Last week was May break here in the Netherlands, and very last minute my husband and I decided to book tickets for an 8 day trip to Portugal — we just had to escape the dreary weather here in Amsterdam for a bit! The evening before we left we booked a car and a hotel for the first 4 nights, about 100 km north of Lisbon. Leaving the planning of the trip to the absolute last minute in the end worked out perfectly well, we had an amazing time! Maybe you would like to hear a little bit about our adventures?
Rocky coast of Peniche
Castle of Peniche
Our first stay was in Quinta do Molinu, which I thought was worth mentioning to you as it’s such an easy and lovely place to stay with children. From here, we made day-trips to the beautiful beaches of Lourinhã, the stunning city of Óbidos, and went sightseeing in Peniche.
Our next stop was in Cascais, a gorgeous seaside town near Lisbon. We looked at the surfers in Guincho, and ate in the bar of Estalagem Machaxo, a blast from the past with the most amazing ’70’s interiors and swimming pool! We made a day trip to Sintra, and on the way we stopped at Cabo da Roca, the most Western point of Europe, to wave to our friends in America.
Cabo da Roca
Sintra is a magical place. It is so, so beautiful, and there is so, so much to see! We took the kids to the Pena National Palace, and afterwards to the crazy gardens of Quinta da Regaleira — a definite recommendation to go these with (bigger) kids, such an adventure!
Gardens of Quinta da Regaleira
Our next and last stop was Lisbon, of course. We made a quick stop in Belém, and had a lovely lunch in a very good local restaurant called Verde Gaio, a discovery we made some years ago. Slightly off the beaten track, with simple, excellent dishes! We spent the afternoon in the aquarium, which is part of the ‘98 World Expo grounds and is definitely worth a stop. It’s one of the world’s biggest aquariums and it’s really, really amazing (also for parents)!
Oceanário de Lisboa
Our last day was spent strolling through the oldest parts of Lisbon. We took a taxi up to the Castle of São Jorge, from where the views are amazing, and walked down through the narrow streets of the Moorish Alfama district, admiring the tiled houses, caged birds, drying laundry and beautiful churches.
We had another tasty lunch (restaurant Vitória), looked at the lovely shops in the Baixa district, took the little funicular tram up the hill to Bairro Alto where we strolled around and had another lovely, early dinner (in an organic restaurant called Fábulas, conveniently located on a little enclosed square so great with the kids, and we really enjoyed the food!). Oh, and Pim had a haircut in the oldest barber of Lisbon, Barbearia Campos — the interior is just like it was in 1886!
We walked down to Praça do Comércio, from where we saw the sunset over the Tagus River, and took a taxi back to our hotel. I’m so proud of our two biggest kids for walking all day without complaining!
Praça do Comércio
I truly love Portugal. We had been there a few times before we had children, and now we came back with four! And it was a pleasure. The Portuguese are amazingly (child) friendly and hospitable and it was surprisingly easy to travel around with the six of us. Portugal offers some of the best culture and nature, there are so many fairytale-like places to discover. The climate is perfect this time of year (especially taking in mind that we were traveling with a six month old baby).
And a special mention about the food! Simple and fresh, so delicious and totally affordable. We had fresh seafood everyday! Also, the pastries in Portugal are something else. Pastei de Natas (custard cakes originally from Belém) are my favourite, especially combined with a perfect Portuguese espresso.