Top family destinations in the Algarve
Sunshine, golden sands and gorgeous coastlines, that's what awaits you in the Algarve. A wonderful family-friendly destination all year round, the Algarve really comes to life in summertime when families of all shapes and sizes arrive for some relaxation.
But where is best to stay? That's the question on everyone's lips as there are countless villages and towns throughout the Algarve and everyone has their opinions.. so we thought we'd wade in with ours!
Sagres - Best for Active Families
One for the adventurous, Sagres is at the most westerly tip of the Algarve. Here you'll often wind heavy winds, slightly wild seas and plenty of hot sun - a great combination for surfing.
Sagres is lucky enough to have beaches within walking distance that face various different directions meaning that there is almost always at least one beach suitable for surfing everyday. Equipment can be hired easily around the town and there are plenty of surf schools to keep your little ones safe and get your surf skills up to scratch.
The town itself is little more rugged and remote than many resorts in the Algarve but it is a lovely laid-back spot. If surfing isn't for you, there's some great hikes and cycling routes in the area - plus there are beaches that are sheltered from the winds when you're feeling more like sun-bathing than surfing.
Alternatives: consider staying near Praia da Marinha (for great snorkelling) or Praia Batata (for sea kayaking)
Carvoeiro - Best for Young Families
Carvoeiro is your typical small picturesque Portuguese town. It's peaceful, calm, filled with character and you'll immediately feel welcomed from the moment you arrive. The town sits right on the coast surrounded by golden beaches and striking cliffs but, despite its growing popularity, still manages to maintain a feeling of authenticity.
Simply put, Carvoeiro is a great place to relax or wander but there is plenty more to do, with plenty of water sports available on the Praia do Carvoeiro (as well as a fabulous pirate themed boat trip!). Plus, unlike some parts of the Algarve, Caravoeiro remains fairly quiet in the evenings. This makes it a great place for a few drinks and a good meal in one of the many family-friendly restaurants - especially since there's almost no risk of having a stag or hen party crash your relaxing evening!
The town itself is also very compact and walking around even with the little ones in tow isn't a problem - there's even a boardwalk along the top of the cliffs, perfect for walks with buggies. Although, trust us, high heels and buggies are a bad combination on some of the cobble stone pavements in town!
Alternatives: why not try Praia da Luz (for closer proximity to Lagos) or Alvor (for somewhere a little more built up)
Lagos - Best for History and Culture
Lagos is a city proud of its Portuguese culture and history. If you're looking for a relaxing beach trip in the Algarve with some not-so-subtle history on the side, you won't want to base yourself too far from here. With Moorish walls, a seventeenth century fort, Roman mosaics and beautiful churches - there's plenty to explore between visits to the many options you have for café and beach breaks.
As well as wandering around the Old Town to see Lagos' extensive history, you'll be spoilt for choice when deciding where to explore next. With gorgeous sea caves, grottos and one of the largest sandy beaches in the Algarve, there's endless possibilities for adventure in and around Lagos.
In the evenings, you'll find plenty of bars and restaurants open to families. Lagos is definitely less hectic than many of the larger resorts, but it isn't quite a sleepy village either. Instead you'll find a good buzz and fun for the whole family as you wander through the small cobbled streets.
Alternatives: consider Tavira (for somewhere smaller with a ruined castle) or Faro (for more of a city break)
Albufeira - Best for Travelling with Teenagers
A big name that often needs no introduction - Albufeira is one of the largest, most engaging and most popular resorts on Portuguese coastline. This comes in handy if you don't plan to rent a car as there are plenty of tours and day trips available from the resort.
Albufeira has a little (or a lot) of everything - a charming historic Old Town, a lively and welcoming nightlife scene in the New Town, golden sands and endless activities for all ages. There's plenty of nearby waterparks, golf courses, bars and restaurants, water sports and boat trips available.
And don't let the thought of excessive nightlife put you off - the Old Town and New Town are well separated and if you don't go looking for it, you won't see it and you'll find plenty of family-focussed hotels and beaches far away from that kind of action.
Alternatives: consider Portimão (for somewhere else with a buzzing atmosphere) or Vilamoura (for somewhere more upmarket and stylish)
Almancil - Best for Something a Little Different
What makes Almancil different from the others on our list? Well, it's pretty unusual to have a beach break without a beach right? :-)
A little further inland than the rest of our selection, you'll find Almancil - home to some of the best luxury resorts in the Algarve. Here you'll find no shortage of extremely high quality restaurants, beautiful green spaces and idyllic accommodation perfect for relaxation. Almancil would be a perfect destination if you're looking for both countryside and beach elements in your trip.
Although it isn't on the coast, it's a very short drive to some gorgeous beaches and Almancil is only 15 minutes drive from Faro airport making it much closer (and so potentially better for a short trip) than most of the towns on this list.
P.S. it's a little out of character given its relaxing atmosphere but Almancil is also home to the oldest Karting track in the Algarve!
Alternatives: for another different kind of Algarve experience, try Salema (you might even find some dinosaur fossils!)