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Best Family Experiences for an Active Holiday in Portugal

22nd June 2024

Activity holidays are on the rise and it’s not just younger holidaymakers who are booking them. Portugal has always been a holiday hotspot for UK families but now visitors are seeking adventure as well as sunshine. 

This friendly, vibrant Atlantic-facing country boasts stunning beaches, dramatic landscapes and a rich cultural heritage, all waiting to be explored with a healthy dose of activity. This article will look at some of the best experiences Portugal offers for families who want to create memories while getting active together.

Surfing lessons in the Algarve

The Algarve has long stretches of golden sand for sunbathing but also waves that allow for excellent surfing. On the Algarve, first-timers need not worry – numerous surf schools cater specifically to families, offering child-friendly lessons. 

Qualified instructors will get your ‘grommets’ (surfing lingo for any young surfers) standing on their boards in no time, while parents can enjoy the thrill of catching a wave themselves. The Algarve boasts several beaches suitable for beginners, with Praia da Arrifana and Praia da Rocha being popular choices.

Biking adventures in the Douro Valley

If you’re looking for tours in Europe that offer adventure for all the family but are also mixed with rest and relaxation, head to Portugal’s Douro Valley in the north. The area is famed for its rolling vineyards and port wine, but it’s also a cyclist’s dream. 

Families can enjoy leisurely rides along the valley floor, taking in the picturesque villages and endless vineyards. For those with older children or teenagers seeking a challenge, there are guided tours that tackle the climbs through the vineyards. 

Whether cycling or hiking, there are also plenty of opportunities for adults to enjoy the wineries en route while kids refuel on local snacks. E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular in the Douro Valley, providing a great option for families who want to enjoy the scenery without breaking too much of a sweat.

Hiking in the Peneda-Gerês National Park

Escape the Algarve crowds and venture north to Peneda-Gerês National Park. Portugal’s only protected wilderness area is populated by wild Garrano ponies, wolves and wild boar. Old Shepherd Trails provide hiking routes all through the park that are suitable for all abilities. 

For a gentle family-friendly walk, head to the Mata da Albergaria boardwalk, which winds through a beautiful forest teeming with birdlife. More adventurous families can tackle challenging climbs like the Pedra Bela viewpoint and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic vistas. 

Stand-up paddleboarding in Lisbon

Soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Portugal’s capital while enjoying a relaxing but fun activity on the calm waters of the city’s harbour. 

Stand-up paddleboarding is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective, gliding past iconic landmarks such as the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. It’s also a relatively easy activity to pick up, making it perfect for families with young children. 

Coasteering in the Algarve

For the adrenaline-seeking family, coasteering in the Algarve is an exhilarating activity that involves traversing the rocky coastline by swimming, jumping, and climbing. 

Expect to encounter hidden coves, explore sea caves and experience thrilling cliff jumps (under the watchful eye of experienced guides, of course!). There are coasteering adventures that are tailored specifically for younger children so seek out a reputable guide before taking the plunge – literally!

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