When most people think of Albufeira, they picture a place over-run with stag parties, hen-do’s and worse. Although it’s true that the resort has much to offer the party crowd, it would be a mistake to think that Albufeira wasn’t a good destination for a family-orientated holiday. There’s so much here to keep young children and even the sulkiest of teenagers entertained. The wide, sandy beaches boast good facilities and crystal clear water and there are loads of child-centred activities to be enjoyed nearby. It is possible to stay here without being bothered at all by lager louts or late-night music. The secret behind Albufeira's success as both a family-friendly resort and a magnet for hedonists lies in the fact that it’s been carefully planned to keep the two well apart. Most of the wild partying takes place around the Areias de São João, known locally as "The Strip" which is conveniently located 2 kilometres outside of town.
So what can you do to keep the little ones happy?
The town and surrounding coastline offers some pretty wonderful beaches most of which have lifeguards in peak season and all the facilities families are likely to need, as well as clean sand, clear (if slightly cold) water and some amazing rock formations.
If you’re wanting the closest beaches to the historic town centre, an underground tunnel leading from Rua 5 de Outubro opens up onto Praia do Tunel or, further east, escalators lead down the cliffs to Praia dos Pescadores. Both of these offer wide expanses of sand, backed by cliffs although their proximity to the town makes them pretty crowded in peak season. Head a few kilometres west of the town for less developed beaches which tend to be a bit quieter. Praia de Gale offers a vast expanse of golden sand, and Praia dos Arrifes, about 4 kilometres west of the old town has a small sheltered cove and is good for rockpooling. Praia de Sao Rafael is a Blue Flag beach with clear, shallow waters making it good place to snorkel.
There are plenty of fun ways of keeping toddlers to teens entertained beyond the beaches, especially if you’re prepared to journey a little way out of town.
Slide and Splash is a 7-hectare waterpark with slides, water rapids and zones to suit all age groups. Although it’s about 35-minutes’ drive down the coast from Albufeira, shuttle busses run from town to take you there. For details, prices and timetables see www.slidesplash.com/en/
Zoomarine, a 25-minute shuttle bus journey inland from Albufeira is a family fun park not to be missed. As well as enjoying the theme park rides, there’s a large beach area and chance to enjoy encounters with seals, dolphins and other animal life. For those who book in advance and are aged over 6 years old, it is even possible to swim with dolphins. For details, see www.zoomarine.pt/en/
A miniature train provides a fun way for younger children to get around town, and provides a welcome rest for adults. See www.turistrem.com/welcome/
Karting is on offer for teenagers on the indoor track at Hotwheels Raceway, underneath a car park at Albufeira Marina. For details, see www.algarvekarting.com/prices.html, and further out of town, at Karting Almancil, there are separate kart tracks for children aged 3-6, 7-12 and over 13 years old. See www.kartingalgarve.com/karting-almancil-eng.html#activities
Horse, pony and coach rides are on offer at Centro Hipico Quinta da Saudade a 15-minute drive inland from Albufeira. For details, see www.cavalosquintadasaudade.com/sobre_en.html
Parque Aventura offers tree-top rope adventures for older children with a head for heights, as well as paintballing. For details, see www.parqueaventura.net/en/home/