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The Algarve for Teenagers and Teens
The Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations and the varied activities, sights and attractions are able cater for a range of different tourists, even difficult to please teenagers. This guide will provide an introduction for families who will be traveling to the Algarve with teenage children and in the second of the article will list popular activities for teenagers - to skip to the teenage activities section please click here.
Where to stay in the Algarve?
Most families will tend to stay in the central Algarve region between Praia da Rocha (Portimão) in the west and Vilamoura in the east. This region is the closest to the main water/theme parks and has the largest selection of family hotels. There are great beaches along the entire length of the Algarve and no matter where you are based you are never far from a beautiful stretch of sand.
Generally, for teenage families it is better to be situated in the larger towns as there will be a better selection of restaurants and things to do. Albufeira is the largest resort town in the Algarve, Praia da Rocha is a large modern resort town, Lagos is more historic and Vilamoura is stylish and expensive. The eastern side of the Algarve is more traditional and better suited for more mature travellers, while teenagers may get easily bored. For an overview of all of the towns of the Algarve please see this guide.
The beach does get very busy in the summer months
Further Advice for Families with Teenagers
The Algarve is a popular holiday destination so always book accommodation and flights as soon as possible. There is a miss conception that leaving the holiday to the very last minute will provide a massive bargain, this is not true with the popular areas of the Algarve. Many holiday-makers are heading to Western Europe as it is free from political or terrorism issues; for the summer of 2016 the three largest towns in the Algarve were completely sold out. Always book flights and accommodation well in advance.
The average weather for the Algarve
The peak of the summer season is from July until the end of August and the weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until the middle of October.
The beautiful beach of Albufeira
Portugal is a great value holiday destination, with food, drink and transport significantly cheaper than back at home. The Algarve has a wide range of restaurants, serving local and foreign cuisines or special dietary requirements. Even the fussiest of eaters will find some place to their tastes.
Half board or full-board may seem like a wonderful idea when booking the hotel but it servery limits the dining options. Hotels tend to serve similar meals during the week and eating out in Portugal is not expensive. A sneaky practise of some half-board hotels is not to include the meal time drinks which are overly inflated.
There is almost no crime in the Algarve and the issues are mainly due to tourists doing stupid things.
Practicalities for older teenagers
Portugal is no longer the relaxed country for drinking alcohol and smoking. The legal drink age in Portugal has risen to 18 and is strictly enforced with no admittance to bars or clubs without ID, certain places even have 21 or 25 restrictions. The age to purchase cigarettes has also increased to 18 and there is a concerted effort in Portugal to reduce the number of people who smoke.
Albufeira has great nightlife, but not for under 18s
In some of the larger towns dodgy people will offer drugs, always politely decline their offers. The “hash drugs” are often just crushed herbs, making the police powerless to arrest the sellers.
There are three excellent water parks in the Algarve; Slide and Splash (near Logoa), Aqualand (near Alcantarilha) and Aquashow (near Quarteira). These are fantastic places for teenagers but are very expensive for parents, with adult entry between €22-25. Each of the water parks provide transport from the major towns for an additional fee. These park are only open for the summer season, opening in June and closing by the start of September.
Zoomarine is the largest zoo in the Algarve that specialises in marine life, and has dolphin and sea lion shows. The animals are very well cared for and is a very professional set up. There is an attached water park and the entire complex will entertain teenagers, but it is again expensive for parents. There are two further zoos; Crazy World and Zoo de Lagos but both of these are more suited for younger children.
The marine tanks at Zoomarine
There are two go-karting courses in the Algarve; Kartódromo de Almancil and Hot Wheels Raceway (Alberferia). Both circuits have 200cc carts which cost €15 for 10 minutes. Kartódromo de Almancil also provides paint balling but this is very tiring in the heat of the Algarve.
There is go karting for older kids
There are two enjoyable high rope centres in Lagos and Albufeira, these courses consist of rope bridges, swings, climbing nets, all spread through a forest setting. The two centres are operated by Luso Aventura, and costs €12-17 (depending of difficulty of the course) for about 3 hours climbing fun. Not for people who suffer from vertigo!