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Portugal Summer 2019 with 2 Small Children

Hello, my wife, 4-year old and 1-year old are considering a trip to Portugal in June or July of 2019. We would like to stay seven to eight nights. We have traveled together to Ireland so we do have experience traveling with our small children.

We have never been to Portugal. Where do you recommend we stay, visit, etc..? We, more than likely, will fly into and out of Lisbon. We prefer to keep the number of bases to two or three places to limit the amount of packing / unpacking. I prefer to stay in Lisbon for the last part of the trip in order to not travel far to the airport on the day of departure back to the USA. I do not mind driving if renting a car is necessary. We enjoy sightseeing, beaches, food, architecture, wine, and short hikes. We also want to make sure the experience is child friendly so small towns, farms, etc. would be fine too.
Obrigado!

Posted by
3000 posts

How many nights will you actually have in Portugal excluding any international travel? I would spend a few nights in Lisbon then head to the coast, somewhere such as Foz do Arelho, which has a child friendly shallow lagoon. If you hired a car for this portion, you could visit Obidos, Tomar, Alcobaca and the nearby town of Caldas da Rainha which has a great market where you will feel like a local.

June would be better than July, as the weather will be good, but it will be less busy as the schools won’t have finished for their long summer break.

Posted by
154 posts

Thanks for the information!
We plan to stay in Portugal for eight nights. Would it be better to drive down to the southern coast for the first leg of the trip? Then, drive to Lisbon in order to be closer to the airport? Would two bases be adequate, or do you recocmmend a third base to stay at?

Thanks again.

Posted by
3000 posts

Personally, I would stick to 2 bases with young children. It’s not advisable to hire a car straight after a long flight and each person has a view as to what order to see places. I prefer to end a holiday with some beach time to relax rather than doing this at the beginning.

Posted by
154 posts

Thank you again. So if we fly out of Lisbon back to the USA, would driving from the Algarve to the airport be stressful? I almost prefer driving to the Algarve when landing in Lisbon. Either way, I do like the idea of having Lisbon and Algarve two bases.

Thanks again, Obrigado!

Posted by
1695 posts

Depends what time your flight leaves. For an AM flight I would definitely not sleep the last night on the Algarve Coast.
I think best to drive there first and then finish in Lisbon but guess that depends if you will be tired/jet lagged after your flight.

We stayed at Suites Alba Resort on the Algarve was a good place for children. All rooms are 2 bedroom townhouse style villas. Plenty of room, multiple pools, including a nice infinity salt water one, very family friendly, playground for the kids, day care on site, free bicycle rentals, walking/hiking trails on the property, beautiful beach, etc... onto the negatives ;
meals/food were overpriced and not very good, kind of in the middle of nowhere ; the road/driveway to reach the property is terrible (purposely too narrow and downright scary). This keeps the beach at the resort less crowded, it is not a private beach and makes it more likely you will stay there for dinner.

Posted by
154 posts

So we are still in the early stages of planning our 8-night trip to Portugal in June of 2019.

We would fly into Lisbon , and we would prefer to stay somewhere in the Algarve for the first 3-4 nights. Even if we land in the morning, flying from the US, I do not mind driving south. I definitely would make multiple rest stops to break up the trip. I have done this before flying into Europe in the morning and driving. With children (4 years and 1-year old), what resort and town would you recommend staying at? We would like to experience the beaches.

After we leave the Algarve, we would go to Lisbon for the remainder of our trip (4-5 nights). What area would you recommend we stay at? The Lisbon Oceanarium looks amazing for the children. While in Lisbon, I prefer to not drive. We also would like to take a day trip to Porto. Would it be possible to experience this area without driving and taking a train?

Thanks for your help and suggestions!

Posted by
724 posts

Michael, I will answer you question about a day trip to Porto. You can stop thinking about that one. It’s simply too far. I’ve driven and taken the train from Lisbon, and it’s about 4 hours each way.

If you want to see Porto (which is much preferable to the Algarve), you could spend your beach days on the Silver Coast area of Portugal. It’s between Lisbon and Porto and there are some very nice towns in which to stay. São Martinho do Porto has a lovely horseshoe beach perfect for small children, as there are virtually no waves. And, from São Martinho, there are a number of day trips easily made by car.

The Algarve, especially in summer, is filled with tourists and not very representative of Portugal, IMO.

Posted by
3000 posts

Please do not get off a long flight and drive for about 4 hours to the Algarve. It’s dangerous to you, your young passengers and other road users. Some of the Portuguese driving standards leave a lot to be desired, so you need your wits about you, which you won’t have after a long flight.

If you want a few days by the beach, head to say Foz do Arelho, which is a far shorter journey from Lisbon and has a shallow lagoon suitable for young children. There plenty of places that you could explore as a day trip, such as Tomar or Alcobaca or the coastline. Caldas da Rainha has a good market.

Porto is too far from Lisbon for a day trip, as it’s more than 3 hours travel in each direction.

Posted by
154 posts

Thank you all for the replies. So with children, we prefer to keep our trip limited to only 2 bases because of the packing and unpacking. With that being said, besides Lisbon what would you recommend as a second base? We like beautiful scenery, beaches, wine, child friendly places such as aquariums and children's museums. Thank you all so much in advance!

