Planning a holiday away with your teenage children is no easy feat. It’s not like the old days when a few colouring pens and a visit to a park or playground would satisfy them. The trouble with teens is that if they’re not enjoying themselves, they have a tendency to show it with sullen faces glued to a smart phone or tablets.
But while you want to keep them happy, you don’t want to use all of your own precious holiday time trawling around shopping malls or theme parks just to keep them entertained.
Satisfying Teenagers (and their Parents!)
The answer, of course, is to find a destination which has as much to appeal to you as it does your teens. Thankfully, a city break to Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is just such a location.
Plenty of sunshine, a range of stunning beaches, beautiful Baroque architecture, delicious restaurants and a lively, welcoming street scene will all ensure that neither you nor your teens have the opportunity to utter the dreaded phrase: I’m bored.
In fact, there is so much for you and your teenagers to do together here that you’ll find yourself hard pressed to fit it all into one visit!
Here is my selection of the very best activities in Lisbon to satisfy teenagers and their parents.
A Trip to the Beach
There are so many beautiful beaches around Lisbon that you actually have the luxury here of deciding what kind of beach you want to visit.
For watersports and a lively sunbathing scene (although it can get very busy in peak season), check out the Estoril-Cascais Coastline.
Older teens, on the other hand, might well enjoy the trendy bars and restaurants of the Costa da Caparica.
But if you want to get away from the crowds, head to the south of the city to the Setubal Peninsular for stunning, secluded bays and beaches.
Sail the Tagus River
Take a sailing excursion down the river Tagus at sunset and explore this beautiful city from the water. On an elegant sailing boat with your own private guide, you’ll cruise down the river taking in the impressive historic buildings which line the city’s shores as the sun sets over the Atlantic. There are also sunrise sailing excursions available, but let’s face it, it’s hard enough getting teens out of bed by midday, so perhaps it’s better not to push it.
Whatever time of day you choose to do it, sailing down the Tagus is guaranteed to be a truly memorable experience for the whole family.
Sightseeing With a Difference
While some teens may groan at the thought of a sightseeing tour, most will think differently when you lead them aboard Tram 28. Part of Lisbon’s hundred year old wooden tram system, Tram 28 rattles exhilaratingly through the city’s network of historic, narrow streets, providing a completely unique view of the city’s many beautiful buildings.
Catch a Wave
Surfing is a hugely popular pastime in Lisbon and you’ll often see cars loaded with surfboards as families or groups of friends head to the rugged Serra de Sintra to catch a wave. Whether you and your teens have surfed before or are giving it a go for the first time, the Atlantic beaches of Lisbon are a great place to get your feet wet (literally!). There are a range of surf schools available along the coast, with instructors that will match the beach and the waves to your level of experience.
Find out all about the top 5 surf spots near Lisbon here!
How to Get There
Flying to Lisbon Airport only takes around 2.5 hours from the UK, making it a very convenient destination for British families. It is advisable to book an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct online before you set off to ensure that you and your family are met by a driver when you arrive. The transfer will take you from Lisbon Airport directly to your hotel anywhere in the city as well as the surrounding area.
Lisbon also lies on the major rail network, Sud-Expresso, with direct trains running regularly from Paris to the Portuguese capital.
Where to Stay
Hotel Dom Carlos Park – For a budget option right in the heart of Lisbon, check out the Hotel Dom Carlos Park, situated just 50 meters from the Marquês de Pombal Metro. Clean and well run, the kids will be more than happy with the free WiFi available across all areas of the hotel and the large plasma TV in the hotel’s comfortable lounge. It may only be bed and breakfast, but all the restaurants of central Lisbon are right on your doorstep.
BessaHotel Liberdade – If you’re looking for something a little more elegant, but you still want to be right in the city centre without breaking the bank, you should try BessaHotel Liberdade. With its indoor pool, fitness centre, Turkish bath and sauna there’s plenty for the kids to explore without even leaving the hotel. And once you do step out of the door, you’re only a few minutes’ walk from Restauradores Square and São Pedro de Alcântara Belvedere.
EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel – For a touch of 5-star luxury, book the family into EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel. Set in Lisbon’s upmarket Amoreiras district, you and the kids will be able to take in the breath-taking scenery of Lisbon from the hotel’s beautiful rooftop sun terrace or even its stylish infinity pool. With its own spa, two swimming pools, gourmet restaurant and bar, you might be tempted to check in and not go out. But step outside and you’re in the heart of one of Lisbon’s most stylish areas and, if the kids are missing hanging out at the mall too much, the impressive Amoreiras Mall is only a short walk away.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct offers reliable, friendly airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa. With its easy online booking and confirmation system you can arrange to have a driver or group transfer waiting for you when you arrive. A range of transfer options means there’s something to suit every budget, from shared group shuttles to luxury car services. The drivers are all local and knowledgeable about the area, so don’t forget to ask them if there’s anything you’d like to know about your holiday destination.