Europe has plenty of countries to visit, so checking them all off your bucket list can be a challenge. But for your next family trip overseas, why not head to Portugal, filled with delicious food options and coastline views and activities? We’ve curated a list of all you need to know for a vacation to the paradisiacal escape, complete with family-friendly activities and locations so the little ones can tag along!
A determining factor of when to go to Portugal for your trip is obviously the weather. Luckily, the country is very diverse so weather can vary from region to region and generally offers a mild climate, making it a year-round choice for families.
The summer months of July and August are the popular seasons with hot temperatures, so booking should be done way in advance. If you prefer cooler months, April to June and September to October offer less scorching weather and tend to be a more comfortable time to visit with young ones. You can also expect fewer crowds as well. Year-end visits will bring about surf-friendly cooling weather with a bit of rain, so make sure to pack the ponchos and umbrellas!
Situated along the coastline, Portugal is home to plenty of seaside towns and sandy beaches. In fact, the coast spans a whopping 1700km! From calm waters to having a laid-back day with the family to crowded shores popular with tourists for their endless options of water sports, here’s a list of beaches to check out during your next adventure to Portugal.
Nazaré, Ribatejo: If you’re visiting during the summer months of July and August, chances are that you'll have Nazaré on your itinerary, as people from all over Europe visit to get a tan. The winter months of January and February draw equally healthy crowds hoping to catch a wave since the beaches are also known for their surfing options.
Praia da Marinha and Benagil: Feast both your stomach and eyes on the connected beaches and fishing village of Praia da Marinha and Benagil. The sandy stretch is lined with seafood restaurants suitable for all ages, and routes to visit the picturesque sea caves and coves.
Praia de Odeceixe: Located in the Northern Algarve, Praia de Odeceixe has something for both young and old. The beach is located around 4km west of the village, with waters suitable for swimming and surfing during the summer months. Head north of the beach to spot the small river with shallower water if you’re heading down with kids. After your nature adventures, visit the cafes and restaurants above the cliffs for some respite.
Portinho da Arrábida: If you’re swinging by Lisbon, take a 45-minute drive to Arrábida National Park, which has both flora and greenery, as well as crystal blue waters by a beach. Since it’s away from cities and towns, it will be a mostly quiet and private getaway for you and the kids/
Ilha da Fuseta: South of Portugal lies Faro, and a 30-minute drive from that location will take you to Ilha da Fuseta. Instead of cliffs, you’ll be greeted by a lagoon, alongside the open sea. During low tide, the pools of water get shallow enough to walk across, so parents can rest assured for the little ones. If you have spare time, visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park nearby to catch a glimpse of pink flamingos in their natural glory!
Explore Cascais: Portugal has no shortage of coasts and towns, but for something that has both, Cascais is a relaxed fishing town just by the Atlantic coast to explore. Filled with history, culture and maybe even time for an ocean dip, don’t leave without making some memories here. There’s also a family-friendly tour available from getyourguide.com.
Pastel de nata Workshop: Sure, you can try many snacks and pastries around Portugal, but what about learning to make them? At the Pastel de Nata Workshop at Real Bakery, you can put on your chef’s hat and try your hand at making authentic Portuguese custard tarts from scratch. The professionals will guide you along the way, and you and the little ones will finish off the session with a drink together.
Sado Estuary Natural Park: Spend a day out at sea with the kiddos by taking a boat trip to Sado Estuary Natural Park. Here, keep an eye out for the gorgeous dolphins in their natural environment – this is the only place you’ll be able to spot them!
Sortelha Village: Bring the kids along to travel back in time with a visit to Sortelha Village. The village might be small, but the main attraction is the medieval castle that lets you roam around the grounds. Take this chance to pretend that you’re knights and princesses in a bygone era.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: A family-friendly activity in the great outdoors is hiking, and there’s no better place to do that in Portugal than at the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The shoreline trek covers 12km, and you’ll get to spot many exciting sites along the way like sea caves, bridges, and rock arches. Not to worry as the route is kid-friendly, but for added safety and comfort, avoid the summer months when the weather can get scorching.
Quinta da Regaleira: If your little one loves exploring, take them down to Quinta da Regaleira. The garden is filled with hidden tunnels, passageways and a hidden waterfall, so you’ll have a ball of a time. Once you’re done, head into the building that is equally complex and whimsical to continue your adventure.
1. Barbosa du Bocage 5, 2710-567 Sintra, Portugal, +351 21 910 6650, www.regaleira.pt/en
Oceanário de Lisboa: No trip is quite complete without checking out the animals in a particular country. Portugal is home to Oceanário de Lisboa, an aquarium where you can spot adorable sea creatures like sharks, sea otters and penguins. The attraction also advocates for marine conservation so you can make this an educational trip for the young ones.
Esplanada Dom Carlos I s/n, 1990-005 Lisboa, Portugal, +351 21 891 7000, www.oceanario.pt
Museu de Portimão: Instead of art galleries and craft museums, learn more about the fishing industry background of Portugal. After all, it is a coastal town next to the ocean. Here, both kids and adults can discover the process of fishing from start to finish and admire the animations of underwater creatures in the sea.
