Easy as ABC: Algarve Beaches for Children

The Algarve has long been a favourite holiday destination of sun-seeking families. With a flight time of just 3 hours from the UK, the crystal-clear oceans and beautiful beaches of southern Portugal are just a hop, skip and a jump away – ideal for those travelling with restless little ones and baby-related baggage.

After years of working with clients who travel both with and without their children, we know how priorities tend to get reordered when you have to consider your little ones in the equation. Suddenly the dream deserted beach you fancied visiting becomes utterly inappropriate – how will you get the buggy down the cliff face? Where will you find shade from the midday sun? Where will you get them showered and changed after a dip in the ocean?

Luckily there is a host of fantastic child-friendly beaches in the Algarve. Take a look at my personal recommendations – all of them offer soft sand (perfect for building sandcastles), shallow water for gentle paddling, as well as excellent nearby facilities to make your beach trip as hassle-free as possible.

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Safe & Sandy – Praia do Anção

Praia do Anção, located between Vilamoura and Faro in central Algarve, is a firm family favourite. This 2-kilometre beach has Blue Flag status, so it’s no surprise that it offers an expanse of clean, golden sand and pristine ocean, surrounded by rippling sand dunes. You can make your way to the beach along wooden boardwalks that wend through the dunes – it’s a bit of a bumpy ride for buggies, but worth it for the gorgeous views.

With sun beds and sun shades available to rent, as well as free parking, showers and toilets, the beach provides everything you might need for a day of playing, paddling and relaxing in the sunshine. There are several beachside restaurants, including 11 na Praia; a previous client told me that her children loved their fresh fish fingers, while she enjoyed the delicious selection of tapas.

Perfect if You’re Staying at… Dona Filipa

This large and elegant hotel, set within the exclusive Vale do Lobo estate, is a great family option just a short drive from Praia do Anção. Personally I think that the Dona Filipa’s children’s facilities are outstanding in the area.

The Kangaroo Club for children has access to a safe, enclosed zone, 2000m² in size, kitted out as a dream playground: an indoor playroom has a role play corner as well as an area for painting and drawing; outside there is a child pool and a sand pit, partially covered for respite from the sun; if that wasn’t enough to keep the little ones occupied, there’s also a tricycle track and a bouncy castle in the summer months.

Walking with Dinosaurs – Praia da Salema

At the picturesque fishing village of Salema on the south west coast you will find the Praia da Salema, a broad, sandy Blue Flag beach that extends for 1km. Again, it has every facility a young family might require: toilets and showers, the Restaurant Atlantico for snacks, and sun loungers and umbrellas as well as larger double loungers with light curtains for some much-appreciated shade.

If your little ones are dinosaur lovers – my son went through an extended dinosaur phase when I could only tempt him into the bath with the promise of a dip with his favourite T-Rex – make sure that you go footprint hunting along the shore. You can clearly see distinctive dinosaur prints toddling across the rocks on the beach.

Perfect if You’re Staying at… Martinhal Beach Resort

Martinhal Beach Resort is set within 100 acres of park and gardens at Sagres. We love that it has a village-like feel; as well as a 37-room hotel the resort has 132 one- to three-bedroom houses, with views of the ocean, the bay or the gardens.

The village square is the centre of the action for little ones, who will never get bored during their stay. Kids clubs for 2-5 year olds and 6-9 year olds run activities such as arts and crafts, treasure hunts and cookery classes. I was also impressed by the hotel’s baby concierge, which allows you to pre-book a variety of equipment – from bottle sterilisers and potties to baby baths and child gates – before you arrive. It definitely helps to take the stress out of holidaying with little ones.

Anchor Artistry – Praia do Barril

The third excellent Blue Flag beach on my list is the Praia do Barril, located on an island within the coastal lagoon of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This idyllic location is hard to reach by car or on foot, which requires a walk over a floating footbridge across the Ria Channels; luckily the beach is also served by a miniature train, which the children will love riding for the short trip through picturesque marshland.

The excellent facilities here make it popular with families, as does the 2.5km of gently sloping sand towards warm, shallow water. After you’ve had your fill of the beach, I would definitely recommend visiting the anchor graveyard at its entrance. Youngsters will be fascinated by row upon row of rusty anchors, which have been planted in the sand as a memorial to the area’s tuna fishing industry.

Perfect if You’re Staying at… Hotel Quinta do Lago

If you’re looking for a five-star hotel that doesn’t compromise its luxury and stunning surroundings for a child-friendly outlook, we have to recommend the Hotel Quinta do Lago. It is the only seafront hotel in the impressive development of Quinta do Lago, set in the sprawling Ria Formosa Natural Park.

We love this relaxed resort, which has just as much to excite mum and dad – with four championship golf courses, two restaurants and a large spa – as it does the children. With supervised childcare available, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to indulge while your little ones have a whale of a time.

Convinced that the Algarve has the beauty, the beaches and the best family-friendly hotels for your next holiday? Give us a call and let us arrange your dream sunny getaway for you.