Family Destinations

Family holidays in the Algarve

Image - Paulo Simão
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

When looking for a family holiday destination, the Algarve is only a three hour flight away. The area promises sun drenched days on the beach in a relaxed family orientated culture with plenty to do for all the family.

If sun, sea and sunbathing are your thing, the Algarve is perfect as it hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and with 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, they can be enjoyed throughout the seasons. The beaches can vary from small, sheltered coves to broad, endless stretches of sea washed sand so there is a beach to suit everyone. The whole family can keep entertained as many beach concessions offer all the usual water sports facilities along with restaurant food and snacks. The family can also stay safe, as during the main seasons all the major beaches have lifeguards on safety patrol.

For a taste of rich history and culture you may want to hire a car to explore some of the inland towns and villages such as Estoi and Tavira.

The Algarve offers some of the best golf courses in Europe, set in stunning locations. The Monte Rei is designed by Jack Nicklaus and has views of the Serra do Caldeirão Mountains. There are water features on 11 of the holes, so bring spare balls! Another option is the Pine Cliffs course which is perched on the cliff top 200ft above the Atlantic. Here the 6th hole, known as ‘Devil’s Parlour’ has a green which sits beyond a cliff top chasm over 200 yards away. Or you can play like a pro on the Victoria course which has hosted a number of major events including the prestigious World Cup.

Only 12km from Faro Airport is Almancil Kartin, a go-karting theme park which is fun for all the family and attracts a quarter of a million visitors each year. The main adult track is a replica of a former Brazilian Formula 1 track, there’s also a track for juniors and a mini Formula 1 for the little ones. There is even a radio controlled race track for those not wanting to get behind the wheel. You can really make a full day of it as there is also a ‘Western’ style theme park where you can see how long you can stay on the rodeo style mechanical bull or jump on the ‘bungy’ trampolines, and attempt death-defying acrobatics in complete safety.

The Algarve is home to a number of waterparks which will keep the water babies in the family happy. Aqualand near the small town of Alcantarilha, has exciting water rides high diving shows, a bouncy castle and a safe area perfect for younger children. Aqua Show in Quarteira is more suited to those members of the family who fancy being a bit of a dare devil. The attractions include a water rollercoaster which is the highest in Portugal and White Fall which is a high speed water chute where you drop to the bottom before being shot back up to the top.

Where to stay
The Ria Park Garden Hotel offers something for all the family, a long, sandy Atlantic beach, beautiful surroundings, great food, the traditional friendly Portuguese welcome and is completed with Mark Warner’s excellent childcare. The hotel is located near to Garrao Beach which is one of the most exclusive parts of the Algarve and also hosts great beachside restaurants. Choose between rooms which overlook the tropical gardens, the swimming pool or stunning seaside views from which you can see the entire valley and Atlantic Ocean. For the sportier members of the family, Mark Warner can offer mountain biking on superb trails in beautiful surroundings, or tennis in one of the two courts, maybe opting for a course to brush up on their skills. For those wishing for rest and relaxation, the healthclub offers gym facilities as well as Turkish baths and a Jacuzzi. Those with younger families will welcome the grassy and shaded areas where they can play safely near the pool.