LIS­BON: A LOVE FOR ALL AGES

Nathalie Mar­quez Courtney takes you on a fam­i­lyfriendly tour of Por­tu­gal’s cap­i­tal

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Since re­lo­cat­ing from Dublin to Lis­bon, I’ve wel­comed lots of friends and fam­ily to my adopted city, often with kids in tow. I’ve nav­i­gated Lis­bon’s many steps with tod­dlers, pushed bug­gies across cobbleston­es, en­ter­tained bored ten-year-olds on packed trams, and brunched, lunched and din­ner-ed with a baby on my lap. In each case, I’ve found Lis­bon to be a won­der­ful place for fam­i­lies, its re­laxed pace and warm weather adding to its ap­peal. So grab the fam, what­ever their ages, and dive right in…

THE SLEEP­LESS YEARS: BA­BIES

STAY You’ve man­aged to clean the smushed banana off the nappy bag and crawl through a haze of sod­den bibs and air­port queues to make it this far, so take it easy on your­self. Forgo the big tourist at­trac­tions and mad­den­ing crowds and in­stead live like a lo­cal in a nice, mel­low neigh­bour­hood like Campo de Ourique, with its abun­dance of cof­fee shops, chil­dren’s bou­tiques and cute parks, giv­ing you plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to ease your­self in (and race home for naps if needs be).

EX­PLORE A wan­der around the beau­ti­ful Gul­benkian Gar­den (a per­fect pic­nic spot), which also houses the won­der­ful Museu Calouste Gul­benkian (gul­benkian.pt), home to an in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion of Euro­pean art, makes for a pleasant af­ter­noon.

EAT Fol­low the cul­ture with some craft beer and the tastiest burg­ers in the city at Ground Burger (ground­burger.com) and know that the vast El Corte Inglés depart­ment store is nearby if there are baby essentials you’ve for­got­ten – the chil­dren’s f loor is also home to a bril­liant baby chang­ing and feed­ing area (el­corte­in­gles.pt).

YOU’LL LOVE You’ll be pleased to learn that even the hippest cof­fee shops and restau­rants are very baby-friendly, and often have high­chairs avail­able. Por­tu­gal op­er­ates a fairly strict pri­or­ity sys­tem: if you’re el­derly, have a dis­abil­ity, are preg­nant or with a baby, you jump to the top of the queue. It ap­plies in su­per­mar­kets, cof­fee shops, high street stores, as well as on all pub­lic trans­port.

GOOD TO KNOW If you can, leave the buggy at home and opt for baby wear­ing, as the steep hills and bumpy cob­bles make for an un­pleas­ant pram ex­pe­ri­ence. Older ba­bies might be able to han­dle (and even en­joy) bump­ing along in a light­weight stroller.

AT­TACK OF THE NAP: TOD­DLERS

STAY You may be at the mercy of the cru­cial mid­day nap, so in­stead of spend­ing it tip­toe­ing around a ho­tel room, find a roomy self-cater­ing spot you’ll en­joy hang­ing out in. Head to Kid & Coe (ki­dand­coe.com) and browse their cu­rated edit of chic, fam­ily-friendly prop­er­ties, often com­plete with play­rooms, lo­cal tips from the own­ers, and out­door ar­eas.

EX­PLORE If your tod­dler is ob­sessed with things that go, they’ve come to the right city. The bright yel­low trams that criss-cross Lis­bon are a lit­tle per­son’s dream. Kick things off with some of the best pastéis de nata in town at Man­teigaria (Rua do Loreto 2). Your lit­tle one will love watch­ing the cus­tard tarts be­ing made; you’ll love wash­ing down the de­li­cious cin­na­mon-dusted treats with a short, sharp espresso. Then hop on the nearby 24E tram at Praça Luís de Camões and en­joy a me­an­der through the city cen­tre.

