With a 20 month old in tow, our holiday needs were specific: a relatively short flight, guaranteed warm weather (but not too hot) and a city which welcomes families, yet offers culture and sophistication.
Enter stage right: Lisbon, late September.
Listed as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, Lisbon has previously sat under beneath the radar on city tripper’s hit lists. We discovered – en famille – it is certainly on the up…
Parents of young children know that shoulder season travel is often a good bet. Prices are more affordable, there’s less crowds and still a decent shot at good weather.
An endurable two hour flight, brought us directly into balmy temperatures in the late 20s. Prices at our family-friendly hotel had been reduced thanks to school holidays being over, which also meant there were plenty of croissants left at breakfast.
Admittedly, Lisbon’s cobbled hills are not a buggy’s friend, but they offer a good work out for whoever’s pushing.
A great way to see the capital is aboard the iconic tram 28, a yellow wooden trolley that passes many of the city’s key sites such as the Portas do Sol and Alfama flea market. Our day travel pass included travel on the metro, as well as on the graffiti adorned ascensors that trundle and rumble up tracks along Lisbon’s steep passageways. Most emerge at captivating viewpoints over the red roofs of the city and river Tagus.
At lunchtimes, we swung by the relatively new Time Out market, a ginormous street food emporium with long tables surrounded by a worldly collection of aromatic, artisan stalls, all stir frying, grilling or sizzling up delicious dishes.
Without doubt, the city is undergoing something of a renaissance right now, with new openings like the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, situated in the Belem district. But it’s the central neighbourhood of Chiado, set between the party district of Bairro Alto and the Tagus River, which is the most up and coming. Rebuilt after the famous earthquake of 1755 that destroyed much of the city, today it’s a shopping mecca with new cafes and restaurants popping up weekly.
On day release from the central hustle and bustle, we headed east to visit the Oceanarium. Located in the Parque das Nações, which was the exhibition grounds for the Expo ’98, it is deservedly listed as the #1 thing to do in Lisbon for families by TripAdvisor.
It’s the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, showcasing terrestrial and marine ecosystems from four marine habitats.
It’s also where our son Harvey learnt to say ‘fish’. A lot.