Living in London, we’re very fortunate to have Europe right at our fingertips. One of our very favorite destinations so far has been a week in Lisbon with toddlers. We were able to take advantage of off-peak prices and the nice weather in Lisbon in September.
Lisbon, Portugal truly was one of the best holidays with toddlers (1.5 and 3 years old): beautiful parks and playgrounds, sunny beaches, trams and ferries to ride, amazing food, and interesting streets and alleys to explore.
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Getting Around Lisbon
Upon arrival at Lisbon Airport, we found the signage to the Metro fairly easy to follow to get from the Lisbon Airport to city center. We bought tickets at one of the machines in the airport Metro station (€1.50 adult fare).
(If you’d prefer a car to the metro, Welcome Pickups is an airport transfer service which will meet you at the gate and provides free child seats.)
Many, but not all, of the metro stations we used had elevators, and we found taking a lightweight travel stroller for toddlers onto the Metro in Lisbon was easy and comfortable. And so many of the stations themselves are works of art, with gorgeous tiled walls.
As is true for all of our travel, exploring Lisbon public transport was a major highlight for our transport-mad kiddos. Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams are one of the great things to do in Lisbon with kids. They can be quite crowded, especially the 28 tram, since the 28 tram route covers many popular tourist sites.
We avoided the queues by traveling during off-peak times and opting to ride the less-crowded 24 tram, which conveniently picked up across the street from our vacation home rental in the Rato district.
And if your kids love public transport as much as ours, they’ll also be excited to explore Lisbon’s funiculars. There are three different funicular lines in Lisbon, and we chose to check out Ascensor da Glória, which took us up to one of Lisbon’s beautiful miradouros (vista points), Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.
The views were spectacular, and Alcântara was a beautiful neighborhood to explore. The kids enjoyed splitting a fresh watermelon juice from a vendor and watching the sunset before we wandered back home.
Lisbon with a Baby or Toddler: Stroller or Baby Carrier?
While we did bring a stroller to Lisbon, we were very glad we brought carriers for both kids (an Ergo Original and a Toddler Tula), as the cobblestone sidewalks in much of the city were narrow, slippery, and very hilly.
Our three year old is a great walker, but we were glad to have the option of carrying him on longer outings. And there definitely wasn’t room for the stroller on the busy trams and funiculars (buses and Metro were fine with the stroller in Lisbon).
What else to pack for travel with toddlers? Check out our Top Toddler Travel Essentials!
The pictures below should help to illustrate what walking in much of the city looks like:
Where to stay in Lisbon with Toddlers or a Baby
We chose to stay at an vacation home rental in Rato, while in Lisbon with toddlers. Rato is a beautiful residential neighborhood with great transport links.
For us, traveling with toddlers, it was best area to stay in Lisbon. We were less than five minutes from bus, Metro, and tram connections, and there were grocery stores, restaurants and parks within short walking distance. We didn’t have air conditioning in our apartment, which seemed to be the norm based on our research.
Food in Lisbon with Kids
The food in Lisbon was incredible, and reasonably priced compared to other places we’ve traveled in Europe. Loads of fresh seafood, delicious piri-piri chicken (nothing like Nando’s, in case you’re wondering!), and plenty of beans, rice, bread, and pasta that the kids loved.
While we found restaurant staff to be incredibly accommodating and friendly with the kids, we did struggle at times to find restaurants that were open early enough for dinner, since the Portuguese tend to eat much later in the evening. A couple of nights, one of us put the kids to bed while the other went out and picked up dinner to bring back for the adults.
We also fell in love with the coffee kiosks with adjacent playgrounds dotted around Lisbon. Café duplos (double espressos) and pastéis de natas for the adults while the kids played made the perfect break for everyone.
Things to do in Lisbon with Toddlers
Parque das Nações
On our first full day in Lisbon, we headed to Parque das Nações (a short walk from Oriente Station on the red Metro line). Parque das Nações was the exhibition grounds for the ‘98 World Expo. Being on the waterfront, it’s a great thing to do in Lisbon with kids.
We spent several hours at the incredible Oceanarium. It’s Europe’s largest aquarium, and kids under four are free!
While our younger son napped, my husband took our three-year-old for a ride on the nearby cable car (kids under four ride free). The ride offered great views of Lisbon and the harbor.
The plaza near the aquarium also has fantastic splash pads and fountains, which is one of those perfect things to do in Lisbon for families especially on a hot afternoon. We wished we’d brought along swim trunks for the kids
Day Trip from Lisbon – Cascais
The next morning, we took the train to Cascais, a coastal resort town half an hour from Lisbon. We bought our tickets at Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station and took the train to Cascais Station.
Cascais was a beautiful spot to spend the day, and the kids enjoyed exploring the tidepools and playing in the sand.
We did regret not packing a picnic, as the beachfront restaurants were all rather pricey. After lunch, we walked along the beach side path (fully paved, so good for a stroller nap – don’t forget to bring a CoziGo stroller cover!).
Day Trip from Lisbon – Almada
The next morning, we caught a ferry (more transport fun!) across the harbor to Almada, giving us spectacular views of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Cristo Rei statue, a large figure of Jesus Christ overlooking the bay.
From the ferry terminal, we caught a local bus up to Cristo Rei (it’s walkable, but up a steep hill). The grounds around the statue are a nice place to picnic (there’s a picnic shelter if you need a bit of shade), as well as paths and gardens for the kids to wander. From the base of the statue, there are spectacular views of the bridge and of Lisbon.
Jardim da Estrela and Estrela Basilica
We stuck closer to home the next morning, walking from our Airbnb in Rato to Jardim da Estrela, a beautiful neighborhood park with a nice playground (I unfortunately didn’t snap any pictures, but it’s a good playground in Lisbon for kids of all ages), a small pond with geese and ducks, and lots of paths to explore.
The kids had a great time “driving” the little tram at the cafe (while Mom and Dad indulged in another round of café duplos and pastéis de natas).
Across the street is the breathtaking 18th century Estrela Basilica, which is absolutely worth a visit. We enjoyed climbing to the top for views of the city (and views down into the church–my husband took the picture looking down into the church while I clutched the kids far away from the railing!).
From the basilica, it was about a mile’s walk to the incredible Time Out Market, which had a huge range of local foods under one roof, as well as a fish market. There was a nice little kids corner with toys, books, and coloring supplies, and kid-sized tables and chairs.
The market is open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and gets pretty crowded around lunchtime, so it’s probably a good idea to get there on the earlier side.
Final Tips on Lisbon with a Toddler or Baby
- Many restaurants in Lisbon had high chairs, although we did have to hold our toddler during a few meals. Our bigger challenge with dinner was finding restaurants that opened for dinner before the kids’ bedtime!
One of these portable travel high chairs is easy to bring along, especially a fabric high chair
- Don’t count on finding changing tables around Lisbon; definitely bring along a changing pad.
- Bring baby/toddler carriers; much of the Lisbon better with a baby carrier vs a stroller.
If you do bring a stroller, make sure it’s a lightweight travel stroller!
- As with anywhere, be aware of pickpockets, especially in crowded places and on public transport.
- Local grocery stores carried everything we needed: cereal, milk, fruit, etc. Diapers and baby food were also readily available.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and hats!
This guest post was written by Megan
Megan is an American living in London with her husband and two young sons. When traveling, she especially enjoys hiking, public transport, museums, and good coffee. Her favorite family travel destinations have been Taiwan, Portugal, Switzerland, and Singapore.