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Why Portugal Should Be Your First Post-COVID Family Trip

by Barbara Rogers

May 10, 2022

© Anobis | Dreamstime.com


Few places are as ideal for family travel as Portugal. That is especially true now, when Portugal’s all-out response to the pandemic has kept it one of the safest places to travel.


Children are welcomed and indulged: Helpful people will quickly give you a hand getting the stroller up a flight of stairs; crying children will be greeted with sympathetic smiles, not scowls; booster seats will appear before you’re seated at the table; and waiters will smile and suggest foods for fussy eaters.


Entire luxury resorts cater to families, such as Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort in the western Algarve, where children can join parents at dinner or not. Trained staff members amuse children in a glass-walled playroom adjacent to the restaurant while parents enjoy a leisurely dinner, and waiters are adept at avoiding little people underfoot.


It’s not just the people who make Portugal such a delight for families. The land itself is welcoming. Beautiful golden beaches stretch across the Algarve and the length of the Alentejo coast. Hilltop villages are crowned by castles, like the one at Marvao, igniting any child’s imagination.


Along with walking atop castle ramparts, kids can walk on roads built by the Romans, absorbing history as they stand inside Roman villas, see the complicated structure of Roman baths and explore Celtic hillforts built centuries before the Romans. Driving routes lead to even earlier prehistoric stone circles and dolmens.


Even the churches — not usually the most exciting attractions for children — enchant them with eye-boggling gold altars and entire walls of tile scenes. Just getting from place to place is fun: bright yellow trolleys, elaborate elevators and funiculars navigate Lisbon’s steep hills, becoming attractions themselves. The streets are paved with mosaic designs and the subways lined by bright tile artwork.


Kid-pleasing attractions range from the state-of-the-art Lisbon Oceanarium to the charming, vintage Portugal dos Pequenitos. This child-sized village replicates Portugal’s most famous landmarks and buildings in detailed miniature.


In Sintra, walk through sumptuous palaces where kings and queens once lived and explore passageways and grottos in the mystical gardens of Quinta da Regaleira. While in Sintra, be sure to stop for some of the town’s famous pastries, sure to be a hit.


Parents, meanwhile, will find art, history, gardens, magnificent scenery and some of the world’s best wines to enjoy as their kids fall under Portugal’s magical spell.


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