Portugal is one of the most family friendly countries in Europe. Children are an integral part of daily life, and they're happily welcomed anywhere, from museums and restaurants to town squares and theaters. Cities are rife with parks, playgrounds, while the rest of the country is a perfectly preserved natural paradise.
With 300 days of sunshine a year and the mildest weather on the old continent, Portugal is the ideal destination for family adventures. The only part you'll struggle with is deciding where to go! Read on to find out more about the best destinations to travel to in Portugal with your kids.
Is Portugal good for kids?
Families hold an important place in Portuguese society, so they're well treated across the country. Parents with small children or pregnant people are given priority in supermarket lines and on public transport, and you'll never get side glances for breastfeeding in public. Even in Lisbon, tweens and teens ride public transport alone, a nod to the safety of the cities.
Perhaps the only drawback for parents are the sidewalks, which thanks to steep hills, bumps and their narrow size, are very far from being stroller or toddler friendly. However, all is redeemed by a family-centric local culture which welcomes you to bring your kids – be they babies, tots or teens – literally anywhere.
Where is best in Portugal for kids
Imagine taking the family for surf lessons or coastal hikes along the Costa Vicentina; road trips along the coast or or river cruises, vineyard tours and horseback rides with your kids by your side. While the options are endless, here are few of the coolest experiences you can have in Portugal with your family.
Brave walking the Arouca 516 suspension bridge
Best for kids, tweens & teens
Challenge your kids to see if they're brave enough to cross (or if you are!), but don't fret – even if someone is afraid of heights, the park is still worth the trip. Below the bridge, you'll find the Passadiços de Paiva, an 8km (5.5mi) route of wooden walkways that follows the Paiva River, offering a scenic hike – albeit with a lot of stairs – that's safe and fun for families whose kids have energy to burn.
Road trip the coast from Portugal's north to south
Best for all ages
Renting a caravan to roadtrip Portugal with your family is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful land. The country is small, the roads are uncrowded, the scenery is breathtaking and it's relatively safe. If you've got little ones, the convenience of on-hand snacking and napping is unbeatable; while older kids will love the adventure and instant access to nature.
Wild camping is no longer permitted in Portugal, but there is a huge network of budget-friendly campsites that offer all the basic structure you could need – many even have playgrounds and cafes onsite. Prices and amenities vary: Peniche's municipal campground, for example, has standard amenities, a perfect location and a shockingly low rate, while Salema Eco-Camp in the Algarve, which boasts a huge pirate-ship playground, multiple restaurants and live music nights, is worth the the higher price tag.
Travel to the end of the world at Sagres & the Costa Vicentina
Best for kids, tweens & teens
Once upon a time, the southwest corner of Portugal was considered to be the end of the continent, and thus of the civilized world. These days, it's still pretty far out there, however it's an absolutely amazing spot for active and outdoorsy families to spend their holidays.
In Sagres, you'll find the Martinal resorts, one of the most family-friendly hotels in the country. Start your day with a surf lesson with the Algarve Surf School, then head back to town for an exceptional pizza at Arte Bianca Pizzaria, followed by ice cream at Alice Gelato. After an afternoon relaxing, check out some live music in the evening at the Laundry Lounge or Three Little Birds, before getting to bed early so you can do it all over again.
Spend an art-filled afternoon at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Best for babies, tots, tweens & teens
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is one of the world's most important private art collections. It includes works from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century but beyond its artistic importance the Gulbenkian is a truly perfect place to spend an afternoon with the kids. This art filled oasis in the middle of Lisbon has beautiful, rolling gardens where kids play while adults lounge in the sun, surrounded by koi ponds and some surprisingly friendly ducks. The onsite cafe serves simple, tasty food that's easy for picky eaters and for your wallet. Perfect for cultural-minded parents of tiny tykes, or families with artsy tweens and teens.
Let your worries float away at Tavira & the East Algarve
Best for babies & tots
The East Algarve is known for its quiet, warm beaches with nearly no waves, and exceptional, fresh and inexpensive seafood to fill everyone's tummies. Stay in Tavira for more action, or Cacela Velha to escape the crowds, then hop on a little boat to cross the lagoon where endless white sand beaches await – just dont forget a beach umbrella and plenty of water and snacks.
When you've had enough sun, take a day trip to the nearby Rio Formosa Wetlands Natural Park for some bird and wildlife watching. Simply hop on one of the small ferries that run between the islands (Ilha do Farol is a favorite). For a few euros, kids can enjoy the boat ride and the view, and you can pop off at any of the islands for some beach time, snacks or an ice cream.
More great experiences for kids in Portugal
Hike among the stars
For mountain hiking, crystal-clear lakes, traditional eats and wintertime skiing head to Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela.
Peek into the past
Roman Ruins, cool city vibes and a gateway to the Alentejo countryside in Évora.
Explore subterranean caverns with the family at Grutas de Mira de Aire.
Planning tips for family travel in Portugal
Public transport versus driving
In the cities, public transport is both easy and inexpensive, and there are plenty of rideshare and taxi drivers to make up for any shortcomings. Outside of the cities however, you'll want a car to visit the best national parks and most breathtaking beaches – but don't fret, driving in this tiny, safe country is nearly stress-free.
Pack plenty of layers
Portugal is a cold country with warm sunshine, which means that days are hot but nights and mornings can be quite chilly. To keep your little ones comfortable, you'll want to pack easy layers that kids can peel off as the day warms up or to throw on as the sun starts to set. Consider an extra-large day bag to carry it all.