Our family vacation in Lisbon, Portugal was as dreamy and relaxing as it was invigorating and fun! For the kids Lisbon was a blast- with LOTS of things to do during our 3 day Lisbon itinerary that the WHOLE family enjoyed (from toddler to teen)!
If you're planning any Lisbon holidays, here are all the activities and sightseeing we did during our family's 3-day Lisbon itinerary! And as always, we traveled on a budget, so you're going to find plenty of Lisbon attractions for families that WON'T break the bank! 😉
Lisbon, Portugal is said to be the most beautiful city in the world- and we were not disappointed! As our first stop in Europe, it was quite a breathtaking welcome.
I can say that Lisbon should probably have a disclaimer, like 'guaranteed to firm up your butt just by walking' because the hills and stairs in Lisbon are INTENSE. But don't let that discourage you!
We spent 3 days of beautiful Lisbon holidays 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!
I feel like I should also note that most of the activities we did were either FREE or insanely cheap- and I think food was our biggest expense (and even that was cheap when coming from the USA).
Where To Stay With Kids In Lisbon
Okay, before diving into our 3-day Lisbon itinerary... let's talk about where to stay! Being such a gorgeous city, there is no shortage of AirBnBs in Lisbon Portugal at a crazy affordable rate.
Deciding where to stay in Lisbon with toddler (or small kids) requires a bit more planning, however, especially in the colder months. Central heating (& AC systems during hot summer months) are not standard features in this seaside wonderland. This can make it difficult to stay in an AirBnB if you have smaller kids, as they don't regulate body heat as easily as we do.
AirBnB Tip: Always look at the features listed under 'What This Place Offers' to see if heating and/or air conditioning are included, if you're looking at AirBnBs in Lisbon Portugal during the colder winter (Dec-Feb) or hot summer holidays (June-Aug).
We booked a 2 bedroom flat that was very close to the Tram 28 line, which takes you to all the popular Lisbon neighborhoods and runs every 10-15 minutes or so.
The location was fabulous- and I was actually shocked (after coming from $$$ NYC $$$) at the low prices!
Alas, we fell into that winter heating trap, though.
The little heaters our Airbnb hosts had put in each room were just not enough to keep us warm! 🥶
The littles' fingers were freezing even with hats and gloves on- even though we were inside the flat!
We ended up booking a hotel room in the center plaza for our last night, and it was so cozy and warm, that we regretted not staying there the whole time!
Now you can see why I'm so adamant about checking for heating/cooling features when looking at where to stay in Lisbon with toddler, baby, and/or young kids. Yikes!
That being said, aside from those two (freezing cold) nights, the other parts of our family vacation in Lisbon was blissful! 😍
Day 1 Of Our Kids Lisbon Holidays Itinerary:
The first day of our family vacation in Lisbon was fairly relaxed, as we were all tired from our overseas flight from New York. (Have you seen our NYC post? Check it out here!)
We had heard a lot about Lisbon's amazing street art, so we went on a scavenger hunt and wandered through the streets for the coolest art we could find.
It was a great way to explore the city AND immerse the kids in Lisbon culture at the same time!
If you're looking for ideas of things to do in Lisbon Portugal with kids, this is a great FREE activity that we all really enjoyed. (Snag our FREE street art scavenger hunt printable here and use on your phone while walking- it's a great activity for any big city!)
Asking questions along the walk also helped turn it into a great family activity:
-Which painting is cooler or most colorful
-How many of a certain image (fish, stick figure, word) can you find
-Playing I-Spy (a GREAT way to see things through the eyes of others, BTW!)
-Do the scavenger hunt as a group or see who can find the most!
While wandering the city streets, we stopped 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.
Later in the afternoon, we stopped for gelato- which was amazingly yummy! (So much for healthy foods! LOL!)
That night, after a short break in our flat to rest our toes and regroup, we made our way to see the beautiful Lisbon Cathedral, which is a gorgeous church (both inside and outside) right near our flat!
(I absolutely LOVE church architecture, so we stop at a LOT of old churches for at least a quick peek inside!)
