Our family vacation in Lisbon, Portugal was as dreamy and relaxing as it was invigorating and fun! Exploring Lisbon for kids was a blast! There were 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 did this family travel on a budget. So I’ve included plenty of Lisbon attractions for families that are either cheap or free! 😉

Lisbon, Portugal is said to be the most beautiful city in the world. Of course, we were not disappointed! As our first stop in Europe, it was breathtaking.

Lathrop Children resting at the top of the Castelo de S George on our Lisbon Portugal family travel

I can say that Lisbon should probably have a disclaimer: ‘Guaranteed to firm up your butt just by walking.’ The hills and stairs in Lisbon can be 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! 😉 (Important note about the stroller later!)

I feel like I should also note that most of the activities we did were VERY budget friendly. I think food was our biggest expense. (And even that was cheap when coming from the USA).

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 wildly 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. Babies, toddlers and younger kiddos can’t regulate body heat as easily as we do. This means the cold can affect them a bit more.

We had booked a 2 bedroom flat through Airbnb that was very close to the Tram 28 line. The Tram 28 line is very central to Lisbon. It takes you to all the popular neighborhoods and runs about every 10-15 minutes.

The location was fabulous- and I was actually shocked at the low prices! Especially after coming from NYC!!

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!

Instead, we booked a hotel room in the Martim Moniz Square (like a center plaza) for our last night. It was so cozy and warm, that we regretted not staying there the whole time!

We stayed at the Hotel Mundial, which was quite lovely and surprisingly affordable!

Family Travel Tip for AirBnBs:

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).

Now you can see why I’m so adamant about checking for heating/cooling features when looking at where to stay in Lisbon for kids. Yikes!

That being said, aside from those two (freezing cold) nights, the other parts of our family vacation in Lisbon was blissful! 😍 You can check out this interactive map for some GREAT deals on hotels and activities. (And save some moolah while also supporting more awesome posts like these!)

Before I dive into our 3 day Lisbon for kids itinerary, I want to give a quick disclaimer about the stroller situation I mentioned earlier.

While planning our big European trip/move, were told by a couple of (well-meaning) people not to bring strollers. They said that strollers would be difficult to maneuver. Not to mention annoy other people on narrow European sidewalks.

So, we ditched our strollers, and used a really cool backpack carrier instead. (I talk about it in this post about family travel backpacks here!) And even though our backpack carrier was probably the COOLEST piece of family travel gear we ever bought, we still regretted not having a stroller for our toddler.

Having BOTH the baby carrier AND a stroller would have REALLY been able to make travel easier with multiple small kids.

So don’t feel intimidated by bringing a stroller! It IS worth having, especially when little legs get tired in the afternoons! (And we saw LOTS of strollers on the sidewalks! 🤷‍♀️) Okay, moving on.

The first day of our family vacation in Lisbon was fairly relaxed. We were all pretty tired from our overseas flight from New York. (Have you seen our NYC with Kids post? Check it out here!)

Our trip to Lisbon was our FIRST EVER European family vacation. So we were VERY excited and eager to explore the city.

If you’re considering traveling Europe with kids, but haven’t been yet, Lisbon is a GREAT way to introduce your family to the beauty of Europe. It’s beautiful. It’s clean. The people are so FRIENDLY and WELCOMING, and they really love kids!

While planning for our trip, we heard a LOT about Lisbon’s amazing street art. So of course, we went on a city scavenger hunt 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 for kids, this is a great FREE activity that we all really enjoyed. (Snag our FREE street art scavenger hunt printable here to use on your phone while walking. It’s a great free activity for ANY big city!)

Lisbon Street Art scavenger hunt game family travel tip
Some of the Lisbon Street Art we saw on our scavenger hunt

Asking questions along the walk also helped make this a great (and free!) Lisbon 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!

(PS- our free scavenger hunt game makes this super easy and fun!)

While wandering, we stopped into one of the many fruit stands for some fresh, juicy produce! The produce in Europe is ridiculously delicious!

Printable Family Street Art Scavenger Hunt Game by LathropsGoneAWOL Family Travel Tips Blog
Click To Download Our FREE Printable Family Street Art Scavenger Hunt Game!

I felt like a great mom for stacking vitamins into my kids in a fun way. Plus, I saved some cash by filling their bellies with healthy, cheap alternatives to restaurant snacks.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped for gelato (ice cream). It was equally delicious! (So much for healthy foods! LOL!) European gelato is a MUST TRY.

Next we took a short break in our flat to rest our toes and regroup.

