Family Vacation to Portugal: Activities and Excursions for Everyone

A 11 day trip to Portugal 
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Portugal entertains every age. Pristine swimming beaches, majestic architecture, inspiring history, hands-on art, fairytale palaces, and the allure of nature. Visiting Lisbon, Porto, and Vilamoura, this family vacation balances activities for the young ones with the indelible culture that makes Portugal such a revered family destination. It includes private tours, centrally-located hotels, family-focused excursions, and a hint of adventure along the Iberian Peninsula. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Guimaraes, Braga, Bom Jesus do Monte, Viana do Castelo, Minho, River Douro, Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira, Alfama, Baixa, St. George’s Castle, Faro, Vilamoura, Algarve

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Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures. 

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Porto – A Relaxed Start in the Heart of the North

Porto is quick to calm visitors. Church bells ring, chatter fills the terraces, and cobblestone streets will encourage you to walk slowly. Nothing is rushed in Portugal, especially not in the north, where the slow pace is ideal for settling into the vacation rhythm. After being greeted at the airport, you are transferred to a hotel that is in the heart of it all, surrounded by blue mosaics and a fabulous old-world atmosphere. Meet your private guide for coffee or a glass of wine, and discuss the coming days, including recommendations for restaurants and easy activities you can do yourself. The day is at your leisure, and the speed of Porto is great for recovering after a long flight. There are hundreds of interesting sights and sounds within a short walk of your hotel.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour

Day 2: Porto – Exploring Porto Through a Family Lens

Porto is a city of tradition. Buildings are dominated by unique blue tiles, distinctive pork dishes are served at riverside restaurants, and the streets twist and turn like a labyrinth from fiction. Meet your guide after breakfast, and set off through the World Heritage city, dipping into the most majestic of the buildings. A Romanesque cathedral is covered in tiles, a palace of Baroque glory is set before you, and you will meander past narrow townhouses that crumble and lean towards each other. While the streets are steep, a lot is packed into a central neighborhood along the waterfront. From here, you take a traditional boat across the Douro River, traveling in the same wooden vessel that once moved grapes down from the Douro Valley. There is port and grape juice tasting on board, giving you a chance to sample vintage ports without the children getting bored on a tour of a cellar.

Lunch is relaxed, and the local food usually impresses kids. For example, try francesinha with fries, a warming dish of pork, egg, and cheese that is drenched in a tomato-based sauce. Over the first half of the day, you will l notice that the tile mosaics are the defining feature of Porto. In the afternoon, you spend two hours in a ceramic painting workshop, learning the centuries-old technique. You can create a family mosaic, with each tile individually painted by somebody else. Then to complete the day’s private tour, you admire the most opulent of the mosaics, the prior knowledge of the technique adding more fascination to the scenes that cover three iconic Porto buildings. The evening is at your leisure.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Porto – Day Trip to the Beaches and Cities of the Minho Region

The Minho region epitomizes Portugal’s balance. There is Guimaraes, where absorbing tales of knights and kingdoms accompany you at St. Michael’s Castle. Then Braga, a city of palaces and churches, where crypts and chapels are marveled at by adults and children alike. Nearby is an extraordinary Baroque staircase that snakes down a hillside from Bom Jesus do Monte. A morning of sightseeing is complemented by an afternoon along the coast. Look out over the Atlantic from Viana do Castelo, then descend the old cobbled streets to the beach. Cafes line the quiet sand, and the waters are safe for children to swim in, even if they may be a little too chilly for you to do so. On today’s private tour, you can also stop and walk in the forest, go searching for a hidden beach, and learn the legendary tale of Henry of Burgundy.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Lisbon – First-Class Train to Lisbon and a Quiet Afternoon in the City

Portugal’s modernized railway network makes travel between the major destinations simple. In just two-and-a half hours, you travel from the center of Porto to the heart of Lisbon, with the majestic mosaic at Sao Bento Station providing a fitting send-off from the north. Travel in a first-class carriage, and you are greeted by a Lisbon guide upon arrival. Your hotel is just a five-minute transfer from the station in the Baixa neighborhood, centrally located for reaching all over the capital city. While some of the Lisbon neighborhoods are narrow and steep, Baixa is flat and wide, keeping your hotel within easy walking distance of restaurants and grand plazas.

This first day is at your leisure, and your guide will recommend various activities and attractions close by. One option is to spend the afternoon on the famous yellow tram, trundling up and down the hills. Another option is along the river, with a number of niche museums offering interest, depending on your family’s taste. Lisbon is also home to the world’s second largest aquarium, located within Parque das Nacoes, a playground of rides, fairground attractions, and an excellent interactive science museum. Also consider the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which is one part private art gallery and another part astronomical exhibition.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Lisbon – Discovering the Beaches and Palaces of Sintra and Cascais

Lisbon’s surroundings feel like a fairytale, and your children would be far from the first to declare that Sintra’s castle palaces remind them of Disneyland. One is painted pink, glistening beneath the morning sun. Another is colored yellow, standing proudly on a hilltop overlooking the region. There are red turrets, checkered archways, and millennia-old castle walls upon which to walk. The palace interiors are even more elaborate and fictional where you can find gilded gold, regal chairs, painted swans, crystal chandeliers, and bizarre bathtubs. There is a fable to complement each room and sight, like the mystery that surrounds the twisted initiation wells of Quinta da Regaleira. Children usually disagree as to which movie these attractions are reminiscent of, but for arousing interest in history, there are few better places in Europe.

