As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon has a lot to offer in terms of things to do and see. The city has been inhabited since the 2nd century and is one of the most historically rich cities in the country. Likewise, it is also a culturally rich city where traditions are kept and celebrated all the time. In addition to all that, Lisbon is a very modern city that perfectly combines old and new and creates a magical place full of good vibes. This is why, Lisbon is considered to be one of the best locations to spend some quality time with your family.
Lisbon is a huge city that spreads along the estuary of the Tagus river and straight to the Atlantic Ocean. This can make the city quite challenging to explore, but with the right guidance everything is possible.
Thus, below are the best things you can do and visit in Lisbon with your family.
Comercio Square is probably the first thing you will visit in Lisbon. It is exactly at the waterfront of Tagus river and is a famous gathering point for tourist groups.
Comercio Square has been the seat of the Portuguese royal family until the end of the 18th century when a tsunami hit the city. Shortly after that, the square has been rebuilt and is known as the sunniest square in Lisbon.
If you want to have a bird’s-eye view of Comercio square, you can simply climb Arco da Rua Augusta, which is the entrance to the square. It overlooks the square, the estuary of Tagus river and Baixa district. To use the elevator to the top you will have to purchase a ticket, which costs 3 euros per person.
Another interesting sight in Lisbon to see is the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the 18th century by the tsunami. Nowadays, there are only the pillars and arches left of the convent, but this really gives it a very beautiful Gothic look. Additionally, there is a small museum where some old books can be observed along with some statues.
Carmo Convent was the most notable cathedral in Lisbon during the Middle Ages. It was considered to be the favourite cathedral of the royal family and to the people of Lisbon. While there, you will certainly feel the power of this place and will appreciate its beauty.
Just like Ribeira in Porto, the most colourful and cheerful district in Lisbon is the Alfama. This was the first neighbourhood of the city and is the place where everything started. It is the most culturally and historically rich district and attracts lots of tourists.
Its narrow colourful streets surely add up to its uniqueness and the miradouros that can be found every once in a while. Some of the most famous viewpoints are Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro Santa Luzia and Portas do Sol (Doors to the Sun). There is also Lisbon’s most colourful stairway – Caracol da Graça – a true masterpiece!
Aside from its romantic views, Alfama is also known for housing one of the oldest cathedrals. The cathedral of Lisbon is dating back to 2,000 years and is one of the oldest religious buildings in Portugal. Inside of the cathedral there is a cloister and treasury that can be visited and it costs 4 euros. There you will learn more about Lisbon’s history. Additionally, you will be able to climb to the top of the cathedral and see one of the most beautiful vistas of the city.
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle has been built on one of the highest hills in Lisbon and has been there since the Roman times. It was used as a fortification to defend the city from invasions, as Lisbon has been under attack almost all of the time.
Nowadays, São Jorge Castle is one of the most notable landmarks of Lisbon. While there, you can take a walk at its defensive walls and explore its museum, where you can learn a lot about the story of the city and its battles. The entrance fee is 10 euros for adults and it is free for kids.
If you and your family are interested in beautiful architecture, then you should definitely visit Jeronimos monastery. Apart from being a religious spot it is also an architectural masterpiece! Thus, it is no surprise that is was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Jeronimos monastery was built in the 15th century and is probably the most beautiful monastery in Portugal. It is famous for its stone carvings and beautifully decorated arches and pillars. Along with that, it has very beautiful cloisters that are worth a visit.
Back in time, the monastery was of great importance not only to the citizens of Lisbon, but also to its sailors. Before every voyage, the sailors and their wives would visit the monastery to pray. Among these sailors was Vasco da Gama, whose tomb can be found at the entrance of Jeronimos monastery.
A ticket to Jeronimos monastery is 10 euros and it is recommended to visit it early in the morning, as the lines are huge.
Back in the days, Belem tower was a defensive tower that was protecting the city from sea attacks. It was also the place from where the voyagers were embarking on their adventures.
Just like Jeronimos monastery, Belem Tower has been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beautiful architecture. On top of that, Belem Tower is the symbol of Lisbon and you will see it on every postcard or magnet you get.
Just a couple of steps away from it is the Pastéis de Belém Bakery, which offers some of the best tarts in the city. Go there to enjoy some sweets with your family. It is for sure worth it!
The Oceanarium in Lisbon is one of the best places to bring the younger family members. Honestly, Lisbon’s Oceanarium is also entertaining even for the adults, so don’t underestimate it.
It is a fascinating place that is home to more than 15, 000 marine animals from all over the world. It is divided into sections and each section represents an ocean and its inhabitants. However, the most interesting part to all of its visitors remains the huge aquarium that is 2 storeys high. There you will see lots of sharks, sunfishes, manta rays and some small passages of fishes. Separated from the big aquarium are the beavers that are making quite a show for its visitors. And then are the penguins, which will make your heart melt with cuteness.
However, the Oceanarium has a very interesting educational purpose. It is usually packed up with lots of school groups of small kids that are being educated on the importance of the oceans. There are a couple of rooms where kids learn how to recycle and take care of our planet. Honestly, even as an adult you will find that a very interesting part of the Oceanarium.
The price to enter into the Oceanarium is 16 euros for adults and for kids from 4 to 12 it is 10 euros.
Another good place to spend some time with the youngsters is at the zoo. The zoo of Lisbon is home to many exotic animals and even to some sea mammals like the dolphins. There are lots of shows held at the zoo, which can be seen at its arena.
At the zoo, you can also see white tigers, lynxes, lions and cheetahs. Other interesting animals are the elephants, giraffes, rhinos and zebras.
Lisbon’s zoo is a great opportunity to enjoy some nice time with all of your family members and learn more about the animal world. To enter the zoo it will cost around 23 euros for adults and 15 euros for kids over 3 years old.
Where to stay in Lisbon?
When it comes to staying in Lisbon, you should definitely consider staying somewhere closer to the city center. Unless, you don’t mind using the public transport.
Some of the best neighborhoods to stay in are Alfama, Baixa, Rossio and Bairro Alto. All of them are close to metro stations and are right in the heart of the city.
A good place to stay in at in Lisbon is Rossio Boutique Hotel, which has been recently renovated. If you are going to stay in with your family and want a more secluded place, then check Chalet D´Ávila Guest House. It is a very stylish guest house and is perfect if you want to rest after a long day on the streets of Lisbon.
Where to eat in Lisbon?
Wherever you choose to get something to eat in Lisbon, you won’t be sorry. You will enjoy every meal you get at the restaurants, especially if you love fish!
However, some of the best places to try some traditional dishes are Mesa De Frades, Pateo 13 in Alfama and Damas. These places are known for their incredibly tasty meals and cheap prices, so it is a win-win!
About the Author
Alex is a blogger at EarthOSea who has extensively travelled around Europe for the past 3 years. She has lived in Portugal in 2019 where she got more familiar with the Portuguese culture, traditions and language.
Alex’s specialty is mainly in travelling in a sustainable and less harmful to the environment way. She is focusing more on ways to travel on a budget or money-for-value. Along with that, she loves hiking and discovering uncharted islands, but she also loves staying at the beach with a book in hand.