Family holidays can be notoriously hard to organise, and choosing a destination to suit everyone – especially when you have small children – can be tough. I am very familiar with these headaches, but thankfully I know a great little spot, popular with local tourists, on the Algarve coast in Portugal that might just be perfect for your family jollies this year: Quarteira. Calm waters and golden sands edge this relaxed town, and the surrounding area boasts lots of family-orientated activities.
Unlike many other holiday spots in the Algarve, the bars and restaurants here are not geared to party-going clubbers, but instead are more low-key and welcoming to families, making this an altogether more inviting destination for children. The town is a haven for Portuguese holidaymakers with children, and I think that this in itself is a good recommendation. Here’s why Quarteira is a great place for kids.
Quarteira for Families with Young Children
The beaches in this part of Portugal have an excellent safety record and are impeccably clean. Waters tend to be calm, and during the summer months you are guaranteed to have a lifeguard present.
Like most western European nations, the Portuguese are very family-focussed, meaning that you can rest assured that your kids will feel very welcome in any restaurant that you decide to eat in. This takes a lot of the strain out of having to eat at a certain time and go to certain places just because you have the children with you.
You can also relax in the knowledge that the supermarkets here stock all the usual suspects when it comes to food, so the kids will have plenty of choice when you are looking for those extra snacks. The same goes for pharmacies, in case you need to replenish the first aid kit.
While I enjoy hearing the local language when I travel, you may be relieved to know that English is widely spoken. Unless your Portuguese is conversational, having English spoken means that you can easily access information on tours and trips, getting around, menu choices and lots more.
It’s Not All About the Beach…
While youngsters will of course enjoy sandcastle building, paddling and burying dad in the sand, they will undoubtedly need other activities to keep them occupied. Here are a few of my suggestions.
Quarteira Daily Market
I really enjoyed taking my little ones on an excursion to the market, which is always a veritable hive of activity. You can show the children the fresh fish, caught that morning, and tell them about the huge array of fruit and vegetables that are all grown locally. This is a good option if you have early risers, as the markets start nice and early!
Day Trip to Loule
This charming traditional town is a pleasant spot to spend a day. Tiny shops line the cobbled streets and a colourful daily market hums throughout the day. You will be giving your kids a real feel for Portuguese life when you introduce them to this delightful place. You can read more here.
There are lots of different boat trips to choose from and all leave from the marina in Vilamoura, which is a five-minute taxi ride from Quarteira. Why not treat the kids to a dolphin-spotting tour?
There is something for all the family at Zoomarine, a fabulous marine park full of marine life and tropical birds. When the kids are done marvelling at the aquariums, they can enjoy dolphin shows and plenty of other activities. You can spend a full day out here.
How to Get to Faro
Flights from the UK to Faro Airport, the nearest one to Quarteira, are easy to come by. With several of the budget airlines offering the service (such as easyJet), you can get competitively priced flights even in the school holidays. With a flight time of only two hours 35 minutes, the children won’t have time to get bored.
On arrival, you will be eager to get to your final destination, so I suggest booking a transfer with Shuttle Direct, which will have a driver waiting in arrivals to meet you, help you with luggage and get you directly to your hotel. Offering a pre-booking service, Shuttle Direct also provide children’s car seats free of charge, as long as you let the team know how many you require when you book. For hassle-free onward travel, Shuttle Direct is definitely the company to choose.
Where to Stay
Dom Jose Beach Hotel – A one-minute walk from the beach makes Dom Jose Beach Hotel a favourite with young families. Who wants to be carrying all the beach paraphernalia for miles when you could have the seaside right on your doorstep? This hotel also has air-conditioning which is ideal if the kids want to relax in front of some ‘wind down’ TV in the afternoon. The outdoor pool goes without saying, and if parents get a chance to escape for a while, the gym and massage services at the hotel can be very appealing.
Hotel Pinhal do Sol – I recommend this hotel primarily because it has a children’s playground: a welcome sight for most under 10s! I love the spacious rooms, which are ideal for the kids to spread out in. The balconies are also a nice feature, as are the leafy gardens and two outdoor pools! The Hotel Pinhal do Sol also benefits from the provision of transfers to the beach.
Aquashow Park Hotel – Air-conditioned rooms at the Aquashow Park Hotel are all well-appointed, spacious and worthy of their 4-star rating. Children will appreciate the free Wi-Fi and the cable TV for that much-needed downtime, while mums and dads might enjoy a visit to the fitness centre or Jacuzzi. The restaurant offers an extensive menu with plenty of familiar international dishes for any fussy eaters you might have, and there are two bars that sell snacks and drinks throughout the day.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of airport transfers in Europe and North Africa, and we take great pride in the service we offer. Boasting a range of transfer options, we also provide car seats for children. We want to take the hassle out of your onward travel, so book online before you travel and let us do the rest.