18 January 2022
It may be most famous as the home of port dessert wine, but Porto/Oporto has a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage listed historic centre to explore, and it’s also the gateway to untouristy beaches and resorts and unspoilt villages to the north (between Vila do Conde and the mouth of the Rio Miño). Among several national/natural parks here, home to waterfalls and vineyards, are Peneda-Gerês National Park with its hiking trails. There are also two further World Heritage sites: the Alto Douro wine region and the Côa Valley with its jeep tours to prehistoric rock carvings.
Portugal’s Central region is home to the Berlengas Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Biosphere archipelago with hiking trails and monastery and fort ruins to happen upon, and a real get-away-from-it-all feel. The Berlengas is a nature 'sanctuary' and subsequently has a limit on the number of daily visitors so make sure to book your trip in advance. Families also love the Bioparque Pisao de Carvalhais, where activities include abseiling, climbing, treasure hunts, horse-drawn carriage tours, traditional games and crafts workshops.
One of Europe’s most laidback, family-friendly capitals has a huge amount to do with kids when you’re not feasting on its famous pasteis de nata, several hands-on museums, colourful trams and funiculars to ride, and the Principe Real Gardens. It’s also just a short trip out to the beaches of Sintra, including Praia de Macas with its great bodyboarding and Praia Grande for surfing.
North of the Algarve and east of Lisbon, Portugal’s most sparsely populated region is a great place for stargazing in its Alqueva Dark Sky Zone. Lake Alqueva itself is popular for boating and water sports, while nearby hilltop Monsaraz with its views to Spain has an ancient castle and guided horse back tours to watch the stunning sunset. With older kids, the Capela dos Osso with its walls and pillars covered with skulls and bones, is a ghoulish delight; the same city, Evora, has great Roman ruins. Last up is the spectacular Tróia Peninsula with 65km of wild Atlantic beaches.
One of the world’s very best destinations for family holidays, especially with younger kids, the southernmost region of the country is blessed with year-round sunshine, Blue Flag, great water parks and a vast array of sporting options for all ages, from golf and tennis to canoeing and surfing in certain areas. All of the popular resorts offer a fantastic selection of water sports.
Increasingly recognised as a great destination to visit with kids, this Atlantic island is another year—round spot with blissfully warm summers and mild winters. The scenery is the star: hike the levadas (water channels that bring rainwater off hillsides), mountain-bike on world-class trails, kayak or SUP paddleboard along the coastline, take a boat trip to see dolphins and other marine life, and ride a cable-car up to Monte and the Botanical Gardens.
These lush volcanic islands in the Atlantic are another great spot for whale- and dolphin-watching trips, as well as kayaking, paddle boarding, canyoning, coasteering, hiking, biking and exploring sulphuric pools and grottoes. Island-hopping can be a great way to take it all in – highlights include the extinct volcano on Graciosa, where you can climb down to the bottom of the crater.
If you're ready for a family trip to Portugal, contact your Travel Counsellor today.