If you’re in search of a family-friendly destination for your crew, look no further than Lisbon, Portugal. Located on the west coast of Portugal, at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon has all of the great food, beverage, history, and culture of the rest of Portugal and Spain with the added benefit of being a short 6:50 flight from New York. Combining ease of access, easy navigation, and amazing value, Lisbon currently has the top-spot in our family-friendly destination list.
What Makes Lisbon a Family-Friendly Destination?
When we visit a place, we look at all manner of things to determine if it’s a family-friendly destination. Things like ease of getting around, how the US Dollar stacks up against local currency, hotel selection, what activities can kids get into, what’s the food scene like, how accepting of children are locals and businesses, etc. So how does Lisbon stack up?
Ease of Access
Getting to Lisbon couldn’t really be easier. Especially from the United States, you’re looking at a maximum of one stop to get to LIS. Just one long-haul separates you and your family from this awesome city. And if you plan it out right, the flight there really isn’t much longer than going from New York to San Francisco!
And once you actually make it to Lisbon, it’s a super quick Uber or a Metro ride away. Among the airports we’ve visited, LIS was likely the quickest from airport to hotel. And that’s important for that ever-refreshing post-long-haul shower. Also, it makes it easy on the kids.
Getting around Lisbon
Another key factor in determining a family-friendly destination is how easy it is to get around. Lisbon has a great public transit system filled with busses, trolleys, trains, and funiculars. When traveling with groups, public transit is far and away the easiest way to get people around. For more than 4 people, it’s a necessity unless you want to double your taxi fare.
It’s also a very walkable city (if you’re so inclined… literally…) though it’s a bit hilly. And Uber is super cheap, so that’s always an option. If you’re in need of a carseat and Uber, 95% of the rides we requested had car seats in the trunk ready for use. It was great!
Affordability of Lisbon
When we first looked at Lisbon as being a potentially family-friendly destination, one thing stood out: its affordability. At the time we went, €1 was equal to about $1.14. The Euro used to be expensive compared to the USD, but they’ve come much closer to evening out lately. What does that mean for us travelers? More buying power!
On top of the nice conversion rate, Lisbon as a city is very affordably priced. Food costs were far and away less than what we’re used to in the Chicagoland area, which is always something nice. We hesitate to get too into this part because affordability largely depends on your style and interests and what you’re used to. Suffice it to say, though, that the expense won’t come from conversion rates.
Family-Friendly Destination Staple: Lodging
This one like the last is highly dependent on what you’re into. For us, we like boutique-y hotels rather than the large chains. Think closer to AirBNB than the Westin (nothing against Westin, we still love you) for us. You tend to get a more intimate experience with the staff and the neighborhood where you’re staying. It’s definitely more of an immersive experience.
Anecdotally, we have heard that everyone staying in Lisbon with their kiddos loved the hotel for one reason or another. We did a whole review of ours on our sister site, Bottles & Banter, that you should check out.
But Lisbon is FULL of boutique style hotels and bed-and-breakfast type places. If that’s your style, you can’t miss out.
What Can We Do With Kids?
A ton. There are all the obvious tourist hotspots to hit: Bélem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Castelo de S. Jorge, Alfama, Tram 28, Monument of the Discoveries, Oceanario de Lisboa. All more than worth doing. And in fact if you plan it out right, you can knock off a majority of them in a day and a half! Really depends on your pace and what you want to do. We tend to take our time so spread it out over three days.
Then there are the restaurants and food scene. Not much beats Portuguese food, and if you hit the right places, you can get like 5 meals each day. We’re snackers and sharers, though. Pasteis de Nata, Sardines, Chicken Piri Piri, Bacalhau à Bras (Salted Cod Fish), cereal (yup) just to name a few. And McDonald’s, of course. We have to visit McD’s in every country we visit. And to top it all off, every place we went to talked to and acknowledged our daughter before us! It was so refreshing to have the littlest member member of our group to get so much attention.
That’s an overall theme of Lisbon, though. Every place we visited welcomed the chance to interact with Olivia. And that, that right there, is how you get to the top of our list when looking for a family-friendly destination.