Lisbon is the beautiful, hilly capital of Portugal that is extremely family friendly. We spent six weeks in Lisbon when our children were 2.5 years old and 10 months old. Spending this much time in Lisbon allowed us to really learn about the city and discover all it has to offer. We are happy to share the best Lisbon attractions that were popular with our toddler.
Most toddlers have no problem spending all day at a park. Luckily, Lisbon is filled with family friendly parks that also make it enjoyable for mom and dad spending all day there too.
The parks in Lisbon are where all the families in the community gather to an enjoy an afternoon. For the kids, the playgrounds are typically fenced in and have washrooms with attendants. For the adults, there are cafes with coffee, wine and food for when the kids get hungry from playing.
Check out our Best Lisbon Parks for Children to learn more about some of the great parks in Lisbon.
No list of the best Lisbon attractions is complete without mentioning their food markets. Lisbon has multiple markets throughout the city, two of which we regularly visited.
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
The Mercado da Ribeira Is the biggest and most famous market in Lisbon. Located downtown by the docks, it is easily accessible no matter where you are staying in Lisbon. The market is divided into two sections. The fresh food section is where you can buy all your fruits, veggies, meats and FRESH seafood.
The other section of the market is a sizeable food hall where we ate many meals during our stay. We were told all of the top Lisbon restaurants have their own stands at this market. Every imaginable type of food was on offer, from steak, sea food, chicken, burgers, sushi, Chinese food, pasta, pizza, traditional Portuguese food, desserts and so much more.
As is the standard practice, most restaurants do not open their doors until 8pm for dinner. The Time Out Mercado allowed us to experience some of the best food the city has to offer, less the tired grouchy children. As if that wasn’t enough reason to eat at the Mercado, the variety of food options avoided long drawn out conversations about what the family wanted to eat. Everyone could wander around until they found a something they wanted to eat.
With fear of sounding like a late night infomercial, the best part of the food hall is that it is 100% toddler and baby friendly. The seating is communal with lots of high chairs available. There is also a toddler washroom that includes a miniature toilet and sink for little bums and a change table for babies. Plus there is a playground right next door!
Mercado de Campo de Ourique
Located in a traditional Portuguese neighbourhood, this off-the-beaten path food market is worth the trip. It can be best described as bustling marketplace where artisanal food vendors share space with hip, informal bars & restaurants.
The fruit and vegetable stalls are all mixed together with restaurant stands serving up modern, sophisticated cuisine. With so many dishes on offer, take the time to enjoy wandering the market deciding on your meal for the day. Just be careful of food order envy as no matter what you order, you will likely be jealous of what your neighbouring table has ordered for their meals.
Along the outer wall of the market are a couple of butchers and there is a separate section for the fish market with wonderful seafood, fresh off the boat. Just make sure you go early if you want to explore the fish market section as its only open in the morning. We would often enjoy a leisurely lunch and then do our shop for dinner right afterwards since everything was all in one spot.
If you manage to nab a babysitter for the kids, this market turns into a popular hotspot at night. If you’re in the area for dinner, we recommend dropping by for a drink to catch the unique atmosphere.
The Oceanário de Lisboa (aquarium) was built for the last World Fair that took place in 1998. It is located at Doca dos Olivais in the Parque das Nações on the east end of the city. While it is accessible by transit, we found taking a taxi from the west end of Lisbon to be the easiest way to get there. And the fare was super cheap!
After spending a couple of hours exploring the world under the sea, there is a little cafe attached to the aquarium to grab a nice little bite to eat. We sat outside enjoying the sunshine and the kids ran and played in the grassy area. Afterwards, we walked along the boardwalk and found a great little playground for the kids.
Yes, that’s right. Public transit is on our list of the best Lisbon attractions with a toddler. How could it not? These fantastic, iconic trolleys move people around the city by navigating the steep hills and winding narrow streets. Trolley rides are always filled with excitement and nervousness when you sit in the front of the tram and wonder if it will fit through narrow passages. Being on the trolley also makes you feel like you have stepped back in time, compared to the futuristic streetcars that most big cities use today (and some can also be found in downtown Lisbon too).
With that said, our toddler fell asleep within the first five minutes of his first ride on this rickety trolley.
While not technically in Lisbon, the nearby beaches are simply amazing. As an added bonus, they are very easily accessible without a car. Just hop on a commuter train and within 30 minutes you are at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Since we were in Lisbon during April and May, the water was quite cold. It is the Atlantic Ocean after all! Despite the cold water, the sunny, beautiful weather made it easy to enjoy a day at the beach in the sand. Our beach of choice was Praia de São Pedro do Estoril. With two restaurants located right on the beach, we always enjoyed a beautiful meal with an even better view and then head down to the sand. The restaurants also provided two sets of washrooms which is always important with a toddler.
If spending a day a the beach is not up your alley, another great option is to visit some of the little beach towns. Cascais is the last stop on the commuter train and offers beautiful views and great restaurants too.