The great thing about Portugal for children is its manageable size and the range of sights and activities on offer. There’s so much to explore and to catch the imagination, even for those with very short attention spans.

The Algarve has to be the best kid-pleasing destination in Portugal, with endless beaches, zoos, water parks, horse-riding outfitters and boat trips.

Kids will also be happy in Lisbon and its outlying provinces. There are trams, puppet shows, a huge aquarium, a toy museum, horse-drawn carriages, castles, parks and playgrounds.

As for fairy-tale places, Portugal has these in spades. Some children enjoy visiting churches if they can light a candle, and they’ll enjoy the make-believe of the castles and palaces sprinkled about the country.

In towns, hop-on, hop-off tours can be good for saving small legs, and miniature resort trains often cause more excitement than you would have thought possible.

Kids are welcome just about everywhere. They can even get literary: the late Nobel Prize–winning author José Saramago wrote a charming children’s fable, The Tale of the Unknown Island, available in English.

For an entertaining guide packed with information and tips, turn to Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Practicalities

  • The Portuguese are generally quite laid-back about breast-feeding in public as long as some attempt at discretion is made.
  • Formula (including organic brands) and disposable nappies (diapers) are widely available at most pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Turismos, as well as most hotels and guesthouses, can recommend babysitters.