It is worth an early start to explore Sintra before the coach loads start arriving around early afternoon. By then you will be dining at a restaurant terrace set upon Sintra’s cobblestone streets. Nearby, Cascais became a vacation retreat in the late 19th century, revered by the aristocracy of Southern Europe. Grand cafes stand over small beaches, and the promenade leads you to a dozen different bays for swimming and sunbathing. It is a charming place for an afternoon at the beach. Returning to Lisbon, your guide will probably recommend dining at TimeOut Market, an atmospheric marketplace that brings together the city’s finest restaurants and chefs. It allows everyone to eat the cuisine of their choice, including the full range of Portuguese specialties.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Lisbon – Private Guide for the Day and a Variety of Family Excursions

To discover everything in Lisbon would take months rather than weeks. This is a city with secrets, where you can disappear around a corner to find mesmerizing artwork or architecture. It is also a city of grand landmarks, notably Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower. Kid-pleasing attractions like Museu de Marinha and Museu Nacional dos Coches hold fascination for adults and children, while the different tramways create a unique way of getting around the city. With the same guide as yesterday, you start today by taking the tram up to St. George’s Castle, the crowning glory of Alfama and another castle that Disney appears to have drawn inspiration. The rest of the day will be tailored to your family’s interests as you find a city of eclectic paradigms.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Faro to Vilamoura – Train to the Southern Coastline and the Old-World Charm of Faro

Travel south by train, a three-and-a half hour journey across remote Alentejo plains to Faro. You are greeted by a guide, and get acquainted with the story of the Moors and the reconquest. Whitewashed palaces dominate the city plazas here, with crumbling castle walls looming high above your head, and ceramic scenes telling tales of the 12th century. While the surrounding region is tailored to tourism, Faro has deliberately retained its heritage. It is a city that continues to narrate the story of Southern Portugal’s past, brilliantly told on a private walking tour around the old quarter. You will have lunch on a grand plaza before being transferred west to Vilamoura and a five-star hotel overlooking the ocean. For the next four nights, you are just a few steps from a quiet beach set in a bay with warm, shallow waters. The hotel rooms are interconnected, and also share a private terrace and garden, perfect for languid days in and out of the sun.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Vilamoura – Free Day on the Coast with a Rental Car

Southern Portugal delights the explorer. Beaches are hidden down twisting roads with hardly a footprint in the sand. Easy walking trails lead you across cliffs, and you can look down on the pods of dolphins that often swim past. Small fishing villages are home to sublime restaurants where you can choose your catch and dine to the sound of the surf. While Vilamoura offers a number of beaches, the beauty of the coastline is found in all the hidden gems. A rental vehicle is dropped off at your hotel, and this is the best way to get around as a family. This day is free, and the adventure can take you in many directions. Or you could just relax by the pool and lounge on the beach close to the hotel.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Vilamoura – Kayak or Boat Adventure through the Cliffs and Caves of the Coast

Strange and sublime, Portugal’s coastline is one of finest in Europe. It has been weathered by the wind and waves, once majestic cliffs now crumble back into the water. Strange pinnacles stand lonely amid the surf, rising 30 meters above frothy waters. Caves and caverns line up along the coast, most of them accessible dependent on the tide. The cliffs change color with the sun, rolling through the red and yellow hues as the day continues. The only way to explore is in a boat, either a small private boat for your family or on a guided kayak tour. Both options are available today, and the tour lasts around two-and-a-half hours. With a boat tour, you start by looking for dolphins, traveling away from the coast to pods that rise and fall with the waves. On a kayak tour, you can easily enter the caves, admiring an ephemeral beauty and a haunting echo.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Vilamoura – Free Day on the Coast with Rental Car

Your final day in Portugal is deliberately left free. Drive out to the southwestern tip of Europe to find a castle on the cliffs. Take a tour of Lagos, where the cobblestone streets have seen so many footsteps that they have been polished smooth. Find beaches that are empty of life or those backdropped by blue and white cafes. The roads are quiet, and the region is invariably relaxed, a place to unwind after discovering the culture and history of Portugal. There are various options if anyone in your family would like to try out water sports, as well as a number of great coastal walks close to Vilamoura.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Vilamoura to Faro – Departure

After ten nights in Portugal, it is a short journey from Vilamoura to Faro and your international departure. Leave your rental car at the hotel, and enjoy a private transfer to the airport.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast 

Price

Price 

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Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!