Posted by
213 posts

You could actually stay the whole time in Lisbon and get most of what you want. You could day trip by train ( which my kids loved at that age) out to Cascais/Estoril for beaches, and also to Sintra for some of the lovely gardens and castles. Quinta da Regaleira is a garden in Sintra I remember thinking my kids would have loved. All sorts of tunnels and cool things to climb. Lisbon is very child friendly, The jardim da estrella is on the ( very busy) tram route and has a fairly big playground. And it would be so easy to just rent an apartment for your whole trip.

If you definitely want a second base what about Obidos or Calda da Raina. People tend to say Obidos is very overcrowded and touristy and it is in the daytime, but empties out at night. And you are a fairly close drive to beaches. I haven't seen Calda da Raina but have heard is nice and is in the same area.

Posted by
103 posts

I have made a number of trips to Portugal with children, first mine and then my grandchildren. The good news is that, as a general rule, the Portuguese love children. You will find it comparatively easy to meet locals through your children.
Although it is not close to the airport, I recommend that you consider staying in Cascais rather than central Lisbon. Cascais has a number of features that will be attractive to the kids including a large, kid friendly park (Parque Marechal Carmona), a child oriented maritime museum, several nice beaches, and good transportation links to Sintra and Belem and central Lisbon. There is even a small, retro carousel in the center of town.

Posted by
154 posts

Thank you so much for these recommendations. I am sure there will be more questions very soon.
I am in the process of trying to find a cheap flight from North Carolina. I hope the flight prices go below $2,000 for June 2019. Any flight price websites would be appreciated.

Thanks

Posted by
154 posts

So we are still researching our Summer 2019 8-night trip to Portugal. More than likely, we will be traveling in mid to late July 2019. Because we will be traveling with our small age children, we definitely want to keep our trip to two bases, which includes the Lisbon area (4-5 nights). We continue to research both the Porto and Algarve regions, trying to decide on a second base for our vacation.

The beaches look amazing in the Algarve with several children friendly resorts available. However, will this area be too congested in July? The Porto area looks amazing too. Could you even make the entire trip, staying in both Lisbon and Porto, doable without a car? I know renting a car in the Algarve is almost required.

Anymore feedback, pros, cons, etc.... would greatly be appreciated. Keeping the trip to two bases with less driving would make the travel experience less stressful. I do not mind driving as I have driven before in Ireland, but trains would also be fine with me too. Thanks so much.

Posted by
103 posts

The Algarve has beautiful beaches and lots of resorts. This area is very popular with northern Europeans who go there for the weather and comparatively low prices. If it is beaches full of tourists, then the Algarve is for you. Having said that, there are many nice beaches much closer to North Carolina. If it was me, and it was my first trip to Portugal,I would rent an apartment in the Lisbon area for the whole week. There are nice beaches in Cascais, and lots of things to see and do in the Lisbon area. You will find it easy to have interesting cultural encounters in the Lisbon area, and there will not be a need for a rental car.

Posted by
3502 posts

Fellow Tar Heel here, ‘94. Algarve is the pits, in my opinion. If you just want a beach, stay in NC, unless you enjoy hanging around Northern Europeans on their sunburnt holidays eating really bad food. Myrtle Beach comes to mind...

If you want something classicly Portuguese, then head to Porto or elsewhere.

Posted by
154 posts

Thank you again for the thorough responses and feedback. It sounds like the Algarve is not worth traveling to in the summer time.

We can limit our stay in Lisbon and surrounding areas. We will also research the Porto region for a potential second base. From my preliminary research, it looks like we could fly into Porto and fly out of Lisbon (or vise versa). Would we even need to rent a car for this trip? Or would the train systems be adequate to transport my family to various places?

Thanks again.

Posted by
4373 posts

Since you have small children, have you considered other travel dates -- like May, when older kids are in school ? September, after school starts again ? Airlines can be cheaper in non-peak seasons.

Posted by
1640 posts

Be sure to go to the aquarium in Lisbon. It's my favorite aquarium of all the ones I've been to. The metro lets out at a mall that has a gelato place next to the door going to the street the aquarium is on.

Posted by
154 posts

Thank you all again for the information.
We will try to travel Mid May or early June if our work schedules permit. If not, we will go mid to end of July.

Thank you all.

Posted by
154 posts

We plan to travel to Portugal for eights nights (Lisbon and Porto regions) in early June. Our US flight arrives in Lisbon in the morning.
We would like to only stay in two places with Lisbon as one of the bases.

In Lisbon where would you recommend we stay at? We prefer a full service hotel, B&B (kid friendly), or kod friendly resort nkt too far away that is under 200 Euros / night. Do you recommend staying in the area near Alfama or Oceanario? Other places can be suggested too as this is our first trip to Portugal. We would like to be near tourist attractions that are kid friendly, parks or playgrounds, small markets, pharmacies, etc..

Also, is it necessary to rent a car or is public transit appropriate? We will have our luggage, diaper bags, stroller, and carseats too. We would like to make day trips to possibility Cascais, Sintra, etc..

Thanks for your help.