Algarve Family Holidays
As a child, I have very few memories. But some of the vague recollections that still remain are of family holidays in the Algarve, Portugal. Family holidays are something stays with you for the rest of your life, and the lingering impressions that I’ve managed to retain from staying in Algarve villas are of sandcastles, beaches and the uncomplicated kind of happiness that only comes from being six years old and finding a strange-looking thing to poke in a rockpool.
Nature is on the side of Algarve holidays. Hidden in the most south-westerly point of Europe, the clear Atlantic beaches attract flocks of visitors each year. Offering more than 300 days of sunshine a year, a variety of activities in a safe environment and above all a high quality of life; the Algarve is perhaps the best place to take a family in the world. You’ll find plenty here that’s entertaining for children, as well as stimulating and relaxing for adults (don’t forget that it’s your holiday too!).
You might be quite happy, as I was, just to spend days pottering along the region’s world-reknowned beaches, building sandcastles, collecting bits of shell and wood (which inevitably ended up lying around all over the house) and burying other family members in sand. The Praia de Marinha near Lagoa is relatively uncrowded, thanks to the fact that it’s a bit of a climb to get there, and has beautiful coves. The Ilha de Barreta is stunning, practically deserted, and just a boat ride from Faro. The Praia da Bordeira, near to the slightly less well-known town of Carrapateira, is also something of an undiscovered gem for any Algarve family holiday.
Things to do on Algarve family holidays
If you fancy something more active, however, there’s plenty to do. The area has three water parks, of which Slide and Splash is generally considered the biggest and best. Less intimidating for truly little ones than a theme park, all ages are well catered for. FIESA contains a quirky selection of sand sculptures. The Ria Formosa natural park is a great place to go and see the flamingos, and there’s plenty of golf courses around, too. Just don’t forget the suncream.
Culture abounds, too. Lagoa is a city of historical importance, and spa towns such as the Caldas de Monchique provide thermal waters, typical architecture and amazing mountain views. Portuguese architecture is famous for its pretty blue-patterned, hand-painted azulejo tiles, and there are plenty of markets and ceramics shops where these can be purchased.
Portuguese food will be a surprising high point of your holiday. In a place where boatfuls of fresh fish unload their cargo in the markets every day, and oranges and figs drop of the trees, how could it not be? I can distinctly remember, as a child, getting fig ice cream all over my face. The Algarve is the perfect place for parents to relax and let their children run wild; enjoying with them all the natural exuberance of youth.