We recently headed off on our first holiday as a family of three to the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal. This was a place which my partner and I had holidayed in two summers before when I was pregnant and I have to admit that it was such a big help knowing the area and apartments already, especially as we had our active little 18 month old in tow this time round. The Algarve is an absolutely beautiful part of the world, with gorgeous sandy beaches, fantastic looking caves and inlets to discover and very friendly people to boot. We were so happy to be revisiting the region and taking our son on his first holiday abroad to this stunning place.
I have to say we were quite nervous about taking our son on the flight, anxious as to how we would keep him happy for the two and a half hour journey from Ireland but we needn’t have worried as it all went quite well, with our son sleeping all the way over to the Algarve – I guess you can say we were blessed! We even had a free seat next to us on the plane, which came in very handy for lying our son down with his blanket and cuddly toy, making him a lot comfier than he would have been just laying on our lap. We hadn’t counted on or booked this extra seat but we really were so thankful for it during our flight. I’d recommend asking during check-in at the airport if there are any free seats on the plane and if you could be seated next to them – this little bit of extra space really does make all the difference when traveling with little ones. It costs nothing to ask and you’ll definitely be glad of the extra space if it’s available, believe me!
What I’d keep in mind if you’re considering travelling to the Algarve is the journey to your hotel. The only airport in the region is Faro, which unfortunately was quite some distance from our apartment in Portimao. Thankfully our son enjoyed the bus journey as he had never been on one before but I honestly couldn’t wait to get off that bus! There are resorts closer to the airport such as Albufeira, which have an equally beautiful coastline and beaches, but we really enjoyed our stay in Portimao the first time we visited so we wanted to go back there again. There are shuttle buses available quite cheaply to these resorts so I’d opt for a return on one of those instead of expensive taxis. The shuttles pick you up directly from the airport and from your hotel on the return journey so there’s no fuss – the easier you can make travel with little ones the better!
Portimao is right by the beach area of Praia da Rocha and the beach itself is absolutely stunning with golden sands and many caves, rocks and inlets to explore – fantastic for little ones and adults with a sense of adventure. There are many beaches along the coast offering sun-chairs, umbrellas and kiosks which sell food, drinks and ice-cream – perfect for cooling everyone down and not having to leave the beach if you feel a bit peckish. The beach we spent time at had quite a few steps leading down to it but we managed, with one of us carrying the bags and the other carrying our son. There are beaches further along the strip where you can simply step onto the beach but these were quite busy (it was August and everyone was on holiday) so we opted for the quieter spot with more caves to explore. We had previously holidayed in the Algarve in June and it was amazingly quiet so I’d recommend booking a holiday for June or September if you can as it’s lovely to be able to holiday in such a beautiful spot without any crowds in the way.
All the resorts along the Algarve offer a strip full of restaurants, shops, pharmacies, etc. and Portimao is no exception. We went to the strip every evening for dinner and found the staff in each restaurant we visited to be friendly and accommodating to the needs of our son. Every place we visited had highchairs and ramps for bringing buggies into the buildings, which was fantastic as the strip was a fifteen minute walk from our apartment so the buggy really was an essential for us. I’d recommend heading to the strip a bit earlier for dinner if you have little ones in tow, I find it’s better to eat when there are less crowds and we were very conscious about getting back to our apartment before it got too dark. In fact, we were back there every night before nine, we weren’t bothered though, we had a beautiful view of the sea from our balcony and it was so lovely to sit out there with a glass of wine and just enjoy each other’s company whilst our son slept.
I would highly recommend a holiday in the Algarve for those travelling with small babies and children. The region is hot but not overly so, the beaches are just beautiful and offer a lot of fun for children. The locals are very friendly and welcoming, there is lots to see and do and the strips offer everything you need in one place. We had a fantastic holiday in the Algarve and will definitely return again one day, the fact that we have already been twice speaks volumes. The Algarve is the perfect place to relax with your family, the weather is glorious, the family-friendly atmosphere is apparent wherever you go and the coastal views are simply stunning.
- Fiona Naughton