Looking for the best things to do in Portugal with kids? Portugal might be a small country, but there is no lack of family-friendly activities and places to explore. From the rugged cliffs of the Algarve to million year old dinosaur footprints in the heart of the country, there are so many fun things to uncover for the whole family.

Portugal has wonderful historical cities with history and culture, wonderful beaches, world-class surf, and incredible nature. No matter what your family loves doing, there is something for you in Portugal and the small size of the country makes it easy to travel around.

How to get around Portugal with kids

Hilly street in Portuguese village.
photo from MommyTravels.net

Portugal’s cities and larger towns are well connected by public transport but if you want to get a bit off the beaten path, the best way to travel is by car. A road trip around Portugal will truly fill your memory book with incredible adventure you otherwise won’t have.

Alternatively, Portugal is also a popular country for van travel, though the coastal areas are getting more and more strict when it comes to wild camping, there are plenty of great campgrounds where you can park and have access to showers, toilets, and pools to splash around when you need a break from exploring.

Walk Among Real Dinosaur Footprints

Photo by Amused by Algarve

Let’s start with one of the most unique things to do in Portugal with kids, see actual dinosaur footprints! Pegadas de Dinossáurios da Serra de Aire Natural Monument is one of the true hidden gems in Portugal, located right outside Fatima in the heart of the country.

You need a car to visit and there is parking outside. There is a small trail to walk to the large pit where you can see footprints of sauropods. These are the longest set of footprints that have been discovered with 147 meters of length. It is easy to imagine how the giants have walked on the exact same spot during the Jurassic Period millions of years ago eating plants.

The footprints have been well preserved as the sauropods have walked on a mud flat that later remained imprinted in the ground as millions of years of geological changes froze them into limestone imprints.

The trail takes you onto a boardwalk crossing the sauropod prints so you can get a closer look at them and they have real-size statues of the animals so you get an idea of their size.

The visitor center also has an interesting interpretation center and interactive learning activities for kids.

Hike the Ludo Trail in Faro

Ludo Trail Faro - Amused by Algarve
Photo by Amused by Algarve

If you have been on the fence asking yourself “Is Faro worth visiting?” I can assure you it is a fabulous family destination. Faro is blessed with nature as the gateway to Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is a great place to see flamingos and other birds.

The Ludo Trail is a fabulous family hike that you can do parts of or complete the 2-hour loop. It goes through the saltwater lagoons and shrubs of the natural park where you can see plenty of different birds. It also loops back past Faro’s salt pans where flamingos often hang out so there is a big chance of seeing the big birds. The whole trail is also easy to do with a stroller so if you travel with a baby or younger kids that get easily tired you can still enjoy this lovely, peaceful environment.

Faro Beach is close to the trail and one of the best places to stay in Faro, especially for families as you have the beach at your doorstep. Alternatively, you can park near the trailhead on a large dirt parking lot that is free.

Take a Boat Ride to See Benagil Cave

Benagil Cave - Amused by Algarve
Photo by Amused by Algarve

Benalgil Cave is the biggest tourist attraction in Algarve and can only be reached by boat. It used to be allowed to embark the beach by kayak and paddleboard, but this changed last year and now kayak tours only take you to the outside of the cave.

By boat, however, you can enter the cave, though not disembark the boat onto the beach. This gives you a better view of the magnificent cave. There are boats departing directly from Benagil Beach or you can join a boat tour from Lagos, Portimao, Albufeira, or any of the other beach towns nearby.

Take a Moliceiro Trip in Aveiro

Aveiro - Brainy Backpackers
photo by Aveiro – Brainy Backpackers

Aveiro is often referred to as Portugal’s Venice. Is this a bit of an idyllic nickname? Perhaps a bit too much. The canals in Aveiro is far from as charming as they are in Venice, but the colorful Moliceiro boats stunning and absolutely worthy a trip!

These wooden boats were once used to clean algae from the canals but after that was automized, they fell out of use. Instead of throwing them away, the locals decided to paint them in bright colors and offer tourist rides in the canals.