The we made our way to see the beautiful Lisbon Cathedral. It’s a gorgeous church (both inside and outside) and was 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 just a wonderful way for us to show our kids Lisbon and fall in love with Europe. 🥰

Side Note: I’m not entirely sure where we ate for most of this trip. 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! 😜 (I didn’t start blogging our travels until a few months after we took this Lisbon trip.)

That being said, we had a great experience at EVERY restaurant we stopped into throughout our stay! 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 to the front of lines, simply because we had kids!

– A Street Art Scavenger Hunt Throughout Lisbon For Kids & Adults

– Fruit stand & Gelato shop stops

– Explored the Lisbon Cathedral

– Ate dinner somewhere yummy

Click to download our FREE Family Vacation Planner Spreadsheet Template by LathropsGoneAWOL Family Travel Blog

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. If you haven’t been, there’s a wonderful old castle/fort that’s 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 for 12 and under with reduced rates for teens!) Looking back, I do wish we had gotten an audio tour of this complex, even if only to learn more about the cork trees!!

So much fun to explore the Castelo de S George on our Lisbon Portugal family travel | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel tips
So much fun to explore the Castelo de S George on our Lisbon Portugal vacation!

We were a little bit sore from all of the walking up and down the city streets the day before. (Did I mention this town is extremely hilly?!?) Therefore, we started our morning a bit late to recover. 😉

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!

The Castelo de S George is broken into sections. There is 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.

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 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. They loved 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. You enter the ruins by crossing over a drawbridge.

White peacocks near the Castelo de S George on our Lisbon Portugal family travel | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel blog

While the 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 saw several amazingly 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 ate a late lunch at a quaint, uncrowded Lisbon restaurant.

We enjoyed a local dish of potatoes, steak, and tortillas (which were eggs, I think).

There were not many tourists there in December, but since we have such a large family, we need places with plenty of available seating.

We typically avoid ‘trendier’ restaurants while traveling, as they get too busy and can’t always accommodate our family of 7.

We’ve also found that you can experience more authentic food by looking outside of the typical touristy spots. This 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.

Eating amazing Portuguese food on our Lisbon holiday!
Eating amazing Portuguese food on our Lisbon holiday!

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, particularly with smaller 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.

This vacation taught us a few important family travel tips, but this was the most important one:

Plan activities in advance, so that you can buy tickets in advance. They are usually cheaper that way AND you often get to skip the longer lines.

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.

Cafe Gelo and Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon family vacation

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! 😎

– 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

GetYourGuide Activities in Lisbon with Kids Collage

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 Seville, 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 for our family of 7 to get to places, so having access to a bigger TukTuk was an amazing find! If you can find 6-8 seater TukTuk drivers, it will often be cheaper than hiring TWO taxis!

The tuktuk ride was a lot 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 great TukTuk tour of Lisbon 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 its beauty and it’s size!!

Monastery of Sao Vicente of Fora in Lisbon Family Vacation Activity

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 rooftop, 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.

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.

Rossio Square Family Fun in Lisbon Portugal Family Travel Tips

Once it got dark, the lights all around the Rossio Square 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!

– Took a fun tour ride on a TukTuk

– Explored the Monastery of Sao Vicente of Fora

– Enjoyed another yummy Portuguese lunch & dinner

– Played in the Rossio Square plaza

– Browsed the Christmas festival and took in the holiday lights

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!

All in all, our trip to Lisbon was the PERFECT introduction to traveling Europe with kids, and really helped to bolster our bold plan for moving abroad with children.

In hindsight, I feel like when you travel with kids tips and hacks can really make a difference in being able to enjoy the actual trip without so much stress.

So this trip was a BIG lesson in travel planning and prep for me, but it also gave me a HUGE desire to keep traveling the world with our family (and maybe even take some long European road trips) in the future! 🥰

Goodbye, you wonderful Lisbon holiday, you! 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.

More photos from our family holiday in Lisbon
More photos from our family holiday in Lisbon!
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5 Comments

  1. Planning to travel to Europe next year, and Lisbon is on our list! So glad to know there’s a budget way to explore the place!! And seem like the people are very nice there :) Thank you for such a detailed guide, although I don’t have kids, this guide still provided many helpful tips!!

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! It was surprising how affordable Lisbon is, and how many things there were to see that were free or very, very cheap! It was a shock coming from NYC to Lisbon in the best way! 🤣

  2. Oh wow, I cannot wait to visit Lisbon with our kids, the street art is phenomenal! I appreciate the tip about checking AirBNBs for A/C or heaters, that’s something I would not have thought of. Great guide!

  3. Great shares for folks traveling with the littles. The street art is cool to see. We always enjoy that.

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