EAT If you de­cide to ride the 24E tram right to its end in Cam­polide, re­ward your­self with ei­ther an ar­ti­san ice cream at LucDuc (Rua de Cam­polide 57A), or tuck into tra­di­tional frango as­sado (de­li­cious char­grilled piri piri chicken) at lo­cal institutio­n A Va­len­ciana (Rua Mar­quês de Fron­teira).

YOU’LL LOVE Kiosk cafés (called quiosque in Por­tuguese) are dot­ted all over the city. The small, or­nate, open-sided struc­tures are a big part of Lis­bon life and are the per­fect fam­ily-friendly place to chill. You’ll find them in many neigh­bour­hood parks and squares, sur­rounded by ta­bles and chairs and often along­side won­der­fully main­tained play­grounds. They serve pas­tries, snacks, lo­cal beers Sa­gres and Su­per Bock, as well as home­made le­mon­ade, freshly squeezed or­ange juice, and tasty Por­tuguese wine. They can often be found at mi­radouros – those charm­ing view­ing points with post­card-wor­thy vis­tas – as well.

GOOD TO KNOW If you’ve trav­elled light, but fancy ven­tur­ing fur­ther afield, download the Cab­ify app (cab­ify.com), which al­lows you to eas­ily pre-book a taxi with a car seat.

THE CU­RI­OUS YEARS: FOUR-TO-SIX-YEAR-OLDS

STAY It doesn’t get much more cen­tral or fam­ily-friendly than Mart­in­hal, smack bang in the mid­dle of the Chi­ado neigh­bour­hood (mart­in­hal.com). There are rooms with bunk beds, play­rooms, a su­per­vised kids’ club (open in the evening as well) and, best of all, it’s lo­cated just a few doors up from some of the best cho­co­late cake in town at Lan­deau (lan­deau.pt).

EX­PLORE Lit­tle eyes will open wide at Lis­bon’s won­der­ful ocea­narium, Oceanário de Lis­boa. Lo­cated to the east of the city in the sleek and strik­ingly con­tem­po­rary Par­que das Nações area (the neigh­bour­hood was com­pletely re­gen­er­ated for the city’s Expo in 1998), it will make a change from the crumbly charm of the city cen­tre. Once you’re done see­ing eye-to-eye with all man­ner of wild and won­der­ful sea life – in­clud­ing sharks, pen­guins and sea ot­ters – you can hop on a Tele­cab­ine ca­ble car and take in gor­geous views over the Ta­gus River and

Vasco da Gama Bridge (tele­cab­inelis­boa.pt).

EAT Brunch with a babysit­ter? It can be done. The newly opened fam­ily café A Par­til­har com a Família (Rua das Tri­nas 67) boasts a tasty €15 brunch menu and huge play area, com­plete with two friendly babysit­ters avail­able for €5 per hour, al­low­ing you to tuck into your crois­sants and cof­fee while the kids burn off some en­ergy.

YOU’LL LOVE A few min­utes’ walk from A Par­til­har com a Família is Jardim da Estrela (Praça da Estrela 12), one of Lis­bon’s pret­ti­est parks. There’s a play­ground, a café and even a duck pond (with the odd tur­tle, swan or pea­cock). At the week­ends, look out for pop-up craft and design mar­kets and spot mu­si­cians play­ing in the wrought-iron band­stand.

GOOD TO KNOW If you’re re­ly­ing on Google Maps to get around, make sure to keep an eye on al­ti­tude changes. A quick ten-minute stroll with a cou­ple of kids in tow might seem com­pletely doable – un­til you re­alise it in­volves a 100-plus-step f light of stairs.

BEAT THE SCREENS: EIGHT-TO-TEN-YEAR-OLDS

STAY The wide-open spa­ces over­look­ing the Ta­gus River and laid-back vibe that de­fine the Belém neigh­bour­hood are great for older kids. The beau­ti­ful Pes­tana Palace is housed in a 19th cen­tury build­ing and comes with two pools, a kids’ club and out­door gar­dens as well as a wide range of fam­ily-friendly ameni­ties (pes­tana­col­lec­tion.com).

