Algarve with Kids: 15+ BEST Things to Do for Families (+Info & Tips)
Embarking on a family adventure in Algarve with your little ones? Drawing from our five-year experience living in this beautiful region, we’ve crafted an insider’s guide to the best family-friendly activities. Join us as we reveal our top picks to make your Algarve vacation truly special!
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Algarve, situated in southern Portugal, is renowned for its breathtaking coastline, enchanting beaches, and year-round warm climate. It’s an ideal destination for families seeking a tranquil getaway, providing a perfect setting for a memorable family vacation.
However, beyond the sun-soaked beaches and poolside relaxation, Algarve unveils a plethora of diverse activities and attractions suitable for all ages. Our guide focuses on the absolute best things to do in Algarve with kids, handpicked from our family’s favorites. Whether you explore a handful or dive into the entire list, these experiences will undoubtedly enhance your trip!
Insider Tip: Tailored for tourists visiting with children and teenagers, this list prioritizes top spots and standout attractions, omitting highly local recommendations like indoor playgrounds.
This curated guide combines family-friendly suggestions such as premier waterparks and theme parks with must-visit scenic spots in Algarve, appealing to families with or without kids.
For each recommendation, we share practical insights, including the recommended age group, time requirements, and other essential details to aid your decision-making process.
Keep in mind that the sequence of activities is somewhat arbitrary. While we kick off with popular choices, your family might discover hidden gems towards the end of the guide that resonate even more than the initial suggestions.
Remember, comparing a water park visit to ocean kayaking or sightseeing is akin to contrasting apples and oranges. Every family is unique, with varying ages, preferences, and interests—considering factors like the season of your visit, budget, and more.
We strongly recommend exploring all the recommendations, ensuring there’s something tailored for every family within this diverse list.
Insider’s Tip: If you plan extensive sightseeing in Algarve, renting a car is a game-changer. RentalCars offers affordable options at Faro airport. However, note that summer parking can be limited, so choose accommodations with available parking.
Alternatively, if you’re focusing on one or two water parks and a stationary vacation, convenient transfers or services like taxis/Uber/Bolt are viable options.
Discover the absolute highlights for families in Algarve:
1. Lagos Zoo
Lagos Zoo stands out as the premier animal park in the region, offering a delightful experience for families with younger kids.
The zoo boasts a diverse array of animals from around the globe, featuring approximately 150 species. From exotic birds to lemurs and reptiles, your children will be enthralled by the rich tapestry of wildlife. Make sure not to miss the penguin beach and the bat enclosure!
With scheduled animal feedings, a petting zoo, and a playground, a visit here seamlessly blends education and entertainment. During the summer season (April to September), you can also relish a beach/pool area. The zoo itself provides ample shaded areas, ensuring a pleasant experience even in the summer heat. Altogether, it’s an ideal choice for families seeking a memorable day out in western Algarve.
Best Age: Lagos Zoo is perfect for families with younger children, ideally aged 12 and below.
When to Go: Lagos Zoo welcomes visitors throughout the year.
Time Needed: Plan for 2-3 hours to explore everything. With younger kids and during summer, you might extend your visit by enjoying activities like swimming and attending animal feedings.
Tickets: Secure tickets either online or at the entrance. While the official website offers a slight discount, the booking process can be tedious. We recommend using GetYourGuide for a smoother experience.
Let’s dive into the most renowned theme park in Algarve – Zoomarine. A favorite among both locals and tourists, this marine-themed amusement park and water park promise an array of entertainment.
With captivating shows featuring dolphins, seals, birds, acrobats, and more, along with an aquarium, butterfly, and bird enclosures, Zoomarine also boasts a substantial water park section with pools, slides, and thrilling attractions. Notably, the Lazy Rivers at Zoomarine stand out as the best in Algarve.
Best Age: Zoomarine caters to all ages, with a focus on younger kids for many of its dry rides. We, a family with three teenagers, visited twice and had a fantastic time.
When to Go: Zoomarine is open from March to November.
Time Needed: With a plethora of attractions, plan for a full day at Zoomarine, and in the summer, consider a 2-day ticket to fully enjoy both the theme park and water park sections.
Aquashow stands as another excellent choice for families visiting Algarve with kids. This expansive water park, larger than Slide & Splash, offers more adventurous rides. While we rank Slide & Splash higher due to affordability and lower crowds, Aquashow remains an outstanding option.
