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The Lathrops Tackle Lisbon WITHOUT A Stroller

Ahh, Lisbon, Portugal...the most beautiful city in the world- so goes the saying. While I cannot deny that Lisbon is breathtakingly gorgeous, I can say that it should probably have a slogan more like 'guaranteed to firm up your butt just by walking.' Seriously, the hills and stairs are INTENSE, but don't let that discourage you! We spent 3 days in this beautiful city with 5 kids, and did everything STROLLER FREE! If we can do it, anyone can! 😉 We're already anxious to go back, this seaside city was just that amazing. 

Where To Stay

Walking down the street to our AirBnB
Okay, first things first...Lisbon is a gorgeous city, and they have no shortage of AirBnB's for a crazy affordable rate. But it should also be warned that in the colder months (and probably also in the dead heat of summer, too), heating & AC systems are severely lacking in this seaside wonderland. So...sometimes a hotel room is a better bet, so long as it's a REAL hotel with amenities (not a hostel). Prices between the hotel rooms vs AirBnBs are sometimes very comparable.

Anyhoo, we rented a 2 bedroom flat that was very close to the Tram 28 line. Basically, the location was fabulous and I was actually shocked (after coming from $$$ NYC $$$) at the low prices. Alas, we fell into the winter trap, though, and had to book a hotel room for the last night because we were SOOOOO cold! The babies were miserable, and so were we.

Street art in our street alley!
Note: These days, I always tend to use Booking.com to set up our accommodations. I like the ability to leave feedback for our hosts/hotels without them retaliating in feedback for me, and I like the customer service features and frequent-traveler discounts. I also feel like the pricing is more straight-forward and I love their app.

Day One

Street Art found on our scavenger hunt!
So our first day, we were itching to get our eyes on some of the amazing street art that makes Lisbon such a famous destination. So, we made a sort-of scavenger hunt out of our day, and wandered through the streets for the coolest art we could find. We were not disappointed!

Lisbon Cathedral
We made a few pit stops for gelato and snacks, dipping into one of the many fruit stands for some fresh, juicy produce! Not only did I feel good as a mom for stacking vitamins into my kids in a fun way, but I also saved some bucks by filling their bellies with mostly healthy, cheap alternatives to restaurant food.

Inside the Lisbon Cathedral
It was really easy for us to spend a good chunk of our day just exploring the streets. There is literally an endless supply of paint on the city walls, and the kids turned it into a competition of sorts- which painting is cooler, how many of a certain image (fish, stick figure, word) can they find, even playing I-Spy worked great at keeping them on their toes while walking.

That night, after a short break in our flat to rest our toes, and regroup, we made our way to attend Mass at the beautiful Lisbon Cathedral. It really didn't matter that we couldn't understand a single word (we did have our Sunday Missal- a book which has all of the mass readings for each year), because it was such a gorgeous church that we were just enjoying the surroundings!

Honestly, I have so many amazing pics from our time in Lisbon that it was almost impossible to narrow them down. I am actually thinking we need a separate page just for all of our extra pics here.

Walking to the entrance of Castelo de S George
Day Two

We were a little bit sore on day two, from all of the walking up and down the city streets (did I mention this town is extremely hilly?!?), so we got a bit of a late start in the morning.

What a gorgeous view from the top!
We try to maintain the idea of enjoying our days during travel, and I have found that if we pack them too full of sightseeing it puts a pressure on everything- kids get whiny and complain (the older one are more disgruntled than the babies!), parents get irritated, and we end up crashing after a long and exhausting day. If we leave a little later in the morning, or take a break in the middle, it's NBD because we try to operate by a No-Pressure motto. That being said, I am an A-type and sometimes I get a little frustrated with not seeing 50 things every day...but honestly, its better for the kids to slow down a bit.

The trees! The fresh air! The joy of a happy kid!
But I digress....back to day two. 😉 We walked a few blocks up toward the top of the Lisbon hills, to spend a few hours exploring Castelo de S George. Its an incredible way to spend the day- you can get amazing views of Lisbon below, including the coastline!