Rua D. Carlos I Zona Ribeirinha, 8500-607 Portimão, Portugal, +351 282 405 230, www.museudeportimao.pt
Aquashow Park: Make a splash with the whole family at Aquashow Park, which will be the perfect way to beat the heat during the summer months. The water park is also connected to a hotel, so if you’re planning to stay here, you’ll have direct access to the waterslides and rollercoasters. Doesn’t get more fun than this!
Aquashow Hotel, Semino, E. N. 396, 8125-303 Quarteira, Portugal, +351 289 315 129, aquashowpark.com/en
Pena Palace: The next best thing to Disneyland, Pena Palace has plenty of colorful castles to make your kids feel like they’re in a fairy tale. Explore the many towers and rooms of this hilltop attraction, also featuring unique architecture and structures to interest adults.
Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal, +351 21 923 7300, https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/parks-monuments/park-and-national-palace-of-pena/
KOKO: Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, KOKO is a family-friendly restaurant offering a range of food options from seafood to pizza. It’s also located next to a golf course, so you’ll get calming views. Meanwhile, kids can head over to the play area nearby, where parents can still keep a watchful eye over them.
Quinta do Lago Driving Range, Av. André Jordan, 8135-026 Loulé, Portugal, +351 289 356 087, www.quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/koko/
A Partilhar Com a Família: Start your day on the right foot at A Partilhar Com a Família, or APF for short. The brightly-lit café and restaurant have classic brunch fares like avocado toast, flatbread and morning burritos. Extra perks for kids include a kid’s camp, babysitting if the adults need a break, and even yoga sessions every Wednesday.
Rua Das Trinas 67, 1200-855, Lisbon, Portugal , +351 21 194 7477, lifecooler.com/artigo/comer/apf-a-partilhar-com-a-famlia/519614/
Café Buenos Aires: If you love dining alfresco, Café Buenos Aires lets you do just that. The popular Argentinian restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seats and is constantly swarmed with both locals and tourists alike. Dining with the little ones? Grab a table outside so the kids won’t feel too restricted, before digging into delicious steaks and side dishes.
Calçada do Duque 31B, 1200-155 Lisboa, Portugal, +351 21 342 0739, www.cafebuenosaires.pt/en
Parrilla Natural: Suitable for casual meals or an eventful celebration, Parrila Natural is one of the best steakhouses in the country. Coupled with an inviting ambiance and grilled meat options, it will be a magical night that you won’t forget. Kids will also have a ball at the dedicated play area, where they will be kept busy with activities like face painting, rides, or movies during the summer months.
EM527, R. da Encosta do Lobo, 8135-855 Almancil, Portugal, +351 289 350 040, www.parrillanatural.com/en/
BJ’s Oceanside: A good time is promised at BJ’s Oceanside, where you’ll have the great big ocean by your side as you dine. The beachside restaurant features scrumptious seafood, friendly staff, and live music on Fridays and Sundays. Advance reservations are required since it gets busy during peak months!
Praia do Almargem, 8125-000 Quarteira, Portugal, +351 910 698 479, bjsoceanside.com
Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort: Martinhal Sagres is a staple residence in Portugal, located near the western coast and known for its clear beaches nearby. The villa features many bedroom configurations and child-friendly amenities like a designated children’s area with coloring books and games. That means your kids will be well-taken care of while you clock in some relaxing spa time!
1. Baiona la Real Apartado 54, 8650-908 Sagres, Portugal, +351 282 240 200, www.martinhal.com/sagres
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon: For both a history lesson and a shopping spree, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is the perfect location to settle in at. Conveniently at the city center, you can literally walk with the kiddos to plazas with shops and museums to fill your days. At night, admire the view from your room’s private balcony.
1. Rodrigo da Fonseca 88, 1099-039 Lisboa, Portugal, +351 21 381 1400, www.fourseasons.com/lisbon
Noah Surf House: At Noah Surf House located north of Lisbon, there’s something for kids of all ages. Younger ones can play in the outdoor area and enjoy the bunks with rope ladders, while older teens can test their skills at the skatepark or foosball table. With hot tubs, day beds, and nearby beaches to boot, it’s no wonder the space is a hit with parents and families!
Av. do Atlântico, 2560-061 A dos Cunhados, Portugal, +351 261 936 360, www.noahsurfhouseportugal.com/en
Outpost: There will never be a dull moment at Outpost, since there is a basketball court, tennis court, gym, spa, skateboards, yoga mats, and outdoor swimming pools – the list goes on! Families can clock in some bonding time here while booking one of their six apartments. Even more music to adults years? Childcare services are provided so parents can take a day trip to nearby sites.
1. Dr. António Brandão de Vasconcelos 35, 2705-089 Colares, Portugal, +351 963 519 881, www.outpost.pt
Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve: Cozy up in a 2 or 3-bedroom at Pine Cliffs Resort, situated above the sandy beach of Praia da Falésia. The accommodation is perfect for a family getaway, with an outdoor lawn and 8 swimming pools. Planning a family meal together? Settle in at Maré – the seaside restaurant lets you watch a gorgeous sunset while you dine.
Praia Da Falésia, Pinhal Do Concelho, Albuferira, Portugal, +351-289-500100, www.pinecliffs.com