Our visit to Portugal has been on a high note from the get go. Family friendly airport, friendly and warm people, lovely warm and bright sunshine at the end of October already warmed us folks coming from currently dark and cold London.
We rented a flat on Rua da Misericordia, which is at the heart of the life and culture of Lisbon. The flat provided by Insuites by Architecture Tote Ser is absolutely the best option and comfort for our family with spacious rooms, living room, bathrooms, and kitchen in the heart of the historical centre. We have just been unlucky with the lift not working. By staying in this flat in the historical centre we avoided renting a car and are walking everywhere with the kids. This is helping all of us soak in the Lisbon streets, life and architecture.
Colourful tiled buildings are like fruit cakes, cobbled and hilly streets are a wonder for the children and the street artists and musicians keep the city vibrant. I am already smitten.
Getting a walking tour tailored to keep young children engaged and interested has definitely helped. I would highly recommend Little Lisbon, the city tour tailored for young kids and especially Mariana Sado, our lively tour guide.
Though there is no way of getting around the toddler demands and boredoms, buildings bicep and tricep muscles pushing buggies up the cobbled highly hilly Lisbon streets. Not an easy task, let me tell you! At least, you will definitely deserve a hearty meal at the end of all your hard work.
Belem district with its beautiful tower, lovely riverside walks and stunning contemporary museum architecture is less of a mission as it is set on flat terrain as opposed to the very old part of Lisbon where the Moorish Castle and the maze like neighbourhoods such as Alfamo are situated. I don’t know if we were the first foolish parents to bring three young children and a buggy here but we made it!
And I believe we deserved the famous local delicacy, Pasteis de Nata (custard tart) created by the monks. It is quite sweet but it goes very well with coffee.
Lisbon is now surrounded by buzzing Tuk Tuks. If you are lucky like us to have caught the nice weather, it is another fun way to show around the hilly and sometimes narrow ( in the very old town) streets of the capital to children.
Unfortunately, one downside of travelling with very young children can sometimes be not being able to taste the local delicacies if the kids are quite fussy with their food. Then you may be stuck with the usual winners such as pizza. However, Mercado Ribeiro offers a good solution to this. Whilst the kids can eat what their heart desires, parents can get to select from a variety of good quality of local dishes cooked by successful chefs. My husband got to eat his Piri Piri chicken, whilst I got to taste Portuguese cheese with chestnut sauce and their favourite cod fish.
At least a day trip, if not a night stay is essential to the marvellous town of Sintra, which has inspired Walt Disney with its enchanting villas and palaces. The road trip also provides a testament to the greenery of Portugal and how much the country cares about preserving its nature with strict rules.
From Sintra, it is possible to make a lovely road trip to the ocean coasts and beaches which are very dramatic. Here you can have a stopover at the most Western point of Europe.
Carcais is the fancy coastal holiday town near Lisbon with very interesting Portuguese architecture; However, unfortunately, this place has been tailored to suit British tourists and lacks the charm of Lisbon and Sintra.
Portugal is in fact very different than Spain. They don’t do siesta for one. English is widely spoken. Seafood is more mainstream in their cuisine than pork products. Overall, the look and feel of the country are very different too. I wouldn't say that the food is top notch but as a whole Portugal is one of the best places in Europe.