There’s a myth that small children and city breaks don’t mix. My husband Anthony and I (and our little boy Finn) have never subscribed to that belief, and we’ve been on a few! Our latest family jaunt to Lisbon only added to the evidence…
This trip was the result of an impulse booking on the back of a brilliant family holiday to Spain in September. Driving back from the airport, in a warm post-break glow, I scoured Skyscanner for city-break options with short, cheap flights and a good chance of sunshine: step forward beautiful Lisbon.
It was a balmy, sunny, no-coat-needed 20 degrees when we landed – just what the doctor ordered after a chilly start to November in the UK. Getting to our beautiful base at Martinhal Lisbon Chiado was a breeze – a quick 30-minute hop on the metro with just one easy change. Finn is transport-mad so he loved the excitement of the underground train and counting the stops until we had to get off.
These new apartments follow the same winning formula as their family-focussed sister properties in Cascais and Sagres. They’re squarely aimed at families and all of the other guests are en famille, so there’s no worry at all about your child making a noise and ruining next door’s romantic break for 2.
Our apartment was really light and airy, with a bright but stylish colour scheme. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in loads of light, but the cool white shutters allowed us to make the bedroom satisfyingly dark for lunchtime naps.
Finn loved his bunkbeds, and we loved that he had his own room so we didn’t have to tiptoe around him in the dark. It was great to have a snazzy kitchen and the flexibility to make snacks or cook for ourselves. That said, we opted to eat in the downstairs café for many of our meals, as the food was good and there was a fab vintage BMW for Finn to play in while we waited. The waiters even showed him how to turn on the lights and indicators!
We didn’t use the kids’ club this time, but the staff were all so welcoming and kind that I wouldn’t hesitate to do so on a future visit. It’s filled with toys and activities for all ages – they even have a climbing wall! The under-2s area is very sweet, and in the evenings they hold ‘pyjama parties’ where the kids can rest, listen to stories and sleep while parents enjoy an evening out.
We packed our days with lots of exploring, with some downtime for Finn back at the apartment when he needed it. We took a sling for when he got tired of walking, which worked really well – cobbled streets, steep hills and buggies are not a good mix.
A short walk from the apartments is Ascensor da Glória. Finn was spellbound watching the bright yellow funicular rattle up and down the hill, and we checked out the graffiti gallery that runs alongside.
I think most of Lisbon probably heard our cries of “I’m the King of the Castle” on our sunset trip up to Castelo São Jorge.
One of my highlights was wandering down the alleys of Alfama and spotting pretty tiled buildings everywhere I looked…
…While Finn’s was catching the tram to Bélem and feasting on the most delicious pastel de nata at the famous Pastéis de Belém. When we got our bill they asked if we wanted some to take away – it would be rude not to, right?
We loved Lisbon. It’s a beautiful, historic and incredibly friendly city. Everywhere we went, people were so kind to Finn – always making a point of saying hello to him. Next time we’d like to squeeze in a trip to the Museu da Marioneta (puppet museum), and if we were visiting in the warmer months we’d head to the big playground at Monsanto Forest Park and one of the glorious sandy beaches within easy striking distance of the city.