Dasilva. Freitas. Demello. Tavares. Ferreira. These are the names on the street signs in Portugal. I recognize them all. They are the names of my high school classmates. My small public high school South of Boston in Lakeville, Massachusetts was mostly Portuguese…and as I walked the streets in Portugal I felt strangely at home…it’s also the reason why I’ve always wanted to travel to Portugal. After much research I decided to split our family trip to Portugal between two cities of Lisbon and Porto. I was not disappointed.
- Gorgeous city! Beautiful colors, mosaics and tiles. The city of Lisbon looks very different than any other European city and I loved that. It is distinctly unique because of its colorful buildings, steep meandering hills with breathtaking views of the city and water and beautiful tile work in all of the storefronts. If you are traveling with a family and/or a stroller, I hope you are in pretty good shape because walking up or down the hills for that matter will be no easy feat especially if you are headed up to the eclectic and trendy Alfama neighborhood with the best views of the city. If you really want to get a feel for what Lisbon really looks like head over to travel blog Lisbon me please – with absolutely gorgeous pictures of this one of a kind city.
- Incredible food. Known for their fresh seafood, sardines, octopus and clams, the food in Lisbon is delicious and is really reasonably priced depending on what restaurant you choose. Because most people eat dinner at 8 or 9, we opted for long late lunches and then just had a snack before bed. Hey…we were traveling with a nine month old! Not only did this save us money, we found the Portuguese “tapas” style of eating great for kids. It allowed everyone to try everything (hello Sardines) and then order more if you really loved it (No one ordered seconds on the sardines).
- Cost. Compared to the rest of Europe, Portugal is pretty reasonably priced and often very cheap especially when it comes to hotels, cabs, and food which is usually the bulk of your cost for any trip anyway. You can easily book a hotel room for 100 dollars a night or less. We stayed at the Lisbon Short Stay Apartments and loved the hippie hostel vibe and great service. After flying overnight from Chicago through Madrid, we were exhausted. Our room was not ready when we arrived but after explaining our plight and holding a crying baby, a room suddenly was ready! Praise God…and crying babies are magic 🙂
- Family-Friendly. You have to really love travel to pack up two little ones and head to Europe. Having said that, there are definitely some cities that are better options than others for many reasons. Lisbon is a great choice even though the prettiest part of the city is up a massive hill there are so many other things to do with kids including going to the Oceanarium….the largest aquarium in Europe. There are more museums in Lisbon than in any other European city. (They even have a sardine museum.) We stayed in a two bedroom apartment with a kitchen and that made a huge difference in our experience. We were able to cook breakfast and keep snacks in the refrigerator and also have a resting place at night after a full day of travel.
- Relaxed vibe. The pace of Lisbon is relaxed and easy. The population is only half a million people and because of that you never feel rushed or crowded. There is so much to do and see and eat and you’ll never see it all but you feel like you can definitely hit the highlights and get a sense of the beautiful energy and scenery in one week. I also LOVED Porto (our next stop) but I’ll save those details for my next post! Have you been to Lisbon? Love to hear what your favorite part was and what YOU would recommend for the first time traveler. xo Kate