The Family Travel Show

Family Travel ShowDo you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice there is when you’re planning a family holiday? The whole world is out there to explore but how do you decide where to go and what to do?

Do you go skiing, on a safari, a cruise or a city break? And how do you decide where to stay once you’re there? Is it better to pick a large hotel with kids’ clubs and activities on tap, a campsite or a self-catering villa?

We’re hoping to find the answers to these questions and lots more at the Family Travel Show in London on October 1st and 2nd. It’s the only UK event dedicated to family holiday inspiration so it will be packed with family travel experts and holiday companies all keen to answer your questions and inspire you with lots of ideas for your next holiday.

Family Travel ShowWith exhibitors ranging from ski and safari companies to cruises and adventure travel, it’s a great opportunity to find out about lots of different kinds of holidays. There’s a big fun element at the show too, with competitions to win holidays and lots of activities to keep the children entertained.

You can dress up and have your photo taken in front of famous landmarks, try on scuba diving equipment, go on a climbing wall or find out how to build a fire without matches with London Bushcraft.

Lonely Planet Kids is offering discounts on its children’s travel books, an activity sheet competition and the chance to explore different environments using a virtual reality headset.

Children can take part in a 45-minute photography workshop too, learning the basics of how a camera works and how to take pictures of moving wildlife and landscapes.

Family Travel ShowThe Family Travel Show is taking place at Olympia in London from 1st to the 2nd October. Tickets for adults cost £10 on the door or £8 in advance. Children under 16, free. If you’d like tickets for only £6 use the code, SUITCASES. The photography workshops cost £10 per child and should be booked in advance to secure a place.

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Is Santorini really worth the hype?

Santorini is regularly voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It has all the qualities you dream of when you picture the perfect Greek island: whitewashed houses, towering cliffs and spectacular sunsets.

But Santorini is made that bit more special by its extraordinary location. Thousands of years ago, a massive volcanic eruption caused the centre of the island to collapse, leaving a caldera or crater, with towering cliffs along one side of the island.

Santorini’s sunsets are indeed spectacular, particularly from Oia, the village perched at the top of the island. But how spectacular an experience can it be if you’re struggling to watch it behind a large crowd of people all holding up their phones to take a picture?

Is Santorini really worth all that hype? The trouble with places on the ‘Most Beautiful’ lists is that they tend to be very popular and Santorini is no different. Two million tourists visit the island every year and there can be as many as 57 flights a day in the summer. When you consider that Santorini is a relatively small island with an area of approximately 28 square miles you can get an idea of how busy the island can get – and that doesn’t even count the people coming off the cruise ships that dock from March to December, adding as many as 25,000 people a day to the island’s congestion.

Nobody could argue that the views over the caldera aren’t stunning. It’s definitely a wow moment when you see it for the first time. There’s an ethereal quality to the light here. Shades of blue appear to merge into each other, from deepest indigo to the palest turquoise. The mists in the sky melt into a sea that looks like velvety ink.

I first visited Santorini with a girlfriend before I had children. We walked to the top of the volcano, we visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri where you can see the remains of the Minoan city destroyed by the volcanic eruption and we sunbathed on a black sandy beach.

This summer I went back with my family. We flew into Santorini on our way to the smaller island of Folegandros, also part of the Cyclades. Due to the difference between our flight and ferry times I’d worked out that we had three hours spare on each leg for a mini tour of the island.

On the way out, we’d get a taxi to Imerovigli, the village at the highest point of the caldera’s edge and on the way back, we’d visit Oia, the village at the top of the island famous for its blue domed churches and incredible sunsets.

But things don’t always work out as you’ve planned when you’re travelling, do they? Our flying trip to Imerovigli was a good idea – it was relatively quiet and we had enough time to admire the views before heading to the port to catch our ferry. But on the way back, our ferry was an hour late. I assumed this would still give us enough time to visit Oia but we abandoned our plans when our taxi driver told us that the relatively short 11.8 mile journey from the port would take an hour and a half because the roads were so clogged up with all the tourist traffic.

So we went instead to Fira, the main town, which was much closer to the airport. It was a huge disappointment. The narrow lanes were packed with tourists and lined with tacky souvenir shops. The view over the caldera was spoiled by the masses of restaurants and hotels huddled together on the hillside.

