Portugal is one of Europe’s best destinations for a family holiday, suitable for parents travelling with babies and toddlers all the way through to teenagers and young adults. There’s so much to see and do, making Portugal the perfect place for all ages.
If you’re looking for a holiday destination with wonderfully pristine beaches, a glorious climate, child-friendly resorts and rentals, hassle-free dining, culture, top food and wine, and picturesque views, Portugal can offer that and more.
Here is our guide to the ultimate family break in Portugal, including where to go and what to do with the little ones in tow.
The Algarve is one of the most well-known beach destinations in Europe and is one of Portugal’s most attractive regions for families. It has been enjoyed by holidaymakers for many decades due to its beautiful coastline and pretty beaches.
The fabulous coastal strip is just over 150km (95 miles) long, combining natural beauty and cultural heritage with all the traditions of its towns and villages. From photo-worthy sunsets at the picturesque fishing harbours to the many UNESCO sites dotted around the region, this is a holiday destination you won’t want to miss.
Where to Go:
When it comes to finding the perfect family beach resort, you’ll be spoilt for choice from East to West. There are many little coves and tranquil seaside towns to be explored for those who want to hire a car and experience the entire coastal stretch. Here are some of our favourite places to visit in the Algarve.
Offering some of the region’s most dramatic coastal vistas, Sagres is one of the most spectacular places to visit during your stay in the Algarve. This little village and civil parish is historically connected to the early Portuguese Age of Discovery, and is as much known for its rich nautical past as it is for its sea-carved cliffs and beautiful beaches. For sunbathing and sandcastles, don’t miss Praia do Beliche and Tonel Beach.
The town of Lagos is known for its walled Old Town area, as well as its wonderful beaches. The most famous being Praia do Camilo, a sandy cove divided by ochre-coloured rocks and clear, shallow waters. The nearby cliffs of Ponta de Piedade also offer the most incredible views of the sweeping headland with a pretty lighthouse. And you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to great places to eat and drink too.
As the region’s capital, Faro is a must. Here you will find everything that you could need when it comes to shopping, dining, nightlife, sights and attractions. The town is home to a number of museums, ruins, historical buildings and beautiful gardens, so there’ll be something to do every day of the week.
Things to Do:
Need to keep the little ones entertained? Or looking for fun things to do that are suitable for the whole family? Here are some of the things you won’t want to miss in the Algarve region.
This superb zoo provides a fab day out for everyone and is great for kids and adults alike. Home to a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles; including apes, hippos, snakes, turtles, monkeys, flamingos, meerkats, parrots and more. There is also a fantastic Portuguese restaurant on site so you can enjoy a delicious family meal to recharge and refuel.
Aqualand in Alcantarilha is one of Portugal’s biggest waterparks. It promises fun for all ages and includes exciting rides/activities such as the Kamikaze at 95 meters high, Crazy Race, Banzai and the Mini Park for tots and toddlers.
Capela dos Ossos
Faro’s most iconic sight and tourist attraction, Capela dos Ossos (the chapel of the bones). Whilst it may be a little scary looking for the little ones, older kids may find it to be truly fascinating (and somewhat spooky). The fare to enter is very affordable too at just €2 for adult and €1.50 for children.
The biggest water coaster in Europe and a fun place to spend the day for all ages. As well as the water rollercoaster (which is a trip of more than 740 metres in and out of water and as fast as 70km/h), there is also a wave pool and multiple slides and splash areas.
A magical experience that the kids will never forget! Heading out to sea and watching for dolphins is one of the best activities that the Algarve has to offer and there are excursions leaving throughout the week.
Places to Stay:
Here are some of our featured properties and kid-friendly hotels that you might want to check out for the Algarve area.
A villa and hotel resort in Sagres offering both sophistication and family-friendly appeal, plus it’s reasonably priced too! So definitely one of our favourite places to stay in Portugal! The resort has been designed with a village square surrounded by modern villas, a spa and a hotel all set on the edge of a nature reserve.
Quinta Das Achadas
For rural relaxation just outside of Lagos, book your stay at the Quinta Das Achadas guesthouse which has been renovated from a beautiful 19th Century farm building. The friendly owners live on site and are there to assist with anything you need. There are a few farm animals too (including the pot belly pigs and free-range hens) so the kids will love it here!
They say it’s a capital filled with Gothic charm and hidden alleyways that lead to the underbelly of the city. A world of amazing food, excellent wine and the most incredible culture. From its iconic trams to the cinematic hillsides, Lisbon is a favourite for young groups and couples. But here at Baby Friendly Boltholes, we believe this destination can also be wonderful for those travelling with children. Here are some of the best things to see and do for all the family.
