Portugal dos Pequenitos

In the historic Portuguese city of Coimbra, we find a small, kid-oriented theme park… with a big difference.

The girls are on the first floor balcony of a traditional Portuguese cottage. It’s an endearingly attractive house, with whitewashed walls studded with grey stones, a classic terracotta roof and its own walled garden complete with storybook swinging gates. All would appear normal, apart from one tiny detail: the house is only two metres tall and has the approximate surface area of a closet.

Welcome to the world of “Portugal dos Pequenitos” (“Portugal of the little ones”).

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This theme park near Coimbra’s busy city centre has no roller coasters, no ferris wheels, in fact no rides of any description (apart from the obligatory “mini-train” chugging around the larger paths). Instead, it enchants, enthrals and educates Portuguese children by showing them exactly what they see all around them every day – but smaller. Kid size.

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I didn’t try to follow her

The park is divided into three distinct sections. The first – Países de Expressão Portuguesa – showcases buildings and ethnographic aspects of other Portuguese-speaking countries. It is extremely well-made with admirable attention to detail and several original artefacts. However, since our kids have never been to Brazil, Macau or Angola, they didn’t really feel the vibe there and we swiftly moved on to the second section – Portugal Monumental.

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Kids #1 and #2 at the door of the Capela de São Miguel, Coimbra – “Pequenito-style”

For adults this is arguably the most impressive part of the park, with remarkably accurate scaled-down versions of many of Portugal’s most famous landmarks. The monastery of Batalha, the exquisite Manueline window of Tomar, the Romanesque Sé (cathedral) in Lisbon, the city walls of Óbidos – they are all here, crammed (often conjoined) together in a fascinating hotchpotch of history, culture and craftsmanship.

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The kids attend Coimbra University – “Pequenito-style”

Fittingly, there is a particular emphasis on the monuments of Coimbra itself, whilst some of the country’s lesser-known treasures are also well-represented (such as the rose window of the Igreja Graça in Santarém). It’s all highly enjoyable for first-time tourists to Portugal, but Portugal Monumental is perhaps even more rewarding for hardened lusophiles, as it is only with some appreciation of the original monuments that the workmanship and level of detail of these replicas become apparent.

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The girls, utterly failing to appreciate the workmanship of the replica (miniature) Manueline window of the Convento de Christ, Tomar immediately behind them. Some day they will regret this.

But it is the third and final themed area – Casas Regionais (regional houses) – which is the undoubted star attraction for kids. A stroll through this part of the park is a journey in miniature through everyday Portugal itself, with wonderfully adorable traditional houses representing local styles from the green north to the sun-frazzled south of this surprisingly diverse country.

And whilst the older kids could easily spend hours playing amongst the dozens of tiny dwellings, it is easy to forget that for the youngest ones things can become just a little bit exhausting:

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After all, it’s not easy being a “pequenito”…

Daisy the bus visited Coimbra in August 2016.

(c) 2016 Jonathan Orr

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR VISITING THE “PORTUGAL DOS PEQUENITOS” PARK

  • Arriving by car, take junction 12 of the A1 motorway towards central Coimbra. The park is well-signposted as you enter the city.
  • The city-centre location means that parking can be problematic. Arrive early enough and you should find ample space in the neighbouring streets.
  • Entrance fee is approximately €10 per adult and €6 per child (2016 prices). Family deals are available. Under 3’s go free.
  • Although the park is quite small, plan to spend at least three hours there. It will be difficult to drag the kids away from those miniature houses…
  • Dining possibilities inside the park itself are rather limited. However, there are several restaurants / cafés immediately outside the main entrance (we went to the “Kebab Mir Baba” restaurant, which was not bad at all).
  • There are water fountains dotted around the park. Bring a bottle and refill it regularly.
the Pigeon Pair and Me

Author: daisythebus

Father-of-four based in Luxembourg. I write about "off the beaten track" travel adventures with my family. Expect to read about nature, outdoor activities, the arts, authenticity, and alternative ways of discovering the world around us.

30 thoughts on “Portugal dos Pequenitos”

  1. I’ll be in Coimbra later this month – we are in Portugal for 8 nights, staying in Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon. I’m not sure we will have time for this adorable place but I would be sorely tempted if I had little ones.
    #culturedkids

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    1. Ah, you’ll love Portugal! Even without little ones in tow, “Portugal dos Pequenitos” is very interesting to visit if you have an hour or two to spare in Coimbra. Whatever you do – enjoy!!

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      1. Actually I have just looked at where it’s located and it’s very close to our hotel so I may well pop in. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

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  2. Child size versions of famous buildings and regional houses are such a good idea that I’m surprised more places don’t do it. What a fun place to bring a family! I am about to become the shortest person in my family as my youngest is equal to me in height and my oldest is 6 feet tall. My kids may claim that this place is “mom-sized.”

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  3. I’ve actually been to Coimbra but I totally missed this. I bet the kids had a lot of fun there before running out of steam. The miniature versions of the Coimbra landmarks are pretty cute. #MondayEscapes

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  4. We used to live near to Coimbra and drove past the park several times, our boys we’re 1 and 3 at the time so we thought they were a little young. Although after seeing your photos it looks like your kids had a wonderful time! #MondayEscapes

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    1. Hi. For a 3-year old the park is perfect, particularly – of course! – the miniature houses (our youngest was three at the time of our visit); not too big and with plenty of places to hide, play and explore. There is also a playground and an open space at the rear of the park. Definitely worth a visit next time you are in the Coimbra area. Thanks for reading (and, by the way, I LOVED your post on Cordoba!).

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  5. That looks like such a cute place my three would absolutely adore that and have loads of fun. We are hoping to be in Portugal again next year, we shall have to see if we are anywhere close to it. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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    1. You should definitely check it out. Even if you are not in the immediate area, Coimbra is very easily accessed due to its proximity to the A1 motorway, and, because it is located between Porto and Lisbon, it also has excellent public transport possibilities. Thanks for reading!

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  6. How cute! I’ve not heard of this place, I shall have to tell my parents to check it out for us. I love the detail in Portuguese buildings anyway, it’s very distinctive and if you were dropped from outer space into Portugal you would know where you were immediately. I love reading your posts, seeing as we are so familiar with the area. #citytripping

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    1. All parents there have the same problem! 🙂 I must admit that we lost track of our four occasionally as they ducked and ran from house to house. But we found them all in the end! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

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