(Editor’s note: This is Pt. 2 of a series of guides to Lisbon, one of the most popular destinations for expats. See Pt. 1 here: The best neighbourhoods for expats based on amenities, accessibility, affordability, and tranquility)
Lisbon is the perfect city if you’re looking for a safe, stimulating, and metropolitan city to raise children. Below is a list of the best neighbourhoods for families in Lisbon, based on location, amenities, nature, and international schools.
Parque das Nações
Parque das Nações is an upscale, spacious neighbourhood located along the Tagus river. It is usually a quiet area, aside from when the Web Summit is hosted there annually. There are restaurants and a mall nearby, as well as the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, the Lisbon Oceanarium. It is home to the United Lisbon International School, a private school with a diverse and holistic approach to education. Parque das Nações is an ideal neighbourhood for families and those who prefer a more tranquil lifestyle surrounded by nature.
Downside of Parque das Nações: There’s a busy train line near the mall, but otherwise it is limited in public transport (especially metro). Also, if you’re close to certain areas along the river, it can get a bit smelly, for example near Parque Tejo.
Alvalade is a residential area in Lisbon, and it’s a great neighbourhood for families due to the amenities around, as well as access to public transport (the metro, the train, and numerous bus lines). There are plenty of locals and expats who live in Alvalade, and there are a few small parks within walking distance. Alvalade is also where the German school Deutsche Schule Lissabon, as well as the Astoria International School, are located.
Downside of Alvalade: No cons as far as I know. It’s a good neighbourhood for families, just further away from the center and riverside.
Lapa/Estrela is located in the historic center of Lisbon and is a popular area for locals with children. In fact, during weekends you will notice the park Jardim da Estrela filled with families and kids. While Lapa is not easily accessible by metro and there is limited street parking, it is still a sought-after neighbourhood. The streets are flat as Lapa is not located on a hill, which is great during rainy weather. The amenities, community/family vibe, and the quietness away from the surrounding touristy areas make it appealing to many.
Downside of Lapa/Estrela: Expensive; difficult to find street parking; about 10-15 minutes walk to the nearest metro.
Campo de Ourique
Campo de Ourique is very close to the private french school Lycée Français Charles Lepierre, as well as the Amoreiras Shopping Center where you will find a huge supermarket (Auchan) and all the essential shopping you would ever need. While the neighbourhood is not that easily accessible by metro, there are plenty of buses passing through. There are also a lot of amenities around, so much so that you might never even have to leave the neighbourhood. It is one of the most beautiful residential areas I’ve seen in Lisbon, with plenty of trees lining up the streets, and lots of small cafes everywhere. It has a great community feel, and is a popular neighbourhood for expat families.
Downside of Campo de Ourique: About 10-15 minutes walk to the nearest metro, and can get quite crowded. It’s also difficult to find parking.
Areeiro and Arroios
Areeiro and Arroios are two neighbourhoods within walking distance of each other. Both are residential areas, close to the metro, with supermarkets, restaurants, small parks, and other important amenities such as dentists and hospitals nearby. They are located in the center of Lisbon but are not major tourist spots, and therefore tend to be quieter while still being full of life. Most of the residents in Areeiro and Arroios are professional working Portuguese people and expats, many with young children.
Downside of Areeiro and Arroios: In Areeiro you can sometimes hear the noise of the planes flying over Lisbon. Aside from that, both areas are awesome and are my favourite neighbourhoods to live in.
Campolide is an excellent neighbourhood for families for many reasons: the accessibility thanks to the metro and buses, the soon-to-be-built park at Praça de Espanha, the Park International School Praça de Espanha, the multitude of restaurants, and the close proximity to the beautiful park and landmark Parque Eduardo VII as well as to the Gulbenkian park and library. It has a very residential feel, although there are a few major highways that pass by it.
Downside of Campolide: The gothic Aqueduct is nearby, which sometimes makes the surrounding area smell like sewage. If you want to be close enough to Parque Eduardo VII without the proximity of the Aqueduct, I recommend Saldanha instead.
Saldanha is the business hub of Lisbon, but it also offers high-end apartments for rent. It’s a safe, accessible place to live, and within walking distance to Parque Eduardo VII, restaurants, supermarkets, shopping centers, and large streets with a modern but classic European feel.
Downside of Saldanha: Expensive; gets very busy during rush hour, with lots of traffic making it difficult to navigate through in a timely manner.
Bica is a small neighbourhood above the Cais do Sodre metro line and next to the crowded neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto, Baixa, and Chiado. Despite the close proximity to tourist areas, Bica is slightly quieter. It’s a great neighbourhood for families, as it’s where the British School of Lisbon is located. There are also a lot of diverse restaurants around, as well as supermarkets, public transportation, a gym, and the river is just a few minutes walk away.
Downside of Bica: It still gets quite busy, especially when heading towards the Cais do Sodre area. Some of the smaller and darker streets there can be a bit dodgy. Personally, Bica would be my last option.
Slightly outside of the metro area of Lisbon, Belém is a spacious, quiet and affordable area. There are a few big green open spaces right by the river where one can picnic, walk the dog, ride bicycles, or skate through. Belém is also home to a few tourist landmarks such as the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery, as well as many restaurants and shops, but despite that, the residential area is quiet and calm.
Downside of Belém: Outside of the metro area of Lisbon
Located above Belem is the upscale neighbourhood of Restelo, one of the calmest areas of Lisbon that underwent a modern renovation in the past few decades. Restelo offers luxurious villas for rent and sale, from which you can get magnificent views of Belem, the river, and neighbouring areas. It is also where the Park International School Restelo is located, making it an ideal neighbourfood for expats with children. However, you will need a car to get around, and expect to spend a lot on rent.
Downside of Restelo: Outside of the metro area of Lisbon; expensive
We hope this list helps you narrow down the ideal neighbourhood for you and your family in Lisbon.
About the author:
A graduate of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., Liina Edun has a background in psychology and a career in writing and content management.
Having lived most of her life as an expat, she is currently located in Lisbon.
See all of her work for Dispatches here.
See more on Dispatches here about Portugal.