As Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve is one of the most popular family holiday destinations in Europe.
Rightly so, too. It is safe, with a splendid climate, lovely beaches, wonderful cuisine, and diverse, high-quality accommodation.
Plus, the Algarve offers a huge variety of activities for children, from tots to teens. You're spoilt for choice, in fact. From water parks and theme parks, to boat tours and biking: you name it, they’ve got it. And you can enjoy all of that at relatively affordable prices!
So if a trip here sounds ideal for you and your family right now, find a family-friendly resort and get planning with our guide to the best things to do with kids in the Algarve.
1. Soak up the sun on the beaches of the Algarve
Praia da Falesia beach in the Algarve
Going to the beach is an obvious first choice for this holiday destination - but which one should you go to? There are 133 beaches in the southern region of Portugal, and over 100 of them are in the Algarve.
Mumsnetters particularly love holidaying in the beach towns of Carvoeiro, Praia da Luz, Lagos, Fuseta, Santa Luzia, and Ria Formosa. These popular spots are located on the east and west side of the Algarve. And in the western part of the area, close to Salema and Sagres, you'll find rugged beaches that are popular with surfers.
What Mumsnet users say:
"We stay in Fuseta/Santa Luzia and there are small isles to which you get a ferry for the day and just...relax… It’s a stunning part of the Algarve - right on the Ria Formosa - we always see flamingos and all sorts of other birds and wildlife. Highly recommended." Ninnynonny
"We have stayed in Lagos twice. once at [Meia Praia] beach and the other time near the beach with the cliffs - that was a good spot as you could also walk to a couple of other nice beaches. Another time we stayed at Cabanas [de Tavira]. I liked it as it’s got a cute little harbour with restaurants and you catch tiny boats across it to the beach which was long and quiet." Dreamingofsun
"Praia Dona Ana in Lagos is sheltered and absolutely beautiful. One of my favourite beaches anywhere. Luz is very family friendly but not as sheltered - much easier to find and closer to Sagres though." TheSnowQueen
2. Get out of your comfort zones with an adventure
Parque Aventura in the Algarve
Parque Aventura offers high rope adventure courses, with circuits suitable for adults and children at least 1 metre tall.
You may choose between three levels: Curious, Adventurous and Fearless. And no worries as you glide from tree to tree, overcoming a variety of obstacles. The construction quality of the course, the individual protection gear, and the watchful supervision of the highly trained personnel guarantee your safety.
3. Cool down at one of the Algarve's water parks
The Algarve is home to Aquashow, Aqualand, and Slide and Splash water parks
Families looking for child-friendly activities in the Algarve have at their disposal three aquaparks to choose from: Aquashow, Aqualand and Slide and Splash. All have a good selection of slides, from smaller ones for little kids, to the scary ones for teens and grown-ups.
The Aquashow Park is the largest water and theme park in the Algarve. One of their main attractions is a 740 metre fun ride in the water coaster: a roller coaster in the water!
Aqualand boasts the 36 metres high Kamikaze, the highest water slide in Portugal.
Slide and Splash has a pitch-black tunnel slide, called the Black Hole, a favourite with many guests.
You may bring your own food and drinks to these water parks. This is a good idea, because prices in restaurants tend to be on the higher end.
All three water parks are situated inland, close to the main east-west route traversing the Algarve, N125.
What Mumsnet users had to say:
“I went to the Aqualand waterpark at Alcantarilha, about a 30 minutes drive from Quarteira. It depends on your child's age and height as to whether you will get the full fun factor of the rides. There is a lovely big pool, wave pool and lazy river if you just want to chill out.” myalias
4. Go mini golfing with the kids in the Algarve
Try your hand at golf in the Algarve
Golfland Family Entertainment Park is one of the Algarve’s more recent attractions.
Located in Alvor, Golfland offers an 18-hole championship mini golf course, two covered Trackman golf simulators, a children’s playground, a barbecue, three bars and an excellent restaurant. Waiters serve drinks around the course, and since
Golfland is open till late and you can even play golf after dinner - a great way to tire those kids out after a meal!
5. Spend the day at Zoomarine in Albufeira
A fun-filled day for the family at Zoomarine
Located in Guia in the north of Albufeira, Zoomarine is all about animal shows and amusement, with some elements of a water park as well. Dubbed the best oceanographic park in Portugal, the Zoomarine promises unforgettable moments of connection with dolphins, seals, sea lions, tropical birds, and birds of prey.
Watch the Pirate Bay acrobatic show, roam around the Butterfly Garden, the first of its kind in the Algarve, or relax on a sandy beach while children enjoy the wave pool and water slides.
What Mumsnet users had to say:
“If you don't want to hire a car then there are very good links and bus services to Lagos, Zoomarine and water parks such as Slide and Splash. I can recommend "Yellowfish" as a very good transfer service from Faro airport.” PurpleAlerts
6. Get closer to the animals at the zoo
An interactive visit to see the animals
Interacting with animals is always a treat for children. There are two popular zoos in the Algarve; Krazy World Zoo is located inland, close to Algoz, while Zoo de Lagos can be found 20 minutes from Lagos by car.
Krazy World has water slides, swimming pools, go-karting, and more. The little ones can feed goats, llamas, deers or birds, which eat directly from the children’s hands. Some visitors find that it can get a bit messy where the animals are, especially goats, but overall Krazy World is a safe, clean and pleasant family space.
While it is not as big as zoos in some other European cities, the Lagos Zoo will do a great job when it comes to entertaining the youngest. The rest of the family will also enjoy a relaxing day. Try to visit during the feeding times! Lagos Zoo has more than 140 animals and 200 botanical species. It is located about 20 minutes from Lagos by car.
