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Travel Diaries: Lisbon A Conversation with Amelia Around the World

Travel Diaries: Lisbon A Conversation with Amelia Around the World

Amelia's Lisbon Adventures

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Nell: Amelia, we’re so happy to be chatting travel destinations with you again! The last time we talked was three years ago when you shared all your best Marrakech recommendations. Not only have you gone on many new travel adventures, but your whole world has changed! You have a new(ish) baby and a new partner, and your son isn’t quite as little as he was when we last talked.

Amelia at Lisbon

Nell: Tell us about yourself!

Amelia: Yes, it’s been a wild few years. It’s no longer just my son Silas and me as the dynamic travel duo. I met my partner Grant, a bass player and web developer, here in Nashville and we welcomed baby Sunny in 2022 (after spending some of my pregnancy on Grant’s band’s tour bus — but that’s another story). In 2023, Grant officially adopted Silas. So traveling has gotten a lot more expansive and expensive now that we’re a family of four — but it’s still a ton of fun. 

After Sunny was born, we spent much of my maternity leave on the road, including a chunk of time in Belize. Since then some or all of our crew have visited Reykjavik, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Sedona, Savannah, NOLA, Baja Sur in Mexico, Portugal…probably some other spots I’m forgetting, too. Work-wise I spent some time running Parents (formerly Parents Magazine), did a stint at the BBC (including working with BBC Travel, a lifelong favorite), and I’m now diving into full-time freelancing, with all kinds of editing, writing, and consulting projects, which has been exciting.

N: Today we’re chatting all about Lisbon, Portugal. One of THE top spots on my wishlist. (Yes, this interview is self-serving as much as it is for everyone else) 

A: Good! You should definitely go.

N: What’s the ideal amount of time to visit Lisbon (and/or Portugal if you have recs beyond the city)?

A: As long as you can! I actually have many American friends who are now living permanently in Portugal with their families. Which does come with its own complications as expats are driving up housing prices. For families visiting, though, a week can be great — but I’d recommend two.

Streets of LisbonLisbon streets



N: We’d love all your advice here. Any pro tips and not-to-be missed experiences. Please share here!

A: As an NYC-native I am big on public transportation and walking, and you can definitely do much of Lisbon itself on foot, via tram, or by hopping a tuktuk. But if you’re wanting to go further afield at all — including the edge of the city or day trips or longer outside of Lisbon, renting a car is quite easy to do and probably your best bet. 

One important note for traveling families with little ones: Lisbon has a lot of cobblestones, steep staircases, and narrow walkways. Skip the stroller entirely if you can and go with a sturdy babywearing setup — plus well-gripping rubber-soled shoes for you, since the cobblestones can get slippery when wet.

N: Best area to stay?

A: We stayed in multiple areas of the city and different parts of Portugal on our trip, but my favorite was Chiado. It’s often lauded as Lisbon’s most elegant neighborhood, and it’s a wonderful hub of shops, restaurants, music, and museums that’s walking distance from so much of what Lisbon has to offer. My kids and I loved grabbing a coffee and a pastel de nata and just wandering the cobblestoned streets, listening to buskers play music in the squares and poking our heads into shop doorways.

Kid playing at white house

N: Best Accommodations (hotels or places to rent)?

A: I’m a big fan of all the Martinhaal properties, as they have really hit the nail on the head in terms of balancing true travel elegance with kid-friendliness. 

We stayed at Martinhaal Chiado which offers serviced apartments, so it’s like the best of both worlds when it comes to a hotel vs. Airbnb, and is super cozy and walkable. 

We also spent some time at Martinhaal Oriente in Lisbon’s artsy-modern eastern section, as well as at Martinhaal Sagres on our trip down along the Algarve coast. 

In terms of non-hotel-owned properties, Nowhere Portugal and Quinto do Muro are the most gorgeous in the country, I’m convinced.

N: Attractions Not to Miss?

A: As mentioned, a tuktuk tour of Lisbon can give you a fun and fascinating foundation of knowledge about the city and its history. Plus, kids just plain love the ride. Definitely take them to the Oceanarium, one of the best aquariums in the world with over 8,000 animals and plants. Kids also love the Sao Jorge Castle, the miradoras or city overlooks, the Museu Nacional do Azulejo or National Tile Museum, and of course taking a ride in one of Lisbon’s classic yellow trams.

