It’s an unfortunate by-product of parenting that a lot of time is spent mopping up sick. It’s can’t be helped, as their little stomachs learn to deal with milk and then solids, it’s bound to be the case that not all of it stays down.
On the plus side, all this cleaning puts you in a great position for dealing with travel sickness. So why not put your skills to the test by booking a proper holiday for you and the little one? After all, you may as well get a tan out of it.
In a new feature we will be looking at top destinations for young families – focusing on top countries along with great places to stay, eat and explore new worlds – provided they have proper changing facilities.
Consider the alternatives for a moment. Spain: sadly spoilt. Turkey: too hot. France: too snooty. Italy: inferior beaches. Greece: flat broke. Canaries: too volcanic. Egypt: too unstable.
So, after all that scurrilous stereotyping, it is Portugal, and specifically, its sunny southern flank—the Algarve—that comes out as the natural choice for families. And there is plenty of evidence to back up this choice.
The Algarve is split in two, with the more expensive, developed resorts running west from Faro to the Atlantic, and more traditional towns to the east. Both have their charms: younger kids will prefer the quieter east for quality bucket and spade time, while older kids will enjoy the attractions of resorts to the west.
But everywhere you go, it’s obvious that the Portuguese people love children. They are unruffled by the demands of even the most petulant toddler. Expect smiles, understanding, support and lots of free ice cream.
And while it’s hot throughout the summer season, it’s not child-cookingly boiling like Turkey. Those with pre-school children should travel between early September and late October when the sea remains warm and swimmable but flight and accommodation costs drop in price.
What to do
Praia do Barril
The Algarve boasts dozens of beautiful beaches, but the southern ones are generally warmer and safer. Kids will particularly love Praia do Barril, with its Thomas the Tank Engine style train that takes you from the car park to the long, white sandy beach.
There are numerous water parks, but Zoomarine is a notch above the rest, with pirate ships and the chance to swim with dolphins (which you can also see on one of the many boat trips, but you’d better pack your sea legs for those).
Museum of Discovery
On rainy days—which are mercifully rare—head to Faro town to the kids’ Museum of Discovery. Fun, if in need of a lick of paint.
WHERE TO EAT
Anywhere with chicken or fresh fish will serve you a belt-busting fill up for about 10 euros. Pizza or a hamburger and chips for kids appears on most menus. Economy-dining foodies should seek out restaurants specialising in port, with accompanying Portuguese style tapas.
HOW TO GET THERE
Faro, the main airport, is only three hours’ flight time from the UK, and there are dozens of daily flights. It’s also a two minute drive from the motorway, which will whisk you to any point along the coast. Expect to pay more than £1,200 for return flights for a family of four in-season. And to have a nightmare with hire car faffing.
Price sensitive, cunning foxes will have noticed that flights to Lisbon are about a third cheaper. Some save the money and add in a few days in Lisbon lifestyle before catching a train or hiring a car to get down to the Algarve (which takes about three hours). First class return rail tickets to Faro from Lisbon are less than £100 (all in!) for a family of four.
WHERE TO STAY
Until 2008, the Algarve enjoyed a building boom of new resort developments and private villas. When the market collapsed, the Portuguese property market carried on like Wily Coyote over the cliff until gravity caught up. Though prices have now settled, accommodation still costs less than most rival locations. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Pinhal da Marina
Glorious gardens and a free kids club
Dunas Douradas Beach Club
Beautiful budget byster
So don’t delay! Book your Algarve tickets today and enjoy some fun in the sun with all the family. Don’t forget to send us a postcard!