Allow at least four hours to explore Lisbon Zoo, opened in 1883 as the first in Portugal. Largely revamped since 1990, it is accessible on public transport to Sete Rios. It is one of the more progressive of European zoos, having a high success rate with its conservation and breeding programmes. A gorilla and a pigmy hippo were born there for the first time in 2012.
There are more than 3,000 animals at Lisbon Zoo, consisting of some 360 species, including endangered animals specially bred for rehabilitation in the wild. There’s a lot to pack, so be sure to get a map at the ticket office so you don’t the miss reptile house full of snakes and lizards, the small zoo farm for toddlers, monkey village, lions, tigers, coral-colored flamingos, hippos, kangaroos, elephants, brightly feathered parrots in their aviaries, and brown bears in their rocky enclosure backed with waterfalls.
Plenty of family entertainment is factored into a Lisbon Zoo tour. The sea lions are fed at 10.30am and 2pm; birds of prey fly free at 12.15pm and 4.30pm in the Enchanted Forest; the clumsy pelicans are fed at 3pm, while dolphins also get two spots in the limelight with magical shows of diving and splashing at 11am and 3pm in Dolphin Bay.
A cable-car ride following a circular route over the zoo’s themed enclosures is included in the entrance fee, and a mini-train putters around its highlights in 15 minutes. The Animax amusement park (also included in the entrance fee) has plenty for tiny kids to play on and eating options from Portuguese bifana (steak sandwiches) stands to self-service salads or seated dining; there’s also the Rainbow Play Park for toddlers, only open at weekends.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine