One of the most family-friendly destinations in the whole of southern Europe is the Algarve, Portugal’s sun-baked southernmost tourist region. Warm for most of the year – and blessed with a plethora of high-quality accommodation ranging for low-cost B&Bs to high-end hotels surrounded by golf courses – the Algarve has all the right ingredients for a fun-filled motoring adventure with the kids.
Popular for its pretty fishing villages and long sandy beaches, it is a region that is nowadays gaining more popularity for the cultural riches to be found in its many picturesque towns and cities dotted along the coastline.
Faro and Beyond
The first port of call for most first-time visitors is Faro, the Algarve’s vibrant capital and home to the region’s busy international airport. The city’s Old Town has been tastefully restored in recent years and now ranks as one of southern Europe’s most treasured historic centres.
Besides its charming waterfront area (where a relaxing al fresco lunch or dinner is very much the order of the day), Faro has many must-see attractions to enjoy, such as its fascinating maritime museum (whose exhibits go all the way back to the Age of Discovery) and the excellent Living Science Centre where kids and adults alike can immerse themselves in one of Portugal’s best interactive study centres.
All the Fun of Albufeira
Heading west from Faro, the famous beach resort of Albufeira is the perfect stopover for families with young children due to the town’s abundance of safe sandy beaches and child-friendly restaurants.
Blessed with a lively holiday vibe (even during the low season), Albufeira is the ideal place to unwind and have some fun in the sun after a couple of days’ busy sightseeing in and around the beautiful city of Faro.
Spending time on the beach is the town’s top pastime, with Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Beach) a particular family favourite and a safe bathing environment for children of all ages, with many other fine sandy beaches to be found in the town’s idyllic environs.
The lesser-known western Algarve is always a very pleasant surprise for people exploring southern Portugal by car, especially Portimão, one of the region’s upcoming tourist destinations.
A flourishing fishing port since the time of the Romans, Portimão today is a cultural hotspot and explodes into life during the summer months when thousands flock to the town centre for the annual Sardine Festival.
Visitors to Portimão also have good access to many of the western Algarve’s top attractions, most notably Praia da Rocha (a beach famous for its striking rock formations), Slide & Splash (one of Portugal’s best water parks) and the Algarve International Autodrome, a world-class motor-racing circuit.
The Allure of Lagos
Set on one of the Algarve’s largest bays, the thriving resort town of Lagos is the final stop on our Algarve road trip.
Inhabited since the time of the Phoenicians, it harbours an abundance of cultural treasures, chief amongst them the Lagos Regional Museum, home to many rare exhibits from days gone by.
Besides its many interesting sights and attractions, Lagos privileged location at the far end of the western Algarve gives intrepid road-trippers the chance to visit Sagres (mainland Europe’s south-westernmost town) before embarking on a journey up the Algarve’s glorious west coast, which is largely unspoilt and unvisited by most tourists.
Have a great trip!