Is Portugal a child-friendly country?

     Since LisbonStories offers child-friendly tours and doesn’t charge anything for children car seats or booster seats a good part of our clients come with their little ones. Scott family emailed me asking if Portugal is a child friendly country. They’ll be travelling with a 9 mo boy and 6 yo girl and are quite concerned.  Assuming they are not thinking of taking their kids to a night club nor to a fashion show, spending a holiday in Portugal as a family is easy peasy as children are welcome pretty much everywhere.

      Culture: Museums, palaces and monuments, wherever you go most likely there will be a special program or guided visit for your little ones. If you want to enjoy the place as a family, you’ll find plenty of 50% discounts, free entrances or family packages with friendly prices.

      Eating: Going out to eat whether it is lunch or dinner, shouldn’t be a problem either. Most restaurants have special menus for children, a high chair and sometimes colouring paper and pencils. In some places they won’t mind if you share your dish with your kid nor if you ask them to warm a soup for your baby. Just mention that you have children in the group when you make the reservation.

      Sleeping: most if not all hotels have big rooms where an extra bed or a crib can be installed, just for a small extra fee. Communicant rooms are usually available and if you decide to go for a romantic adult’s dinner ask at the reception to call a baby sitter as they’ll have some contacts and good references.

      Walking around: Don’t be surprised if someone starts playing with your child, talking to you about their pretty eyes or trying to console them if they are crying. Don’t be alarmed! We just love children and don’t mind showing it. Lisbon is a very safe city and in some neighborhoods kids still play football in the streets… your kids are welcome there too.

Prepare your kids for the trip and let them color Vasco da Gama and his vessel! You’ll  certainly feel as part of the family over here!

Autumn or Fall

I know that everyone prefers to travel during Spring or Summer but in the late years I’ve discovered the best season to discover Portugal and it’s not one of these.

During Autumn days won’t be that long nor that warm, but since it’s not so hot, you won’t have to run from shade to shade and drinking coffee or wine outside will definitely be pleasant. During the day a nice breeze will cool the temperature and at night a chilly atmosphere will give you the perfect excuse to wear your new jacket.

Summer peak is the period of the crowds, high prices, busy service and a tired waiter. After September it becomes a lot easier to find a table or a good hotel room. Streets will be half empty and everyone will welcome you everywhere.

If you like to blend in with the locals, it’s also the best moment as everyone is already back from their vacation and you’ll get to see the real country’s life.

The real reason why I like the Autumn so much? It’s the beginning of the low season and soon I’ll be walking through the city on my own, with a package of “burning” roasted chestnuts to warm my cold hands!

 

The wonders of Cascais

If you are thinking of coming to Lisbon soon- and you probably are, or else why would you be reading this web blog in the first place?- you shouldn’t miss the chance to extend your tour- and get to know Cascais and Estoril, just 20 minutes away!

 Check on the weather first but I dare say that the first stop in Estoril is inevitably, the calm sandy beach with its terraces by the sea where you can sit and relax having a drink and looking at the waves coming and going.

 Crossing the road, I won’t let you miss out the famous Casino Estoril built in the early 20th century and from which Ian Fleming during the World War II got inspiration for his most famous character and novel the secret agent 007, James Bond in Casino Royale

 Just 5 minutes away in the famous N6- the ring road by the sea- is Cascais.  Once there, we will make our way to the lively town centre and from there to the old town where the fishermen’s houses still keep their original trace.

 If you feel brave enough to face the ride, we will grab a bicycle-they are let, for free by the municipality- and  take the road to Guincho Beach, about 3 km from the centre and enjoy the wild landscape of dunes and ocean, surrounded by the lavish green of the National Park of Sintra- Cascais.

 Coming back, if you’re feeling hungry, we will choose one of the several well known fish restaurants on the cliffs and try some of our best fish and shell fish specialties directly from the sea. And whichever time of the year you choose to come, Cascais always has a little something to offer you, whether you are a museum fan or more like the tanning in a wonderful beach kind!

This idea can easily be included in your “Sintra Cascais” tour.

Lisboa Open House – architecture

     Did it ever happen to you to suddenly find a beautiful building (sometimes looking out of place) and stop your fast walk to look at it? Did you ever thought that it was a palace or museum but it was “just” someone’s house or office?

    This weekend Lisbon Open House will answer many of the questions about architecture and will also show several buildings from a very special point of view: the architect’s who build it.

     Open House is all about unlocking the secrets of architecture for you, the public, so that everyone can enjoy it. That means opening a lot of doors that are usually shut, and even when they’re open, giving you the insights to enjoy and understand the architecture there. We do that with guides, tours, and information sheets that are all free, and some of Portugal’s leading architects will be making contributions. It all comes together in one amazing weekend. (piece taken from the Official Website

     Afraid of getting lost? There’s a very handy map with all the buildings and the fact sheet also includes lots of useful information: location, schedules, how to get there, etc etc.  Though some buildings need prior reservations, many others can be visited at any time… and free of charge!

Carmo convent – our 1st featured museum

     Carmo convent and museum couldn’t be a better start for our new category: featured museum.

    Built during the late 14th century, it could be just another European Gothic monastery if it wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, a major earthquake that destroyed a considerable part of Lisbon. The structure was compromised and there was no way to recover this building. Instead of trowing it down, it was decided to turn it into an Archaeological museum to remember forever the victims of the earthquake.

     We’ve all seen beautiful Gothic monasteries but this one is special. When you look up, instead of looking at a massive stone-roof, you see the sky and the clouds. Hanging on the walls and ground there are several tomb-stones, coat of arms and other interesting archaeological findings from different centuries.

   To complete this beautiful place, where once was the transept we now have a real archaeological museum chronologically organized.

 

    Practical info: it’s located close to Chiado and Bairro Alto; closes on Mondays and opens from 10 am to 6 pm. The admission fee is 3,5€ with discounts for students and senior citizens.

One museum per month

    Hi everyone! As of today there will be a new category in our blog: “Featured museum”.

     When one visits a new city there’s always a huge range of museums to visit, but, having a limited time it’s always hard to choose the most interesting one. In order to help you every month we’ll be picking one of our favorite museums and tell you why we love it.

     This month we’ll start with a hidden gem, just in the center of Lisbon. Even its location is also very special, as the Red Carnation Revolution happened in front of it. Curious? read the post, it will come out in 5 minutes!

    Why posting this on a Monday if National Museums and Monuments close on Mondays? A little bit of irony never hurts, so, stay tuned on the 1st Monday of every month!