Lisbon & Sintra : A Real Life Fairy-Tale

Ah Lisbon, your charm is unlike any other European city. Lisbon is a beautiful city. It is filled with history, culture, food, and gorgeous views. Lisbon is one of Europe’s oldest capitals too, second only to Athens. And hidden within these streets are friendly faces welcoming children to their city. I heard many people say this is not a stroller friendly city, and hard to navigate with children – but I am here to tell you that is not the case! While you may have a street here or there that is particularly narrow and hilly, the city overall was very accessible for families with young children.

I had been to Lisbon a few times as a child, and was so excited to share its culture with my children. There is something for everyone here, history buffs, art fanatics, foodies, beach bums – you are all going to be very pleased. History and culture mix uniquely with modern street art (Lisbon is probably one of the best European cities for art). The city has accepted graffiti as an art form, and the streets are so unique and full of life!

Just a half hour from Lisbon is Sintra, full of castles and palaces that give you an instant feeling of living in a fairy tale enjoying enchanted forests. This town transports you to another world, with its narrow and winding roads, cafes on every corner, and strangers that feel like family. I would highly recommend staying overnight in Sintra or 2 nights to fully explore this area.

I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about Lisbon/Sintra or our trip please send me an email!


Located in the heart of the city is the Lisbon Marriott Hotel, an elegant hotel that boasts incredible hospitality. Just a short distance away from Lisbon Airport, the hotel is a short ride away from the city center. I do want to stop and actually share a story, proving just how amazing the staff is at this hotel. I left my camera in a cab that dropped us off – and the employee went to security, looked up the cab’s license plate number, called the company, and tracked down the driver. That night I got a call in my room, they had my camera back. I cried tears of joy – they really went above and beyond, and it meant everything to me. If that isn’t reason enough to stay… I don’t know what is! You will be very well taken care of at Lisbon Marriott Hotel.

We had two connecting rooms, and upon entering, they had put a kids table with games and coloring sheets – I mean…come on! The room had a pool view with Lisbon’s skyline in the background – perfection! The beds were very comfortable, the room impeccably clean, and bathrooms were spacious. There is also a feeling of being “home” when at a Marriott property.

I highly recommend getting the breakfast buffet added to your reservation – I think my jaw dropped (literally) when I saw the spread. It is set up like a beautiful gourmet restaurant, complete with a pancake machine and mimosa bar! There was every pastry, fruit, deli meat, desert, tea, coffee, buffet meal, and so much more. You truly do feel like a queen (or king!).


Pena Palace – With its bright red and yellow turrets presiding over the city from a perch high in the mountains, Pena Palace is much more than your average castle. I have one major tip – GO EARLY. I mean it… set an alarm. We got tickets for their earliest entry, 9:00 AM. And only waited in line about 15 minutes to get into the castle. Upon our exit, the line must have been 3+ hours long, and this was on a weekday! There is no line to explore the outside of the castle, so if you want photos without the crowds, do those before entering the castle. We paid to get the shuttle to the top, and it was worth the three euros. This castle is like a fairy-tale, and is beautifully designed and rich in history.

It is one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It can be quite windy here, and we got some hilarious photos of my hair standing straight up. Strollers are not allowed inside the castle, but they will store them for you during your visit.

Castle of the Moors – After visiting Pena Palace, we walked down a steep hill to Castle of the Moors. Buy your tickets ahead of time, there was a long line if you did not. The Moorish Castle is a beautiful viewpoint to admire the view extending from Sintra to the ocean. Visiting here brings you back in time, and is nicknamed “The Great Wall of Portugal”. It has a very unique design and is definitely beautiful. The trail up to the castle walls are easy but when you are on the wall, the hike could be more strenuous. It was incredibly windy when we visited, so it was hard to climb with the gusts. Well worth the visit!

Cabo da Roca – The westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca is a must see. We took a 40 minute bus ride from Sintra through winding roads (if you get motion sickness easily, get a different form of transportation). This is one of my favorite spots of Portugal – guaranteed to be windy and gorgeous. You feel the power of nature at this site, the Atlantic rages against cliffs and you can truly see why people thought it was the edge of the world. You will not need to spend much time here, but it is well worth it. There is a monument marker which makes a great photo op.