Aquashow features an array of attractions, dry rides, water slides, and multiple pools, including a spacious wave pool. With a lazy river, a large jacuzzi, and a kids’ splash pool, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy low-key shows with birds of prey, parrots, and reptiles.
Insider Tip: Aquashow sets itself apart with both indoor and outdoor water parks. While they differ significantly, if you’re seeking a water park experience in Algarve during the winter, Aquashow Indoor is your only option.
Best Age: Aquashow caters to all age groups, making it suitable for families with kids of any age. However, it shines brightest for families with teenagers or young adults seeking thrilling slides and experiences.
When to Go: The outdoor water park operates from May to September, while the indoor park remains open year-round.
Time Needed: Plan a full day for the outdoor park, but be cautious with the indoor section, which offers various ticket options. If you exceed your allocated time, hefty additional fees apply, making it less relaxing.
Booking: For the outdoor park, we recommend booking tickets in advance online for better pricing. However, for the indoor park, purchasing tickets on-site is more practical.
4. Slide & Splash
Slide & Splash holds a special place among Algarve’s water parks, and it’s a recurring favorite for our family.
Unlike Zoomarine’s mix of shows and rides, Slide & Splash is a dedicated water park. Boasting diverse pools, water slides, and kids’ areas, it also features exhilarating water rides suitable for teenagers and adults.
Best Age: Slide & Splash accommodates all age groups, with attractions designed for kids aged 5-6 and above. Teenagers and young adults particularly enjoy attractions with a minimum height requirement of 1.4 meters.
When to Go: Slide & Splash is open from early April to early November.
Time Needed: Allocate a full day for Slide & Splash. Pro Tip: If you love it, consider purchasing a value-packed 2nd-day ticket before leaving the park, valid for 10 days after the initial visit.
Booking: We recommend booking tickets in advance for a roughly 10% discount.
Speaking from personal experience, if you’re seeking my top family activity in Algarve, kayaking would undoubtedly claim that spot. While it might not surpass the allure of water parks for our kids, it offers a distinct and immensely enjoyable experience.
Best Age: Kayaking tours in Algarve generally welcome kids from around 4-6 years, depending on the company. While age restrictions vary, it’s advisable to skip the adventure with infants or toddlers who struggle to sit still.
When to Go: Weather and sea conditions permitting, kayaking is feasible year-round. However, we prefer the warmer months between April and November, considering factors like weather, location, and the kids’ comfort.
Time Needed: Most kayak tours in Algarve typically last about 2 hours.
Booking: Advance booking is advisable for kayak tours to secure your preferred time and address practicalities. As a tip, we enjoyed kayak tours from Lagos and Albufeira with our kids.
6. Sand City
Sand City, nestled in Lagoa, Algarve, is an expansive open-air sand sculpture park, boasting claims as the world’s largest of its kind. While I can’t verify the claim, I can attest to its worthiness as a must-visit attraction.
Surprisingly, our family, including the initially unenthusiastic teens, had a delightful time here. Spanning over 5 hectares, the park hosts around 120 sand sculptures crafted by global artists. Geographically themed, the journey takes you across continents and countries, offering a diverse range of sculptures, from famous landmarks to beloved cartoon characters and animals.
Best Age: Sand City proves to be a fun destination for the entire family. Contrary to my expectations, teenagers thoroughly enjoyed the experience, prompting me to recommend it to everyone.
When to Go: Sand City typically welcomes visitors from mid-April to mid-November.
Time Needed: Allocate 1-2 hours for a visit, arriving an hour before sunset for a dual experience of sculptures in daylight and beautifully illuminated in the dark. Exploring in the cooler evening also avoids the intense heat, as shade is limited.
Booking: While advanced booking is an option, we found on-site family ticket discounts that were unavailable online, making the entrance a more economical choice.
7. Algarve Beaches
Algarve hosts some of the world’s most enchanting beaches. While many visitors stick to the beaches near their hotels, why not make a bit more effort to explore some of the most picturesque beaches in Algarve with your kids?
Let your kids play, build sandcastles, swim, and relish the waves while you soak in breathtaking scenery. Algarve’s beaches are incredibly diverse, offering opportunities for exploring sea caves, tidal pools, sunset walks, water sports, and various family-friendly activities.
