemade ice cream.
Europe’s largest aquarium, Lisbon’s Oceanario De Lisboa offers an innovative and dynamic insight in aquatic life. Guaranteed to delight animal-loving children, the main aquarium holds a staggering 5 million litres of seawater and the space is divided into four different marine habitats that replicate the different environments found in oceans across the globe. From charming sea otters, puffins and penguins to mesmerizing creatures of the deep, the whole family will be fascinated by the residents of Lisbon’s aquarium.
A day at the beach is a must for any family holiday in Lisbon and fortunately, golden sands, clear waters and a beautifully unspoilt coastline are within easy reach of the city centre. Hop on the train to Cascais, which takes roughly 40 minutes, or travel by car. The beaches in the town are perfect for bucket and spade activities, whilst the more rugged Praia do Guincho just outside of Cascais is one of the loveliest strips of coastline in the area. Part of the Serra da Sintra National Park, this beach is protected from any development and, as a result, is wonderfully wild and unspoilt.
An instantly recognisable part of Lisbon’s skyline, the Moorish fortress of Castelo de Sao Jorge is certainly worth exploring for families on holiday in the city. A prime vantage point, it’s little wonder that this site has been occupied since ancient times by the likes of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as its use as a military garrison during the 19th century. Having been carefully restored in the 20th century, this is a great place to explore with the kids, soaking up some staggering views and fascinating history at the same time.
An oasis of greenery, the tranquil Jardim de Estrela is located close to the Basilica of the same name and has been in existence since the mid 1800s. Today, this oasis of greenery, which includes a lake, bandstand and an impressively large playground as well as an excellent café with its own miniature tram, is as family friendly as can be. Additionally, if you’re visiting during the summer, there are weekend craft markets and live afternoon music performances. Children are also invited to take part in a craft workshop as parents enjoy a moment of relaxation at a table under the trees with a cold glass of wine.