If you want to combine Portugal's cultural highlights with plenty of laid-back beach time, this two-week family-friendly tour is ideal. Start in Lisbon and Porto, and get a feel for their cuisine, history, and arts on a range of family-focused tours by tuk-tuk and vintage car. Make day trips to the palaces of Sintra, the caves at Mira De Aire, and Portugal's only national park, Peneda-Gerês. Then, spend the rest of the trip on the Algarve coast, where you can swim, cruise, go dolphin watching, and much more.


  • Take a vintage car tour of Porto
  • Hike family-friendly trails in the Peneda-Gerês National Park 
  • Spend time relaxing on the beaches of the Algarve
  • Go clam picking in the Ria Formosa lagoon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Porto, Family-Friendly Food Tour Porto
Day 2 Vintage Car City Tour, Harry Potter Library Porto
Day 3 Culture & Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park Porto
Day 4 Transfer to Lisbon via Mira De Aire Caves Lisbon
Day 5 Tuk-Tuk Tour of Lisbon, Family-Friendly Activities Lisbon
Day 6 Day Trip to Fairy-Tale Sintra Lisbon
Day 7 Drive to the Algarve, Dolphin Watching Tour Algarve
Day 8 Algarve Beach Day Algarve
Day 9 Catamaran Cruise to Benagil & Carvoeiro Algarve
Day 10 Rural Algarve Tour Algarve
Day 11 Ilha Deserta Beach Day Algarve
Day 12 Ria Formosa Clam Picking & Wetland Tour Algarve
Day 13 Explore the Western Algarve Algarve
Day 14 Return to Lisbon & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Porto, Family-Friendly Food Tour

Welcome to Portugal!

Welcome to Portugal! Upon arrival at the airport in Porto, your driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in the city center. Take some time to rest before you start exploring.

After you've had some time to settle in, get to know Porto in a way that will please every member of the family: on a guided culinary adventure. Be introduced to Porto's exciting food scene and get off the well-worn tourist path to explore a side of the city that most travelers rarely see. Local families will welcome you into their small, authentic restaurants, cafés, and bars. Taste a range of traditional dishes, local pastries, and Portuguese wines (for the adults, of course). Since this is a private tour, it can be adapted to your family's needs and interests to create the perfect welcome to the city.

Day 2: Vintage Car City Tour, Harry Potter Library

Kids and adults will both enjoy Porto

Today, get ready for a memorable morning that will delight both parents and kids. A guide will pick you up in a vintage 1920s car for a three-hour tour of Porto. Discover the city's most important highlights and hidden corners in style. The car will act as the perfect prop in family pictures, too. Afterward, spend some time checking out the Foz neighborhood. Away from the picturesque but touristy historic center, Foz has nice beaches, a pretty lighthouse, and thinner crowds than some parts of the city. End the excursion with a guided visit to a port cellar so that the grownups can enjoy a taste of the area's famous fortified wine.

Later in the day, visit a place that book-loving kids will be excited to see: the "Harry Potter Library." In Porto's historic center, you'll find one of the most famous bookstores in the world, the Livraria Lello. Its recent world fame stems from its connection to J.K. Rowling as inspiration for where Harry Potter bought his magic books before going to Hogwarts Academy. This is one of the oldest bookstores in Europe and a must-see for imaginative kids and adults alike.

Day 3: Culture & Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Kids will love spotting wildlife like wild horses in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Get active in nature today with a hiking trip to Peneda-Gerês National Park, which comprises 436 square miles (703 sq km) in Portugal's north near the Spanish border. Your trip among the park's wild mountain landscapes will include several shorter, accessible hikes that get you up into the best scenery of the park in a short time. The hike will be adapted to your family's needs and the age of your children.
Throughout the day, see some breathtaking viewpoints, from mountain panoramas to waterfalls. Swim in crystal-clear lagoons with only fish for company, and spot some local flora and fauna along the way. Wildlife to watch out for includes garranos (wild horses), wild boar, wildcats, deer, otters, and three species of endangered bats. At one of the most iconic viewpoints, you'll enjoy a picnic of traditional local food while admiring the gorgeous scenery.   

There will also be a cultural side to your adventure today. As you travel between the scenic highlights of the park in a 4WD vehicle, your knowledgeable local guide will give you numerous insights into the park and its inhabitants. You will also get to see and experience the area's centuries-old villages, where ancient traditions have been preserved and meet the villagers that help conserve the region's distinctive culture.

