One of the most laid-back and apparently timeless cities in Europe, Lisbon (Lisboa) is very family friendly and a great destination for two-centre breaks – short breaks before or after longer family holidays elsewhere in Portugal. Situated on the Atlantic coast, this westernmost city in continental Europe refuses to die – it's been the world's richest city twice, and following periods of decay it continues to reinvent itself. Life is good here, and Lisboetas know it.
More or less in the centre of the country, about 300km from the Algarve in the south and 400km from Spain to the north, Lisbon and surrounds offer beaches, countryside, mountains, areas of historical interest, and fascinating satellite towns and sights.
Things to do with kids in Lisbon
Eat grilled sardines in the Alfama district, gaze at seemingly endless views, marvel at the impossibly steep terrain and travel, as locals do, by metro, tram and funny funiculars.
Visit the Oceanarium, one of Europe's largest aquariums, and beside it the Knowledge Museum (Pavilhao Conhecimento), a hands-on attraction for all ages from three, where you can moonwalk, barfly jump and blow bubbles. Then check out the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT; Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia).
Seek out the haven that is Principe Real Gardens, with an overhanging canopy of ancient trees and a peaceful café that make this a great place to just hang out. Join the yummy mummies on a Saturday-morning shop before the organic farmers' market.
Check out Lisbon Zoo, with a mini-cable car-ride over the lion enclosure included in the admission price.
Visit the beaches of Sintra. Little known by tourists, this area is well worth a short trip out of the city. Praia de Macas with its great bodyboarding is especially good for families, while Praia Grande is favoured by surfers. Lifeguards are on duty mid-June–mid Sept.
While you're in the area, take a trip to Azenhas do Mar ('Watermills of the Sea'), a whitewashed village trimmed with blue, built on the slopes of the cliff with a river cascading to the sea below and fascinating rock pools. Recently restored, the watermills are now home to a restaurant, bar and swimming pool.
Aqueduct in Lisbon
For eating out in Portugal, see our destination guide.
Traditional festivities in Lisbon
When to go to Lisbon
Temperatures stay reasonably mild in Lisbon year-round, with average minimums of 11/12°C in winter, making it ideal for year-round family breaks and holidays depending on what you plan to do.
Rainfall drops from April/May to September, with July and August averaging 28°C. The first thing you'll notice getting off the plane is the wonderful warm gusts of Atlantic wind.
Lisbon is a great spot for a reasonably priced city-break with kids. Expect to pay around €30 for a three-course meal with a glass of wine or beer, while a hotel room in Lisbon is an average of €100. As elsewhere, a self-catering apartment can help keep costs down.
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Flying time3hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint1.39 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
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