It is a fun experience for the whole family and the guide onboard will tell you the story of the Moliceiros and the places that you pass. I highly recommend going for sunset, it makes for the best family pictures!

Go Kayaking in Lagos

Kayak tour in Lagos - Amused by Algarve
Photo by Amused by Algarve

Lagos in western Algarve is home to some of the most stunning rock formations in Portugal with hidden beaches and caves along the rugged coastline. It is by far the best place to go kayaking. It is not possible to rent kayaks anymore, so you must take a guided tour (which is safer with the kids anyway!)

The absolute highlight of a kayak tour from Lagos is the Ponta da Piedade rock formations which tower up to 20 meters above the water with natural caves and fun formations. 

You can head straight down to the beach next to Lagos Fort and get on a kayak trip there, but in the high season I highly recommend booking in advance as this is one of the most popular activities in Lagos.

Go Surfing in Ericeira

photo by Linn Haglund

If your kids want to learn how to surf or you already have seasoned surfers in your pack, Ericeira is the place to be. Located just about a 40-minute drive north of Lisbon, it is the first and only World Surfing Reserve in Europe. There are plenty of beginner surf spots like Matadouro Beach and Ribeira d’Ilhas Beach. For intermediate and advanced surfers, head to Foz do Lizandro.

There are several surf schools in Ericeira so you will easily find one for you and your kids no matter your experience and surf level. Ericeira is also a very nice village to stay in for families as it is friendly and safe with a laidback atmosphere.

Visit the Fairytale Castles of Sintra

Photo from MommyTravels.net

No list of the best things to do in Portugal with kids is complete without mentioning Sintra’s fairytale castles. From the colorful Pena Palace to the gloomy Quinta da Regaleira which reminds of Dracula’s home, I can guarantee you that kids of all ages will enjoy this.

But not only is it fun visiting the castles, they all have large gardens with duck ponds, tunnels, and towers making the area a massive playground and outlet for the kids’ imagination and creativity.

Sintra is easily reached on a day trip from Lisbon but to see all the castles, I recommend staying a night or two in Sintra itself. It is a lovely town with great accommodation options and family friendly restaurants. 

Explore Porto’s Historical Center

Views from Clerigos Tower in Porto - Amused by Algarve
Photo by Amused by Algarve

Porto is one of the absolute best cities to visit in Portugal. With impressive churches, cute, old houses, and one of the country’s oldest trams, Porto has its own way of capture your heart. Visit the Harry Potter library (Lello Librabry), climb the Monte Clerigo Tower to enjoy the sweeping views of the city, let the kids play in the botanical gardens, and take the cable car in Vilanova de Gaia.

There are so many things that your kids will love in Porto and it is a fabulous base for day trips to places like Aveiro and Braga. 

Explore Algar Seco

Algar Seco of Carvoeiro
photo by Linn Haglund

Algar Seco is yet another fabulous place in the Algarve that is perfect for families. Set a short walk from Carvoeiro across a 570 meter long boardwalk, you find some intriguing rock formations, a natural pool, and a natural cave with ocean views.

Since there are some steep edges, I don’t recommend going around the natural pool with the youngest kids. However, it is safe to walk down to it (don’t swim there as the underwater currents from the ocean outside the cave can be very strong) and you can walk to the Boneca restaurant and have something to eat and drink before visiting Boneca Cave. This is a small tunnel that ends in a small cave with two large round windows. The name Boneca comes from Doll in Portuguese because it looks like a doll with two eyes when you pass by boat.

If you walk the boardwalk, there are a set of steps through a tunnel about halfway where you can explore more rock formations. Again, I don’t think it’s suitable for the youngest kids as there are some narrow areas (you can walk around them on safer paths) but it is a really cool spot for the older kids.

Conclusion: Portugal with kids

Summing up, Portugal is a fabulous destination to visit with kids of all ages with plenty of outdoor activities that are fun for the entire family. Portugal is a kid-friendly country where your kids will be welcomed both in restaurants and on activities. That said, there are a lot of cliffs and natural rock areas on the coast without security rails or fences. You know your own kids and their limits, so make sure you plan accordingly.