The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
The Algarve is a fantastic holiday destination for your family and children.
This is a safe and modern holiday destination, which offers beautiful beaches, a glorious climate and a relaxed ambience.
The Algarve has been a favourite with families for many decades. Being an established holiday destination means that there are outstanding facilities (hotels/restaurants/shops) along with many enjoyable family-focused activities.
The Algarve region has a coastline of over 200km and includes a wide variety of resort towns. They range from the large and bustling Albufeira and Praia da Rocha, ideal for families with teenagers, through to the peaceful and relaxed Carvoeiro and Praia da Luz, perfect if you have young children.
Praia da Luz is perfect for a calm and relaxing family holiday
Along with the towns and beaches, there is a huge selection of activities, including waterparks, boat tours, dolphin watching trips, theme parks, water sports and off-road tours. No matter the age of your children there will be something to entertain them!
This article will show why the Algarve is one of Europe’s best family holiday destinations, then highlight the most suitable resort towns for your holiday, and provide a selection of the most popular holiday activities.
Related articles: Algarve sights and activities - Which town for my holiday? - Best beach
There’s lots of beach activities on Albufeira beach
There are many reasons why the Algarve is ideal for your family holiday:
The Algarve has a glorious climate, boasting over 3,000 hours of sun a year, but the summer temperatures are never unbearable as with Egypt or Turkey.
The Algarve is a very safe region, crime is almost non-existent, infrastructure is modern, and hotels are world-class.
Everyone who works within tourism speaks English fluently (a range of Europe languages), and language will never be an issue.
The beaches within the Algarve are sandy, the seawaters are clean, and there are no large waves or strong currents along the central and eastern Algarve coastline.
The beautiful beach near Alvor
Portugal is an inexpensive country, and the Algarve is one of the cheapest holiday destination in western Europe. While on holiday in the Algarve you will spend significantly less than a comparable holiday to Greece, Spain or France.
Portugal is a foreign country but not that foreign; shops sell all common branded items, restaurants serve meals not too dissimilar from home, and all types of medicines can be purchased from pharmacies.
The Algarve realises how important tourism is to the region (especially after the events of 2020), and there is genuine enthusiasm with all staff and everyone who works in tourism.
With 220km of coastline and over 25 towns, there are lots of options of where to stay…
Generally, most families take their holidays within the central Algarve region. This region extends from the city of Lagos in the west to Vilamoura to the east. This is where all of the purpose built family hotels are found - if you pick any package holiday to the Algarve, you will be within this area.
The lively resort of Praia da Rocha sists on an outstanding beach
The eastern Algarve (to the east of Faro) tends to be calmer and more traditional Portuguese, but it can feel as if you are distant from the excitement (waterparks/theme-parks) of the Algarve. The far western Algarve (west of Lagos and western coastline) is more wild and rugged, ideal for surfers, nature lovers and out-door-types.
If you have older children, you will probably want to be based near or in one of the larger resort towns of Albufeira (Old Town), Praia da Rocha, Lagos or Vilamoura. These towns have lots of activities, a wide selection of restaurants, numerous boat trips departing from their harbours, along with outstanding beaches.
Warning: The new town of Albufeira and the area around “The Strip” attracts many groups want to excessively drink, this may not be a great place for younger children…
If you have younger children, we would suggest one of the smaller towns such as Alvor, Carvoeiro, Olhos de Água, or Praia da Luz. These all have a decent selection of restaurants and shops but are calmer and less hectic than the larger resort towns.
Carvoeiro is a great destination for a family holiday
Armação de Pêra and Quarteira both have beautiful beaches and can also be good for a family summer holiday, but excessive apartment construction during the 1970s rid them of any Portuguese charm.
The map below shows the location of the best family holiday destinations in the Algarve. The large resort towns are shown in green, the medium in yellow and the villages in blue.
The large resorts: 1) Lagos 2) Praia da Rocha 3) Albufeira 4) Vilamoura
Medium size resorts: 1) Alvor 2) Carvoeiro 3) Armação de Pêra 4) Olhos de Água 5) Quarteira 6)Tavira 7) Monte Gordo
Small villages: 1) Praia da Luz 2) Porto de Mós 3) Ferragudo 4) Galé 5) Cabanas
Places we wouldn’t recommend for a family holiday are, Sagres (windy and remote), Portimão (it’s a big residential city) or Olhão and Faro (both fish ports with no beaches within walking distance).
Insight: Portugal’s family holiday destinations are not just limited to the Algarve. If you would prefer a more Portuguese holiday experience, consider the beach resorts of Cascais or Sesimbra near Lisbon or Nazaré and São Martinho do Porto on the Silver Coast.
The following is a list of the best or unique activities for children in the Algarve:
(please note all links open new tabs)
• Zoomarine – The best theme park in the Algarve, https://www.zoomarine.pt.
• Slide and Splash – Thrill filled water park ideal for older children (€27/€19 adult child), please see www.slidesplash.com
• Dolphin watching boat tours - two-hour dolphin tour for €35
• Off-road jeep tour (older children) – Half day tour for €30
• Go-karting (fast track but older children) - €25 for 20 min, please www.algarvekarting.com
• Jetboat (older children) – €30 for 30 min thrill ride
• Parque Aventura, high rope adventure courses, with circuits suitable for all ages (€12- €17), please see www.parqueaventura.net
• Horse riding - 1-hour trek €30, please see albufeiraridingcentre.com
• Crazyworld; zoo, mini golf and splash pools - €16.95/€9.95, please see www.krazyworld.com/en
• Bowling (family activity for an infrequent wet day) – €10 Per person per game see, www.algarvebowling.com