Oceanário de Lisboa – Located out in the blue waters of the Tagus Estuary, the aquarium houses countless exhibits related to marine life. Here you can see penguins, eels, many species of fish, and a very active octopus! We had a great time here, I would expect to stay around 1.5-2 hours. Though if I am being honest, I probably would have visited the zoo instead (I think there would be more to see/do). But… it was summer and air conditioned, and we all had a great time.

Yellow Bus Hop on Hop Off – There are many ways to see Lisbon, and we went with the Yellow Bus! Now let me say, this was a highlight for my girls. Why, you ask? Well, they got to sit on the top, and go under tunnels, where they held up their hands like they were on a roller coaster! My favorite part about this tour was that a boat ride on the Tagus River was included, and that was a highlight. You need to get the timing right on the buses, so I would recommend catching the first bus and riding the whole thing, then getting off at your destination. It was a great option on a hot day to feel the breeze and listen to enchanting Portuguese music with a tour.

Belem Tower – If there is just one landmark you visit when touring through the Lisbon, make it this one! We did not go inside (tickets were sold out), but we loved just being here. There is a feeling that overwhelms you when standing in front of the tower, it really does make you take a moment to appreciate it. And it is just gorgeous… I mean look at that. Where else can your kid build sandcastles with this in the background?!

Alfama District – Hailed as the oldest part of the city, Alfama’s winding streets and alleys that form the district is one of the top activities for visitors. The streets are lined with delicious food to appease any palette.

Monastery of Jerónimos – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, fusion of architectural designs should be enough to draw you into this beautiful spot. The church is breathtaking, and hint: if you have small children, you can walk past the line (they let you right in). Score!

Padrão dos Descobrimentos – This historical monument marks the shore of the Tagus Estuary. It’s been here since the early 1960s and is a testimony to the successes of Portuguese exploration. We loved sitting here watching the many sailboats go by. This is a short walk from Belem Tower.


Lisbon Marriott Hotel – I had the pleasure of having a breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. All were vastly different, and yet equally delicious! You can find authentic Portuguese food with big flavors and portions. I am definitely a buffet fan, especially when everything tastes delicious and children under 6 are free! You read what I said earlier about the staff at the hotel, well their restaurant is no exception. We had a chaotic day on my daughter’s birthday and came here for dinner. Well, the staff heard us talking about her birthday and surprised her with a huge piece of cake, candles, and singing. Truly something we will remember forever!

They also offer a poolside brunch in the summers, and it is not to be missed. The food is amazing and you also get a pass to use the pool for the day. We had way too much fun eating and drinking to our heart’s content, while the kiddos splashed away in the pool. If you are looking for a relaxing day in Lisbon, this is the place to be!

Metamorphosis – Located near the train station in Sintra, I had the best steak dinner here. The food blew me away… I didn’t want my meal to end and I wish I got the recipe! Highly recommend… and no, no photos because I was way too engrossed in my food haha!

Café Saudade – Another great place not too far from the train station in Sintra. This was a rare gem open for breakfast before 9AM! The food and service were great, I highly recommend stopping here any time of day.

Burger & Co – Located directly across from the train station in Sintra, we were wary of eating at a burger joint in Sintra – seemed touristy. BUT, I am happy to report the burgers were great (albeit maybe a smidge overpriced). Everything tasted great and the beer was ice cold – can’t ask for much more!

Casa das Bifanas – Located in Praça da Figueira, everyone needs to eat a prego and bifana while in Portugal. This is a local place serving up some delicious sandwiches!

Until next time…

18 thoughts on “Lisbon & Sintra : A Real Life Fairy-Tale

Add yours

  1. I love your article and pictures! This place is fantastic. I would love to visit Lisbon and Pena palace. Actually, I miss traveling so much!


  2. We have always wanted to go to Lisbon. It’s so vibrant and charming. After reading your post, I couldn’t be more excited to visit soon. Looking forward to exploring the Castle of the Moors and visiting Oceanário de Lisboa. The food in Marriott Hotel looks really good too.


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