Our last-minute trip to Portugal

Beaches of Lourinhã

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!

Barbearia Campos

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.

xxx Esther


Comments (11)

May 15, 2013

What a lovely recap!! There is nothing like making memories on family vacation! xx

Emilie in Paris
May 15, 2013

Looks absolutely amazing!!!

May 15, 2013

Great post! Portugal is always a good idea. As you say, children-friendly, affordable and with almost-guaranteed nice weather. Next tine you should go South from Lisbon, to the wonderful beaches of Comporta.

May 16, 2013

Lovely photos!

May 16, 2013

oh. makes me want to pack and go right now! how wonderful that you took the 4 children on a last minute trip, it’s inspiring xx

May 16, 2013

I am a portuguese reader – and devoted fan – of your site and blog for some time now and I was very pleased this morning when I read this entry – thank you for your nice words about Portugal, particularly in these days..I live in Lisbon and I also have two kids – 3.5 years and 18 months – and I’m happy to suggest some nice and child-friendly spots for your next visit!!

Esther in Amsterdam
May 16, 2013

Thank you Elsa — I would love that for next time. We’ll definitely be back! xxx

Rebecca Gacek
May 16, 2013

We have traveled constantly, but Portugal always holds a special place in my heart. it is not only interesting and beautiful, but the people are so kind-it makes the trip even more wonderful.

May 16, 2013

yes, so inspiring! I have one kid only and keep thinking twice… So happy that you and your lovely family enjoyed my country and city. Were you really able to go up and down the hills of Lisbon? No sign of bicycles, right? :))

Esther in Amsterdam
May 16, 2013

I haven’t seen any!! 🙂 And I love your city! All 7 hills of it!!

May 25, 2013

Ontzettend leuke foto’s van jullie vakantie in Portugal.Tot ziens in Amsterdam. Miek

Leave a Comment