Sadly for demographics, Portugal is the third-oldest country in Europe and the fifth oldest in the world. So, is Portugal child friendly in this scenario? Better, is Porto child friendly?
We are the firsts to worry about children’s safety, their activities and their education. We even have a nickname to describe our mothers, “mãe-galinhas” (chicken-mothers), which means they tend to worry too much about their kids, and about others’ kids too, honestly.
So, if we care so much about our kids, we are naturally prepared to receive yours. We know how daunting it can be to travel with kids since there are so many things to think about – packing, food, the best itineraries, activities, etc. -, after all, we have the same concerns when going somewhere with ours.
Still, the question remains. Is Porto child friendly? Absolutely, and I’ll show you why.
1. What to do with children in Porto
We already have a list of fun activities in Porto for families with kids. Yet, I’ll stress some points, to reassure you on our Porto child friendly character.
Parks and Gardens in Porto
As technological as the world may get, some things never change. Kids have always loved playing outdoors, and they will keep loving it. So, naturally, parks and gardens are must when travelling with them. And is Porto child friendly in this department? Absolutely.
Here, you’ll find several parks and gardens, that will allow your children to burn their stamina while you take some deep breaths, while enjoying a beautiful scenario.
One of my favourites is The Crystal Palace Gardens, a gem right at the centre of Porto, easily accessible either by foot or bus. You’ll find an immense variety of trees and plants, with a playground and benches; there’s also the gorgeous view over the Douro river. The garden is crossed by an avenue where different events, such as book fairs and music concerts, are hosted.
I’ll recommend you a garden in Porto that is a bit of secret, probably because it is not located in the centre. In the Botanic Garden of Porto, your kids will discover centenary trees, cactus, greenhouses and lakes. The variety is impressive and it is a very quiet place.
Swimming Pools in Porto
People think of Portugal as a beach destination, which is traditionally something fun for children. I love the northern beaches but not everyone is like me. The water in Porto is cold, the currents are strong and the atmosphere may become windy when you less expect it.
So, though I love it, I advise you against it if you are coming with your family. Is Porto less child friendly for this? No! Instead, I recommend you to try some of the swimming pools in Porto, which are both safer and fun options, and certainly contribute to make Porto child friendly.
Piscina das Marés, for example, is a great option since it’s built on the top rocks of the beach. You get to feel the same beach vibe, as well as the water of the ocean, in a much safer way. There are two swimming pools, the smaller one designed for young kids. It is closed for renovations until July 2020, but we’ll keep you informed. Meanwhile, check out other options in here.
Museums for children
Outdoors activities are not the only thing in our store. We have also some interesting indoors suggestions that make Porto child friendly. I’ll just name a few but find out more activities in Porto for families with kids.
Remember the Botanic Garden? At its entrance you’ll find the Hall of Biodiversity, located at Casa Andresen. This ancient house witnessed the childhood of one of our greatest poets and children’s literature writer, Sophia de Mello Breyner.
Today, it houses a space where art meets biology and natural history, through a wide range of sensorial and conceptual experiences. Children get to interact with what they see making it both fun and educative; the best part is that you can join them, becoming thus an enriching experience to all.
The interactive museum World of Discoveries is also one of the most fun activities for children in Porto. Imagine historical scenarios, period dressed staff explaining details on the Portuguese Discoveries, and large touch screens, in several languages. Can it get more entertaining?
Yes, it can: take a boat road and travel back in time exploring the different countries Portugal discovered centuries ago. Book in advance and skip the line!
Serralves Contemporary Museum is fantastic too. It combines an institution of reference in the art world with a garden – that is an authentic natural playground for kids – and an excellent buffet restaurant.
My last recommendation is a bit of track, but worthwhile. The Puppets Museum is a museum for both adults and kids since it features real size puppets that appeal to different ages. It is well located, at Rua das Flores, right in downtown Porto. This historic street was recently renewed and it’s full of coffees and traditional stores, with street musicians or artists that will make the eyes of your kids shine.
Where can families with kids eat in Porto?
Everyone knows that family meals can be a delicate moment, going from the most relaxing time in the world to the most stressed in a minute over a carrot on the dish. It is normal to worry about your options when going somewhere with your children. So, is Porto child friendly when it comes to food? You know the answer by now.
One of the most common strategies is to find a place that is not cramped, and if it has a terrace or a garden even better. Like this, they won’t feel stuck at the table, which helps to prevent tantrums. We’ve already assembled some good restaurants for families with kids, but I’ll throw some more to the table.
