With so many amazing options of family-friendly locales to visit in Europe, Portugal should certainly be added to your shortlist. The country has amazing natural beauty, the pace is very relaxed, the Portuguese are hospitable. For families, there are plenty of hotels and restaurants that welcome children, and sights everyone will enjoy.
Below, travel contributor and co-founder of The Local Moms Network, Jessica Blouin, shares her Portugal itinerary that proved to be a winner for her family which includes two teens with different interests. She visited Sintra and Comporta and says these are great starting places for exploration. Follow along on her newly launched Instagram @insearchofgoodness for more travel pictures and inspiration!
A great launching point for your trip (especially in the summer months) is to stay outside Lisbon in the magical town of Sintra, home of the Pena Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site). The resort Pena Longa is a former monastery that has been converted into a beautiful Ritz-managed property and offers a range of on-site activities —golf, cooking classes, tennis, swimming, biking, kids club and a comprehensive workout and spa facility. It really caters to families—the kids pool is so lovely there was no need to go to the adults-only pool, the playground had a variety of different activities (mini golf, trampoline, etc.) and one of the banquet rooms they converted into a kids hang out space. It is the ideal resort to either relax at or immerse yourself in activities, depending on how much time you decide to spend there when you are not out exploring.
Visit the palaces and castles of Sintra. Pena Palace is a beautiful landmark with rich history, breathtaking views and colorful tiles. Right below it is the Moorish castle, a great spot to visit if you have kids that like to climb and want to enjoy some panoramic views.
This trip is also all about the beaches and Portugal delivers: highlights include the popular local beach Adragada, the kitesurfing mecca at Guincho beach and the charming coastal town of Cascais. Be sure to head to Cabo da Roca, the western most point of Europe for a quick stop and photo opportunity.
Furnas do Guincho was a highlight both for the beautiful views and amazing fresh seafood. After lunch, continue on to Guincho beach and have a drink at the former fort turned small luxury hotel, Fortaleza do Guincho, to take in the beach scene. The Tapas restaurant, Arola, at the Pena Longa is not to be missed; there’s a great selection of innovative tapas that will appeal to the entire family and music that is mixed by the resident DJ.
Now being compared to Ibiza and St. Tropez, this chic yet still uncrowded fishing village turned beach destination is a great place to unwind and enjoy endless beaches. Just one hour from Lisbon, the Sublime Comporta offers the perfect fusion of natural surroundings and simplicity with a range of rooming options from villas with plunge pools to suites that include sleeper sofas for little ones. The breakfast offering each morning is a true delight, with fresh organic produce and regional ingredients. Plus, there is a separate kids room and small pool to make families feel welcome while still keeping the intimate feel of a sophisticated property.
Head to the town of Comporta for shopping to load up on tunics, sundresses and home decor at Lavanda and Cote Sur. Walk around the charming little town to explore the shops and snack on the signature dessert, pasteis de nata.
Comporta is all about long days spent at the beach; you can either head to Comporta beach or Pego beach where beach chairs and “sun hats”(umbrellas) are available to rent for the day. At Pego beach, there is a surf shack where you can do lessons or simply rent boards and wet suits, depending on the day, the waves can be significant. A boat ride is also an option through Setubal Alive, where you can take a leisurely ride with a captain and see the local dolphins.
The beach restaurants at both Comporta and Pego are a must; make reservations in advance for a late lunch at Comporta Cafe or Sals restaurant and request to sit outside so you can take in the beach scene. The menus consist of seafood and more seafood, where your fish choice will be presented to you before it is grilled. There is also a selection of uniquely prepared rice dishes in homage to the area. For dinner, Da Comporta is a family friendly pizza spot where you can sit outside with views of the rice fields and the kids can run around or you can opt for the popular restaurants Cavalirica, Gomes or 5 Sentidos.