Portugal Vacation Ideas | Ciao Bambino!

Portugal Vacation Ideas

  • When to Go

    Spring, summer, fall

  • Trip Duration

    7-10 days

Portugal is one of Europe’s most picturesque countries — colorful landscapes bursting with bougainvillea, stunning coastal cliffs, golden beaches, beautiful rivers and remarkable historic architecture. There is a warm and creative energy here, brought to life by the hospitality and welcoming spirit of the people, the love of design and culinary arts, and the obvious zest for outdoor adventure. Crisscrossed by vintage trams that carry locals and visitors along the steeply winding streets, Lisbon retains its Old World charm; romantic Porto is the jumping-off point for the Douro Valley wine region. If you’re seeking sun and sand, spend a few days in the Algarve, the hub of beach life along the southern coast.

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Lisbon, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Alentejo, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Top Portugal Destinations

Kick Off Your Trip: Lisbon

Because Portugal is a relatively compact country, visitors can cover a lot of ground in just one to two weeks without feeling rushed. Spend your first three nights in Lisbon, getting acclimated to this vibrant city full of history, rustic food and culture. Listen for the strains of traditional fado music emerging from restaurants as you walk past buildings clad in azulejos, or colorful ceramic tiles. Lisbon played a central role in the Age of Discovery, and monuments in the waterfront Belem neighborhood pay tribute to explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco da Gama. Be sure to dedicate a full day to exploring the fairytale town of Sintra, an easy side trip.

Sample Activities

Food Tour

Zip through Lisbon’s most historic neighborhoods on a tuk tuk while sampling culinary delights.

Private Tour of Sintra

A driver-guide will whisk you around Sintra as you visit castles and palaces nestled in the hillsides.

Art Class

Lisbon’s iconic, ornate tiles serve as your inspiration while you paint one of these distinctly Portuguese creations to keep as a souvenir.

Tram Tour

Ride Lisbon's trams and funiculars through this hilly city with a private guide, stopping at local gems and points of interest along the way.


Travel a few hours south of Lisbon to the Algarve and spend three or four leisurely days taking in its dramatic coastline. Indulging in the region’s luxurious yet extremely kid-friendly beach resorts is just one highlight. In addition to its golden sands, the Algarve offers limestone cliffs and sea caves to explore, idyllic fishing villages and towns rich in history, and watersports of every imaginable type.

Sample Activities

Sailboat Cruise

Enjoy the Algarve’s rugged cliffs and powerful winds on a private sailboat excursion.

Surf Lesson

Instructors can help your family ride the waves in one of the few places where you can surf in Europe.

Beach Horseback Ride

Sway along in the saddle as you trot through the sand on horseback in the company of your guide.

Dolphin Watching

Cruise along the coastline with an expert naturalist as you keep an eye peeled for these magnificent marine creatures.


East of Lisbon on the border with Spain, Alentejo is often compared to Tuscany, yet it is largely untouched by mass tourism. Families typically spend a couple of days here enjoying the wide-open spaces and kid-friendly activities. Vast stretches of farmland and cork forests are interspersed with medieval towns and ruined castles that capture young imaginations. Spend your evenings gazing at the stars, which are easy to see in this rural part of Portugal.

Sample Activities

Mountain Biking

A guide will take your family on the quietest back roads, passing through traditional local villages.

Kayak Excursion

Start your day paddling along a beautiful lake surrounded by nature, and end with a picnic lunch on an islet.

Castle Tour

Spend a day with a local expert exploring the mighty castles that once stood guard along the Spanish border.

Evora Tour

Accompany your guide on a walking tour of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Roman ruins and eerie bone chapel.


Venture to the northern region of the country to experience Porto and the Douro Valley. Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto is more sedate than Lisbon, but it possesses a romantic charm all its own. Between sips of the legendary wine produced here, you’ll wander around medieval bridges and cobblestone streets, then savor amazing yet still kid-friendly cuisine. Devote at least a day to visiting the Douro Valley vineyards, tasting your way through a wealth of boutique wineries.

Sample Activities

Cooking Class

A pastry chef will teach your family to make pastel de nata, a classic Portuguese custard tart.

Bike Excursion

Pedal along the Douro River and enjoy the beautiful sights of Porto’s waterfront.

Walking Tour

See the highlights of architecture, art and history in Porto with a kid-friendly guide.

Wine Tasting

Travel throughout the Douro Valley with an expert in the area's wine culture, with ample stops for sipping and savoring.

To Know Before You Go

  • Portugal is ideal for children of all ages, though the steep hills in Lisbon can make pushing a stroller difficult. The beaches in the south are filled with family resorts perfect for a few days in the sun.
  • Spring and fall are the best times to visit weather-wise (although September is very busy, especially in the Douro Valley for the grape harvest). Summer also offers very good weather; however, the crowds are much larger.
  • Be advised that the Algarve region often experiences extremely windy conditions.

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