The castle is broken into sections, there's a more preserved (I think newer) section that you can explore with a little restaurant that sells wine inside if you want to stop for lunch. There are cork trees you can check out, if you've ever wondered where cork comes from. (I put a picture of the cork tree on the extra pictures page.) Our kids mostly just enjoyed the open space and trees, being able to run around a bit in the sunshine while the hubby and I marveled over the architecture of it all.

A castle bridge, say what?!?
On the other side are the older castle ruins, which you enter over a drawbridge. This castle, while it's finer details have been long gone, is a great place to step back into ancient times...the ruins are just gorgeous! We also got a peek of some amazing white peacocks walking around and up in the trees.
Fun inside the old ruined castle

We could seriously have stayed here forever and nobody would have complained- until we got hungry, of course. 😜

After thoroughly exhausting ourselves enjoying the ancient awesomeness of the castillo, we had a late lunch at a very uncrowded Lisbon restaurant. Since it was December, the crowds were pretty thin anyway, but since we have such a large family, we like to find places with LOTS of available seating.

Enjoying some Portuguese potatoes, steak, and tortillas (eggs).
I think it actually works out pretty well that way, because we get to experience more authentic food outside of the way of the typical touristy spots. We're not traveling to get an Americanized experience, so why not explore something out of the way? Yummm....

For that reason, you won't get many specific restaurant reviews here. What good is finding authentic food if it gets overrun with tourists, right? 😉 But don't worry, a lot of places (even small ones) have a multi-language menu or are very friendly and helpful.
 So on night two, we decided to experience a 'must-see' tourist spot we heard a lot about- the Santa Justa Lift. It's a very tall tower with an elevator, located in the center of the city, and takes you up to get amazing views of the whole Lisbon area. This was a big disappointment for us, actually, and a huge reinforcer that we can't really do the 'typical' touristy stuff as a big family. (The shame! The HORROR!) Lol...

The Santa Justa Lift
Basically, the line to get into the lift was VERY long and split into two sides. Then, to further complicate matters, the line seems to split into a front section and a back section, and people kept dipping into the front section (cutting in front of the back section of the line), so we stood in line going nowhere for quite some time. We eventually just gave up because cranky babies don't have the patience for that kinda nonsense. 😜

Super yummy Portuguese pastries!
Since we were already in the city center, we pacified the kids with a delicious pastry pit-stop. We actually sat down outside the pastry shop at one of the tables meant for the restaurant next door, and the waiters were very helpful, letting us stay and even asking if we needed napkins or anything! We left them a small tip for their time and trouble. 💗 Everyone took a bite of each thing, getting to really dig into the culinary delights of Lisbon desserts. Yum! We could have eaten twice as much and still kept going, despite our bellies saying otherwise. I think the pastry spot (Cafe Gelo) was also a restaurant, but I can't testify to it's food quality...sorry! As far as desserts go, we ordered them from a case and sat down to enjoy. 😁

Church of Sao Vicente of Fora
Day Three

The ceiling, the floor, the walls...oh, my!
This was our last full day in Lisbon, and we wanted to make sure we got as much fun in as we could! We hired a TukTuk driver to take us across town to the Church of Sao Vicente of Fora. This is an old, huge cathedral turned into a museum, and it took us a few hours to explore. The architecture and art in this church was incredible! I cannot gush enough about how beautiful this place was. We were also able to explore the compound up even to the roof, where (again) you get an incredible view. This time the view was of the other side of the city, so we really got to see all of the best of Lisbon from high up.

 There's just so much beauty in this one location, I cannot even express enough what a must-see this place is!

Again, there was just too many amazing photos to choose from. 😍
Giggles at the fountain

Popping bubbles in the plaza!
So after we spent our day exploring this picturesque locale, we headed back to the plaza at Rossio Square to check out the holiday lights and festival going on. It was very beautiful, and while the sun was going down we had fun around the fountain.

Once it got dark, the lights around the entire city center were amazing. I've been told that they do things here in the plaza all year round, so I'm definitely excited to see what Lisbon has in store for us during the warmer weather, but this was definitely not a bad way to freeze our butts off, the kids were definitely enjoying the holiday festivities. There were little Christmas stands set up every so often, selling decorations and knick-knacks, souvenirs and treats. It was a great way to spend our last evening.

Goodbye, Lisbon, but not for long! We will be back again soon!

Lots of beautiful holiday lights at Rossio Square