Tip: Each beach in Algarve is unique, with differences in size, topography, and accessibility. Traveling with young kids or limited mobility? Check accessibility and facilities before deciding on your beach destination.
For a guide to some of the most scenic beaches in Algarve, check our recommendations via the link below.
8. Benagil Caves
Embarking on a boat trip to the sea caves is a quintessential Algarve experience. The highlight is undoubtedly the Benagil Caves, with boat trips departing from major coastal towns.
The boat journey itself is thrilling, and the caves are a marvel straight out of a storybook. Many tours enhance the experience by seeking out dolphins, adding an extra layer of excitement for kids.
Best Age: Various boat tours cater to different age groups, with some even allowing infants. Speedboat tours are particularly favored by our boys for the sheer thrill, irrespective of the scenic views.
When to Go: Boat tours operate year-round, weather permitting. The summer season offers calmer seas, increasing the chances of exploring the caves, but conditions can change throughout the year.
Time Needed: Depending on departure points, plan for 1 to 5 hours for a Benagil Caves excursion. Most tours from Portimao or Albufeira last around 2 hours.
Booking: Benagil Cave tours are highly popular and often sell out. To secure your preferred boat and departure time, advance booking is advisable. Online booking provides a convenient way to compare tours, prices, and customer reviews for a well-informed choice.
TIP: Before booking, compare prices from various tours. While adult tickets usually cost the same, kid prices can vary significantly. With three young kids, we often saved 30-60 euros on the same tour by comparing options. Once they turn 12, finding different pricing becomes challenging since most companies charge the same for teenagers as for adults.
If you’re keen on family-friendly sightseeing in Algarve, consider exploring the region around Sagres. Renowned for Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern tip of Europe, this area offers more than just geographical significance.
Discover two lighthouses, stroll atop the ancient fort’s defensive walls adorned with cannons, and marvel at a sizable globe portraying the 15th-century world, pre-dating the Age of Discoveries.
Moreover, Sagres boasts striking beaches, some known for excellent surfing conditions. Our kids found joy in watching surfers and kitesurfers for hours. While experienced surfers may brave the waves, it’s not the ideal spot for beginners, as I elaborate in our recommendations below.
The allure lies in the distinct scenery of the west Atlantic coast, featuring steep rugged cliffs—a departure from the more popular beaches between Albufeira and Lagos.
Best Age: Sagres is suitable for all ages, but consider a few factors. Many places are inaccessible for strollers, making a baby carrier advisable. With young kids, exercise caution due to the steep cliffs in the area.
When to Go: Sagres is accessible year-round, though it’s quieter in winter.
Time Needed: Plan at least half a day for Sagres, or a full day for a more leisurely exploration.
10. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail stands out as Algarve’s most picturesque coastal hike, suitable for families due to its moderate length and difficulty.
Traverse breathtaking scenery, visiting Marinha Beach, Benagil Cave, Benagil Beach, Carvalho Beach, Alfazina Lighthouse, and Vale de Centeanes Beach along the way. With several beaches en route, there are ample opportunities for swimming and rest stops.
Best Age: If your kids are accustomed to hiking, consider this trail from around 4-5 years old. For hiking novices or warmer days, plan extra breaks at beaches and cafes along the route.
Season: Weather permitting, undertake this hike at any time. In summer, start early, carry sufficient water, and take your time enjoying the beaches along the way.
Time Needed: Allocate a minimum of 2.5-3 hours for this hike. Find more details and tips in our comprehensive guide via the link below.
Discover a plethora of water-related activities in Algarve, ranging from banana boats to Jet Skis. Amidst these, one standout favorite for our kids is parasailing, an activity they adore!
Best Age: The age suitability for parasailing varies by company. Some allow kids as young as 2, while others set the minimum age at 6.
When to Go: Parasailing is available almost year-round, with some variations based on company policies and tourist demand.
Time Needed: The parasailing experience typically lasts around 10 minutes, but plan for at least half an hour for the entire adventure.
TIP: Explore parasailing options on various Algarve beaches or opt for boat tours from marinas, like those departing from Albufeira Marina. Prices are generally similar everywhere, with small discounts for kids under 12.
If you or your kids have a keen interest in learning to surf, you’ll find numerous places in Algarve offering surf lessons.
