We loved our holidays in Portugal with the kids! I wanted the children to be able to enjoy the sea, I was looking for affordable holidays and great weather. That’s why we opted for Portugal, a very family-friendly destination! Another idea I had in my mind was to travel in a campervan. I had looked at the rental offer all over Europe and it’s in Portugal that I found the best prices, so the first week we hired a vintage VW campervan from the 70’s. For the second week, we stayed in a B&B near Sintra, and then we took an apartment in the center of Lisbon for the end of our portuguese roadtrip.
Some friends told me that there would be too many tourists and too much heat in Algarve. Well, it was neither too hot nor too crowded. As for the weather, it was 26 degrees every day. Just perfect! Regarding tourists: yes, the south side of the Algarve is full of tourists but we avoided them by choosing to travel on the west coast, along the ocean. There, except for a few surfers, you’ll see it on my pictures, it’s really quiet! It is more difficult to avoid the crowd in Lisbon and Sintra at some tourist sites but it was ok. In short, the Algarve on the west coast is very good during the Summer Holidays!
General information about our roadtrip in Portugal:
Kids’ ages: 4 years old for my son and 1 and a half for my daughter.
Period: mid-August, at the height of the tourist season and the heat, but as I said, we had 26 degrees every day except our last two days in Lisbon: it was 32.
Duration: 2 weeks. One week in the Algarve and one week in Lisbon and its surroundings
Transport: we flew to Lisbon, then we went from Lisbon to Faro (capital of the Algarve) by train (3 hours). To get around, we had the Volkswagen combi the first week. For the second week, we looked at car rentals but it was too expensive for us. So, we decided to limit our trip around Lisbon and to visit only the surrounding areas easily accessible by train.
Itinerary of our family vacation in Portugal:
- 1 night in Lisbon : It was the occasion to see again this city that we like a lot.
- 1 night in Olhão : from Lisbon we travelled by train to Faro where we took our campervan. We stayed in Olhão near Faro in this nice fishing village before leaving for the west coast (night in a campsite in Olhão).
- 1 night in Sagrès : it is the south-western extremity of Europe! Now the wild coast begins… (wild camping)
- 1 night in Aljezur : further north on the west side… Lots of beautiful beaches nearby (overnight in a campsite)
- 1 night à Odeceixe : it is the most northern point of our journey, still on the west coast… (wild camping)
- 1 night at Amado Beach : magnificent beach! My favorite of our holidays! (wild camping)
- 1 night in Salema : we are back in the south but in a quiet part of the Algarve (night in a campsite)
- 1 night in Olhão : because we liked it and it’s just next to Faro where we have to return the VW campervan (night at the campsite)
- 1 night in Cascais : We take the train from Faro to Lisbon then we go to Cascais, a very pleasant seaside town at 40 minutes (by train) from Lisbon.
- 3 nights near Sintra : a very charming B&B with a huge swimming pool (La Quinta do Scoto) – visit of the beautiful castles in Sintra
- 2 nights in Lisbon : walks, museums and a great trip to the oceanarium!
Portugal with kids: a week in Algarve
During our week in the Algarve, we alternated nights in campsites and wild camping near beaches. I would like to point out, however, that officially, wild camping is forbidden – so I warned you…
Here are some pictures of the west coast of Algarve. We loved that coast! Not touristy and so wild! Amazing beaches all along!
The most southwestern point of Europe in Sagres:
Our great vintage Volkswagen campervan, alias “Apple”… We hired our campervan from Siesta Campers. We totally recommend them!
So happy at the beach:…
To give you an idea of the beaches in the south, more crowded with tourists but very beautiful and without big waves…
The characteristic cliffs of the region:
Portugal with kids: in the Lisbon area
For our second week in Portugal we visited the Lisbon area.
Here is Cascais, a seaside town near Lisbon…
One of the magnificent estates to visit in Sintra: the Quinta da Regaleira…
Last stop: Lisbon…
Our tips to visit Portugal with kids or babies
Baby equipment :
We just took our baby carrier (Ergobaby) and a buggy. The buggy was not very useful and it was not very easy to drive in the streets of Lisbon (big cobblestones and big differences in level). The car seats were provided with the campervan. The cot for our daughter was also provided by our B&B and apartement. In the campervan, the children slept together on the back seat which became a large bed. We put our daughter in the back behind her brother so she wouldn’t fall out, and to be on the safe side, we put our (soft) suitcases at the foot of the bed in case…
Places to eat and places to stay in Portugal:
- The restaurant called A Sagrès, in Sagrès: excellent fish restaurant at a real good price!
- The fish market in Olhao to buy fish for your BBQ
- Our B&B Quinta do Scoto in Meleças, near Sintra (you can book here)
- The restaurant Tala Adega Tipica near the B&B in Meleças near Sintra
- The bakery Casa Brasileira for a breakfast in Lisbon (fresh fruit and the homemade pasteis de nata)
- The roof top of the Bairro Alto Hotel for a drink with an incredible view over Lisbon.
- The restaurant Ponto Final in Lisbon (you go there by boat. Beatiful place and excellent fish!)
Why we think it’s great to visit Portugal with a baby or young kids:
- The west side of the Algarve is famous for surfing so yes there are waves but it is still very suitable for young children as on the beaches the waves have allowed the formation of “paddling pools” where children have maximum water up to their knees. In addition, at several beaches there are river arms which reach the sea and where it is therefore possible to swim without waves. Families usually land along the river while surfers are on the ocean side, but both are within a few meters of each other so it’s very convenient!
- Our kids loved eating sardines 😉
- The children’s favourite outing in Lisbon was to the oceanarium, not to be missed!
- The town of Cascais near Lisbon is very pleasant with children: large park and seaside.
- You can find nappies, milk and potties in the supermarket (note: there is little choice for salty potties).
- Our son loved travelling in our VW campervan as for him, we travelled in Fillmore, one of the characters from the movie Cars!
- Portuguese people were so welcoming!
The only negative point:
- Walking the streets of Lisbon with children is exhausting! Cobblestones, sloping streets and crowded trams. Plus, it was too hot.
What about you? Are you tempted to spend some family holidays in Portugal?