Family Vacations in the Algarve | The Complete Guide

Cabo de Santa Maria Lighthouse
Cabo de Santa Maria Lighthouse. Credit: Algarve Tourism

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal filled with splendid beaches, delicious cuisine, and perhaps the friendliest and most hospitable people in Europe. The Algarve bursts with pretty towns stretching along 220 km of coastline. The region’s fascinating cave beaches attract the most tourists to the Algarve year round. 

Faro is the capital of Algarve and Albufeira is its largest city with a vibrant atmosphere. The Algarve offers plenty of fun to every family with authentic Portuguese hospitality.

Portugal shines with the cheapest prices unlike the rest of European countries. The historical meaning of the Algarve gathers Phoenician, Roman, Arab and Christian influences.

Places to Visit in the Algarve

Portimão beaches
Portimão beaches. Credit: Algarve Tourism

The cliffs and caves throughout the Algarve’s coastline are brimming with pristine beauty and are considered to be some of most popular European beaches. Tourism started expanding its horizons here in the 1960s.

The Algarve is filled pretty towns but you can also visit the fantastic natural park Ria Formosa. The best starting point is the town of Olhao, where you can take boat tours. Tavira is another ideal option, a town where the sea blends with the river.

The Algarve amazes with many hidden gems. One of them is the lovely castle of Silves town. Stretching on the hill, it pays tribute to the Islamic heritage. If you happen to be in the Algarve during the summertime, Pera offers the magical Festival of Sand Sculptures. Existing for more than 15 years, it will brighten up your family vacation experience. 

Pretty towns in the Algarve

Castle in Silves town
Castle in Silves town. Credit: Algarve Tourism

The pretty little towns of the Algarve are full of history and the simple allure of white houses. The Moorish architecture blends with the cobblestone streets and local crafts.

Lagos 

Lagos is the most common starting point when exploring the Algarve. The beaches seemingly stretch for miles and glisten like a pearl necklace. The limestone cliffs compete with the beauty of the stunning caves.

Lagos is a culturally vibrant town embraced within ancient walls. Visitors may explore several museums such as the Vax Museum to learn about local history. Lagos’ marina offers a lovely promenade and buzzing atmosphere.

Taking a boat tour is the best way to explore beaches around Lagos. Kayaking leads you to secret caves, a very popular exploration activity in Lagos. 

Ponta da Piedade is the highlight of Lagos, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and sea.

Tavira

Tavira clock tower
Tavira. Credit: Gabi Zec

Tavira is probably the prettiest town of the Algarve, located about 30 minutes east of Faro. The Roman bridge over the Gilão river leads to the picturesque streets. The hidden corners of Tavira castle is filled with stunning views of the region. The surrounding garden is bursting with pretty blooms during spring. 

Tavira continues to hold the authentic charm of the Algarve despite its popularity. 

Albufeira

Albufeira is a beautiful town in the heart of the Algarve. Its historic center is full of adorable caffe bars and vibrant nightlife. The traditional fishing village still hides in the spirit of Albufeira. 

The stunning beaches in Albufeira are full of activities like kayaking and paddling.

Olhão

Located between Faro and Tavira, Olhão is a fantastic town to enjoy the river atmosphere. It’s the most convenient point to enter Ria Formosa National Park. 

You can relax at the river promenade or explore the charming Old town. Olhão Marina is particularly captivating during sunset.

Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Rosário fills the heart of Olhão with the Baroque spirit. Its roots belong to the local fisherman in 1715. 

Stunning murals of Olhão depict the local history at the walls of the Largo and Rua da Fábrica Velha. 

Mercado de Olhão brings a vibrant atmosphere at the harbour. The famous red brick buildings provide a cozy place to enjoy a snack and drink.

Taking a boat trip will give you a chance to explore Ilha da Culatra, Ilha da Armona, Ilha do Farol, and other destinations. 

The best places for family holidays

Albufeira dock colorful buildings
Credit: Vanessa Gordon

The larger towns like Albufeira, Lagos, Portimao or Vilamoura offer a vibrant ambiance full of activities.

Lagos is the perfect place to set yourself as it is filled with stunning beaches and a cozy Old town. 

Albufeira has the most activities to offer visitors. Despite the party vibe, the town is pretty charming and family-friendly. The boat tours are very popular and children can admire the rock formations. 

Many theme parks are located nearby. 

The younger children will have the most convenient time in smaller towns like Alvor, Carvoeiro or Praia da Luz. 

Adventure parks in the Algarve

Zoomarine is a popular choice for visitors. The closest towns are Guia and Armação de Pêra. This is a fantastic oceanographic park, giving a comprehensive education to the whole family. Dolphins are the main attraction here and you can even swim with them. 

Slide and Splash near Lagoa offer plenty of activities for older children. Aquashow Park near Vilamoura has a splendid hotel onsite.

For adrenaline speakers, rope adventures at Parque Aventura including various courses. In addition, Krazy World in Algoz will offer animal encounters, mini golf, a pool, and more. 

The Best Family Beaches in the Algarve

beautiful cave in the algarve
Credit: DreamWave

The Algarve is filled with many beautiful beaches. The most famous beaches in the Algarve are Marinha and Bordeira.

Marinha Beach in Lagoa is famous for its golden cliffs. It’s a small beach with an adjacent caffe. 

Bordeira Beach on the West Coast captivates visitors with large sand dunes. 

Algarve Lagos beach
Credit: Gabi Zec

The beach of Dona Ana near Lagos is one of the most popular in the Algarve and suitable for all ages. The calm waters at this picturesque beach add to the charms. Like many beaches in Lagos, collecting shells is the most common activity. 

Praia de Castelo near Albufeira is a lovely beach embraced by cliffs and filled with many beautiful shells along its shoreline. 

The Best Family Friendly Resorts in the Algarve

Stretching from Lagos to the eastern towns, many family hotels offer the perfect escape for plenty of relaxation. The western Algarve tends to be geared for those who want to be more active, perfect for cyclists and surfers. 

Albufeira as the Algarve’s largest town offers a colourful palette of villas and hotels for every budget. 

Alfagar Village is a charming resort with breathtaking views. It’s the most budget friendly and very close to the fabulous beaches. 

Adriana Beach Resort is an all-inclusive paradise. Just above the stunning Falésia beach, guests can enjoy complete comfort and relaxation. 

Vitasol Park is a budget-friendly choice with fully equipped apartments. 

Cascade Wellness Resort is a beautiful hotel with beautiful beach views, 3 restaurants, and lovely decor throughout.

Final thoughts

Ancient street village Estoi Portugal
Ancient street village Estoi Portugal. Image by depositphotos.com

With gorgeous beaches and sunny weather almost the entire year, the Algarve is the perfect destination for a family vacation year round. The Algarve is considerably less expensive than other European region. In addition, travelers will be in awe of the beautiful beaches that stretch for miles, pretty towns, the delicious cuisine, and friendly locals.

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Gabi Zec is a travel enthusiast from Croatia, a poetic soul passionate about writing. Her blog, Under Flowery Sky, focuses on the outdoors, gardens, and mountains. She also loves photography.