Back in 2017, when me and my family moved to Lisbon for the first time, we didn’t have a clue about anything. Since we were still moving between Lisbon, Copenhagen and Bologna quite often, we stayed in temporary apartments for a year or so. This way we lived in many different neighbourhoods: we started in Principe Real, than Alfama, than Campo de Ourique (but not really central), until we landed our first long term place in Estrela, which was on first on our list because of the proximity with Jardim da Estrela.
We really love experiencing different hoods, but we probably would have like if somebody would told us which was the best neighbourhood to live before moving around so much (definitely not Alfama, despite being very romantic).
For these reasons, I wrote this post about five plus one family-friendly neighborhood in Lisbon: for each area, you can find a description, some suggestions for parks, school, shops, restaurants, cafes, and even ice cream joints, plus two final boxes that summarise the pro and cons of each neighborhood.
The suggestions are based partially on my personal idea and partially on the suggestions of the Lisbon For Parents community that I set up after moving to Lisbon: very often many parents looking to move to Lisbon, are asking which is the best family-friendly neighborhood in central Lisbon and so many experienced members are always ready to answer and help other families find the best place to live.
We also made a poll about the topic, and many parents gave their opinion, but it’s not easy to have a big picture of which services and institutions are available in every neighborhood. So here is my first contribution on the topic, which includes many details about each hood.
Campo de Ourique
Campo de Ourique is called the village of Lisbon: built on a former military barracks area, it’s a buzzing residential neighborhood with lots of commercial options, especially for families and kids. The Jardim da Parada works as the main social meeting point, and it’s easy to walk around since the neighborhood is mostly flat (a real exception in Lisbon).
Both the Electrico lines 28 and 25 finish their ride in Campo de Ourique, and there are also few bus lines to reach the city center: the closest metro stop is Rato (5 to 30 minutes walking depending on the starting location).
Parks and Playgrounds: Jardim da Parada, Jardim da Estrela, Tapadas das Necessidades, Jardim da Amoreiras
Creches and Schools (1° and 2° Ciclo): Redbridge, Escola de Pedro Nunes, Externato Rainha Amelia, Colègio Liberal Gremio, Place 4 all Colegio Alegria (also specialised in children with special needs), Lycée Français LePiérre, Fundaçao D. Pedro IV Santa Quintéria, Salesianos de Lisboa, Escola Basica 1/Jardim da Infância Santo Condestável, Escola Básica do 1º Ciclo com Jardim de Infância Eng. Ressano Garcia
Family businesses: Baobà Livraria , Ursinho a Galope, Flexa, Edicare Editora, Baby Cool, Pikikos, Pop & Play, Mommy cool, In Lisbon, Studio Alma , Bahù, Nomalism Textile shop, Music Room, Era meu Agora è seu , Atelier Dentario
Ice cream: Mamma mia
Services: Public library Biblioteca Ex Cinema Europa, Public Swimming pool, Amoreiras Shopping Center, Mercado de Campo de Ourique, Padaria do Povo
Pro: residential but with local shopping, many public and private schools, walkable outdoors, close to Monsanto and the bridge to SUL
Cons: not much parking, loud planes, some old houses
Santos a Velho
Santos a Velho is a nice and livable neighborhood of Lisbon, probably the best residential, not touristy, restaurant filled but close to the center hood of all the ones in this list: it’s part of Freguesia da Estrela (parish), and it’s surrounded by Mandragoa, Lapa and Janelas Verdes, that are part of the same Freguesia. Until a few years ago, Santos was an abandoned corner of town, but with the arrival of Merceria da Mila, everything started to shift.
Right after the ’20 lockdown, Merceria da Mila and some of the many restaurants of the neighborhood decided to join forces and open Santos Collective, an esplanade hosted in front of Santos a Velho church, where customers could get food delivered from local business and buy drinks at the local trailer. In Autumn, a weekly market was added on Saturdays, a moment where many local producers could sell their product while people were gathering safely: eventually, a big and amazing tent by Tarki Tents was set up to cover people from the rain during the winter.
Santos Collective is probably the best place that helped locals in the hood socialize after the first lockdown: the tent has been dismantled during the latest lockdown, but the veggie and local producers market is still happening every Saturday.
