Praia da Costa Nova is one of the most charming little towns you should visit in Portugal

16 Fun Things To Do in Portugal with Kids

In Europe, Portugal, Travel inspiration by JurgaTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

Most people here in Europe associate Portugal with beaches, nice weather, and good food. But if you have been following our blog for a while, you probably know that we are not that much into sun-tanning on the beach. So when I think about our recent trip to Portugal with kids, I have completely different family-friendly experiences in mind that I want to share with you. This is a selection of all kinds of fun things to do in Portugal with kids that doesn’t involve swimming, playing on the beach, visiting zoos, aquariums, or other traditional family activities. Find out!

See also: Our 10-day Portugal trip itinerary

Best experiences to have in Portugal with kids

In no particular order, below is a list of some of the best things to do in Portugal with kids. This selection is based on our experiences that the kids enjoyed the most. You know, the kind that they keep on talking about long after the trip…

1. Ride a tuk-tuk

If you ask our kids what they liked the most in Portugal, they will unanimously vote for the tuk-tuk ride. It was the very first time they ever rode a tuk-tuk, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen all three of them so excited! Ever. So if you are traveling to Portugal with kids, make sure you take them for a tuktuk ride. You will find them in Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra.

Tip: negotiate your trip and the rate in advance.

Riding a tuk-tuk was one of the highlights of our vacation in Portugal for kids

Kids’ favourite memory from Portugal

 

2. Walk the city walls of Obidos

Obidos is a small medieval town just an hour North of Lisbon. Walking the old city walls was one of the most unforgettable experiences in Portugal for kids. Just be careful, especially with kids, as the walls have no rails on one side.

Walking on the city walls of Obidos in Portugal with kids

It’s really fun, just watch the kids!

 

3. Explore the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra 

Sintra has so many castles and palaces that it might be difficult to choose which ones to visit. There is one castle, however, that you really shouldn’t miss if visiting Sintra with kids, and that is Quinta da Regaleira.

Actually, it’s not that much the castle that kids will love the most. The garden of Quinta da Regaleira is a real paradise for little explorers! Your kids will love walking in dark secret tunnels, exploring hidden passageways, jumping over stones over water at a hidden waterfall, or climbing the spiral staircase of a 27m deep well…

Check this post for more ideas on what to see and do in Sintra in one to three days.

Exploring the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira was really fun for the whole family

Don’t miss the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira

 

4. Ride Lisbon tram nr. 28, Nazaré funicular, Porto gondola, and take the kids for a boat ride

If there is one thing we learned from our trips with kids, is that children love all kinds of transportation. The more varied the better. I already mentioned the tuk-tuk rides. But there are many more fun experiences involving different means of transport that you shouldn’t miss if traveling in Portugal with kids.

Here are some of our family’s favourite transport-related activities in Portugal:

Nazare funicular in Portugal

Nazare funicular

Sailing the Tagus river in Lisbon with kids

Kids love the sailing cruise in Lisbon!

 

5. Visit the caves Grutas de Mira de Aire

Grutas de Mira de Aire is a must place to visit if traveling in Central Portugal with kids. Descend 110m below the ground and explore more than 600m of incredible underground chambers. This is something the whole family will love for sure! Oh, and don’t worry about having to climb back up – there is an elevator to take you back to the surface.

Grutas de Mira de Aire in Central Portugal

Grutas de Mira de Aire

 

6. Taste traditional Portuguese custard cakes Pasteis de Nata

Traveling is also about getting to know the local food. Our kids are becoming more and more difficult when it comes to new culinary experiences, but they all really enjoyed the Portuguese custard cakes, pasteis de nata.

Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon

Make sure to try Pasteis de Nata in Portugal

 

7. Discover some of the most amazing viewpoints of Portugal

This will probably come as no surprise: our kids love climbing staircases and visiting old towers. The higher, the better.

