15 Sep 2016 4111
Mónica Franco {Journalist}
#family #tips

Lisbon, for kids and young people

The Portuguese capital is centuries old, but seems to be getting younger every day. It’s a city you need to appreciate with your eyes wide open. To learn about its history on foot, to look at the seabed without getting into a boat, to go for river trip on wheels. But it’s also a place for eating watermelon ice-cream or having lunch while you play. A place where you can almost touch the sky. And even glide over the surface of the River Tagus. A city that is full on, for grown-up kids.

Here are the coordinates . ..

EAST

If you’re in Lisbon with the little ones it would be unforgivable not to visit one of the biggest aquariums in the world. Lisbon Oceanarium has a huge central aquarium with five million litres of salt water, four marine habitats that will take you almost literally to the middle of an ocean and loads of exciting activities, including sleeping with sharks or listening to ‘underwater’ fado. The Oceanarium is in Parque das Nações next to the River Tagus, so you can finish off your visit to the bottom of the sea with a ‘flight’ over the river. Climb aboard one of the 40 gondolas for a Cable Car Ride and, for 10 minutes, enjoy the view over the city 30 metres up.

The José Gomes Ferreira Park (also known as Alvalade Woods), designed by renowned landscape architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles, and shortly to be expanded with the rehabilitation of the former estate Quinta do Narigão next to the airport, includes picnic areas, a children’s playground and Refreshment Area. You can tuck into family-size toasted sandwiches and natural fruit juices or simply choose one of the many green areas to spread out a blanket and have a picnic. While you watch the planes overhead.


CENTRE

A visit to the São Jorge Castle is not to be missed. Firstly, because it’s a castle it’s full of history and adventure. Secondly, because it’s a castle, it has that special view. .. And also because (until September) you can explore this historical Lisbon landmark after hours. On Saturday nights, there’ll be a real buzz in the air. .. A nocturnal walk through the eleventh century fortress to discover, observe and identify several species of bats with the help of a biologist and an ultrasound detector.

To see what’s typical of Lisbon in an untypical way, hire a tuk-tuk and do a tour of the old quarters: Sé, Alfama, Graça, S. Vicente, Mouraria, Martim Moniz and Castelo. There are many companies doing tuk-tuk tours of the capital. Ecotuktours has the advantage of being environmentally-friendly by using only electric vehicles (they take 6 people, last about 90 minutes and cost 75 euros).

The Bica Funicular has connected the Chiado/Bairro Alto district with the river at Cais do Sodré since 1892, through what is probably one of the steepest picture-postcard funiculars in the capital. Stroll through the streets of these two neighbourhoods which combine the old and the new like few others. Feel the pulse of Lisbon’s streets and recharge your batteries with a genuine Italian-recipe ice cream (the chocolate has earned prizes !!) from the newly opened Mu in the Principe Real area, or at the famous Santini in the Chiado district; proof of a Portuguese classic. When you come back down the funicular to Cais do Sodré, explore the revamped Mercado da Ribeira market for some signature snacks or get the kids learning how to make them. The Academia Time Out organises Masterkids sessions at weekends. Imagine having your own kids making custard tarts or pancakes at home for your tea or sushi for dinner !!

WEST

Vehicles. In particular big, strange ones. It always does the trick with kids...! So going on a HIPPOtrip is guaranteed to be a success. It’s not a bird or a plane. It’s an amphibian bus for sightseeing on land and in the water. A bus that goes through the city streets, but also a boat that enters the Tagus and uses the surprise effect to show visitors Lisbon in an unusual way. The start and finish is at the Doca de Santo Amaro in Alcântara. The place with the WOW factor. UAU (pronounced ‘wow’) is the name of the new handmade ice cream factory, named for the effect of some of its 40 ice lollies, created in collaboration with renowned pastry chef Francisco Siopa. The Doca is near Alcântara and some other (wheeled but stationary) attractions. Village Underground, the cultural centre located near the Coach Museum (an attraction in its own right due to its collection of trams from different periods), is an events and office space, built from containers and old buses. The cafeteria was put on the top deck of one of them and, on Sundays an inflatable is available (see right) to work off the energy of any stray children you may have. If you still have any young ones left over, send them to a session at the Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium. There are explanations of the movements of the stars and the solar system and they organise activities, but just gazing at projections of night sky, right next to the Jerónimos Monastery, is something to look back on in later life. Definitely.

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