Day 4: Transfer to Lisbon via Mira De Aire Caves

Go underground at the Mira De Aire Caves

Today you'll travel from Porto to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Break up the journey with a stop en route at the impressive Grutas Mira de Aire, the largest underground caves in Portugal. Formed during the Middle Jurassic Age more than 150 million years ago, the caves were only found in 1947, and in 2010 were elected one of the "Seven Natural Wonders" of Portugal.

The visit starts with a short film explaining how this cave system was found. Then, follow your guide underground, descending 683 steps about 340 feet (110 m) into a fascinating world of mineral formations. Curious children will love spotting the stalagmites (which grow up from the cave floor and are formed by mineral deposits dripping onto the floor of the cave) and stalactites (icicle-shaped mineral formations that hang down from the cave ceiling). 

After visiting the caves, continue to Lisbon. You will have the rest of the evening to explore the city near your hotel and to head out for a delicious dinner of Portuguese fare.

Day 5: Tuk-Tuk Tour of Lisbon, Family-Friendly Activities

Pose for photos in front of Lisbon's Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
Plan your trip to Portugal
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Explore the famously steep "City of Seven Hills" today on an electric tuk-tuk tour—a fun, eco-friendly mode of transport sure to delight all ages. Led by a knowledgeable guide, you'll zip through the capital's modern and historic districts, from the neoclassical avenues of Baixa to the cobblestone alleys of the bohemian Bairro Alto. Discover the city's fascinating history and hidden corners along the way, and stop at stunning panoramic viewpoints like São Pedro de Alcântara, Parque Eduardo VII, Senhora do Monte, and Santa Luzia.

Afterward, continue visiting a range of other attractions to suit your family's interests and needs. You could check out Castelo São Jorge, a commanding Moorish castle high above Lisbon's narrow medieval streets. Kids will love the family activities with knights and archers that take place periodically. Keep an eye out for the peacocks, too! Moving on from the castle, fly over the Tagus River with a ride on the Telecabine Lisboa, a cable car that runs along the river at Parque das Nacoes for around a mile (2.2 km). 

Day 6: Day Trip to Fairy-Tale Sintra

One of the "Initiation Wells" at the Quinta da Regaleira

No family vacation to Lisbon would be complete without a day trip to Sintra. Follow in the footsteps of kings and queens today with a guided exploration of the region's dense forests and the many 19th-century palaces that dot the mountainside. The kids will love running through secret passageways and climbing turrets in the gardens at Quinta da Regaleira. Hear about the legends and myths of Sintra and the real-life authors and artists who have left their marks here, including Lord Byron and Hans Christian Andersen.

Wander through the Sintra historical village, stopping for a travesseiro—the traditional sweet of Sintra. Continue the adventure at the National Palace of Sintra, a hunting retreat and summer resort for the Portuguese monarchy and its court during the Middle Ages. See if the kids can guess what the two giant triangular chimneys were used for!

Day 7: Drive to the Algarve, Dolphin Watching Tour

A sandy beach near Lagos in the Algarve region
A sandy beach near Lagos in the Algarve region

Today, pick up your rental car and head south to the beautiful Algarve region along Portugal's southern coast. After your arrival, head out onto the water for a catamaran cruise, a fun combination of dolphin watching and water activities. These sun-drenched waters are a haven for dolphins, and you're likely to see them socializing, frolicking in the water, or swimming alongside the vessel. Cute calves will often follow their mothers through the water. You might also meet other cetaceans like orcas or whales. Learn about the fascinating habits of these gentle, highly intelligent sea creatures from your guides.

After the dolphin watching, you and your kids will have the chance to enjoy water activities as you head to a peaceful and secluded bay. Go for a swim, sunbathe, jump on a water slide, and have fun with your family as you admire the stunning views of the unspoiled coastline.

Day 8: Algarve Beach Day

Kids will love the beaches of the Algarve

Spend today enjoying the spectacular beaches of the Algarve with your family. You have plenty of options, and you can spend the whole day at one beach or travel between a few. One option is Praia de Odeceixe, with a white sandy beach at the mouth of a river giving it the best of both worlds: shallow calm waters on one side, and more boisterous waves on the other. There's a surf school on the beach that older kids might enjoy.

Alternatively, head to the glorious beach at Ingrina. This pretty shell-shaped cove is sheltered and quiet, ideal for those with young families to relax, knowing that no one can wander too far. The sea is calm, which makes it perfect for splashing around in the shallows. Or you could also continue on to Praia da Marinha in Carvoeiro, with its signature amber rock stacks, boat trips to explore the surrounding caves, clear blue water that's perfect for curious snorkelers, and silky white sand.

