Algarve Tourism has suggested seven must-do activities for families to help them enjoy every moment of their summer holidays. This popular resort area in southern Portugal – always a firm family favourite among British tourists – is one of the best-value holiday destinations in the world.
The seven listed activities include one for each day of the week, as well as recommended family-friendly places to stay.
Wild Dolphin Watching
Families can take a boat excursion with AlgarExperience from Albufeira Marina to spot Common and Bottlenose Dolphins, especially from June to September – “their favourite time to come out and play” – and combine the trip with a visit to the famous Benagil Cave.
For accommodation, Algarve Tourism recommends Muthu Oura Praia Hotel, which is centrally located 300 metres from the beach and two kilometres from Albufeira’s Old Town, and offers self-catering apartments with outdoor pools, tennis court, sauna, gym, massage room and golf desk. Another option is Salgados Palace, a five-star hotel that operates on an all-inclusive basis during the high season, and includes a spa, children’s club and four pools.
Nature Reserve Bike Tour
Cyclists will love the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, where they can book a three-hour bike tour with a professional guide to show them the best spots. The barrier island system of Ria Formosa protects a warm-water lagoon with salt marshes, islets and tidal mud flats, and is home to many resident and migratory birds, as well as providing a shelter for other threatened species of fish, plants and animals.
Right next to the reserve is Four Season Fairways Resort, which provides private villa-style accommodation together with restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, and the Upside-Down Kids Club and Creche, with daily activities and a babysitting service.
The stunning Ponta da Piedade coastline near Lagos is best discovered close-up by kayak, with a local guide leading you to caves, grottos and hidden beaches. Trips can be booked with Discover Tours, and the Cascade Wellness Resort near Lagos is located in a breathtaking cliff-top setting overlooking the Ponta da Piedade, with apartments, villas and rooms available in the five-star hotel – and a children’s club with a large pirate ship.
Sculptors have shaped and carved whimsical celebrity figures, places and scenes in the Sand City Sculpture Park exhibition, including recreations of Cristiano Ronaldo and Queen Elizabeth.
The Grande Real Santa Eulália five-star beach resort near Albufeira offers daily entertainment for adults and children, accommodation in family apartments, suites or rooms, and the Realito Kids Club.
Boogie Boarding and Surfing
For the best surf beaches, you should head to the western end of the Algarve region, around Sagres and Costa Vicentina, where younger children can start off with a boogie board and older ones can try surfing. The Freeride Surf School provides lessons taught by highly qualified coaches that are suitable for all levels from beginners to advanced surfers.
The Martinhal resort overlooks the beach of the same name, and is set within a protected nature park. There is mini-golf, playgrounds with a new zipline and a fitness circuit for families wanting to work out together. Elsewhere, Sagres Sun Stay offers good-value accommodation in a fun hostal-style ambience. They offer surf courses and lessons at their own surf school, and also have a bike station to repair and clean bikes.
Water Park Slipping and Sliding
Always a favourite activity for families is a visit to one of the Algarve’s water parks, including Slide & Splash in Lagoa and Aquashow in Quarteira. The latter is planning to open an indoor facility in autumn, after the initial spring inauguration date was postponed. Most of the parks have green spaces and special areas for picnics.
Families can stay at the Aquashow Park Hotel or the Jupiter Hotel Albufeira, which has been designed exclusively for families.
Blue Flag Beaches
And then there are the Algarve’s renowned beaches. A total of 87 of them have been awarded the highly-coveted Blue Flag, and they provide facilities including beach cafés and restaurants, help points, life guards and water sports operators. For those keen to play football and volleyball, there are wide beaches with ample space in the west (Meia), central area (Falésia) and east (Barril). Top beaches surrounded by cliffs include Dona Ana and Rocha, and Cordoama and Bordeira are great for boogie boarding and surfing.
For accommodation, Pine Cliffs overlooks Falesia beach and offers a range of luxury multi-bedroom suites, private villas and self-catering apartments, ideal for large multi-generational family groups. The resort’s Porto Pirata playground has two life-sized, multi-functional wooden pirate ships, a basketball court and a dedicated children’s swimming pool.