At Our Whole Village, we plan meaningful vacations for families who want to create lifelong memories and show their kids the world in a more conscious and intentional manner.
We help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make lifelong memories - with care, confidence and peace of mind.
Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
The Algarve in southern Portugal is renowned for idyllic villages, rugged cliff-backed beaches, kid-friendly theme parks, and delectable cuisine. The region has a laid-back vibe that welcomes families and includes plenty of kid-friendly amenities. Vacationing in this area also puts you a stone’s throw away from picturesque islands that welcome exploration.
What else can you look forward to during a family-friendly Algarve itinerary? Keep reading to learn about some of our favorite hotspots.
Book a cruise on the Ria Formosa channels to access a true nature lover’s paradise. During your tour, you’ll explore a labyrinth of wetlands, islands, canals, and sand banks. These habitats provide plenty of opportunities for wildlife observation, from playful dolphins to coastal and wetland bird species of every stripe.
You’ll find various options in terms of tour lengths, permitting you to customize the day to your family’s interests and ages. A comfortable catamaran represents an excellent option, and many cruises include visits to the islands of Deserta and Farol. Morning tours may offer a lunch break at a local restaurant, and afternoon cruises often come with chances to go swimming. Here’s a great all-ages option for families on the go.
Offshore islands beckon travelers to exploration. Among our favorites are Ilha da Tavira, Ilha da Armona, and Ilha da Culatra. Directly opposite the quaint village of Tavira lies the Ilha da Tavira, accessible via boat during the summer months. The musky scent of pine greets you upon arrival on the island, and a path leads to a secluded and beautiful beach where your family will enjoy spending the day.
From the ancient Moorish town of Olhao, catch the boat to the Ilha da Armona, where your family will experience a different side of Portuguese island life. Unlike Ilha da Tavira, Ilha da Armona contains more homes and buildings. It hosts a gorgeous bay and a pathway leading to a large sandy expanse where you can while away the afternoon. If you forget to pack a picnic lunch, visit the beach bar, where you can order a variety of yummy cuisine.
For a switch-up, head to Ilha da Culatra, which features the picture-worthy Cabo de Santa Maria lighthouse. You can reach the island via ferry or water taxi from Olhao. Ilha da Culatra is known for crystal-clear water, pristine beaches, plenty of walking trails, and no cars (although you will see occasional three-wheeled scooters). You’ll land near a small village characterized by bungalows, narrow streets, and small cafes. Igreja da Culatra, a humble church, rises above the cityscape. Filled with historical photos of the fishing settlement, it’s a great place to check out the island’s history.
No matter where your coastal travels take you, make sure you schedule a professional family photoshoot through flytographer. Hiring a flytographer for your Portugal family vacation will ensure you come away with spectacular photos of this stunning region.
When it comes to kid-friendly Algarve, nothing beats the Centro de Ciência Viva museums. They provide a window into the natural world, from outer space to the oceans. You’ll find locations in Lagos, Tavira, and near Faro. The location outside of Faro is ideal to combine with a cruise of the Ria Formosa. It’s also a fantastic option if your kids want to focus on learning about the ocean.
The museum in Lagos explores the themes of discovery and navigation. It includes fascinating and interactive exhibits about Portugal’s explorers and the amazing stories associated with their discoveries. And the museum in Tavira contains a wide array of hands-on fun, including displays that teach kids about water, energy, and sound.
Algarve for families often means frequenting theme park attractions. You’ll find a variety of aquariums, zoos, and petting zoos. But not everyone feels comfortable with these types of attractions. What’s more, these are generally accessible anywhere in the world. Better options in the Algarve include unique locations like Parque da Mina and Sand City Lagoa.
Parque da Mina lets your family step back in time to explore what life looked like in the region during a bygone age. It includes a museum inside a house where you can experience the world of the early 1700s. There’s also a decommissioned coal mine, a waterfall, a bridge, and a farm where you can feed livestock and learn more about local wildlife and traditional lifeways.
One of the most impressive attractions in the Algarve is Sand City Lagoa, a park filled with incredible sand sculptures. Prepare to spend some serious time at this destination because there’s so much to see. We recommend visiting first thing in the morning to take advantage of cooler temperatures, as you won’t find much shade there.
Sand City Lagoa is divided into sections inspired by different continents, film and TV characters, and myths and legends. As a result, you’ll see everything from the ancient Egyptian god Anubis to the temples of the Mayans, a giant octopus to a herd of elephants, and various characters from Harry Potter, Paddington, and the Marvel universe. And all of them are fashioned from sand! The park also includes an area where your kids can play in the sand and forge their own creations.
Portugal is chock full of old architecture, including castles, and the Algarve is no exception. A visit to the former Moorish stronghold of Shelb (or Xelb) allows insights into a city that once rivaled the city of Lisbon. Not surprisingly, it contains one of the best-preserved castles in the region, Silves Castle.
Today, you’ll find a quaint and sleepy village filled with historic buildings and cobbled streets. Prominent on the skyline sits Silves Castle, recognizable by its rugged, red battlements. Construction dates to the 8th through 13th centuries and bears the combined influences of medieval Christianity and Islam. A towering statue of a Crusader greets you as you approach the castle, and inside, you can tour the open courtyard and walk the walls.
Other castles in the Algarve worth seeing include Tavira Castle. You’ll enjoy free admission and the chance to wander the castle’s substantial gardens. Castelo do Castro Marim sits a little farther afield on the site of former Roman and Moorish fortifications. Although this structure is less well-preserved, it offers soaring views and an audio guide to fill your family in on a fascinating history.
An Algarve family vacation comes with countless opportunities for kid-friendly exploration. Besides the activities recommended above, the region is known for excellent golf courses, sandy stretches of the Atlantic Coast, horseback riding adventures, and train tours.
A visit to Benagil cave represents one of the most iconic spots in Portugal for families. You won’t want to miss out on great local restaurants where you can sample the best in local cuisine, including spicy and savory Piri-Piri chicken. And nothing beats a traditional Algarve cooking class where all ages lend a hand in crafting a delectable market-to-table meal.
Ready to start planning your family-friendly Algarve vacation? We’re here to help. We have the family travel expertise and local connections to ensure your next family vacation is meaningful, magical, sustainable, and unforgettable.
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