Tag Archives: Parks
September 10, 2014

Lisbon with kids: Jardim Garcia d’Orta (Sound Garden)

Lisbon is full of lovely parks, although many are a little off the beaten track. To celebrate the warmer weather, we’re showcasing some of our favorites. This week, the Jardim Garcia d’Orta… a garden of sound.

Tucked between the Pavilhao Atlantico and the FIL, overlooking the river Tejo, the Jardim Garcia d’Orta is the Expo’s best kept secret.

Jardim Garcia d'Orta

Jardim Garcia d’Orta

A treat for kids tired of being quiet, with plenty of space for older siblings and parents to stretch out on the grass or people-watch in the shade of the nearby riverside promenade.

Giant musical instruments “grow” among the plantings, just begging to be banged, clanged and thumped on. There is even a set of brass plates for dancing, and each one rings out a different note when stepped on.

Making music at the Jardim Garcia d'Orta

Making music at the Jardim Garcia d’Orta

The truth is, the entire waterfront in the Expo is one long series of lovely parks and gardens, with giant girafes, strange sculptures and even a couple playgrounds hidden along its length. The park is less and less landscaped as you go north, finally merging into the natural state of the riverbank near the Vasco de Gama bridge.

But the Garcia d’Orta Sound Garden is special, and it’s one of those places that my kids keep begging to go back to. After all, how often do your parents tell you to make all the noise you want?

July 12, 2014

Parks of Lisbon: Jardim do Torel

Lisbon is full of lovely parks, although many are a little off the beaten track. To celebrate the warmer weather, we’re showcasing some of our favorites. This week, the Jardim do Torel, just up the hill from our vacation rentals and holiday apartments.

Jardim do Torel view of Baixa

View of the Baixa from the Jardim do Torel

The Jardim do Torel winds, snake-like, down the Colina de Santana–starting near the top of the Ascensor do Lavra and ending on Rua do Telhal. Every turn presents you with a new and sweeping view of Lisbon, and all sorts of charming spots are tucked into the corners.

The shady lawn near the top entrance boasts the best views of the Baixa and the river, and the wooden lounge chairs are perfect for putting your feet up for an afternoon rest.

Jardim do Torel - playground

Land, ho!

Down a flight of curving stairs and past the fountain, a simple but well kept playground will delight the younger set. The boat on the “toddler” side is perfect for playing pirates–or Portuguese discoverers, if you want to squeeze in a history lesson!

Stairs at the Jardim do Torel

Stairs at the Jardim do Torel

Just around the corner from the playground, the Esplanada do Torel offers the chance to enjoy yet another view, as well as brunch, or just a bite to eat and a cup of coffee. For a change of pace, try the delicious–though intense–hot chocolate. The large terrace around the cafe is perfect for more running and playing, if anyone still has the energy for it!

The last bit of the Jardim do Torel switchbacks past an elementary school (imagine going to school in this lovely setting!) and down another set of landscaped stairs, allowing you to exit just above the Avenida Metro station and the charming Alentejan restaurant Zé Varunca.

Whether you visit just one part, or walk down (or up!) through the entire garden, the Jardim do Torel is truly a pleasure.

March 13, 2013

Lisbon with kids: Olivais Educational Farm (Quinta Pedagógica dos Olivais)

Wondering what to do with antsy preschoolers in Lisbon? Looking for a break from seeing Lisbon with kids? Here, you’ll be the only tourists in sight!

Little kids love farm animals. It’s just one of those things that are almost universal. And so Lisbon’s municipal government has created the Olivais Educational Farm (Quinta Pedagógica dos Olivais).

Lisbon with kids

Urban chickens, since before they were hip 🙂

This swath of farmland right in the middle of the city is not a tourist attraction. It’s a place where Lisboetas take their kids as a treat. And it’s a simple affair: pastures, barns, a vegetable garden/orchard, a grassy place to play and an outdoor eating area.

But if you are in Lisbon with kids who are tired of sightseeing, and you’re looking for a place where they can play and you can relax, this is just about perfect. Oh, and entrance is free, which is always a plus!

Lisbon with kids

Have a snack with Heidi the horse

As you come through the gates, the picnic area, with tables and chairs, will be on your right, overlooking a pasture. Try to guess which animal will be there: the caretakers move the animals from one enclosure to another, depending on the time and day. Up ahead on your left will be several buildings that serve as offices, workshops and house activities for school trips.

Across from these buildings is the grassy park area, with a couple of simple play structures. The highlight is the “treehouse”, actually a little house on stilts, just high enough that the branches wrap around it.

Lisbon with kids

The Pacifier Tree (Árvore das Chuchas)

Don’t miss the “Pacifier Tree”, for a laugh. This perfectly normal olive tree is always decorated with pacifiers (chuchas in Portuguese). When kids are old enough to give up their pacifier, parents come from around Lisbon to have them hang it on the Árvore das Chuchas (Pacifier Tree). Kids love it, the pacifier is gone, and everyone wins. Clever, huh? My own daughter hung up her chuchas there a few years back. (They’re not there anymore; the caretakers remove the old pacifiers to make room for new ones, but she doesn’t know that!)

Towards the back of the Quinta are the barns and the pigpen.

As you turn back towards the entrance, you’ll pass the rest of the pastures, and a garden/orchard set back from the more lively animal area. This will bring you full circle to where you started, and that’s really all there is.

But my kids love it, and have for years. Less than 30 minutes from the city center, the Quinta is a great break from sightseeing in Lisbon with kids. It’s peaceful, fun, and a great chance for the little ones to run, play, and see farm animals up close. Sometimes very close. The chickens and the peacocks run free during the day, and are very personable… or actually just want to know if we’ll give them something to eat.

But we won’t, of course. We know better than that! And if we didn’t, there are signs everywhere.

Lisbon with kids

The sign at the entrance to the Quinta

How to get there: Take the metro to the Olivais station, and follow the signs to the exit that says “Spacio Shopping”. Walk along the Rua Cidade de Bissau, going northwest past a grassy area with a large iron sculpture of an olive tree (on your right in 3-5 minutes). Take the first right after you pass this area, into what looks like a parking lot. The Quinta will be on your right as you reach the top of the short slope. If you miss your turn, the next real street (Rua Cidade dos Moçâmedes) has signs to the Quinta Pedagógica for those coming in by car. Following these signs, you will go around the block, but you’ll arrive quickly just the same.




When to go:

  • In the winter (Oct – Apr)
    • Tuesday-Friday: 9am – 5:30pm
    • Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10am – 5:30pm
    • The Quinta is closed on Mondays, Chirstmas, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday
  • In the summer (May – September)
    • Tuesday-Friday: 9am – 7pm
    • Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10am – 7pm
    • The Quinta is closed on Mondays and on May 1st

Have you been to the Quinta Pedagógica? What’s your favorite thing to do in Lisbon with kids?