Sagres and the west coast beaches are renowned for their excellent waves, attracting surfers globally. However, these waves might be too challenging for beginners and younger kids. In central and western Algarve, beaches like Falésia Beach and Galé Beach offer surf lessons suitable for beginners.
Our kids thoroughly enjoyed surf lessons at Falésia Beach, despite the small waves in July. Most surf schools cater to kids from 6-8 years old, and the season typically runs from April to November.
Time Needed: Surf lessons usually span about 2 hours, and it’s advisable to book in advance for a convenient and well-organized experience.
13. Fonte Grande de Alte
Explore the quaint village of Alte, located around 30 minutes from Albufeira, for a unique attraction—Fonte Grande de Alte. This charming spot features a natural spring-fed ‘swimming pool’ where you can enjoy a refreshing dip.
Additionally, don’t miss the nearby waterfall, Queda do Vigário, perfect for a swim after rainfall. While the waterfall’s flow can be unpredictable, Fonte Grande de Alte consistently offers a family-friendly swimming area with knee-deep water.
For an authentic Algarve experience, Fonte Grande de Alte is highly recommended. Keep in mind that it’s quieter in the low season, as it tends to get busy during the summer and warm weekends.
13. Fonte Grande de Alte
What age is it best suited for? Fonte Grande de Alte is a delightful spot suitable for the entire family.
Season: Experience Fonte Grande de Alte’s charm in any season, but for swimming, the months between April and November are ideal. Winter visits might be less enjoyable due to colder water temperatures.
How much time do you need? Allocate around 30 minutes for your visit, excluding travel time or exploring the village. The duration depends on your preferences—you can take a quick swim and leave or spend half a day enjoying the surroundings.
Good to know: On-site facilities include bathrooms and a small cafe, and there is no entrance fee.
14. Adventure Parks
If you’re seeking more active pursuits in Algarve with kids, consider a visit to an adventure park.
Most adventure parks in Algarve feature high ropes courses suitable for all ages and skill levels, with some also offering paintball.
Three notable adventure parks are in Albufeira, Lagos, and Vila Real de Santo António. Check this website for detailed information on each.
We explored the Albufeira park, finding it challenging and exciting for both kids and adults. Courses cater to kids from approximately 4 years old, with the most demanding suitable for those around 10.
Season: Adventure parks operate year-round, offering a great activity during the shoulder season or winter holidays.
How much time do you need? Most parks charge a one-time fee, allowing you to stay as long as you want. Typically, we spend around 2-3 hours enjoying the courses.
Do you need to book? Booking is usually unnecessary unless you’re with a large group. For a specific start time, especially if you’re tight on time, consider reserving in advance.
15+. More things to do in Algarve with kids
Discover a myriad of activities in Algarve with kids beyond what’s listed here, depending on your interests. Here are additional recommendations:
- Krazy World: A small interactive zoo/playground suitable for little kids, featuring a petting zoo, mini-golf, swimming pool, and various activities. More info.
- Sightseeing: Explore the charming towns and beaches in Algarve. Find inspiration in articles such as:
- Aqualand: For a serene water park experience with your family, consider Aqualand. Operating exclusively in the summer, it offers slides and attractions tailored to younger kids. More info.
- Karting: Seeking thrilling activities for teenagers and adults? Karting might be the answer. Family-friendly tracks and karting experiences are available for kids as young as 3. More info. Additionally, Albufeira Marina boasts an indoor karting facility.
- Mini-golf: Numerous places in Algarve offer mini-golf. Explore a charming course in central Albufeira or visit the Family Golf Park in Vilamoura. More info.
- Cinema: Enjoy a rainy day or escape the summer heat by heading to the cinema. Algarve has several cinemas, with most screening movies in the original language with Portuguese subtitles. Double-check for children’s movies.
- Bowling: Algarve provides various bowling alleys for family fun, especially on rare rainy days.
- Play arcades, carnival games, pool tables, etc.: Discover these attractions in popular tourist resorts throughout Algarve.
This concludes our guide to some of the finest family-friendly places and attractions in Algarve.
I trust this provides a clearer picture of what Algarve offers, ignites your curiosity to delve deeper into the region, and aids in planning an enjoyable and memorable family vacation.
TIP: If Algarve is just one stop on your Portugal journey, our guide to visiting Portugal with kids covers favorite family-friendly spots and activities across the country. Don’t miss it!