Amelia and her kids in the stroll

N: Best Places to Play/Kid-friendly Entertainment?

A: One of the best parts of Portugal is how kid-friendly it is, and Lisbon is a prime example. From the moment you land at the Lisbon airport you can get a sense of this: There are baby food vending machines and strollers you can borrow for free. 

Most neighborhoods have plenty of playgrounds available, and my kids also loved playing and climbing around the Jardim do Cabeço das Rolas in Oriente. And honestly, I always tell fellow travel parents: There is no shame in using the hotel kids club. My sons absolutely loved the Martinhal Chiado club, and after a long morning or afternoon schlepping around town seeing the sites, they were grateful to cuddle up with each other and the wonderful kids club staff for some crafts, books, or a movie while my husband and I caught a happy hour.

N: Best Grown-Up Fun?

A: Canto da Atalaia in Bairro Alto. This is such an amazing spot for drinks and unearthly Fado music. There’s no cover fee for entry, but it’s a 25€ food/drink minimum. And note that the music comes first here, not conversation: Canto da Atalaia requests that all patrons remain silent during the singing.

Dad with Kibou

N: Best Places to Eat (kid-friendly and adult-only)? 

A: We loved family-friendly happy hour at Bar 1855 Gin Garden, and date night at Meson Andaluz. Estrela de Bica is a star of the city’s dining and will please all ages (if they can sit still a bit, that is). And we found ourselves returning to Lisbon’s Time Out Market again and again with the whole family; it’s an elevated food hall that has so many options, it’s a safe bet for even the most varied of tastes and the pickiest of kids.

N: Best Places to Shop?

A: Thieves Market or Feira da Ladra is an iconic flea market with a treasure trove of finds. And Cerâmicas na Linha has beautiful handmade pottery that’s worth the epic wrap-up required to bring it home in your suitcase.

N: Any other must-see/do that we missed above? 

A: Portuguese food and drink has such interesting classics that you truly can’t miss. Parents who drink alcohol should absolutely try local vinho verde and porto, whether or not you’ve already tasted imported versions at home. As for food traditions, the bite-sized custard tarts called pasteis de nata make for a favorite dessert/snack/breakfast/you name it. And my favorite of all is a savory Portuguese fish stew, or caldeirada de peixe. I will go anywhere in the world for a fresh spicy fish stew.

Kid in Portugal

N: Any cultural traditions or differences you noticed or recommend that traveling families are aware of here?

A: As with most places, dress modestly if you’re visiting churches or other places of worship. And if you don’t speak Portuguese, don’t try to “get by” speaking Spanish — I saw some tourists attempting this to much local chagrin. It’s a different language; don’t assume Portuguese people speak it.

N: If you had to pick your top 4 trips ever, what would they be?

A: These types of questions are always so hard! Definitely the Morocco trip I previously shared with Kibou. I loved both of my trips to Belgrade, Serbia, a complicated and dynamic city that is off the beaten path of European tourism for sure. I have always loved returning to Reykjavik and the unearthly landscape of Iceland — and Reykjavik is so walkable, I really know my way around now which feels really comfortable. My trips to India — Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Goa, and more — have long captured my heart via food and friendships and the sheer vibrancy of the (also quite complicated) country. And this recent Portugal trip was such a delight and made us re-plan a lot of how we want to live our lives at home. But that’s five! See, I can’t answer.

N: What is your next dream vacation?

A: I’m certainly dreaming of my upcoming trip to Escalante, Utah with my older son in a couple of weeks to stay at Ofland Escalante, a new hotel and camping/glamping site near Bryce Canyon. But for as-yet-unplanned dream trips, Japan.

Amelia Kibou bag content

N: And lastly, what is in your Kibou? 

Now that my toddler is potty training and I don’t need diapers all the time, I’ve transitioned to the super cute new Kibou mini and carry even less crap around than before, which I love. So let’s see…I’ve got my phone, wallet, and apparently this cool bookmark from Ma’s House, an amazing space for BIPOC artists on the Shinnecock Indian Nation that I just visited for an event. Plus far too many lip things including the Noto stick I got at Thunder Moon Collective here in Nashville. At the moment I also carry my passport around because I misplaced my driver’s license and ordered a new one; Tennessee is very strict on ID laws and I want to be able to order wine! And always, always a pacifier…or three.

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