Portugal

Best holiday spots in Portugal for the whole family

Having lived in Lisbon for many years, mum and travel blogger Maria has shared her local picks for the best family holidays in sunny Portugal!

I’m a big believer that when planning a family holiday, you have to consider the whole family’s needs, making sure your choice of hotel and location is absolutely perfect. Portugal’s bright blue skies, warm temperatures and breathtaking landscape should be enough to tempt you, but it’s also home to a wonderful collection of hotels and family-friendly activities that go beyond its iconic golden beaches.

My family has been holidaying in the Portugese Algarve since I was a toddler, so naturally now I’m all grown-up, I bring my own family here regularly. We usually base ourselves around Lagos, Tavira or Sagres, and love nothing more than to explore this beautiful and diverse region, always finding new spots and fresh things to do. The Algarve may be best known for its beaches, but along its 200 km of coastline you’ll find an array of contrasting landscapes, from warm waters and long stretches of sand on the east, to the limestone rocks and caves of the centre, to the legendary surf-haunts of the west.

Keep reading to find out our top choices for the best family hotels in the region, and inspiration on what to do nearby.

Our favourite family-friendly resort for a peaceful Portuguese escape

One of our family’s favourite hotels in the world is the beautiful Martinhal in Sagres. The team behind the Martinhal Family Resort have tried to create a perfect harmony between a design-led hotel that has children at its heart – and as a design-conscious parent, it works! The beachside hotel offers modern rooms, or villas if you prefer more space and privacy. I think your kids will love the brilliant kids club – my own son really loved all the activities organised, including film club as well as improving his footy skills at the football academy. If your children aren’t really into kids’ clubs then they’ll love just splashing around in one of the hotel’s five pools. As Martinhal is located further away from the hustle and bustle of central Algarve, it’s also perfect for families looking for a more peaceful escape, especially during the summer months.

What to do with Kids in Sagres

Sagres is I think one of the best places to stay in Portugal with kids aged about 7 and up. It’s lovely with younger kids too, but when they’re a little older they can really get the most from activities here such as going out on boat trips in search of several species of dolphins, surf lessons, and my favourite: Burro & Artes, where the whole family goes out donkey-trekking and gets engaged in lots of fun creative projects like face painting, weaving and clay modelling.

Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel

Top rated
Sagres, 6.1 km to Cabo de São Vicente
9.1 Excellent (775 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Our top family hotel in the Algarve for sea views

There’s no need to compromise when you stay at the Pine Cliffs Resort in Albufeira, this five star hotel does all the hard work for you. This beautifully decorated hotel has an enviable position boasting 72 acres of grounds and panoramic views over the sea. Kids will be in their element here, with a large playground and pirate ships ready to be explored, toddler pools and a kids’ club. It’s not all about the little ones though and Mum and Dad will be more than happy with the hotel’s amenities, including an indoor heated pool, exercise classes and a gym and watersports – all within a short walk of the sandy beach.

What to do in Albufeira with kids

Albufeira has been one of the Algarve’s most popular family destinations since the 1980s, a resort town with everything you may need, and then some. Its central location means that it’s within easy reach of most of the Algarve’s attractions including its many waterparks and the fantastic Fiesa (International Sand Festival) which is the largest sand city in the world, where forty thousand tons of sand are used to create intricate sculpture that can reach up to twelve meters in height. Then you can head to the trees at Albufeira’s tree top adventure in Parque Aventura or simply just have fun roaming the local beaches.

Pine Cliffs Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve

Top rated
Albufeira, 6.3 km to Albufeira Train Station
9.1 Excellent (1104 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.9 / 10
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Relaxed self-catering family stay in bustling Vilamoura

1/4

We love it when you get both the comfort of staying at a modern hotel with the added flexibility of a self-catered apartment, which is why Vilamoura Four Seasons, set in the heart of Vilamoura, is always a strong contender for our family. Our son loves being able to explore the landscaped pool area and making new friends at the porcupines kids club, giving us grown-ups plenty of downtime enjoying the hotel’s spa and the indoor pool. When exploring the town and splashing at the beach is too much, then a catch-up on playtime on the shaded playground is the perfect way to keep the little ones busy. We’re not golfers, but for those of you who are keen, there is a nearby golf course and if you all fancy some off-site fun, there’s plenty the hotel will organise for you too including surfing lessons.