Rua do Passeio Alegre, 3 | Porto
The menu at Bocca is varied, from pizzas – usually a safe choice for children – to traditional Portuguese dishes. However, the greatest thing about this place is the location, in Passeio Alegre, right in front of the Douro river, and not very far from the ocean. You can choose to stay on terrace and watch over your children, who will have more than enough space to move around.
Bira dos Namorados
Rua Ceuta, 61 | Porto
This place is decorated in a bright and colourful way, with puppets in the walls, which makes it so appealing to kids. They essentially serve burgers and steak sandwiches so, most likely, you won’t face many tantrums over the food. Moreover, the atmosphere is very easy-going; I have no doubts your family will feel comfortable.
Another strategy is to find places with menus designed for children, which can be a bit more difficult. Still, I’ll leave you here some options.
Rua do Almada 240 and Rua Passos Manuel 245
The artisan burgers invaded Porto a couple of years ago, much to my pleasure. However, I bring to your attention deGema because they have special burgers for kids, that are not so inventive (safe ingredients, I mean) and for that, work very well – “Estrugidinho” and “Que Morrinha”. So, overall, deGema is a great option for all family.
Rua de Mouzinho da Silveira, 249 | Porto
daTerra is a great vegetarian restaurant in buffet style, very close to São Bento Station. It combines a good price, with variety and quality. I am not a vegetarian and I love it. They have a special price for children, at 5,5€, and the place is quite spacious, so this may be a great option for families on a vegetarian diet.
Rua Guedes de Azevedo, 117 | Porto
Negra Café it’s not exactly a restaurant since it serves light snacks like toasts and salads but also pancakes, cakes and bowls. The lower floor is dedicated to the youngest, with Tweety lamps, sofas, toys and sheets to paint. They also have a kid’s menu with pasta, pancakes with smarties and Nutella and a mini bowl. Your kids will enjoy the smoothies too, so, put it on the list!
3. What about ice cream in Porto?
Let’s try to name a kid who doesn’t like ice cream. Yeah, it’s a difficult challenge. There’s something more to it other than being a sort of sweet. It’s like a feeling, a good one, of summer. Is Porto child friendly when it comes to the greatest desert for children in the world?
Porto is full of excellent ice cream shops and most likely you’ll stumble upon some of them by accident. Still, just to be safe, discover the most incredible ice cream shops in town.
4. Where to stay in Porto with your kids
Choosing accommodation gains an all-new weight if you’re travelling with kids. In my opinion, there are two options: either choose an apartment or a guest house, so that your family can be at ease (meaning: make all the noise without you feeling embarrassed), or choose a hotel with family rooms.
I’ve already written about the a best family hotels in Porto, but I’ll add a couple more that may be of help in this Porto child friendly adventure.
Rua Doutor Alves da Veiga, 155 | Porto
Located in the center, close to the subway station of Bolhão, Bessa Hotel Baixa offers family rooms, and an excellent buffet breakfast. It has an interior swimming pool, but its plus is surely the beautiful interior garden. It has enough space for the kids and many comfy sofas for you!
Travessa de Antero de Quental, 360 | Porto
Hotel Cristal Porto is also very well located, 5 minutes from the subway station of Faria Guimarães. This hotel has several family rooms at your disposal, and an interior garden. It is a bit away from the centre agitation, which is a plus at the end of the day.
Rua Padre Cruz, 181 | Porto
Three Houses & Bedrooms are very modern, despite being inserted in characteristic 19th-century buildings. You’ll have at your disposal a fully equipped kitchenette and a dining area, and if you book in advance you may even get a terrace with a lounge area. The apartments have more than enough space to keep your kids busy but if everything fails, you’ll always have the tv kid channels. It’s located close to Casa da Musica subway station.
Rua Formosa, 174 | Porto
Each one of Sete Domus Pool & Garden Suites has a patio and a fully equipped kitchen. But your children will love it for the exterior garden and swimming pool, which will help to keep them entertained. It will take you only 10 min walking from the (very central) subway station Trindade but the property also provides a transfer service from Porto airport for an extra fee.
Rua Dom João IV, 960 | Porto
Pedra Iberica is a lovely and bright guest house, with individually decorated rooms (for families with different sizes) with a view to the garden. The garden is what makes it perfect for families, since it houses a children’s playground. Besides, barbecue facilities are available for guests. If you are not in a mood for a restaurant, why not stay in enjoying your family? Also, it is very close to Faria Guimarães subway station.