This ended up being one of our favorite days, even though it was supposed to be a 'restful' (aka Mommy has jetlag and no energy to plan real activities) day!
It was really just the most wonderful way for us to show our kids Lisbon and fall in love with Europe. 🥰
P.S.- I'm not quite sure where we ate for most of this trip. I didn't think about blogging about our travels until a few months after we took this Lisbon trip, so I hadn't kept a very good record of where we ate- and unfortunately didn't take many photos at meal times that would help me know where we were! 😜
That being said, we had a great experience at EVERY restaurant we stopped into throughout our stay, and the kids often talk about moving to Portugal simply for the food! LOL!!
It should also be noted that everyone is SO SUPER FRIENDLY to kids in Lisbon- we were often complimented on our large family and encouraged to go ahead of lines and things simply because we had kids!
Day 1 of our Lisbon Holidays Recap:
- A Street Art Scavenger Hunt Throughout Lisbon For Kids & Adults
- Fruit stand & Gelato shop stops
- Explored the Lisbon Cathedral
- Ate dinner somewhere yummy
Holidays in Lisbon Day 2 Itinerary:
For the second day of our 3 day Lisbon itinerary, we decided to go explore a castle. Our kids actually love castles thanks to our many visits to St Augustine, Florida, which has a wonderful old castle/fort that was always fun to explore.
Lisbon has a wonderful old castle with cork trees and great views of the city and coastline below! So we walked a few blocks up toward the top of the Lisbon hills to spend a few hours exploring the Castelo de S George.
This is an incredible way to spend the day- and one of the best rated TripAdvisor Lisbon attractions for families. (PS- it's also free to visit and explore!)
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 to the morning. 😉
It actually worked out great this way, because we were able to enjoy the mid-day sunshine and weren't cold at all, despite being early December!
Family Travel Tip: We make it a rule to only schedule approx. 4 hours of activities into each day, not including time to stop and eat. If we make our days too busy, the kids get whiny (and the older ones get crankier than the babies!). Parents get irritated, and we all end up feeling exhausted. 4 hours of planned activities usually stretches out to 5-6 after snacks and playground stops, making it a perfect way to leisurely sightsee without rushing!
The castle is broken into sections, and 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.
The cork trees are cool to look at and you can read the little plaques that explain how cork is harvested.
Our kids really 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 and views.
On the other side, you can find the older castle ruins, which you enter over a drawbridge.
While it's finer details have been long worn away over the centuries, it's 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.
We could seriously have stayed here forever and nobody would have complained- at least 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.
We enjoyed a local dish of potatoes, steak, and tortillas (which were eggs, I think).
There wasn't too many tourists there in December, but since we have such a large family, we always need to look for places with LOTS of available seating.
We typically avoid the trendier restaurants, as they get too busy and can't always accommodate a family of 7.
We've also found that we get to experience more authentic food if we look outside of the way of the typical touristy spots, which is another perk in addition to avoiding the crowds.
The restaurants in Lisbon are really amazing, and a LOT of places (even the small ones) have a multi-language menu or are very friendly, patient and helpful.
On night two, we decided to experience a 'must-see' tourist spots of Lisbon- the Santa Justa Lift.
It's a very tall tower with an elevator located right in the center of the city, which takes you up high to get amazing views of the whole Lisbon area.
Unfortunately, we found that this wasn't one of the best things to do in Lisbon Portugal with kids, for a few different reasons.
First of all, the line to get into the lift was VERY long and split into two sides in a crowded touristy street area, making it a bit confusing on where to go and who exactly was in line.
Then, to further complicate matters, the line ALSO seemed 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 and left, because cranky toddlers don't have the patience for that whole 'standing in line for hours' kinda nonsense. 😜
This was also a huge reinforcer that we don't really like to do the 'typical' touristy stuff as a big family. (The shame! The HORROR!) Lol...
Buying tickets online would have probably prevented this whole line thing, but honestly there are so many places to get a great view of Lisbon that I don't think it would have been worth it.
Anyhoo, seeing as how we were already in the city center, we pacified the kids with a delicious pastry pit-stop called Cafe Gelo.