What to See:
If you fancy a spot of sightseeing, you’re in luck. This city is full of interesting streets and historic buildings. Many are accessible on foot with prams, pushchairs or baby carriers.
Parque Eduardo VII
This beautiful park occupies an area of 26 hectares to the north of the Avenida da Liberdade and the Marquess of Pombal Square, and is located right in the heart of the city. The views of the landscaped gardens are a must-see and you can enjoy a sneak peek of the coastline from the top of the hill.
The Castle of São Jorge
If you don’t mind the uphill walk, this beautiful hilltop castle can offer the most spectacular views over the rest of the city once you get to the top. Family tickets are available (for two adults and two children) and there are also free informative tours available in multiple languages. This is Lisbon’s most popular attraction so long ticket queues can be expected. To avoid this, try to visit earlier or later in the day.
Things to Do:
This cultured city has everything that a foodie or culture vulture could want. But there are also plenty of fun things for kids to do too. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Tram to Belém
It’s worth going to Belém just for the tram ride and your little ones will find it to be a fun and totally unique experience. Once there, don’t forget to pop into Pastéis de Belém, the original birthplace of the famous Lisbon egg tart! A sweet treat that will win over the hearts of young and old alike.
A Hippotrip Tour
Aboard one of the amphibious Hippotrip vehicles for a ride to remember! And get ready to explore the heart of Portugal’s capital by land and river, without having to leave the comfort of your seat. No doubt the kids will be in utter awe of the magical bus that can travel through water!
Ride on the Fun Track
A fun, adrenaline pumping outdoor cycling track designed for kids in mind. It will get their legs moving and help them burn their excess energy in a beautiful, large open space in the city. You can hire karts, bicycles, tricycles, push scooters or even roller skate. Children who are new to cycling or skating can make use of the Fun Track instructors who can provide safe and practical lessons.
Places to Stay:
For the best of both worlds, choose a hotel or apartment with easy access to the sea. This way, you can strike the perfect balance between city and coastal break.
This fab hotel puts you right in the heart of the action in Lisbon, whilst being less than 30 minutes away from the beautiful beaches and coves dotted along the coast. Baby gear, cots and highchairs area available for all guests, and there’s a fantastic kids ‘Pyjama Club’ for evening babysitting most nights of the week.
The Alto Alentejo Province is like a journey back in time, a medieval gem that offers a feeling of off-the-beaten-track travel for a truly authentic holiday experience. If you intend on getting to know the real Portugal, this is the place to come. Only a handful of tourists venture past the capital, Évora. So there are lots of opportunities in this region to discover hidden parts of Portugal, its rich history and culture.
Where to Go:
Whilst most travellers only get as far as the capital, the Alentejo covers a huge area in Portugal –more than a third of the country – and this stretches from the Rio Tejo to the northern mountain ranges of the Algarve. So there are lots of places worth exploring if your family have a sense of adventure.
This is the beautiful capital and it’s undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns. With a unique Portuguese charm and a wonderful array of fascinating historical monuments, this is the place to come for soaking up local culture and to learn more about Portugal’s interesting past.
A pretty market town that is known for its marble streets and walls, due to its location in the centre of a district rich in marble quarries. One of the country’s finest markets is held here every Saturday and there are a couple of annual festivals that you won’t want to miss out on either.
Alter do Chão
Just north of Estremoz and well worth the drive if you want to see a mighty castle with rounded towers and amazing views overlooking a traditional town square. This is such a wonderful place to walk around, enjoy lunch al fresco and is a superb day trip for the family.
Things to Do:
Whilst this lesser-known region isn’t brimming with water parks and playgrounds, it does unlock a world of castles, forts and historic buildings that will set off their imagination.
Castelo de Marvao
This magnificent medieval castle located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Marvao, and it’s a sight to behold for the fairy tale fantasist. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the castle as it clings to the sides of a craggy granite peak of the Serra de São Mamede. And if you’ve got time after checking out all the ‘killing zones’ and castle features, stick around for the sunset.
Coudelaria de Alter do Chão
This stud farm is so much fun for children, especially if they are interested in learning to ride. Spread across 8 hectares of countryside, this farm is dedicated to the nobility of the Lusitanian horse. Enjoy riding, carriage tours, or a walk around the museum.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to relax, hit the beach and pack your bucket and spade. Because this is the best beach for toddlers and young children. With a sweeping expanse of sand and a safe shallow river running through it for a paddle.
Places to Stay:
Some great towns to stay include the capital of Évora, the lower region of Baixo Alentejo which also takes up the west coast up to Setúbal, or some of the bordering Algarve towns so you can have easy access to both provinces.