Hello travel families! Today we are going to a sunny country Portugal! Be ready to swim in the ocean in December, see a fairy-tale castle, eat the sweetest pastry and meet good people! Or you are an active family or less, you will definitely find what to do in this country.
Plan for 7 days: Lisbon, Sintra, and Algarve
I’ve been to Portugal 3 times: twice just in Lisbon visiting my local friends and once I went their for surfing with a group of friends from Ukraine. So I had a very good opportunity to dive into Portuguese everyday live and moreover to see those people who live in the South of the country. It was amazing!
When we were coming to the beach around 9-10 am to surf classes I saw parents with kids of any ages. The father running with a nine years-old son, a British father who was trying to stop 2 twins from staying in a puddle of the ocean water… A mom-surfer who has just given birth and was sitting on the beach with a newborn baby, waiting and watching her friend on a board. People take kids here everywhere. And everyone was so relaxed, no rush and total calmness.
So describing my itinerary I don’t want to give you 50 points to visit. Just a couple to enjoy, have fun and remember this trip. The options may vary based on your decision whether to rent a car or not. But I suggest you rent it as in the South you will need it.
Day 1-2. Arrival to Lisbon. Exploring Lisbon
As the airport is located not very far from the downtown you may get to the city or by bus or by taxi which costs 15-20 euros.
Book your accommodation via Airbnb in the following areas: near metro Martin Moniz, Rossio, Baixa-Chiado, and the area towards the waterfront. The particularity of the Portuguese capital is that it is all built on hills. Everywhere hills so if you are going to walk a lot you’ll definitely feel the results the next day!
I don’t know whether you need a car in Lisbon as streets in the downtown are very tiny. I suggest you to rent it before going to the South. Moving in taxis will cost you only 3-5 euros! Yes, the taxi in Lisbon is cheap.
Breakfast in rua Madalena
After the arrival go to grab some good food in Fábrica Lisboa in Rua da Madalena, 121 (especially the place is good for breakfasts). Here you’ll find everything you need for a proper breakfast for your family. Eggs, omelets, croissants, soups, salads. Tasty and the prices are adequate! In this street, which leads you towards the Commercial square, you’ll also find lots of other good places.
The Praça do Comércio, how it is called in Portuguese, is a huge square faced towards the Tagus river which flows out into the Atlantic Ocean. Come closer to the water and have a small rest. When the weather is good there are lots of people coming there to feed the pigeons or to fish.
From there take a direction to the Rossio square which is considered to be a central square and from there to Baixa-Chiado. Don’t miss one of the most famous viewpoints of Lisbon like Elevador de Santa Justa, which connects the lower part of Lisbon with a higher one. But don’t take the elevator! Just go by foot to Baixa-Chiado and from there reach the place. Because you’ll just waste the time waiting in a huge line to lift for 30 seconds. Being there don’t miss to take a look on Igreja do Carmo – one of the city’s oldest churches.
So the first day is an overview day in Lisbon.
Dinner in Lisbon at “O Palacio”
For your first dinner in Lisbon choose or Alfama neighborhood which is a famous Fado music places and in general it is a very characteristic area of Lisbon. Or go to a super tasty seafood restaurant out of city center. You’ll easily get there by taxi and you’ll find there only local people.
The restaurant called O Palacio, at rua Prior do Crato, 142, Alcântara. Sounds royal, ah? The place is situated a bit outside of walking zones. Be ready for every kind of a seafood, or even to try something that maybe you haven’t tried yet! What else to be ready for? Totally packed restaurant and buzz of every kind of noise. The locals adore this place. The whole families.
So, what to taste? Appetizers: oysters, prawns, some vegetable spreads, a very tasty bread. Main dishes — lobsters, crabs, mashed crabs served in a crab shell, fish. All this you can see in an aquarium at the entrance. So the specialty of “O Palacio” is that it is a place that can be hardly named a restaurant. 🙂 Simplicity is the right word here. All eyes on food. This place was shown me by the locals, so I do recommend it to you. The prices here are very pleasant.
Find out more places where to eat in Lisbon here.
Day 2. Visit all the main sightseeings
Dedicate the second day to explore as much as you can of Lisbon, before going to Algarve towards the ocean. Depending on how much you kids love to walk create a small itinerary to save the time.
The first stop in the Cathedral of Lisbon, which somehow reminds Notre-Dame de Paris. From there go to visit the St. Georges Castle from where you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the city. After go down toward Alfama (but as for me it should be visited during the evening time as it’s a good place for dinner) or reach another breathtaking viewpoint Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. I do love this place. Actually, all the above-mentioned sightseeings has parks around and cafes. So you can always take a rest if the weather permits.
