If you’re looking for old-world charm, historic sights and pretty fishing villages then the exclusive modern, purpose-built resort of Vilamoura in Portugal is probably not going to be for you. But, let’s be honest, how many teenagers do you know who are likely to complain that a resort doesn’t have enough culture and character for them?
What Vilamoura has instead is a huge range of tourist-based services and activities all designed to keep even the most demanding teen happy.
From water parks and jet skiing to marine parks and paintballing, there are so many things to do here for your young adults that they might not even find the time to post it all on social media. (But what are the chances?)
Safety in the Resort
There is actually very little crime in the Algarve, with many of the problems in the summer being caused by badly behaved tourist rather than local issues.
As Vilamoura is a rather more exclusive resort than its neighbours Albufeira and Praia da Rocha, it does not tend to attract the stag/hen-do set or those looking for a boozy holiday. The restaurants and cafés here are venues for relaxing and people watching rather than mad partying.
It is a good idea to let older teens know that the drinking and smoking age in Portugal is 18 and the authorities are quite hot on this, so warn them it’s not worth trying to buy a sneaky beer to take back to their hotel room.
Drugs aren’t too much of an issue here either, but again, warn adventurous teens that most of what is sold to tourists as marijuana is more likely to be crushed herbs than narcotics, so they’re better off saving their money.
Things to Do
In my experience, most teens are happy to lie on the beach plugged into their device of choice for much of the holiday – which they can certainly do on the beaches around Vilamoura. But there are also plenty of other activities to keep the more active teens occupied.
One of two water parks in the region, Aqualand, covers a huge area and has a great range of rides. For those who just want to glide around while topping up their tan, there’s the 270m lazy river, while those who like to get their adrenalin pumping will find loads to challenge them. Rides with names like Kamikaze, Rapids and Crazy Race all live up to expectations – in fact, get ready to become a big kid again yourself as you speed down the 23m Banzai slide and glide across the water on a bodyboard.
Slide & Splash
Animal lovers will love the second of the resort’s water parks, Slide & Splash, with its free falconry, parrots and macaws and reptiles shows. There’s loads of sunbathing space here so you can spend the day and send the kids off to enjoy massive slides, dark water tunnels and twisting tubes.
Insider Tip: The water parks get very busy during the summer months, so beat the queues by visiting their websites and booking online in advance (the earlier the better so don’t be afraid to book before you’ve even left home).
If your young adult is a petrol-head they’ll love careering about the Algarve countryside in an open-top jeep on a 4×4 off-road safari. While they’re enjoying the thrills you can take in some of the stunning views from a range of vantage points along the way. Lunch is an authentic meal of peri-peri chicken, so you’re teen will feel right at home if they’re fans of Nandos.
Speed Boat Tour
Guaranteed to raise the heart rate of even the coolest teen, the jet boat tours from Vilamoura combine breath-taking speed with stomach churning 360º spins. A great trip out, but if you suffer from seasickness, be warned: you’re better off watching from the shore.
Dining in the Marina
Okay, this isn’t strictly a teen activity but, based on experience, my girls love sitting outside one of the stylish restaurants in the marina and watching the super-rich lounging around on their yachts or driving by in their sports cars. This takes people-watching to a whole new level.
Don’t Miss Out
If you think that Vilamoura might be the perfect place to take your teens this summer then my advice is to book now. With the instability around the world and concerns about terrorism in traditional holiday hot spots like Turkey, Morocco and Egypt, western European destination are becoming very popular and therefore very booked up. Don’t wait before booking on the off chance that you’ll bag yourself a last minute bargain – the chances are that much of the accommodation in the resort will be sold out.
How to Get to Vilamoura
The great news is that it won’t take you the best part of a day to get to Vilamoura so you won’t have to put up with moaning teens complaining about being bored and the lack of WiFi.
The closest airport is Faro – a three hour flight from the UK – which is served by a good range of budget airlines including easyJet and Monarch. The transfer from Faro to Vilamoura is blissfully short at only around half an hour.
Avoid queues at the taxi rank at the airport by booking a Shuttle Direct transfer online before you leave home, then watch the respect dawn in your children’s eyes as you walk past the crowds and are greeted by your own private driver.
Where to Stay
Vila Atlantida Apartment – If you think your teens would enjoy slobbing out in a home-away-from-home, then why not try a self-catering apartment like the stylish ones at Vila Atlantida Apartment. You’ll find all the hotel amenities which your kids love, like an outdoor pool, close access to the beach and free WiFi, but they’ll have their own space to relax in at the end of the day.
Dom Pedro Marina – If you’re looking for a holiday away from cooking but still want space for the family to relax in together, then the Dom Pedro Marina, close to the beach and marina, has spacious family rooms with seating areas to chill out in. Bike rental is available at the hotel and there’s an outdoor pool for the kids to enjoy.
Vila Gale Ampalius – With a games room, outdoor pool, tennis courts and horse riding, the Vila Gale Ampalius is the perfect place for active youths. (The onsite spa makes it the perfect choice for parents craving a bit of well-deserved relaxation too.)
About Shuttle Direct:
Those hoping to get to their family holiday destination with the minimum of stress and teenage tantrums should seriously consider booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before leaving home. The leading provider of airport transfers across Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct offers a choice of shared group transfers or private car transfers to a huge range of destinations.