About a year ago I decided to move to Lisbon, and besides myself, that decision made at least one other person very happy: my dog Moes. My little four-legged friend loves Lisbon’s climate, the sunshine, and all of its parks. During our long walks in the unknown territory of a new city, we have discovered many places together and we have enjoyed lots of beautiful views and sunsets.
Moes made many new friends during his visits to the myriad small and big parks of the city. And everywhere he walks, he gets lots of attention, especially from local women who always tell my cãozinho, that he is so lindo and fofo. The lucky bastard.
Anyway, life is good for a dog in Lisbon and it gets even better with some of the new developments around town.
Law Number 8/2017
First of all, a new law (Ley n. ⁰8/2017) was introduced on the first of May of 2017, which states that dogs are no longer an “object” under Portuguese law. From now on, they have an official status of “sentient beings.” Owners now have obligations towards the animals, including guaranteed access to food, water, and medical care. Failure to comply with this law, or actions which can lead to injuries, pain, suffering or worse, may result in a big fine or even imprisonment for up to one year.
So, that’s great news for dogs and animals in general.
But the new law also has a few benefits for pet owners. For example, it is now also possible to deduct 15% VAT from veterinary bills. And even better: landlords cannot prohibit their tenants from having a dog in a leased house. At the end of 2016, the Tribunal da Relação do Porto ruled that a pet dog is an important part of a household or family, and so it is not legal to prevent it in a lease. This statement is implemented in the new law, which should make it a lot easier for pet owners to rent a new home.
Signs and Playgrounds
Another nice development can be found in various parks. In many of them, there are new sign boards with information including the rules for dogs. Also, it is more common to find a pole with little plastic bags inside to throw away the poo so the park or road stays clean.
And, last but not least, recently the city has created a few new dog playgrounds. We’ve made a short list of these, plus an overview of the best parks to take your little buddy for a lot of entertainment.
Dog Park Jardim Campo Grande (Alvalade)
The first dog park in Lisbon can be found at the beautiful park of Jardim Campo Grande. It has been in use since the end of 2013 and still attracts many dog owners. The initiative is great: the park has a fence to separate dogs from the public and the grass area includes various obstacles and wooden structures perfect to train your furry friend and let him get all of his energy out.
But truth be told, the playground has already fallen into decline due to lack of maintenance. Some parts of the obstacles are broken and the grass field turns into a dirty mud pool when it rains. But it is definitely worth a visit, especially because Jardim Campo Grande by itself is a great spot for a long walk with your best friend.
Dog Park Jardim de São Bento (São Bento)
Close to the parliament building of São Bento is another small dog park. It can be found on the corner of Avenida Dom Carlos I and Calçada da Estrela. The dog run is nothing fancy, just a small field of sand with three obstacles and a fence around it, but it can be fun to do some exercises with your dog and afterwards chill for a bit in the park of Jardim de São Bento on the other side of the street. There’s a kiosk there where you can have a beer or a coffee, but beware: there’s a cat sanctuary nearby, so keep your mutt leashed while you enjoy your beverage.
Dog Park Jardim Fernando Pessa (Areeiro)
Another brand new parque canino has just been opened and this one looks promising! In the charming and peaceful Jardim Fernando Pessa, there’s a little park on the corner of Avenida de Roma and Avenida João XXII with an area of 180 square meters that has been totally renovated into a little paradise for dogs.
Although it isn’t finished yet at the time of writing, this new playground has been open to the public since the first of July 2017. When it is totally finished, dogs can do the slalom run, jump over barriers, run through a tunnel, or just play with their friends on the grass field.
Except for the new dog area, Jardim Fernando Pessa has a lot more to offer. It’s located between a block of apartment buildings making it totally cut off from the busy roads. It’s a little oasis in the neighborhood of Areeiro that also includes a playground for kids, a kiosk with a terrace and a few big fields of green grass. This one is definitely a must-go!
Parks and Walking Paths
Besides these special dog playgrounds, Lisbon has many small and big parks that will meet your four-legged friend’s standards. Some are great for a long walk while others are good to socialize in and play or just to chill out for a while.
Monsanto Park is by far the biggest park in Lisbon’s metropolitan area and is used by many inhabitants and their dogs. It is perfect for a long walk in the shades of the forest trees and a picnic on one of the huge grass fields. Also, Parque da Quinta das Conchas (Lumiar), the biggest park within the city itself, offers a great opportunity for a long and lazy afternoon walk. The same can be said about Parque das Nações and Parque Tejo. This east riverside area has seen major renovation projects over the last couple of decades, including the beautiful (car-free) boulevard, skate park, and the connecting public fields.
On the opposite side of the city, you find a similar experience. The Belém area is perfect for a walk along the riverside and a visit to one of its big parks: Jardim de Belém and Jardim da Torre de Belém are a must for doggie meet-and-greets, and a little fetch.
Within the center of the city, there are plenty of places where dogs are welcome. Since I’ve been living on the east side of the center, let me give a few special recommendations. First off, up on the steep hill towards Graça, there is the green oasis of Jardim da Cerca da Graça (Mouraria/Graça). In the morning and evening hours, many dogs and their owners gather here to socialize and play. Similar things are happening at the park of Campo Mártires da Pátria (Anjos), although the dogs have to share the small grass field with chickens and other birds…which of course can be fun for the dogs, but not so much for the roosters. A much bigger green area can be found at Jardim da Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques (Arroios), but be aware that those fields are also used by little kids, sunbathers, and football players.
Last but not least: Parque Eduardo VII (Marques de Pombal). This main park in the heart of the city has a big strip of grass in the middle and even more on both of the outsides. According to some signs, it is forbidden to let your dog go into the middle area but that doesn’t seem to matter since nine times out of ten you’ll see someone playing there with their hound. A big plus is that just across the street, at Jardim Amália Rodrigues on top of the hill, you can let your pooch run free. In front of the restaurant Linha d’Água (where you can find one of Atlas’ favorite chocolate cakes), there is a round pond where dogs are allowed. It is easy to walk into the water, and the water level is very low, which makes it a very nice place for your dog to cool down and play. Small dogs, like mine, can even have a swim here!
Besides all the places mentioned before, Moes and I still have a lot to discover. It is so much fun to have a dog in Lisbon, especially because of the nice weather and the friendly Lisboetas who really seem to enjoy the company of animals. It can also be a great way to socialize, and to meet locals. My dog always tries his best to make new friends or impress the females of the neighborhood, and he’s pretty good at it. And if they aren’t interested in having some fun with him, just use this simple sentence “Não faz mal!” and it’s all good.