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Keeping Young Minds Occupied – Things to Do with Kids in Lisbon



There are lots of things to do with kids in Lisbon, and plenty of visitor attractions to keep them occupied. Youngsters of all ages, and indeed adults, will get a thrill out of climbing the "Canopy" at the Adventure Park complex, sited west of the city centre. And everyone will love the sea life at the brilliant Oceanário de Lisboa, located at Parque das Nacões. Over in Sintra, the fantastic Quinta da Regaleira is a veritable wonderland with caves, grottos and underground walkways to explore. One of the most convenient ways to discover the Portuguese capital is to take a Hills Tramcar Tour – let the kids sit by the window! Across the river is the Fragata D. Fernando II e Glória, a marvelous and fully restored 19th-century wooden warship. All children like the zoo and at the city’s exciting Jardim Zoolígico the residents include rare white tigers. Another favourite attraction for kids is the Pavilhão do Conhecimento-Ciência Viva, where learning about physics and science is a fun-packed interactive experience. It’s situated back at Parque das Nacões, where the Telecabine cable car also operates – a great highlight for children! Lisbon’s most famous historic landmark is Castelo de São Jorge, and what child doesn’t like exploring a castle? And for a sightseeing trip with bags of family appeal, book an excursion with HIPPOtrip. They use an amphibious custom-built vehicle to tour the city before driving it into the river to explore Belém.

 


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24 de Julho & Docas/Alcantara

Easily the most novel sightseeing option currently available in Lisbon, Hippotrip operates an amphibious custom-built vehicle to tour the city centre before heading off to Belem to drive down a ramp at the marina and into the River Tagus. It's a land-sea excursion full of surprises, and appeals to anyone with a sense of adventure and up for something a little different. The bus departs Doca de Santo Amaro in the city's Alcântara district and takes in places like Praça do Comércio and Jardim da Estrela. Later it passes the landmark Jerónimos monastery before getting its tyres wet as it propels past Torre de Belém and the Discoveries Monument. It's an adventure that's caught the imagination of locals and tourists alike, and appeals to adults and kids alike. In fact, Hippotrip is a great family-friendly idea.


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All kids like castles, and the bigger the better. Fortunately Lisbon castle is one of the grandest in the land and youngsters can enter a make-believe world of medieval magic at this landmark monument. The imagination can run wild in a place like this. Besides the archaeological site and the ruins of the former royal Alcáçova palace set within the grounds, the castle walls afford envy-inducing views over downtown Lisbon. For a close-up view, head for the Tower of Ulysses where a camera obscura provides a 360° real time perspective of the city below. The gardens are extensive and it's easy to lose oneself amongst cork oak, olive, carob and umbrella pine. For snacks and a place to catch your breath, nip into the castle café for tea and cake.


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Parque das Nações

The telecabine, or cable car, that runs above the river's edge at Parque das Nacoes provides visitors with an uplifting panorama of the entire Nation's Park area and the wide estuary. The cabins glide lazily between two stations set either end of the park and the "flight' takes around 20 minutes to complete. Along the way, the bird's eye views take in the MEO Arena, the Oceanarium and the striking Vasco da Gama tower. Each cabin can easily accommodate a family and the experience adds a lofty dimension to any sojourn to this part of the city. For kids especially, the trip is a real adventure with the 360° views adding a suitable wow! factor to a day out by the river.


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The thoroughly engaging Science Alive Centre in the Pavilion of Knowledge takes learning to a new level â€" a fun-packed, interactive one. Young minds will be working overtime at this extraordinary facility, which is crammed full of working modules and exhibits designed to extol the virtues of physics and science. For example, kids can explore Lisbon by following a scientific city guide. Afterwards they can visit a kitchen in which pots and pans have replaced test tubes and youngsters can find out more about molecular gastronomy, or how jam is preserved. The idea is to impart scientific knowledge in a safe and practical way. Here, children can make new friends while taking part in games, solving puzzles and understanding scientific concepts and phenomena. The technology used is simple and very hands-on. There's even a 'Science Kidding' area for 3-6 year-olds.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


Lisbon Zoo is a magnet for young, curious minds. Kids can spend hours here discovering the wonderfully diverse array of wildlife that calls the zoo their home. Residents include rare and beautiful white tigers and a family of majestic mountain gorillas. Dozens of different primates from around the world amaze with their energetic antics but it's the sleek dolphins and sea lions that often steal the show, especially during feeding time. Youngsters can wander the "enchanted forest" and have fun seeing how many birds they can spot. There's also a special children's farm where smaller kids can meet cute and cuddly domesticated animals. Getting around the zoo is an adventure in itself. There's a train that snakes around the enclosures, including the fascinating reptile house, and overhead a cable car threads its way around the verdant canopy. An amusement park further sparks the imagination.


One of the finest examples of historic ship preservation in the modern era, the wooden-hulled frigate D. Fernando II e Glória counts among Lisbon's least-known visitor attractions, probably because of its location at Cacilhas, on the opposite bank of the River Tagus. Housed in a dry dock, the vessel has been fully restored to appear as it did in 1843, when it was launched. With several decks to explore, this is a great way to keep youngsters occupied with a tour offering a fascinating glimpse into life on a 19th-century warship. Once on board visitors are free to roam the various levels where life-like mannequins placed in situ help bring the harsh conditions at sea experience to life. The ship is located near the ferry terminal, and the swift and inexpensive shuttle from Lisbon's Cais do Sodre terminal is in itself part of discovering what is the eighth oldest warship in the world.




No visit to Lisbon is complete without taking sightseeing trip on one of the city's trams. But if you're travelling with kids, the best option is to take an official tour using a tourist tram. Departing from Pra�a do Com�rcio, the streetcar passes some of the Portuguese capital's most famous historic monuments and because the ticket is the hop on hop off variety and valid for 24 hours, passengers can design their own itinerary ��" very useful when considering the needs of children, especially youngsters. The trams ��" easily recognised by their old-fashioned red cars ��" work on a circuit that takes in the west of the city as far as Estrela before doubling back, passing Alfama, Gra�a and Chiado districts along the way. Remember, passengers can alight at any point along the route for an ice-cream stop, perhaps, or even a lunch break.


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Outside the City

A veritable wonderland of caves, grottos and underground walkways set within a sprawling garden landscaped in the image of the cosmos, Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most surprising and bizarre visitor attractions in Sintra. Its given name refers to the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro, a mansion-palace exuberantly decorated with turrets, towers and panoramic terraces. Dating from the late 19th century, the building is an extraordinary example of the Portuguese neo-manuline style of architecture and its interior is fascinating to explore. But if you've youngsters in tow it's the grounds that will mesmerize inquisitive minds, and the imagination will run riot. Let them play hide-and-seek, discover lakes and waterfalls and then follow the castellated walls enclosing the estate. Afterwards, relive the adventure over refreshments at one of the café tables facing the main house.


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Parque das Nações
Oceanário de Lisboa

Listen to the mock screams of terror as the sharks glide by and you'll understand why this world-class visitor attraction appeals so much to kids. Youngsters are absolutely mesmerised with the astonishing collection of sea life on display at Europe's second largest aquarium. Incredibly, there are over 8000 different aquatic species housed in the oceanarium and besides shark, there are several species of ray and one or two surprises, like the wonderfully docile sunfish to elicit awe and affection. Away from the central tank, marine life extends to a rich and extraordinary diverse selection of sealife; look out for the dainty sea dragons, and the colourful angelfish! But the loudest collective oohs arrhs are reserved for the pair of irresistible sea otters that charm the crowds with their lovable antic and playfulness. Entertaining and educative in equal measure, this attraction makes for a memorable family day out.


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Outside the City


Located 15 minutes west of Lisbon, this exciting adventure park is designed to get youngsters off their feet and up in the trees for a fun-packed adventure along the "Canopy". Essentially an obstacle course of hanging bridges, ropes, nets, tunnels and zip lines, participants move from tree to tree safely harnessed and always accompanied by fully trained instructors. Three different circuits are waiting to be explored: the "Little Forest" aimed at six- to 12-year-olds; the "Mega Circuit" for adolescents; and the "Discoveries", an ideal group and family challenge that takes in 25 thrill-a-minute obstacles set around 12 m above the ground.


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Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul

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