Here are some of our favourite towers to climb and viewpoints not to miss in Portugal with kids:

  • Elevador de Santa Justa in Lisbon
  • O Sitio district in Nazaré
  • Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto (the bridge has two levels, the views from the top are priceless)
  • The Cathedral tower of Evora
Admiring the view over the old town in Porto, Portugal with kids

View over Porto from Dom Luís I Bridge

 

8. Explore an old convent

Museums, churches, and other kinds of religious buildings are not always a big success when traveling with kids. However, Portugal has some amazing places, especially the monasteries, that any kid will love to explore. Our favourites were the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha. Not a chance your kids will get bored here!

Visiting Batalha Monastery in Portugal with kids

Batalha Monastery

 

9. Get lost in the most beautiful forest of Portugal – Mata Nacional do Buçaco

If you like off the beaten path destinations, nature, and history, make sure you take the kids to the Bussaco forest in Luso, Central Portugal. They’ll love this ancient forest with something different and exciting to explore behind every corner. Take a picnic and make this one of the most memorable family day trips in Portugal!

Exploring Bussaco forest in Portugal with kids

Exploring Bussaco forest

 

10. Admire Portuguese azulejos

It would be unthinkable to visit Portugal without falling in love with the traditional Portuguese tiles – azulejos. Children will love looking for new patterns or discovering some ancient stories on the walls of residential buildings, churches, train stations, and old castles… Take the time to really explore this unique kind of art with your kids.

Portuguese azulejos at Sao Bento railway station in Porto Portugal

Sao Bento railway station in Porto

 

11. Visit Costa Nova – the most colourful town of Portugal

Take your kids to Praia da Costa Nova. This little coastal town with colourful striped houses was a favourite with our boys.

Colorful striped houses of Costa Nova near Aveiro in Central Portugal

Colorful striped houses of Costa Nova

 

12. Visit a local market

Our kids love visiting markets. There is so much to see, to touch, to taste…

We visited a couple of markets in Portugal with kids, but there was one that left them speechless – a local seafood market in Costa Nova. They didn’t know where to look first – there was a huge variety of fish, but also octopus, shrimp, crab… And then there were eels, hundreds of eels, alive and crawling, waiting for a buyer to take them home for dinner. The kids couldn’t believe their eyes!

Kids loved visiting a fish market in Portugal

At the seafood market

 

13. Explore Porto by night

One of the best parts of any vacation for our kids is being able to stay up late. They love exploring new places at night!

Our favourite place to explore late in the evening in Portugal was the Cais da Ribeira waterfront area in Porto. Not only does it have some incredible views, you will also find a really great atmosphere with nice also family-friendly restaurants and lots of street performers. The whole family loved it!

Porto by night

Porto by night

 

14. Buy a Portuguese hat

We try not to buy many souvenirs when we travel, but it’s something our kids look forward to on every trip. I guess all kids do…

If you buy one souvenir in Portugal for your kids, make it a hat. It’s the best 5 Euros you can spend! Not only will it protect them from the harsh sun, it will make all the vacation pictures so much more stylish. 😉

Buying souvenirs in Portugal

Kids can’t pass a souvenir shop without checking it out

 

15. Visit a real-life Disney castle – Pena Palace

Portugal is home to many castles, but there is one that kids will definitely remember long after the trip. Palace of Pena in Sintra is probably the most colorful castle in the world. It’s like walking into a real-life Disney castle!

Visiting the fairytale-like Pena Palace is a must

Fairytale-like Pena Palace in Sintra

 

16. Look for street art

City trips can be tiring for children. Looking for street art is a great way to keep the kids busy and involved when exploring Lisbon or Porto. You will be amazed at how much street art there is, and the kids are really good in finding it!

 

Discovering street art in Portugal with kids

 

So, this is our selection of somewhat unusual things to do in Portugal with kids. Of course, you can spend a day at the beach with your family (check the best beaches in Algarve!), take the plunge in the pool, visit an aquarium or a zoo… Portugal has many family-friendly activities. I just wanted to show you that traveling with kids doesn’t always have to be about beaches and theme parks. Not even if visiting such a typical European beach vacation destination as Portugal.

