Where to See Wildlife in Lisbon
Due to the location of Portugal, the country has always boasted an eclectic mix of wildlife and birds stemming from greater Europe and North Africa.
What’s more, the lust terrain and green landscapes make it the perfect place for animals to live; Lisbon is no exception.
Between the parks, natural areas and botanical reserves, Lisbon boasts an array of Iberian wildlife that share the land with the locals. Amongst them are a few endangered species that are being widely protected by the Portuguese government in various conservation efforts.
The Iberian wolf, Iberian lynx and the beautiful white stork are all part of these programs. It is reported that there are only 300 of the wolves left in Portugal, with more than half living in close proximity to Lisbon .
Setting aside a day during your travels to explore one of the places that house these creatures is never a bad idea. This is especially true if you are traveling with children and would like them to connect to the natural side of the city for a bit.
Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve in Lisbon
Av. dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra 1
The Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve takes up most of the immediate land directly to the north east of the city. It is the largest wetland in Portugal and the number one spot for birdwatching in the region.
In short, the land is beautiful. It spans a massive 14,000 hectares and is virtually impossible to see all at once. A day trip for this area is definitely the best way to do it.
Inside the reserve there are over 250 different types of bird species to be spotted. I loved seeing the flamingoes; the short toed eagles are exquisite as well if you’re lucky enough to encounter one.
The thing with the Tagus Estuary is that it is not open at all on weekends, you’ll have to visit during the week. An entrance fee is charged on the day depending what time you arrive. The reserve closes at 5pm though I would suggest entering well before 2pm at the latest if you want to make the most of your time.
Sado Estuary Natural Reserve in Lisbon
Another day trip worth taking out of Lisbon would be to the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve near Setúbal bay.
The water here is warm and vast; so vast that is has become home to a colony of dolphins that can be spotted year round. Unlike the reserve mentioned earlier, this one is open throughout the week for visitors to enjoy.
There are guided dolphin tours that take place three times a day. They leave from Tróia and Setúbal. If you can, the sunset tour would be the one to book! Think dolphins gliding all around you as the sun descends on a beautiful day in Portugal — beautiful.
You can reach the reserve easily using any of the trains out of the Alfama in central Lisbon. It is directly across the bay of the Tagus.
Tapada Nacional de Mafra in Lisbon
Portão do Codeçal
Back in 1747, King João V longed for a natural park solely for his leisure. He wanted to enjoy the natural wonders of the plant and animal kingdoms in private.
Fast forward and the Tapada Nacional de Mafra is now a natural heritage site and the home to the most wildlife near Lisbon.
The forest area covers an impressive 800 hectares. Here deer, birds of prey, foxes and even wild boar roam the land and coexist quite effortlessly.
The park is only 45 minutes outside of Lisbon. Aside from viewing the animals you’ll have access to a variety of hikes and eco trails that take you through the land safely. There are also many tours and recreational activities on offer from the reception once arriving at the park.
The park is open daily between 9:30am and 5pm. Again, if you’re only going to be able to enter after 2pm it may be better to save this attraction for another day when you have more time!
Jardim Botânico Tropical in Lisbon
Tv. Ferreiros a Belém 41
Situated in the well known town of Belem in Lisbon, the Botanical Gardens are a more laid back option to wildlife viewing inside of the city. Belem itself is a great place to get the feel for Lisbon; any free guided walking tour will show you all there is to see in this neighborhood.
You’ll find the Botanical Garden toward the waters edge. Inside, there are lakes and vast grass areas that make for the perfect picnic grounds.
As you laze around enjoy the peacocks and herons that roam free. Squirrels are also native to this space and rumor has it there is a small family of swans that inhabit one of the ponds.
If you’re into plants, the Botanical Garden is somewhat of a jungle compared to the rest of the parks in Lisbon.
Lisbon Zoo in Lisbon
Praça Marechal Humberto Delgado
Usually I avoid zoos at all costs, however when traveling with children this can be hard to do. Thankfully the Lisbon Zoo in the north of the city works closely with a conservation program so as not to exploit the animals simply for public viewing.
In the enclosures they have everything from lion to cheetah. In the petting zoo visitors can enjoy time with pigs, donkeys, baby goats and sheep.
If you aren’t interested in seeing all of the animals but would like to make use of the park facilities there is a separate entrance where you can do so for free. Full access to the zoo will set you back €20.
A quick wildlife fix in Lisbon is never too far away. Whether you only have a few hours to kill, or an entire day trip is on the cards, you’ll love seeing some of the wildlife that Portugal has to offer and the wildlife will love seeing you. Enjoy!