Our couple of hours in Santorini came at the end of a two-week-long holiday on the tiny island of Folegandros and all we could think about was how lucky we were to have chosen to stay there rather than here, no matter how good the views. The food was more expensive, the streets were a lot busier and there were so many more tourists. It was a long way from being the Greek island of my dreams.

I wouldn’t say it’s not worth going to Santorini – it is certainly beautiful and perhaps it is one of those places you should see in a lifetime, but if you’re looking for a more traditional, easygoing Greece then you’re not going to find it.

If you’ve got the chance, see Santorini at its best outside of the main tourist season. As a family with school-age children we’re restricted to travelling during the school holidays. It’s always going to be busier over the summer so consider going in the spring or the autumn. If, like us, you have to visit in the summer think about a short stop at Santorini before heading to a quieter island.

I’ll be writing shortly in more detail about the perfect Greek island we found but in the meantime take a A Photo Tour of Beautiful Folegandros.

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Linking up with: Wanderful Wednesday

The August Chronicles

It’s hard to believe that the summer holidays are almost at an end and that the children will be going back to school next week.

The month started incredibly well with the amazing news that Suitcases and Sandcastles has made it into Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Family Travel Blogs. I’m really excited about this and looking forward to sharing more of our family adventures with you.

Our August has been filled with fun days out, lazy days in the sunshine and long evenings spent watching sunsets and eating delicious Greek food in local tavernas.

After a brief stop in Santorini, we spent two fabulous weeks exploring the picture-perfect Greek island of Folegandros and fell in love with its easygoing charm, stunning views and secret beaches.

Back in the UK we discovered some of the fascinating secrets and stories on a Houses of Parliament tour in London. We watched knights jousting and let the boys get soaking wet in the water maze at Hever Castle in Kent and had a picnic on the beach at Durdle Door on the Dorset coast.

For me, one of the joys of a summer holiday is the chance to indulge in some reading time. My suitcase is always packed with books and this month I spent many happy hours reading while basking in the Greek sunshine. I travelled to 18th-century Australia in Kate Grenville’s ‘The Lieutenant’, to Detroit in the wonderful ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides and relived the horrors of London during the Blitz in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life after Life’. All three books were fantastic reads and I thoroughly recommend them.

I’ve also enjoyed reading about other people’s travels in some of my favourite blogs. As a travel writer I’m always thinking about the next trip and looking for inspiration for where to travel next. These are the blog posts that have really given me itchy feet this month:

Pretty Towns of the Italian Riviera – Untold Morsels

Top Family Beaches in Nantucket – Fifi + Hop

Do Denmark in the Fall – Oregon Girl Around The World

Must See Scotland – the North East Coast – The Smalls Abroad

In September I’ll be writing about Greece: the wonderful island of Folegandros and the more well-known Santorini. My boys remain as obsessed as ever with royal palaces so we’ll be visiting Windsor Castle and a couple of London’s museums as well as exploring more of the English countryside.

And finally, here are this month’s blog posts in case you missed them:

The Best Things to do with Kids in Paris

 

 

The Best Things to do with Kids in Paris

 

 

Best UK Castles for Families      The UK’s Best Castles for Families

 

Nine Reasons you should visit the Lisbon Oceanário       Nine Reasons You Should Visit The Lisbon Oceanário

 

A Photo Tour of Folegandros       A Photo Tour of Folegandros

 

Eleven Things to Spot on the Houses of Parliament Tour        Eleven Things to spot on the Houses of Parliament Tour

 

The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever Castle       The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever Castle

 

Thanks so much for reading. What have been your best trips and reads over the last month?

 

 

 

Eleven Things to spot on the Houses of Parliament Tour

Eleven Things to Spot on the Houses of Parliament TourWhat could be more thrilling than standing in the steps of the Prime Minister, the Queen and Braveheart? A tour of the Houses of Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for children to see inside one of the world’s most iconic buildings. You’ll find out about Guy Fawkes, the man who tried to blow up the building; Charles I, the king who had his head cut off for abusing his power; and secret doors leading to even more secret toilets.

The Palace of Westminster has been a royal palace for over 1,000 years. Originally King Canute’s hunting lodge, it was the main residence for the kings of England from 1042 until 1512 when King Henry VIII moved out after a fire. The Houses of Parliament were built on the site of the medieval palace in the 19th century after another large fire. Although most of the buildings look really old they are in fact all, apart from Westminster Hall, only 150 years old.

These are the things you should look out for.

Stand on the spot where Charles I was condemned to death in Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament. It was completed by William the Conqueror’s son, William Rufus, in 1098 and it’s where the law courts used to sit. It is a real thrill to walk around here. So many of the most exciting moments of British history have happened within these walls.

For my boys and I, the biggest thrill was standing on the exact spot where King Charles I  was sentenced to death in 1649. It is also here where the Scottish ‘Braveheart’, William Walace was sentenced to death for treason in 1305 and where Sir Thomas More was condemned to death in 1535.

In more recent times, this is where Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament and where the bodies of people like Winston Churchill and King George VI were laid in state before their funerals.

We enjoyed looking at all the statues of animals and admiring the 600-year-old roof. Our guide told us that when they did some repair work up there recently they found lots of medieval tennis balls up in the rafters left over from people indulging in a spot of royal tennis after work!

Follow the processional route taken by the Queen

The Queen opens Parliament every year and the tour follows the ‘Line of Route’, the route the Queen takes for the State Opening of Parliament. She arrives in a horse drawn coach at the Sovereign’s Entrance and makes her way from there to the Robing Room, through the Royal Gallery and Tudor Room to the Lords Chamber.

We were fascinated to discover that before the State Opening, the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by the Beefeaters, the Yeoman of the Guard from the Tower of London, in order to prevent another Gunpowder Plot. The Yeoman Warders search the cellars with their lanterns. This is the cellar where, in 1605, Guy Fawkes was found guarding a pile of gunpowder with which he and a group of Catholic plotters were planning to blow up the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to kill the protestant King James I.

Find the secret door in the Robing Rome

The Robing Rome, with its highly ornate ceilings and copious amounts of gold leaf, is probably the grandest dressing room you’ll ever see. There’s even a throne in here, a ‘Chair of State’, built for Queen Victoria. This is where the Queen comes to put on her state robes and the Imperial State Crown. A copy of Charles I’s death warrant is displayed in here as a stark reminder of what can happen to a monarch who attempts to interfere with Parliament.

The most thrilling thing for my boys was the discovery of a secret panel which leads to the Royal Apartments or, in other words, a toilet which only the Queen is allowed to use.

Admire the glitz of the Lords Chamber

IMG_1326-Peers-lobby-to-Lords-FINAL

The Queen addresses Parliament in the most lavishly decorated room of the whole palace. The Royal Throne is based on the early 14th century Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. In front of the throne there’s a big cushion like a giant beanbag where the Lord Speaker sits. It’s called a Woolsack because it’s stuffed with wool. All the benches are red here, which is the colour of the Lords as opposed to the Commons which is green. There are lots of microphones dangling down from the ceiling which my boys thought looked like the candles hanging down from the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

See if you can work out where Churchill damaged the table

A bomb fell on the House of Commons during the Second World War so the government had to move into the Lords Chamber. Winston Churchill was prime minister at the time and he used to pound on the desk during his speeches to the Commons. The table in the middle of the Lords Chamber is that same table and if you look closely you can see the mark where Churchill’s signet ring scratched the table from Churchill banging on it so much.

Look at the statues of the prime ministers in the Members’ Lobby

IMG_1428-Commons-from-Members-Lobby-with-ChurchillYou can find more bomb damage in what is now called the Churchill Arch in the Members’ Lobby outside the entrance to the Commons Chamber. There are statues here of various prominent prime ministers including Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee and Margaret Thatcher.

There’s a marked difference between the size of Churchill’s statue and that of Lloyd George. Our guide told us that Churchill deliberately commissioned his statue to tower over that of his predecessor. Apparently Lloyd George’s widow complained that he looked ridiculous so they put him on a plinth to make him look taller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stand in the Commons Chamber

IMG_1268-Commons-Chamber

We would have loved to have sat down on one of the famous green benches but unfortunately it’s not allowed. The Commons Chamber is the room we really wanted to see for ourselves, the room we’ve seen countless times on the television. The first thing that struck us was how much smaller it looks in real life. There are 650 members of parliament but there is only space in the chamber for 450 people on the benches.

