Top 10 Algarve Fun for Kids
The best things to do that the kids will love
The Algarve has a great reputation as an excellent family destination. And as any parent knows, the secret to a great family holiday is keeping the kids happy. The Algarve certainly doesn't disappoint as there is plenty to keep them occupied come sun, heatwave or even the occasional spot of rain. During the summer season there are all kinds of fun activities to do by the beaches and marinas.
Zoomarine and Water Parks
Even if you aren't travelling with children, you should visit Zoomarine. The Algarve's biggest attraction, the park has shows, rides, slides and pools galore. Focused on environmental education and with a well-reputed rehabilitation centre for marine life, that recently rescued, rehabbed and released a leatherback turtle) at Zoomarine you can enjoy dolphin and sealion presentations, see birds of prey in action, learn about marine ecosystems as well as having a very good time. At the Dolphin Emotions centre you can participate in the Dolphin Interaction programme - the only one in Europe, which is guaranteed to give you great memories. Spend time in the pool learing how to communicate and intereact with the dolphins.
If you are looking for a park where the focus is purely on waterslide fun, then Aqualand Algarve is for you. There is a great range of slides, from the relaxed winding river to the nerve busting Kamikaze and Banzai slides. Junior visitors have a great water playground where there are mini slides and shallow pools. Look out for some great deals in tickets in the Aqualand online shop.
While they might not want to stay still for too long, most children really enjoy boat trips. The adventure of boarding, hoisting the anchors and riding the waves while trying to spot pirates on the horizon usually goes down very well. Add in a trip through the caves and secret grottoes of the coastline aboard a small boat and a BBQ lunch on a private beach and you should have a very happy tribe at the end of the day. There are boats to suit all tastes available - from sleek luxury yachts to large, modern catamarans, graceful sail boats and speedy RIBS.
And now for something completely different......play the Desert Pines Algarve foot golf course near Vale do Lobo. Foot Golf is exactly what the name says - play the golf-like course holes, using your feet as clubs, kicking the ball from the tee to the green and into the cups. Great fun no matter what your skill level is, perfect for family fun or a bit of competition between friends.
Eat at Family Friendly Restaurants
It's not difficult to find child friendly restaurants in the Algarve. Some places do take things to another level though...Parrilla Natural and Wildfire Restaurant don't only treat the kids well, they have a whole area dedicated to younger visitors enjoyment. The supervised areas have slides and swings, games and toys, face painting and even cinema sessions. Bovino Steakhouse at Quinta do Lago has a great children's play area too and entertainment to keep the children happy. At BJ's Oceanside, the dress-up box is always a hit. And of course, any beach restaurant has the perfect play area right on it's doorstep.
Home to some of the best golf courses in the world, the Algarve is also home to great mini golf courses. At the Family Golf Park, where the theme of Ancient Rome prevails (there are Roman ruins in Vilamoura) you can enjoy real mini golf at it's best. Beautifully landscaped, with obstacles, water features and even the occasional bird house, this is great family fun. If dinosaurs are on the thrill list then you should visit Adventure Golf Alvor - 18 holes of adventure golf with a Jurrasic Park theme. Quite challenging, this is great fun even if you're technically not a kid anymore. And at Quinta do Lago Mini Golf you can play miniature replicas of iconic golf holes from around the world.
Quite simply, a beach day in the Algarve cannot be beaten! With so many fabulous beaches to choose from the hardest part of the day is deciding where to go.....Slap on some sunscreen, pack the spades and buckets and off you go. Head for scenic, cove beaches like Praia da Marinha for photo opps, search the beach at Salema for dinosaur foot prints (honestly) or chill at a chic beach club. Wherever you go, please heed the lifeguards indications and always, always keep your eyes on the children while swimming.
Childrens Life Sciences Centres
KIds love to get involved and thats exactly what they can do at the Centros de Ciências Vivas in Faro and Lagos. There are plenty of interactive exhibitions and experiments to awaken curiousity. The centres are inspired by Portugal's rich seafaring past and give a nod to renewable energy. Very good value for a few hours fun. A family ticket (2 adults and 6 ! children) costs €8.
Turn your back on the ocean for a few hours and discover the beauties of inland and rural Algarve. In the West, head uphill to Monchique.. Here you can enjoy some great country walks and find some lovely scenic picnic spots. At the Fontes de Estombar (natural springs) you can follow trails along the River Arade, do a spot of bird-watching and fire up the barbeque for lunch while the children enjoy the playground. To the East, the Pego do Inferno, near Tavira is spectacularly beautiful - a waterfall, rock pools, rich vegetation and picnic areas galore. And just outside the village of Alte, there is another lovely waterfall, at Vigario.
If your kids feel the need, the need for speed, then Karting is an option. There are several locations for Karting in the Algarve. In Albufeira, there is a fabulous indoor track, Hot Wheels Raceway in the marina underground parking. And as a bonus, next door to the Karting is Hot Shot ten pin bowling - another kid favourite! There is a pretty impressive outdoor track at Almancil at Karting Almancil Family Park with a range of karts and tracks for younger and older drivers. You can also join off-road Buggy Safaris here.There another karting track near Portimão, adjacent to the International Race Track, home to world championsips and Superbike competitions.
Across the Algarve there are so many activities available, particlularly during the summer months. Check out the local tennis clubs. At the marinas ask about surf schools and sailing schools. Do a bit of horse-riding - there are centres all acoss the region offering lessons and guided treks through the countryside or on the beach. There is an Adventure Park in Albufeira where adults and kids get to go around a high ropes course. At Praia da Rocha beach, near the marina, each summer there is a full programme of beach activites - volleyball, hidrogymnastics, yoga, surf try outs and even scuba try dives. Best of all, many of these activites are totally free of charge!
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