You have most likely checked Lisbon on Google maps a few times if you follow this blog, either because you live in Lisbon or you want to move here, and you probably have noticed a big green patch on the left side of the city: that’s Monsanto, Lisbon biggest urban forest.
The once-great forest had become a bare piece of land at the beginning of the XX century, but thanks to the municipality and the ideas of architect Keil Do Amaral, it was brought back to flourishing with the help and hard work of local prisoners of Monsanto Forte Detention center, which you can read more about here.
The park is accessible by car, crossed by few bus lines and it is pretty big and diverse. We went there last weekend to check it out: I want to share with you all the gems hiding in that magical forest, which has now reopened after more than a year when, during the first lockdown, was forced to close.
Alto da Serafina
Alto da Serafina is a lovely park that sits on the northern section of the Monsanto Forest. There are playgrounds, tipis, and plenty of picnic tables: the walking paths are paved with asphalt, making it nice for kids to use scooters, bicycles, or skates all around the park.
Inside Alto da Serafina is the Escola de Condução, a small circuit of city-like streets and signs where kids can learn how to properly bike in the streets following the same rules grown-up follow.
At the top you can check the view and a weir piece of Belem station.
Hot tips: masks are mandatory around the whole area except if eating. Check their website for more details
Hello Park is an adventuring park and the only paid park around Monsanto: they have a big inflatable castle, carts, the adventuring section, a two big playground-like structure for the kids to play (a boat and a treehouse with slides and poles.
They are a the entrance of Alto da Serafina park, and kids 4YO-9YO can enjoy playing in the whole circuit; there is an hourly fee (9€) and the kids can stay inside attended while parents enjoy the outdoor esplanade named Greenhouse: the kids are wearing a bracelet with the parent telephone number so they can be on call if needed.
Hello Park is a great option for a birthday partyies, which can be for a group of a minimum of 12 kids: they have a dedicated area for celebration and snacks and each party participants wears the same color vest (one color per party), so kids can be sure to join the right one and not get lost.
Hot tips: Weekends are busy so be sure to arrive early. If very hot outside, the tent with the inflatable can get pretty warm, so dress your child accordingly. You can reserve food at the Esplanada to eat with a group of friends inside the premises or outside (besides the birthday party packages)
Keil do Amaral
This section of Monsanto is the most extended and most free amongst all: it has no gates or personnel, hence not many rules.
In walking distance from the entrance, you can find a BMX park, a big skate park, a multipurpose field for different sports, a big picnic area with natural shades from the forest with the possibility of grilling (and bathrooms): if you keep going you will find a big amphitheater with a nice view over the 25th April Bridge.
Next to the arena, you find a newly renovated Quiosk Keith do Amaral, with bikes rental by Biclas, and more basketball fields and bike circuits. There are plenty of trails for a bit of kid-friendly excursions, that can lead you to other parts of Monsanto forest.
Alvito is on the same side of the Keil do Amaral bit, yet is another separate playground with plenty to do: the main play area is divided into three sections and has different levels, being the lowest with slides and smaller kids structures closed for renovation, while the other two are up and running as usual. There is a castle, some climbing ropes, a big pirate ship with slides, and a tipi section similar to the one at Alto de Serafina.
There are many picnic tables with canopies for shade, a quiosque, many bathrooms, and few other bits of playgrounds: despite the different levels, all the areas are perfectly accessible by stroller and wheels chair, thanks to a series of ramps.
Hot tip: if you are planning to have a birthday party be sure to arrive on time to find the best spot. The park has a mandatory mask policy all around for 12YO and above, except when eating at the tables.
The Panorâmico de Monsanto is a former restaurant with a great panoramic view over the whole of Lisbon. Once abandoned and populated by squatters, it is now open for visitors daily. It is the location of the famous Music Festival Iminente usually happening in September, organized by local artist Vhils: you can admire some of his and other street artists’ artwork all around the premises.
Palacio da Fronteira
If you want to enjoy a bit of culture among all this nature and playing, I suggest heading to Palacio da Fronteira, a great palace on the northern side of Monsanto, which is part of the Benfica neighborhood.
The Palacio da Fronteira Garden is open for autonomous visits throughout the year, while you need to book in advance to visit the interior of the palace: the garden has mazes, ponds with black swans, caves, and towers.
The colors and magical light of the Palace around sun down is the perfect combo for great family pictures.
How to go To Monsanto
You can go to Monsanto by car, cab, and bus: there is a newly built bicycle path that starts at the top of Parque Eduardo VII and goes all the way to the Palacio da Fronteira. I strongly suggest using e-bikes to explore this option, as there is plenty of up and downs on the way there and back and inside the Monsanto area.
Bus: you can reach Alvito and Keil do Amaral with 724 from Alcantara, and Alto da Serafina and Palacio da Fronteira with 770 from Sete dos Rios. Check the app Moovit for more options and timetables. To go from one side to the other is probably easier to take a cab/car-sharing service.
Cab: If you go by cab, bear and mind that it can take a while to get a cab on the way back to Lisbon.
Car: if you go by car be ready to park creatively. Alto da Serafina has a big parking but Keil do Amaral has a very small one and Alvito has medium parking that’s usually not enough for all visitors.