Parks and Playgrounds: Santos Garden, Jardim da Estrela (15 minutes walking uphill), MNAA garden, Tejo riverside and bike path
Creches and Schools: The British School (10′ to 15′ walking), Colegio Santa Maria, O Nosso Jardim Infantil e Primaria, Public primary school Escola EB1 nº 72 Bartolomeu de Gusmão, Creche Centro de Bem Estar Infantil das Janelas Verdes, Creche Casa Pastorinhos de Fatima
Services: Library (Freguesia da Estrela), Santos Train station (Cascais line), Electrico 25 and multiple bus lines, Indipendent Theater A Barraca, Museu da Marioneta, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Espaço Ama and Jazzy Studio Gym
Pro: Central and trendy, Santos Collective, residential area, well connected with the rest of town and with beach with public transportation, calm but active, historical architecture, river proximity
Cons: not many schools around, partially on a hill, few green areas
Saldanha, the center of Avenidas Nova’s ‘hood, is the business district of central Lisbon: hotels, big offices, and newer buildings, but still close to Lisbon downtown.
Three metro lines are passing in the area (red, yellow, and blue) and the neighbourhood is buzzing with shops, cafes, restaurants, and all kinds of services. The average apartments are big (from ’60-’80) but can be expensive, there is plenty of parking around and a new network of bike paths.
Many the parks in the walkable distance: Parque Eduardo VII with its Tennis Club and the lovely Estufa Fria, the hidden Jardim Amalia Rodriguez the Garden of Palacio Galveias Public Library, the Gulbenkian Museum Garden, Campo Pequeno, the Caixa Geral newest outdoor space, the Fonte Luminosa Park in Alameda.
El Corte Ingles is the biggest mall in the hood, a twelve stories shopping facility where you can find almost everything, including a movie theater, a hairdresser, a panoramic floor with restaurants, and much more.
Parks and Playgrounds: Parque Eduardo VII, Jardim Amalia Rodriguez, the Gulbenkian Museum, Campo Pequeno, the Caixa Geralspace, the Fonte Luminosa Park
Ice Cream: La Fabbrica
Services: Palacio Galveias Public library, El Corte Ingles, Atrium Saldanha, Loja de Cidadão, SEF, Segurança Social, Campo Pequeno, Mercado 31 de Janeiro, Hospital Pediatrico Dona Estefania, Maternidade Alfredo da Costa, Miosotís Organic Supermarket and Restaurant, Biomercado, Tennis Clube VII
Pro: Modern city Vibe, Green areas, Local shops, parking, and bike paths, many facilities
Cons: Less historic (not typical Pombalinos buildings), big busy streets, more sparse, bigger urban scale, possibly loud because of planes (the western part)
Alvalade is a hidden gem in the outskirt of Lisbon: despite being very close to the airport, it is very calm and liveable. Timeout included this hood in the list of 40 best neighborhoods in the world: it got the 17th position, you can check this article.
The main street Avenida da Igreja usually hosts a weekly market that turns into a Christmas Market during the holidays.
There are many public and a few private institutions in the area. The buildings are mostly from the ’60-’80, some renovated, and there is a lot of local commerce all around the neighborhood.
Many big parks are in walkable reach, like Campo Grande, Bela Vista Park, and more: the blocks are not as dense as in the center of Lisbon, therefore many ground floor apartment in Alvalade have a garden or patio.
Parks and Playgrounds: Campo Grande, Parque de Bela Vista , Parque José Gomes Ferreira / Mata de Alvalade, Jardim E Parque Hortícola Aquilino Ribeiro Machado
Creches and Schools: Astoria International School, Jardim Escola João de Deus, Creche “A Tartaruga e a Lebre” (Creche for children with special needs), Deutsche Schule Lissabon (7 minutes with Metro), United International School (7 minutes by car), Colégio Valsassina, EB1 S. João de Brito, Escola EB1/JI Santo António,
Cafes & Restaurants: O melhor Croissant da minha rua, Padaria Gleba Alvalade, O Prego da Peixaria Alvalade , ISCO (padaria + bistro), Portugália Alvalade, Atalho de Alvalade, Charlie Bistro, The Wave Factory, Pasta non Basta Alvalade
Pro: modern and with outdoor space, local shopping, close to the airport but not loud, Metro line, cultural facilities
Cons: far from the center, not many international schools (United, Astoria)
Parque das Naçoes
The newest and most modern neighborhood of all Lisbon, Parque das Naçoes has been completely refurbished for the 1998 World Exbithion, that’s why it’s also called Expo. Most of the buildings have a view of the river and are equipped with the most comfortable amenities (elevators, private parking, AC) and there are a lot of local shops and services.
