Through the magic forest by train, an endless carousel ride, ice skating and a fun snow flurry
Christmas feels very different in Portugal than it does in Germany, for example. The days are getting shorter, darkness prevails and it gets noticeably colder, but in December the sun often shines so intensely that you don’t feel like it’s winter. My first visits to Lisbon around Christmas used to be very impressive for me. A few minutes beforehand, I walked to the airport in frosty Berlin and then I got off the plane and felt like it was spring. And really, the flowers are blooming, most trees are still green, and even the Atlantic is not much colder in winter than in summer. But the rain is problematic; it can fall for one or two weeks without interruption in winter. Here, you don’t mind it very much; instead, you’re happy, because the summer was dry and the country needs water.
In the trees
birds twittering and parrots screeching,
Christmas music from loudspeakers,
some donkey cries somewhere,
enthusiastic children’s voices
and close by,
to suspect rather than hear,
the winter ocean.
The Christmas holidays themselves are very short in Portugal. On Christmas Eve, many shops are still open and then only the first Christmas holiday follows. After that, everyday life for most Portuguese people already starts up again. Nevertheless, you can also do a lot with your children in Portugal for Christmas. Especially the Vilas de Natal, of which there are some, are worth a visit. One of the Christmas villages closest to Lisbon is in Cascais, which can be reached within 45 minutes by car or by train from Cais de Sodre station. It is built every December in the very pretty Parque Marechal Carmona in the city centre of Cascais.
After the promising way from the ticket office to the entrance gate, our children usually storm first to the carousel and do numerous laps there. Often, there are also a few merry Christmas fairies along the way and cheer up the endless round trips a little. From the merry-go-round, you can already see the magic forest with reindeer, rabbits and a small train that turns its cosy round past animals and dwarves.
Right next to that, Lia and Laura got face paintings by two Christmas elves and then ran like reindeers through the bushes and to the queue for the tower of the magician, which is always unfortunately much too long. When we finally reached the top, we were offered a small theatre spectacle, which is not worth the long waiting time.
Then, at last we walked hungry into the restaurant area, and I searched in vain for typical German Christmas delicacies. The completely different Portuguese Doces de Natal especially disappoint me here. Even after years, I can’t say much about the local delicacies, which are mainly made from egg yolk and sugar, while I look on with astonishment at my partner’s family to see the enthusiasm with which she tastes these creations. Only the Filhóses, freshly baked for Christmas by most Portuguese families, inspire me. Here, I am talking about small fried doughnuts formed mainly from pumpkin and flour dough, which are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
So while we ate soups and burgers, we watched the children slide down a big slide. And after our children have also slid down there a few times enthusiastically and we have emptied our cafes cheios, we went straight to the ice skating rink.
Unfortunately, these two offers are not included in the admission price, but they are indispensable. At some point, we discovered the strange snow flurry, which set in on the large meadow and made all of the visitors enthusiastic. Even if the “snow” unfortunately didn’t stay there, we could finally take some nice winter photos.
While it slowly got dark, we walked to a big walk-in “snow globe”, to a small Ferris wheel, to the village Nazareth, where some camels were standing around, and finally to Santa Claus himself, who sat down in a little house for nice souvenir photos and where you have to queue for a short audience.
Our visit there will be remembered forever. Santa Claus was sitting in his armchair looking very unfriendly. Our children howled and screamed at the sight of him and did not want the usual photo, and Ana stood next to him and laughed warmly. We still enjoy the photo today, but we have gotten used to looking at Santa Claus through the window from the outside, and that has a lot more magic than having him in a bad mood right in front of us.
0 – 2 years: free of charge
3 – 11 years: 6.50 Euros
12 – 64 years: 7.50 Euros
65 years and older: free of charge
4 persons: €26.00
5 persons: €32.50
6 persons: €39.00
5 – 6 / 10 – 13 December: 10 am to 7 pm
7/8/14/15/16/23 and 26-30 December: 11 am to 8 pm
9 December: closed
24/31 December: 11 am to 5 pm
25 December and 1 January: 2 pm to 8 pm
Website of the Cascais Christmas Village:
Overview map Cascais Chistmas Village: www.cascaischristmasvillage.pt/resources/images/infos/map.jpg
How to find it:
From Lisbon, take the train from Cais de Sodre station to Cascais station, and from there it’s a 15 minute walk to the Christmas Village. With a car, I would recommend driving along the beautiful route along the Tejo and later along the Atlantic Ocean, as here it can feel a little like you’re in California.
GPS (Entrance): 38.694425, -9.422506
(Parking is available right next door.)
In the food court area, there are various fast food stands where you can eat acceptable meals. In recent years, there have always been some vegetarian options on offer.