Another interesting thing we learned was that the Queen is not allowed in this room. No British monarch has been allowed in since King Charles I stormed into the Commons – and we all know what happened to him.

Find out where the Speaker used to go to the toilet

Oh, the joys of toilet humour! The grand Speaker’s Chair is raised up so that the Speaker can see what’s going on and control the proceedings. It looks all the grander for having a canopy over the top of the chair. This is because they used to hang drapes around the chair whenever the Speaker needed to use the toilet.

There is a rule that the Speaker has to be present for the parliamentary session to carry on. Nobody wanted to interrupt the session if the Speaker needed the loo so for 600 years the poor Speaker had to draw the curtains and use a chamber pot behind the canopy whenever he had to relieve himself. This went on for centuries until it was decided that a Deputy Speaker could stand in if the Speaker had to leave the room.

See where the Suffragettes used to chain themselves in St Stephens Hall

Suffragettes regularly used to chain themselves to the statue of Lord Falkland when they were protesting about the women’s right to vote at the beginning of the 20th century. The women caused such a disturbance that they banned women from the Central Lobby for ten years from 1908 to 1918.

See who you can spot…

IMG_3672The thing about the Houses of Parliament is that you never know who you’re going to bump into. As we walked outside, a Rolls Royce pulled up and there was the King of Ghana and his entourage…

Don’t miss the Jewel Tower

Your tour ticket gives you free entry to the Jewel Tower opposite Westminster Palace. It was built in 1365 to store King Edward III’s personal treasure and was originally surrounded by a moat to make it harder to attack.

The official records of the House of Lords were kept here from 1580 to 1864 so this is the place to see copies of thrilling documents like the death warrant of King Charles I and the act of parliament that abolished slavery.

How to book a tour of the Houses of Parliament

Tours are available on Saturdays thought the year and on most weekdays during parliamentary recesses including the summer, Christmas and Easter.

There are several ways of booking a tour. You can either book a tour online or from the ticket office at the front of Portcullis House. A self-guided audio tour costs £18.50 for adults. One child is free with each paying adult, £7.50 for each additional child. There is a family version of the audio tour. The 90-minute guided tours cost £25.50, adults; £11, children. It’s best to book in advance but some tickets may be available on the day from the ticket office.

UK residents can do a guided tour free of charge by contacting their MP. All you need to do is contact your MP or a Member of the House of Lords. You can find your MP and a list of Members of the House of Lords on the UK Parliament website.

There are regular Family Guided Tours of the Houses of Parliament. Check the website for details.

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The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever Castle

The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever CastleHever Castle in Kent is one of our favourite castles to visit in the UK. The childhood home of King Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, is a picture-perfect castle in beautiful grounds. There are so many great activities for families here from trying your hand at archery and rowing to watching knights jousting and getting lost in the mazes. Here’s a list of our favourite things to do at Hever Castle.

Explore the castle

The 700-year-old castle has everything children require from a castle: a moat, an impressive drawbridge and a gatehouse filled with armour and instruments of torture.

It also boasts one of the UK’s best collections of Tudor portraits. The connections with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn make Hever a must-visit for anyone interested in the Tudors. You can see the bedchamber where Henry VIII is believed to have stayed and the signed, exquisite prayer books belonging to Anne Boleyn.

Our favourite time to visit is at Christmas when all the rooms are decorated with Christmas trees.

Find your way around all three mazes

There are no less than three mazes at Hever Castle. Kids love the Tower Maze in the adventure playground and my two love the challenge of finding their way around the traditional Yew Maze in the shortest time possible.

The Water Maze is the most fun of all and a brilliant place to cool down on a hot summer’s day. Stepping stones lead through the reeds to a stone tower in the centre. Step  on the wrong stone and your path will be blocked by jets of water. Most children positively delight  in getting soaked so bring a towel and a change of clothes.

Watch a jousting tournament

You can watch knights jousting most weekends over the summer. King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn lead the procession of spectators all the way from the castle to the jousting field where big crowds gather to watch the Blue Knights battle the Reds.

The hour-long show is a real spectacle. The knights knock each other off their horses, spear metal rings onto their lances and engage in hand-to-hand combat. Children are invited to join the King’s Army. The raggle-taggle bunch are given helmets, swords and pikes and made to parade around the field.

Take a boat out on the lake 

We love rowing on the large lake at Hever. You can hire a rowing boat or a pedalo and spend a very happy hour mucking around on the water, rowing over to the Japanese Tea House and ringing the bell in the middle of the lake. See if you can sport the ducks’ house in the shape of a miniature castle.

The lake is a great place to teach children how to row. It’s usually fairly peaceful and you can see dragonflies, herons and kingfishers on the lake. There’s also a steamboat cruise.

Wander around the gardens

The extensive gardens are a pleasure to explore and there are plenty of good places for hide-and-seek. The formal gardens are a delight: the Italian Garden has shaded grottos and classical statues and there’s a colonnaded loggia beside the lake with a fountain and sculptures inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

The giant topiary chess set in the Tudor Garden will make you feel as if you’ve wandered onto a film set for ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Don’t miss the lovely sunken garden hidden behind a hedge in the Italian Garden – it’s a wonderfully tranquil spot often missed by the crowds because it’s so hidden away.

Walk around the lake

With 125 acres to explore, there’s no surprise that there are some lovely walks around the grounds and the wilder parts of the gardens. Our favourite is the Lake Walk which goes all around the lake. You can download a nature trail to complete as you go round. It’s a great place to spot birds like kingfishers and crested grebes and even on busy days it’s always quiet here, right in the middle of the countryside.

Have a picnic in the grounds

The stunning grounds are perfect for a picnic. Spread out your rug on one of the big lawns in front of the castle and watch the ducks and swans in the stream nearby. There’s lots of space here for children to have a run around. If you prefer to be away from the crowds, you’ll find quieter spots along the Lake Walk.

If the weather’s not good enough for sitting outside, there are two excellent cafés serving sandwiches, cakes and hot meals.

The next jousting tournament at Hever takes place this coming Bank Holiday Weekend. 

Hever Castle is open every day until 30th October, then from Wednesdays until Sundays until Christmas. Adults, from £13.10; children, from £8.30; under 5s, free.

For more castle inspiration, take a look at The UK’s Best Castles for Families and The Best European Castle Stays for Families

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A Photo Tour of Folegandros

A Photo Tour of FolegandrosWe’ve just got back from an idyllic two weeks on the tiny Greek island of Folegandros in the Cyclades. It has everything I dream of when I think of the perfect Greek island – pretty little harbours, beautiful beaches and great local tavernas. It was delightfully laid-back and despite the fact that we were there during the peak summer season, it wasn’t heaving with tourists.

I’ll be writing more about Folegandros over the next couple of weeks but in the meantime I thought I’d share some of the photos of our trip.

Folegandros has the unspoiled, old-fashioned feel that I love about Greece. We watched local fishermen untangling their nets at the harbour. We passed farmers using donkeys to get around and saw octopus hanging out to dry in the sun outside local tavernas.

We stayed in Chora, the main town on the island, perched on the cliffside, 200 metres up from the sea. Chora is considered to be one of the prettiest towns in the whole of the Cyclades, with its gorgeous white and blue buildings, picturesque squares and bougainvillea-draped houses.

The Castro, the medieval centre of the town has remained the same for hundreds of years. We walked down its narrow streets and covered passageways.

We took a boat to beaches virtually inaccessible by road and swam in the translucent aquamarine waters of the Aegean Sea.

There are churches everywhere you look on the island. We hiked to churches standing alone on top of steep hills. A zigzag path leads up to the main church in Chora, a regular evening pilgrimage for anyone wanting the best sunset view on the whole island.

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Nine Reasons You Should Visit The Lisbon Oceanário

Nine Reasons you should visit the Lisbon Oceanário

The Oceanário in Lisbon is easily the best aquarium we’ve ever been to. It’s also one of the biggest, with a fantastic variety of fish and other animals. You’ll find puffins and penguins, sharks and jellyfish as well as the more unusual creatures such as the cartoon-like sunfish and the adorable sea otters.

Here are all the reasons why you should visit.

It’s the largest indoor aquarium in Europe

© Mafalda Frade

The Oceanário is Europe’s biggest indoor aquarium, containing about 25,000 different fish, seabirds and mammals from around the world. But it’s so well designed that it doesn’t feel too big to enjoy.