Another root which you can choose is Belem and all the area near. To Mosteiro dos Jerónimos you can arrive or by bus or by metro. City bus lines: 727, 28, 729, 714 and 751; tram 15; suburban train: Belém station. Better by bus so you’ll see everything around.
The 16th-century Jerónimos monastery is one of the great landmarks of Portugal, which is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Near the riverfront in Lisbon’s attractive Belém neighborhood, the monastery, was built to honor Vasco da Gama’s epic 1498 voyage to India, Jerónimos is as much a symbol of the wealth of the Age of Discovery as it is a house of worship. The tomb of prominent Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama lies just inside the entrance to Santa Maria church.
As soon as you finish your visit to Jeronimos run, just run to the most famous place in Lisbon Pasteis de Belem in rua Belém 84-92, where the adults and kids go crazy! 🙂 When you arrive at the patisserie you’ll definitely find a long line. But don’t be upset, the stuff of the cafe is used to it and works fast. A standard box contains 6 small pieces of pasteis de nata, traditional Portuguese bakery, so take 2! Don’t hesitate 🙂
There are so many other places to see in Lisbon, so you can wary the itineraries as you want. Depends on how much your family loves to walk.
Day 3. Sintra trip
The day 3 dedicate to an almost Disney castle called Pena Castle. Yes, it looks like in a fairy-tale. Today the Pena Palace of Sintra is in World Heritage Site by UNESCO and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
How to get to Sintra
30 minutes away from Lisbon by train. Consider that Lisbon has several train stations. The train to Sintra departs from the Rossio train station, which is located in central Lisbon and you will always recognize that fantastic building. Price for go and back is €4.30.
Sintra train station is located 1.5km from the historic center, while the Pena Palace castle is at the top of a hill, far from the center. So to get everywhere go further from the train station (actually, follow the flow of tourists same like you) to take a bus 434 which connects the train station, the historic town and the Pena Palace.
Having visited the palace you can walk around the park and after take a bus back to downtown. Have a lunch there and at the end of the day go back to Lisbon.
When in Lisbon, decide for your last dinner before a trip to Algarve.
There is one small but delicious place O Eurico in the downtown, towards Alfama. Here you will find much more tourists, but still, the place is very authentic and the cuisine is decent. It is run by an old couple who manages everything here. Here you’ll find both fish and meat, but the specialty is fish. Small space and a friendly atmosphere!
Day 4-7. Algarve, Lagos
To get to Algarve you can or by renting a car (this will permit you to make more stops) or by bus. By bus it took us around 5 hours. The only thing is that you’ll have to move between the towns and beaches, so better take a car, otherwise, you’ll feel uncomfortable.
Look the map and choose any location you like. But the most famous beach there I guess is Praia Dona Ana with its caves nearby, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They are best to be visited by a boat.
When I was in Algarve it was the end of October and we’ve been living in Aljezur and our main activity was surfing classes. Actually, you can look up at this idea as another way to spend your vacation as long as there are lots of surfing schools for kids.
We were living in Aljezur, a bit inside from the cost and every morning we took our equipment and went to Praia da Arrifana. The view from the top of the cliff is amazing! Especially the sunset view, nature is breathtaking there.
Also, there is a small town Luz, which I do loved as well. This a peaceful small places with only white houses around and it seems only British people living there. Such an awesome ambiance! This location will be perfect for a family relaxation as the water in Luz beach is not as deep as in Praia da Arrifana. If you have small children, choose this area.
If not surfing, South of Portugal is a fantastic place to spend your vacation during the summer period, but you’ll at least will need a week only for a beach vacation.
During the whole year you have supermarkets, everything opened in bigger towns, so you’ll be able to keep your family breakfast traditions, etc.
Here is a cool team of Fil surf school in Algarve, who taught me to stand up on a board 😀
When the time comes to go back to Lisbon you may make a one-day stop before departing.
I do love Portugal for its hospitality, for a fantastic nature… When you stand on the cliff and in front of you there is only the Atlantic ocean, you feel like being at the edge of the Earth. It is less expensive to spend here a family vacation than in Spain or Italy and what is very important Portugal totally differs from the abovementioned countries.
The approximate expenses for a trip are:
- A week of surfing with all the equipment and accommodation – 350 per person (per family may vary). Consider the surfing trip was during the off-season in the end of October.
- As for the villa rental, the prices will vary on your demands.
- Accommodation in Lisbon 60 euros/night.
- Transport around Lisbon and Sintra around 50-60 euros in total.
- Eating in Lisbon will cost you around 40-60 euros per dinner (for the whole family). If seafood the check may vary.
- Eating in Algarve will depend on how much you’ll cook and spend in restaurants. Consider that during the off-season many restaurants in Algarve are closed, but not in cities. Usually, the budget per person is around 15-20 euros.
- Car rental 50-70 euros per 7 days.