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Best things to do in Portugal with kids

16 fun experiences in Portugal with kids
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Comments

  1. Hi Jurga – Thank you so much for this post!!! I have 3 young kids (3, 6, 9) and are thinking of travelling Portugal for 3 weeks – do you think a trip in March / April or June / July would be a better time to visit? Also – I read through your itinerary – what places would you add or linger in to fill 21 days? Your input would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Author

      Hi Heather, I think you’ll love Portugal with kids. As for when to go, spring vs summer will be very different. Spring is definitely better for sightseeing (less people and much less warm). On the other hand, it’s too cold for the beach and for the swimming pools. So it really depends on what you’re looking for. June might be a good time because school holidays start in July in most European countries, so it’s less busy and not as hot as in July or August.
      If you have 3 weeks, I’d definitely add some time in Algarve. You can easily spend a week there. The beaches are amazing (check this out: Best beaches of Algarve) and there are lots of things to do with kids there if you visit in summer (e.g. water parks, etc).
      Another option would be to spend two weeks in mainland Portugal (check our 10-day itinerary and add 4 days in Algarve) and fly to Madeira for a week. There are regular flights from Lisbon to Funchal. We visited Madeira this year in spring and it was also great. Especially if you like nature. There are so many beautiful places where you can go hiking for example. I have a couple of articles about Madeira, check these out, it will give you an idea of what to expect: Best hikes in Madeira, Madeira’s hidden gems, and also this post I wrote for the Lonely Planet blog: Madeira with kids.
      If you rather not fly, it’s also possible to visit a few places in Spain (driving from Portugal), e.g. Seville and the coastal areas there.
      Happy trip-planning!

  2. Hello Jurga,

    Thank you for posting your amazing experiences and sharing them with us. I am planning to go to Spain and probably Portugal with my son (11) next month and Portugal definitively looks great. I am originally from Bogota, Colombia but my son was born here in the USA where we live. I have traveled quite a bit and want to show my son more about the world. Almost every year we go to Europe and he and I love it. I was going to ask if you guys rented or took public transportation but I found the answer in one of your posts. Any other suggestions you have to enjoy Lisbon and its neighborhood knowing that we may only have public transportation?

    Thank you so much for this wonderful site and sharing your experiences. 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Santiago, you’ll definitely love Portugal – great choice! I don’t know how much time you have in Lisbon, but here you can find some suggestions for what to do in Lisbon. Our kids loved the evening sailing cruise on the Tagus river.
      Make sure you also take at least a day trip (or better 2 days) to Sintra – it can be done by train from Lisbon (here you can find more information for Sintra itinerary).
      If you have more time, Cascais is a really nice beach town nearby and you can easily get there by public transport as well.
      There is also a good train connection to Porto, so depending on how much time you have it might be a nice town to add to your Portugal trip as well.
      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Thank you very much Jurga for your reply and great tips and comments. Right now I am open. We have 15 days and I was planning first going to Barcelona, then Madrid (and same day trips to Toledo, Segovia) and then to Portugal. It looks like I may dedicate around 5 days to Portugal. Will see how things evolve. One limitation to go to all those beautiful places you went is the transportation, but that will be part of the fun. Thanks a lot for your links above and for sharing your wonderful trips with your family… 🙂 I will definitively keep a permanent bookmark on your site. 🙂 Santiago

  3. This looks like an amazing trip to Portugal, and I know my kids would love all your suggestions (and so would I!) – thanks for sharing! x

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. My family and I will be in Lisbon for a month this July. Can you recommend a kid-friendly neighbor? We are looking to rent an apartment that is centrally located to sights, but not too over run with tourists? We have 3 young children ages 7, 6, and 3
    Thanks so much!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Tara, glad you liked this post. 🙂
      I’m not sure if you saw our post about visiting Lisbon. In that post I share some recommendations for the best areas to stay. We stayed close to Rossio train station and loved the location. I just took a quick look and found these apartments in that area. It’s just one example of course. If you follow the link you will see that there is a map (left side), click on it and you’ll see accommodation suggestions in the same area. I have no idea though if I would like to stay there for a month, with kids, and in summer… The city is going to be hot…
      A really nice area a bit outside the city is Cascais – it has a beach too and you can take a train to the city centre for just 2,2 EUR/adult. If you are staying for such a long time, maybe consider that instead of the city…
      Hope this helps. Enjoy Lisbon!