What’s more, the building itself is really cool. My James Bond-obsessed 12-year-old said it looked “just like an evil villain’s hideout”. The eye-catching building appears to be floating on the water and you enter by crossing a footbridge.

It’s extremely well laid out

The aquarium is on two floors surrounding a massive central tank. The tank is seven metres deep so that visitors can look into it at different levels for close ups of the creatures living at the top and the bottom of the ocean.

The four main areas around the central tank showcase four different habitats around the world: the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Antarctic coastal line, the Temperate Pacific kelp forests and the Tropical Indian coral reefs.

As you wander in and out of the four habitats you keep coming back to the central tank and you’re guaranteed to see something new and fascinating every time. There are lots of helpful signs all over the walls so that you can find out interesting facts as you look around.

The central tank is truly incredible

The central tank is as big as four Olympic-sized swimming pools and contains 100 different species from around the world. Because it’s on two floors you can look into it from different levels which gives you the chance to observe some fish that you wouldn’t normally be able to see.

On the ground floor you can get a better look at the fish that spend most of their time at the bottom of the sea, like the zebra sharks and the guitarfish that look like something halfway between a ray and a shark. You can watch flatfish like plaice, sole and brill burying themselves in the sand and you can sometimes spot penguins diving in-between the rocks.

On the top floor we loved watching the graceful moray eels and the ‘devil fish’ Mantas whose horn-shaped fins work as giant spoons to direct small fish into its mouth.

Like most people, we were particularly taken with the numerous sharks. The sharks here are fed with ten kilos of fish twice a week. We learnt that sharks often shed their teeth and that some of the sandbar sharks have more than 20,000 teeth throughout their lives.

It’s a rare chance to see a sunfish

© Pedro A Pina

We were fascinated by the Ocean Sunfish. It looks like something a child would draw – I’d never seen anything like it in my life. It’s the largest bony fish in the world – more than three metres long and weighs over two tons. It looks exactly like a rock and often lies on its side on the surface of the water to sunbathe.

We were very lucky to see it – the Oceanário is one of very few aquariums in the world to have a sunfish because they are so difficult to care for.

You’ll fall in love with the sea otters

The sea otters, which come from the North Pacific Ocean, were some of my favourite animals in the whole aquarium. They are the only marine mammal to rely on their fur to maintain their body temperature so as a result they’ve got the densest fur in the animal kingdom and spend most of their day grooming their hair.

You can watch the otters doing just this at the Oceanário. They swim to the surface and lie on their backs, rubbing their cheeks with their paws, holding their paws over their furry tummies then rolling around in the water. It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen – my youngest son and I literally had to be dragged away so that we could see everything else in the aquarium.

You can walk through a rainforest

The Tropical Indian Ocean part of the aquarium recreates the coralline beaches of the Seychelles. The rainforest and the coral reef are two of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Planet Earth. In this area you can go on a walkway through the forest listening to the sounds of birds and monkeys.

…and into the Antarctic

In the Antarctic area you’ll get to see Rockhopper Penguins and Magellanic Penguins from the Falkland Islands – always a huge favourite in any aquarium we’ve been to. Here the experience is made even better by having Inca Terns flying right above our heads.

It’s a great place to shelter from the sun and rain

Lisbon can get really hot in the summer months and when you’ve had a few days of intense heat it can be a big relief spending a few hours in the cool, tranquil space of the indoor aquarium. It can be a blessed escape from the rain too. Despite its reputation as one of the sunniest cities in Europe, it was pouring with rain when we arrived in Lisbon in February. Spending the afternoon in the Oceanário on that first day was a great way to escape the awful weather.

Even the shop is worth a visit

I’ll usually avoid the gift shop if at all possible but I had to make an exception for this one. It’s packed with great products including soft toy penguins, puffins and sharks. I think they’re missing a trick though – we couldn’t find any soft toy sea otters. We’d have bought those for sure!

The Oceanário de Lisboa is open daily from 10am until 8pm, until 6pm during the winter months. Tickets, adults, €14; children, €9; under 4s, free. Family tickets cost €36 for a family of four.

Disclosure: We were very kindly given free admission to the Oceanário but all opinions are honest and my own.

Pin It!Nine Reasons you should visit the Lisbon Oceanário