The Shopping mall Vasco de Gama has a big Contintente supermarket and lots of shops and restaurants:
The Oriente metro stop connects Expo to the center in 30 minutes (with one change) and makes the airport only 5 minutes away: the same station also works as a train connection, with trains’ connections to most destinations in the rest of Portugal (excluded Sintra).
Most of the former Expo buildings have now been converted to the biggest national Fair, while some are home to some interesting cultural institutions such as The Oceanarium, the Pavilhao do Conhecimento (Experimentarium), and others.
A system of bicycle paths makes the neighborhood very modern and safe: the Vasco de Gama bridge is a fast connection to the Alentejo and Algarve region.
Parks and Playgrounds: Skatepark Expo, Parque Tejo, Jardim Garcia de Orta Urban botanical garden, Jardim do Cabeço das Rolas, Jardim das Ondas, Jardins da Água, Jardim da Musica
Cafes & Restaurants: Honest Greens Parque das Nações, ZeroZero Parque das Nações, TIME tea&coffee, Miss Saigon – cozinha vegan do Mundo, O Melhor Croissant da Minha Rua – Parque das Nações, Capricciosa Parque das Nações, The Fifties America Diner
Services: Oceanário de Lisboa, Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Private Hospital CUF Descobertas, Teatro Camões, Centro Vasco da Gama Mall, Oriente station (Metro, Bus, and Train to All Portugal), Vasco de Gama Bridge to SUL, Petside® – | Day care for dogs in Lisbon | Family stay | Hotel for Dogs |
Pro: many outdoor spaces, many parks, newer building with more amenities (elevators, parking), big mall and cultural activities (pavilhao, oceanarium, Teather in walkable reach), bicycle path
Cons: far from the center, new buildings, more sparse, scattered local shops
Principe Real is the most central Lisboeta trendy neighborhood of all the ones on this list: it’s also, the most expensive one. I don’t deem Principe Real very much family-oriented, due to the physical conformation (lots of up and downs for most of the neighborhood), lack of many schools and creches, and the lack of public transportation across the neighborhood. Yet, it’s a very calm and picturesque hood, and if you are not scared of exercising, and you plan to stay at home for a while with your child, you should definitely consider it.
This neighborhood, or at least the Principe Real people think of, is actually made of part of Freguesia de Santo Antonio and part of Freguesia da Misericordia (which includes Bairro Alto), something people should remember when looking at the most used rental portals (Idealista or Imovirtual, for example): it is made mostly of historical buildings, many of which have received a total refurbishment in the last few years. The ‘hood main street is on the ridge of a hill, which makes most of the neighborhood streets pretty steep: but being central makes also everything in walkable reach, parks, the city center, Avenida Liberdade, Marques de Pombal.
There are few creches in the area or very close by and some beautiful squares and botanical garden: an organic local veggies market is held every Saturday in the main square. The electrico 24 (Campolide-Bairro Alto) has been reintroduced a few years ago.
Parks and Playgrounds: Praça do Principe Real, Jardim Botanico, Jardim da Estrela (average 10 minutes walking), Praça Flores, Parque Eduardo VII, Jardim da Amoreiras, Praça Alegria
Cafes & Restaurants: Zero Zero Pizzeria, Atalho Real (Embaixada), Flor da Pampa, Seagul Method, Marquise Møbler, Frangasqueira Nacional, Copenhagen Coffee Lab, Crispy Mafya, Instant Crunch, Jardim dos Sentidos, Chutnify Principe Real, In Bocca Al Lupo
Services: Science Museum and Botanical Garden, Electrico 24, Weekly Organic Market, Metro Station (Rato), Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Pro: Nice views, nice parks in walkable distance, local shops and restaurants, cultural activities, very central, local weekly market
Cons: Mostly hilly, older buildings, less parking, can get loud at night (only some areas), high accommodation costs
This list is my personal first selection of cool neighborhoods in Lisbon based on my own experience and knowledge, that I have nurtured while helping out Lisbon for Parents community members: soon I will write about other family-friendly neighborhoods in Lisbon, like Belèm, Alcântara, and Olivais.
Where do you live? What do you like about it? I would love to hear your opinion about these neighborhoods: feel welcomed to comment below with your experiences!
In my upcoming posts, I will also write about five great suburbs or towns for families in the Lisbon Region and Setubal region.