Lisbon Family Highlights

Lisbon has a lot in common with the capital cities of southern Europe, but it is a little grittier. That does not mean it is dangerous or dirty, just not as polished and refined as some of the other European cities we’ve been to recently. That grittiness gives it a lot of character.  So many buildings are covered in azulejos, ceramic tilework that I am frankly in awe of. During our tour dedicated to the tilework around Lisbon, we learned that many of the tiles have never been replaced since the mid 1700s. They are that sturdy. Some tiles may be chipped or faded, but that is all part of the character of these buildings and Lisbon itself. Here are a few of my favorite azulejo photos from our Lisbon tile tour.

Now, here are some of my favorite photos of us during our tile tour, although all not tile related!

We did not just learn about azulejos, we created our own! We went to a workshop which allowed us to paint our own tiles which are the perfect souvenir, even though they were not quite up to the quality of the artist’s work that we were surrounded by while we attempted to paint our tiles. I always try to work in an experience like this when possible as I think that hands on activities are the most memorable for kids. That being said, it was really hard to paint on the tiles and gave us a whole new level of respect for the tilework we had seen throughout the day. I think the boys are pretty artistic, and they struggled a little. However, when I ask the boys what their favorite part of the trip was, Bryson says it was painting the tiles.

Hilly Lisbon

There are a lot of hills in Lisbon!  A lot. Big ones.  There are a lot of similarities with San Francisco that way.  Including the trolley system that gets residences around.  Of course, some of the trolleys have become quite touristy, but still worth it to take a trip on one!

We stayed along Avenue da Libertade in Lisbon which is a wide avenue lined with trendy shops and restaurants. This area is the low point between two hills. It is the somewhat flat part of the city that was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1755. When the city was rebuilt, it was in a grid pattern and the buildings all looked the same. Before 1755, the azulejos which were brought to the area by the Moorish people were used to decorate the inside of the homes. People wanted to differentiate the homes built quickly after the earthquake so they started using azulejos to decorate the outside of the homes.
To the west of Avenue da Libertade is the trendy neighborhood and shopping district of Chiado. It can be reached via the trolley above or via funicular or even an elevator.

The hills to the east of Avenue da Libertade is the oldest district in Lisbon, Afalma. This maze of narrowed cobbled streets opens up to beautiful views of Lisbon from above. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos of this area so you can understand its charm!

Portuguese Food

We also took a tuk tuk tour on our arrival day to give us an idea of the city, but specifically to see the area of Belem which is where the explorers embarked on their journeys across the world to discover new lands. After all, we are explore more! But I must admit, the real reason it was imperative for us to visit Belem is for pastel de Belém at Pastéis de Belém. The Portuguese love their pastries, especially flaky custard tarts. Most of what you will see throughout Portugal will be Pastel de Nata because the original, Pasteis de Belem, has been trademarked. One of the differences is that Belem serves their tarts warm. Obviously, we had to go there and find out what all the fuss is about, and let’s just say, it is warranted! Watch HERE for proof in Connor’s reaction.

We also enjoyed a lot of other food in Portugal, but this was the highlight! I had seafood with most meals, either paella type dishes or fresh fish. Steak was also quite popular. Rob and I enjoyed a lot of Portuguese wine while the boys drank a lot of Fanta! Our favorite dinner was not necessarily our meal but our venue. We enjoyed Fado one night at a cozy venue in Alfama. Click HERE to hear this music style made popular in Lisbon. Stay tuned for Portugal Part 2!

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Lisbon was only the start of this fabulous trip! See Portugal Trip Part ll here!

Loire Valley is a great place to travel with kids. See our trip rundown here!