EX­PLORE Est­ufa Fria, Lis­bon’s vi­brant greenhouse, is a mag­i­cal, jun­gle-like space al­most hid­den in the the city’s huge Ed­uardo VII Park. It makes for a fun place to wan­der with kids; there are creeks and mini caves, stat­ues and tiny bab­bling brooks, as well as an im­pres­sive cac­tus gar­den and lots of beau­ti­ful fauna (est­u­fafria.cm-lis­boa.pt). There’s also a great play­ground, com­plete with a mini zip line, right next door as well as a mi­radouro with stun­ning views across the city.

EAT Head to Zero Zero for the tasty piz­zas, stay for the beau­ti­ful out­door ter­race (pizze­ri­aze­rozero.pt). Lo­cated in the hip Principe Real neigh­bour­hood, it’s across the road from the area’s gor­geous park, where you’ll find a 100-year-old cedar tree “um­brella”.

YOU’LL LOVE Many of Lis­bon’s mu­se­ums and gal­leries of­fer free en­try on the first Sun­day of the month. Sev­eral also have ex­cel­lent kids’ and fam­ily-spe­cific pro­grammes, and the Mu­seum of Art, Ar­chi­tec­ture and Tech­nol­ogy (known as the MAAT) is one of them. Home to cool ex­hi­bi­tions as well as im­mer­sive tours of what used to be the Tejo Power Sta­tion, it’s a great place to spend a morn­ing or rainy af­ter­noon (maat.pt).

GOOD TO KNOW Spe­cial chil­dren’s fares ap­ply on pub­lic trans­port right up to age 12 – most tick­ets are half price on buses, trains, the Metro and trams.

AL­MOST TOO COOL: 11+

STAY El­e­gant, yet warm and cosy, a stay at The Lis­boans is like hang­ing out with your (way cooler) older cousin. Many of the rooms come equipped with kitch­enettes, and break­fast is left hang­ing on your door in a handy linen bag, eas­ily cater­ing for any late ris­ers (the­lis­boans.com).

EX­PLORE The city’s cute and crumbly old district, in­clud­ing neigh­bour­hoods Mouraria, Alfama and Graça is also sur­pris­ingly home to a huge col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary street art. The Es­cad­in­has de São Cristóvão is the most Lis­boan, ded­i­cated to all things Fado, but it’s near im­pos­si­ble not to stum­ble across some as you wan­der, much of it by well-known Euro­pean street artists.

EAT There is no short­age of In­sta­gram-per­fect eater­ies in Lis­bon. Two of the pret­ti­est are Amélia, which of­fers a great-value brunch and lit­tle play area for smaller kids (iloveni­co­lau.com), and Union Em­panadas, a tiny lit­tle spot sell­ing fresh, mor­eish em­panadas whose gor­geous, brightly coloured or­nate in­te­rior was painted by Gonçalo Jordão, a Por­tuguese artist who worked on Wes An­der­son’s The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel (Rua São Cristóvão 27).

YOU’LL LOVE The cool LX Fac­tory neigh­bour­hood, lo­cated to the west of the city, was once a clus­ter of aban­doned fac­to­ries, but is now home to lots of in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques, a rooftop bar (kids wel­come) and one of the most beau­ti­ful book­shops in the world. It’s one long self-con­tained stretch, so can be a good spot to let peo­ple wan­der off and do their own thing.

GOOD TO KNOW Many restau­rants re­main child-friendly well into the evening, and it’s not un­com­mon to see kids out din­ing with their fam­i­lies as late as 9pm or 10pm.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT You don’t have to go far to find a play­ground in Lis­bon; beau­ti­ful, or­nate azule­jos (painted tiles) are dot­ted all across the city; look­ing out towards São Jorge Cas­tle; de­li­cious pastéis de nata at Man­teigaria in Time Out Mar­ket; the wild and won­der­ful gar­dens of the Est­ufa Fria greenhouse

Nathalie and her son Ari in the pretty Ed­uardo VII Park; RIGHT A riot of colour in Lis­bon’s Old Town

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