Family Vacation In Lisbon

A Portugal family vacation to Lisbon with kids features cable car rides up steep hills, day trips to beautiful beaches, and a visit to one of the best aquariums in Europe. There are so many fun things to do in Lisbon with kids.

Detailed tile work adorns the city’s buildings, hilltop views afford sweeping views of central Lisbon and its River Tagus, and Lisbon’s pastry shops offer traditional Portuguese custard tarts.

Traveling with kids to Lisbon is much like visiting any other European city; Lisbon has efficient public transport and kid-friendly museums. It’s a great choice for a first European family vacation.

Don’t start planning your trip to Portugal without first checking out these Portugal planning tips. 

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Family Vacation In Lisbon

The Best Things to Do in Lisbon with Kids

Things to do in Lisbon with Kids on a first trip to Europe with the Family
Placa do Comercio, photo by Melissa Moore

Lisbon is the perfect first introduction to Europe for American children. Lisbon is an easy six-hour flight from the East Coast of the United States. That’s just long enough to get some good rest on a red-eye flight, but not so long that kids will tire of watching movies mid-way through a day time flight.

Also, the language barrier in Lisbon is minimal for Americans. Most everyone we spoke with as tourists had good conversational English skills.

I expected to need to pull out some of my high school Spanish (because I have no Portuguese language skills) — but, thankfully, this was not necessary.

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Things to do in Lisbon with Kids on a Portugal Family Vacation 1

Experience the History of Lisbon, Portugal with Kids

Lisbon, Portugal feels historic and European. It is one of Europe’s easiest capital cities to explore for family travelers. The historic part of town is relatively compact and walkable. The touristy area of Lisbon is not overwhelmingly large.

It is also easy to escape the city for a family-friendly day trip to the beach or the mountains in only 30-45 minutes by car, bus, or train. This variety and ability to get a quick change of scenery makes the area so much more fun to explore Lisbon with kids.

One day can be spent appreciating the architecture at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém and the next day can be spent at the beach in Cascais. It is easy to avoid the monotony of visiting museum after museum in the city center when traveling to Lisbon with kids.

While in Portugal, I watched my daughter explore the National Palace in Sintra and the Museo do Azulejo in total wonder of their intricate wood carvings and colorfully painted ceilings.

She was so impressed by everything that she was seeing, and I’m sure that her first trip to Europe made an impact that will last a lifetime.

See the City of Lisbon with Kids

Exploring Lisbon’s streets is essential on any visit to Lisbon with kids or without. Be sure to walk the pedestrian Rua Augusta down to the Placa do Comercio. 

The black and white stone mosaic artwork on the city’s squares and walkways is both beautiful and uniquely Lisbon. Though beware, in the rain those beautiful stone tiled walkways are remarkably slick.

On a walk through the Baxia, it isn’t hard to spot the Santa Justa Lift that transports passengers from the lower part of town up onto one of Portugal’s seven hills. 

Just like San Francisco and Rome, Lisbon’s city centre has some steep hills, taking a tram or elevator up the hill and wandering back down through the city streets is a great option for families.

Castelo de Saõ Jorge

Castelo de Saõ Jorge Portugal
Castelo de Saõ Jorge, photo by Melissa Moore

One of the highlights of any visit to Lisbon with kids is taking the tram up to the top of Saõ Jorge hill to explore the prominent 11th century Castelo de Saõ Jorge. It can be a bit challenging to find a tram that goes all the way up so be prepared for a bit of a climb.

Once you’ve purchased a ticket and entered the castle complex, there’s plenty of space to enjoy the views of Lisbon with kids.

My kids loved exploring the ramparts and canons while I chased them up and down countless steps. We even found some peacocks, which were, of course, a highlight for the kids!

Public Transportation in Lisbon with Kids

It is necessary to use public transportation to get around Lisbon with kids, especially to visit Belem and the aquarium. While the Metro and bus system have their limits, I found them remarkably easy to use.

The Metro trains are color-coded and have cute little symbols to designate each line. A day pass pays for itself in 4-5 trips, which you might not need on a nice sunny day, but it was easily the right choice for us on a rainy day visiting Lisbon with kids.

Places to Eat in Lisbon with Kids

As with many cultures along the Mediterranean coast, the Portuguese tend to eat later than Americans – though I did find that dining with my daughter around 6-7pm was perfectly acceptable.

For dinner, we chose two quick service dining options within a ten-minute walk from our hotel, Martinhal Chiado: the Palácio Chiado and the Time Out Market.

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