Top 10 Algarve Fun for Kids
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.
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, 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.
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.
It's hard to beat a day of fun slipping and sliding around a water park in the sunshine. The Algarve has some great parks that guarantee hours of family fun. Look for Aqualand with those famous Kamikaze and Banzai slides, the new hydra slides and of course the lovely wave pool. Slide and Splash and Aquashow also offer great fun days out.
This annual festival runs from May to October, with a different theme each year. Using over 35.000 tonnes of sand, and billed as the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, this is an entertaining way to spend a few hours. Lovely during the day (a bit hot, but ideal to truly appreciate the skill) at night Fiesa is magical, wiht lovely lighting effects, a bar and snack bar, occasional live music and a very relaxed vibe. Entrance fee €9 for adults, childen half price, under 6 go free.
Home to some of the best golf courses in the world, the Algarve is also home to two 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.
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.
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.
If your kids feel the need, the need for speed, then Karting is an option. There are no less than 4 locations for Karting in the Algarve. In Albufeira, there is a fabulous indoor track, Hot Wheels Raceway in the marina underground parking. There is a pretty impressive outdoor track at Almancil, and another great 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!