What to do with Kids in Vilamoura

Vilamoura is a great spot to explore the Algarve’s dazzling coast, and the kids are sure to love a boat trip searching for dolphins or exploring the region’s many grottos and caves. If you don’t fancy a boat, you can just explore some smaller caves by the shore. If you or your little ones like an adrenaline rush, then head to Praia da Falésia where you’ll be able to jump on board of a speedy inflatable. Around Quarteira and Vilamoura you’ll also find fantastic cycling routes, suitable for the whole family to discover the area.

Four Seasons Vilamoura

Top rated
Vilamoura, 1.6 km to Colombo
9.1 Excellent (2779 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Secluded countryside family hotel in the Algarve

1/4

We love this stylish smaller hotel near the ancient town of Tavira. It’s set in a peaceful location that’s perfect for families looking to combine both countryside and beach on their holiday. Each of the rooms has a private furnished balcony with gorgeous views. Local Portuguese crafts and materials such as cork are used throughout, with an exciting  mix of retro and contemporary styles. You could quite easily stay in the hotel for your whole holiday if you so wanted. In the summer there is a kids’ club and a children-only pool, while parents can indulge with massages and spas, a Turkish bath and even a Padel court with equipment provided. There are also outdoor programmes designed for families with older children, including four-wheel driving, trekking and sport fishing. The hotel has a terrace restaurant overlooking the sea, as well as a bistro looking onto the pools, with kids’ menus available of course. And for once they’re tucked up in bed, there’s a cocktail bar too!

What to do with kids in Tavira

Tavira is really well-positioned for families. The beaches nearby have warm, calm waters and there are lots of scenic walking trails in the surrounding countryside of this hotel. Within a few miles you’ve got Aquashow, which supposedly has the largest water slide in Europe(!), surf safaris in Lagos, a family golf park and the living science centre. Tavira’s history is fascinating, and kids of all ages will love exploring the castle and learning about the Roman and Moorish occupation, and the 1755 earthquake. Tavira is also not too far from Seville so you can easily pop over the border into Spain and enjoy some traditional tapas in our favourite spanish city.

Ozadi Tavira Hotel

Top rated
Tavira, 3.4 km to Tavira's Island beach
8.5 Excellent (1224 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Beachfront villa holiday in charming Alvor

Overlooking the sandy beach of Alvor, this beautiful hotel offers the perfect combination for families of staying in a villa, with all the benefits of a hotel. The villas all have large living spaces, and either a fully-kitted kitchen or a kitchenette giving you full flexibility. Little ones looking for fun-filled days will love the Pestana Kids Club, while the grown-ups can relax by one of the two pools or enjoying a spa treatment or two. And when you fancy something different from the pool, the hotel is only a short wander down to Alvor’s beach, an expansive golden beach with calm waters, and far enough from Praia da Rocha to appeal to families who are looking for a peaceful location.

What to do with Kids in Portimao

You will never struggle to keep kids entertained in Portimao. Just within a five-minute stroll of the hotel you’ve got some of the Algarve’s most charming beaches, including the stylish Prainha (reached by a lift!), Praia do Alemão and Praia dos 3 Irmaos, with its picturesque rock formations. If you’re looking for a break from the beach, then a day trip to Slide and Splash waterpark should make everyone happy. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Alvor, and a place where we always, always visit if we’re there during the summer months. It’s a fantastic water park with a great variety of rides, from white knuckle rides to a large baby and toddler friendly area.

A nice way to either spend a day, or enjoy a late afternoon stroll is to head to the nearby historic town of Silves. The beautiful medieval town has a rich history and a fantastic Moorish castle which is begging to be explored by little ones, also worth a mention, if you’re lucky to be in the Algarve in early to mid August the medieval fair here is a must.

Pestana Dom João Villas

Portimão, 12.4 km to Autodrómo Internacional Algarve
8.3 Very good (266 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
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Author

Maria runs the award winning family travel blog One Tiny Leap, trying to dispell the myth that having children means you can't travel. And that she does! Maria and her son explore the world and through sharing, inspire others to join in the fun.
One Tiny Leap

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