There are plenty of reasons why Portugal is such a terrific choice for your next family holiday. Here are 10 of the best.
With over 800km of stunning coastline including sandstone cliffs, secret caves and picture-perfect coves, plus more than 100 beaches (many of them blissfully under-visited and extremely long!) Portugaldoes ocean better than most.
For superb ocean action you can’t beat Noah Surf House. This eco-chic beachside surf hotel is on the Silver Coast (40 minutes from Lisbon) and comes with a heated infinity pool, skate park, kids yoga, bike rental and surf school.
More bang for your Euro
Time and again Portugal tops the charts for value. We agree. Food, transport and sights are all sensibly priced, and there are plenty of well-priced hotels that should meet your budget.
Authentic family-run guesthouse Solar Egas Moniz, just north of Porto, is an affordable hidden gem. It boasts bright serene interiors, wine tastings, a swimming pool and bikes to borrow. Rates start at £81/night for a double room including a delicious breakfast. Better yet, kids under 12 stay free.
The incredible food
Where to begin! There are bakeries on every street corner creating every manner of pastry including the famed custard tarts (pasteis de nata). The seafood is fresh as a daisy – no surprise with more than 800km of coastline! – and check out the national dish bacalhau (salted codfish) which comes in a variety of ways depending on where you are in the country. The best part? Food as a whole is marvellously well-priced.
For a fabulous gastronomic experience stay at Alentejo wine hotel Torre de Palma. This design hotel has striking artful interiors, enchanting family rooms, heated pools and a gourmet restaurant with child-friendly meals. There’s horse riding, too!
Considered to have one of the best weather patterns in Europe, Portugal enjoys mild winters along the coast where temperatures rarely drop below 5ºC. Conversely, hot summers are kept from being stifling by a constant breeze of Atlantic wind. But the real clincher is that Portugal claims the highest number of hours of sunshine on the continent! The perfect year-round destination.
Talking of year-round, mid-Atlantic Madeira has a sub-tropical climate. Discover its wild side (and superb hiking) by staying at great value bolthole Casas da Levada, a collection of rustic houses in apple orchards with friendly farm animals and a kids pool.
The outdoor adventure
With all this great weather and scenery, no wonder Portugal draws in families seeking outdoor action. Great activities to get stuck into include hiking, biking, paddle-boarding, horse-riding, golf, swimming, surfing, sailing, kayaking and plenty of snorkelling.
Most of the above (and more!) can be done at activity-based hilltop retreat OceanBlue Portugal overlooking the Atlantic, in the unspoilt western Algarve. The retreat specialises in taking small groups on big adventures, with great hosts supplying a fun and sociable atmosphere. You also have a modern self-catering apartment to call home, and there’s a shared pool, too.
The historical sites
Ancient castles, picturesque hilltop heritage villages and UNESCO-listed medieval quarters: everywhere you go in Portugal you’ll be reminded of its illustrious history. Once a global superpower, the nation’s mighty maritime legacy is still found everywhere. Second city Porto also dates from pre-Roman times, and famed for its port, while the wonderful Douro river stretches across the entire country, passing impressive cathedrals, World Heritage sites and historic towns – great for boat trips.
Stay in chic seafront haven Boutique Apartments Portofor easy self-catering (breakfast can also be supplied). It has a beach on your doorstep, bus and tram access into Porto’s historic centre, and the hosts have thoughtfully provided beach gear, too.
The soulful fado music, the wondrous azulejos tiles adorning facades and interiors everywhere, the cobblestone streets, the friendly eateries on every corner, the colourful street markets, the rickety rackety yellow trams…. Lisbon is a wonderland waiting to be explored. The city houses Europe’s largest indoor aquarium, plus an excellent zoo, a puppet museum and the spectacular medieval Castelo São Jorge. Remember to take a family snap of those stunning views along the Tagus River.
Stay in the vibrant Baixa district at The Lisboans, a collection of 1-2 bed designer apartments in a former canning factory. Each pad showcases bespoke Portuguese furniture and tiles, comes with well-equipped kitchenettes, a map and mini guide with insider tips, and breakfast is provided.
The wonderful nature
Reconnect with nature and visit one of the many wonderful national reserves, natural monuments and protected landscapes. Nature Park of SW Alentejo and Costa Vicentina has successfully preserved the beautiful coastline up from Sagres to the southwest tip of the country. In the high uplands near the Spanish border is the enormous Serra da Estrela Natural Park, which features rugged glaciated terrain, mountain agriculture and lots of villages making traditional crafts.
Outdoorsy families can explore the majestic Serra da Estrela from Casa das Penhas Douradas, a cosy mountain hotel with amazing views, great hiking and a heated swimming pool.
The epic sunsets
Sure, it’s a little corny to admit, but watching the sunset over the sea is just a bit special, and Portugal excels at delivering those perfect Instagram sunsets. Also, there’s something spinetingling about knowing the New World is just over the horizon.
On a spectacular stretch of Atlantic Coast north of Lisbon, close to picturesque coastal village Azenhas do Mar, is clifftop house Outpost – Casa das Arribas which has just 5 family-friendly apartments, absolutely breathtaking ocean views, and a shared pool and tennis court.
The getting there!
Low cost airlines fly to Lisbon, Porto and Faro from many UK and European cities – often for less than 100 Euros. Also, being on the western seaboard of Europe means Portugal is well connected for transatlantic flights. So, what are you waiting for?
To see more of our stylish family-friendly hideaways in Portugal, click here.