7. Hop on a boat in the Algarve with the kids
Enjoy a half-day cruise on a catamaran
Trips are also available from many smaller harbours, docks and beaches. For animal lovers, a dolphin-watching cruise is a must.
If your children like adventure, opt for a boat tour that explores the magnificent caves and coves of the Algarve. Ponta da Piedade, located just to the west of Lagos, is especially famous for its caves, grottoes and sea arches sculpted by nature and best explored from the sea.
What Mumsnet users say:
“We got a little boat to [an island] from Olhao, there were about 10 people, the guide (an English ex-RSPCA officer if I remember rightly) showed us around the island then we had lunch in a restaurant on the beach. It was absolutely beautiful, I would really recommend doing it. Going east from Faro instead of west is so different to the rest of the Algarve, the beaches are amazing, there is one you can get a little train to.” BirdIsland
“We’ve just got back from a week in Carvoeiro. We did a dolphin trip with Wild Watch in Ferragudo, about a 20 min drive away. It was fantastic! We saw a huge group of dolphins feeding, the crew estimated there were over 100 which is apparently not as many as they usually see together. They film the trip on a go pro then email it to you afterwards at no extra cost, lovely little touch which means we have some great film to look back at. After the boat trip you go back to base for coffee and cake and a little talk on conservation, chance to ask questions etc and see the highlights of the footage.” BrownSauce83
8. Enjoy a day surfing together
Hit the waves with Algarve Sea Adventures
Surfing has so many benefits for children. The western side of the Algarve has the best beaches for surfing, and it’s a sport the whole family can learn, take part in and even enjoy. Surfing promotes an active lifestyle, teaches balance and coordination, can reduce the fear of failure, as well as stress and anxiety, and is a great way for children to meet new friends.
The whole family can learn to surf together at Algarve Sea Adventures. If you’re interested in a more luxurious resort style holiday, Martinhal Beach Hotel and Resort has an Adventure Club offering surfing and other adrenaline packed activities for teenagers - read a Mumsnetter’s own review here.
What Mumsnet users say:
"It is definitely worth it with a 22 month old. It is absolutely perfect for toddlers - just wish we'd found it earlier." LocalEditorKensingtonChelsea
8. Explore the Algarve on a bike
Explore the region by bicycle with the family
The Algarve is a great place for biking. You will find short-distance and long-distance cycling routes, easy trails and challenging ones. You can go on individual bike tours or guided bike tours.
Depending on how you're travelling to the Algarve, you may wish to bring your own bike. Or instead, head to one of many places where you can rent a bike easily and affordably. Bear in mind it is advisable to go cycling between September and June, because it can get too hot and too busy in the July-August peak holiday season.
10. Visit the Sand City sculpture park in Lagoa
Little ones will stand in awe at these impressive sculptures
Sand City is a sand sculpture park in Lagoa. This unique attraction has more than 90 different sculptures built by more than 60 artists from several continents. You can walk among the sculptures on foot, but it might be better to rent a buggy if you have small children in tow.
Stunning as they are in the bright daylight, the sculptures take on a mesmerising and fantasy-like appearance during the night, when they are lit by an array of indirect lighting.
Tips for holidaying in the Algarve with kids
When planning your kid-friendly activities in the Algarve, consider the distance from your chosen accommodation. The easiest way to get around is by car, but all of the attractions from our list of top 10 fun activities for kids in the Algarve are accessible by bus. Many towns in the Algarve are also connected by train.
Don’t forget to budget for the entrance fees. These can add up for a large family, so it is a good idea to get together with another family and take advantage of group discounts.
Is the Algarve good for families?
The Algarve is a great choice for families with kids of all ages. From resorts with kids’ clubs for all ages, to incredible beaches, water parks, zoos and so much more, the Algarve has everything you need for an adventure packed family holiday. The best part? Its mild climate makes this holiday spot a great choice throughout the year.
Your choice of holiday really depends on your family’s style. If you’re after surfing and adventure, the beaches of Lagos are for you. An activity-loving family would have a thrilling time in Albufeira, with its lively, big beaches, while a nature-loving crew would appreciate the peace and tranquillity of Salema.
What part of the Algarve is best for families?
The most popular holiday destinations in the Algarve are located in the western region between Albufeira and Lagos. Here you’ll find Praia da Rocha, Carvoeiro and the popular Praia da Luz.
Families can take part in many activities including a visit to the Benagil Caves, dolphin watching rides or adventures at Splash and Slide or Zoomarine. There really is something for everyone.
When is the best time to go to the Algarve?
There really isn’t a bad time to visit the Algarve, though it’s not year-round beach weather, there is always something to do, and the weather is mild enough to spend outdoors in a big jumper.
The busiest and most expensive time to visit Portugal is August, when most of Europe is in summer holiday mode.
You can avoid the summer crowds by visiting between late April and early June or mid-September to late October. These are the times when you can experience the best of the Algarve without the massive crowds and heat. Spring may be too cold to swim, but is still great for boating, adventures and enjoying walks on the beach.
How we chose our recommendations
Recommendations by real parents
Before choosing any activity for our roundups, we first consult the Mumsnet forums. With over 10 million users per month, there’s a lot of suggestions by real parents who have been there, done that when travelling to the Algarve with the family.
Expert guidance and traveller reviews
Finally, we cross-referenced all of the above information to find the best things to do for kids in the Algarve that had won the most awards and recommendations across the board. We feel there’s something here for everyone, to suit every budget.
Why should you trust us?
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.