Finally, you might want to check out Praia do Anção in Faro. This enormous stretch of pristine beach is popular with families. It has lifeguards patrolling the calm waters, plenty of space, umbrellas, and sunbeds to rent, watersports galore, and lots of choices for snacks and beach bars. Even the sand dunes behind it are protected, which has prevented too much hotel build-up around this beautiful stretch of shore.

Day 9: Catamaran Cruise to Benagil & Carvoeiro

Benagil Caves
Benagil Caves
Set sail today from Portimão to the world-famous Benagil Caves. Along the way, you'll pass the famous beaches of Carvoeiro, Algar Seco, the Alfanzina Lighthouse, Benagil, and Praia da Marinha's stunning views. Relax on the catamaran's twin sunbathing nets and enjoy the gentle breeze as you cruise along this unforgettable coastline, then anchor in the lovely coves of João de Arens for some swimming, paddleboarding, or snorkeling. You can choose the water sports that suit your family's ages and other needs or interests. 

Day 10: Rural Algarve Tour

Visit the wilder side of the Algarve today

Get further off the beaten path today and discover some of the western Algarve's most remarkable landscapes. Following remote, off-road routes, you'll get a glimpse of the region's slower way of life, where locals produce honey and medronho (fruit brandy) using traditional methods. It'll be a nice change of pace for everyone in the family.

Head up to Foia, the highest peak in the Algarve, to enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views, then stop for lunch high in the mountains, where you'll finish the meal with a sampling of typical deserts and a cup of medronho and melosa (honey liqueur) while learning about the Algarve's rural traditions. On the way back, you'll stop at one of the region's most beautiful hidden beaches so the kids can cool off and have a play.

Day 11: Ilha Deserta Beach Day

Spend quiet family time on the Algarve's "Deserted Island"

Spend today visiting a secluded beach on Ilha Deserta ("Desert Island"), an uninhabited island near Faro. Stretching for about 4 miles (7 km), this hidden paradise of the Algarve is famous for its beautiful beach and unspoiled nature. Get there on the regular ferry service to the island. You'll have to bring your own towels, but you can rent umbrellas at the beach, and you'll also find showers and a restaurant nearby.

Day 12: Ria Formosa Clam Picking & Wetland Tour

Play "spot the flamingoes" on Ria Formosa's lagoons

Before there was tourism in the Algarve, one of the key industries was fishing, especially shellfish fishing. Today, spend a few hours in the crystal blue waters of the Ria Formosa with a local clam picker on a traditional wooden fishing boat as you participate in the centuries-old tradition of clam picking. The Ria Formosa's lagoon protects a wide variety of flora and fauna and is a beautiful place to spend time. Kids will love this fishing activity and will learn what life was like before their food just turned up on a supermarket shelf. End with a visit to an oyster nursery, where you'll get to taste oysters washed down by some local sparkling wine for the grown-ups.

Continue the natural activities on an easy walk accompanied by a naturalist guide through the heart of the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. Notice the labyrinth of channels and marsh vegetation, spot aquatic birds and listen to their distinct sounds, and observe traditional local activities like salt production. The Ria Formosa is classified as a Wetland of International Importance, and the ebb and flow of the shallow water fosters great biodiversity in crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, fishes, and their main predators, birds. In case you or the kids don't want to walk, this excursion can also be done by boat. 

Day 13: Explore the Western Algarve

Find a quiet, sheltered beach on which to relax with your family

Take the entire day to explore the incredibly scenic area around Lagos, its nearby beaches, and the larger Algarve region. Try Pinhao Beach, a peaceful cove known for its secluded, picturesque setting. Another great spot is the Ponta da Piedade, which features more dramatic sandstone cliffs and bright turquoise water (a range of boat tours depart from here). Meanwhile, Praia do Camilo provides a memorable view from the top of 200 steps that lead down to a sheltered sandy cove. 

Day 14: Return to Lisbon & Depart

Farewell, beautiful Portugal!

After two unforgettable weeks in Portugal, it's time to return to Lisbon for your flight home. Leave the Algarve with plenty of time to get to the airport and return your rental car before your flight. If your flight is later in the day, stop at a beach for one last walk or swim or enjoy a leisurely lunch along the Algarve coast before departing for Lisbon. Adeus!

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Map of Relaxing Family Summer Vacation in Portugal - 14 Days
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