We ordered a variety box of dessert pastries and sat down to enjoy. 😁 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.
We actually sat down outside at one of the tables meant for the restaurant next door, and the waiters there were very helpful. They let us stay at the table, and even asked if we needed napkins or anything! We left them a small tip for their time and trouble. 💗
(BTW- leaving tips in Europe is a controversial topic as servers actually get paid real wages here, but Larry and I have both been servers during our American youth, so we still have a REALLY hard time not tipping in certain situations!)
Another vote for Lisbon being the most family friendly city in the world! 😎
Day 2 Recap of our Family Vacation in Lisbon:
- Spent a couple hours exploring the Castillo de S. George
- Tried Portuguese steak, potatoes & tortillas (yum!)
- Abandoned the Santa Justa Lift 😅
- Enjoyed dessert pastries from Cafe Gelo
Day 3 Of Our Kids Lisbon Holidays Itinerary:
This was the last full day of our family vacation in Lisbon, and we wanted to make sure we got as much fun in as we could!
Our trip was fairly laid back for a 3 day Lisbon itinerary, but there was still so much to see and do that we already knew that 3 days in Lisbon wasn't enough!
And since we were taking an 8-hour bus ride to Sevilla, Spain the next day, we were less worried about wearing ourselves out (or having sore legs) and mostly just excited to see more Lisbon attractions for families.
First we hired a TukTuk driver to take us across town to the Monastery of Sao Vicente of Fora.
It was our first time riding in a TukTuk, and is the perfect way to explore Lisbon with families- we all fit in without a problem!
We often find ourselves having to hire 2 taxis to get places, so this bigger TukTuk was an amazing find!
The ride was fun for the kids and the driver showed us landmarks and gave us some fun historical and cultural info. It was fantastic! You can pre-schedule a TukTuk tour here.
When we got to the Sao Vicente, we quickly realized we had underestimated this place.
We expected it to a be a quick trip (mostly so Mom could see more cool church architecture), but we were blown away by it's beauty and it's size!!
The Monastery of Sao Vicente is an old, huge cathedral complex turned into a museum. We were also able to explore the compound up even to the roof, where you get an incredible view of the coastline and surrounding city.
This time the view was of the other side of the city, so we really got to see ALL of the best views of the city during our full holidays in Lisbon. (Take that, endless Santa Justa Lift line!)
From the inside to the outside to the roof top, there is just SO much beauty in this ONE location. I cannot even express enough what a must-see this place is!
After visiting the church, we stopped for lunch and then headed back to the city center.
Since it was December, Rossio Square had holiday lights and a small festival going on.
The scene in the plaza was very beautiful, and while the sun was going down we had fun letting the kids play around the fountain.
This is a perfect activity in Lisbon for kids (and many other plazas in Portugal and Spain also), because there is often someone blowing bubbles for the kids, people playing instruments, little shopping stands, and other fun activities going on.
Once it got dark, the lights around the entire city center lit up with grandeur. If you haven't spent the Christmas holidays in Lisbon yet, I definitely recommend it!
There were little Christmas stands set up, selling decorations and knick-knacks, souvenirs and treats. It was a great way to spend our last evening.
I've been told that they do many different 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!
Day 3 of our Holidays in Lisbon Recap:
- Took a fun tour ride on a TukTuk
- Explored the Monastery of Sao Vicente of Fora
- Enjoyed another yummy Portuguese lunch
- Played in the Rossio Square plaza
- Browsed the Christmas festival and took in the holiday lights
All in all, our 3 day Lisbon itinerary was lovely and the whole family had a blast, It is still our favorite of all the cities we've been to so far over the past few years.
If you have a bit more time to explore Lisbon with families especially, you can easily spend 4-5 days here and not get bored at all!
We were definitely sad to leave, but also super excited for our NEXT stop in our overseas adventure: Sevilla, Spain!
Goodbye, Lisbon, but not for long! We will be back again soon!
PS- We took so many amazing pictures of Lisbon it was hard to choose which ones to post!
So here's a few more of my favorites that didn't quite fit in above. 😍
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