      1. Lovely post. Thank you! Can I check if it was easy to get around using public transport? In your opinion, is there a need to drive around? I have two young kids.

        Thanks!

        1. Author

          Hi Persis, I guess it all depends on where you want to go. Main cities and towns are connected by a good railway connection and I’m sure there are also local busses, etc. We personally rented a car to have complete flexibility and didn’t use much public transport. But I know people who travelled to Lisbon and Porto and took a train. So once again – depends on where you want to go and what you want to see.

          1. Thank you!

  5. I am delighted reading this website. I was looking for good recommendations for a one-day-only trip to Amsterdam and I was liking what I was reading. Then I decided to check if it was any good the best way I could: by checking if your pages on Portugal were any good. You see, Portugal is where I was born, I live and travel the most, so I should know. Well, these recommendations to Fun Things To Do in Portugal with Kids are marvelous and I couldn’t think of any improvement! (The “Buy a hat” tip is funny, unexpected and very thoughtful.) Now I’m going back to reading your Amsterdam in one day page, in complete trust that it will be as good as this one. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for taking your time to leave this feedback, Miguel. Really appreciate it and glad that you found our content trustworthy. I always strive to give my readers the very best information that I can, and at the same time to inspire them to visit new places and make the most of their trips.
      Enjoy Amsterdam and if you have the time, make sure to explore more of the Netherlands (there are lots of great day trips that you can make from Amsterdam) or maybe even come over to Belgium too – we have so many really nice places here!

  6. Thank you so much for this post- it’s really wonderful. We are considering traveling to Portugal with our children this August and our one concern is crowds/tourism. Would you advise *not* to go to any of the above places during August? Also, where can we sneak in some beach/shore time without having to fight for some space on the sand with other tourists ? Any advice is appreciated as we are really just beginning to plan. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Lisa, there are so many beaches in Portugal, I think there should be no problem finding somewhat less busy places. We haven’t been on the beach much as we were traveling in April and didn’t really plan for such good weather. We really liked Nazare beach, no idea how busy it gets in summer though. Also Costa Nova with the colorful houses had nice sand dunes and a beach – also no idea how it looks like in summer, in April it was really nice and quiet there. If you are looking for beach vacation only, then Algarve is one of the ‘must’ regions in Portugal for that. You can see one of my previous comments to another reader with some family-friendly hotel suggestions. I think the best way to escape the crowds is to rent a car and drive just a bit further from the main tourist towns. As I said, there are so many beaches in Portugal, that you can always find something that suits you.
      As for where to go and not to go. In August it’s going to be really hot in Portugal, so maybe try to limit your time in the cities with kids. The monasteries are great since it’s nice and cool inside and so are the castles in Sintra and the Bucaco forest.
      Enjoy the trip!

  7. What resort would you recommend with a 6 yr old thank you ?

  8. Those stripe houses and the colorful castle makes me wnawt to jump on a plane right now! Portugal looks so much fun. Seems like the whole family deeply enjoyed it

    1. Author

      Absolutely! We loved loved loved Portugal.

  9. Some great things to do in Portugal with or without the kids Jurga! Would want to do all of these things! Love the look of those custard cakes!

    1. Author

      Haha! Thank you, Tracy. Custard cakes were absolutely delicious everywhere in Portugal. But the ones in Evora were just heavenly. So keep that in mind if you ever get there 😉

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