Where the Kids Roam

Your Complete Guide to the...


Unveil the captivating charm of the Algarve, Portugal’s sun-kissed coastal paradise, where golden beaches, rugged cliffs, and azure waters beckon travelers to embrace relaxation and adventure along the stunning southern coastline.

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This is your guide to an expensive region that is easily explored by car. Take in the captivating beauty of the Algarve as you drive along its sun-kissed shores. From the historic charm of Sagres to the picturesque village of Aljezur, each destination in the Algarve offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural splendor that promises an unforgettable experience. And for us native Californians, this region almost feels like home. 

First, a little history… The region was under Moorish rule for several centuries, from the early 8th century until the late 13th century when it was reconquered by the Portuguese during the Reconquista. During this period of Moorish rule, the Algarve flourished as an important center of trade, agriculture, and culture in the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors left their mark on the region through their architecture, agriculture techniques, and cultural influences, which can still be seen today in the Algarve’s distinctive Moorish-inspired architecture, agricultural practices, and traditional crafts.


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First up, Sagres. Delve into the rich maritime history of this coastal town steeped in legend and lore. Explore the imposing walls of the Sagres Fortress, built by Prince Henry the Navigator in the 15th century, and marvel at the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from the windswept cliffs of Cape St. Vincent, known as the “End of the World.” Afterward, indulge in fresh seafood delights at O Telheiro do Infante, a local favorite serving up traditional Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist.

Sunset here is a must. And it really does feel like the End of the World.

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If you plan on spending the night, below are your best options. I really do recommend the Martinhal. It has multiple pools (indoor and outdoor, both heated), tennis courts, miniature golf, family-friendly kitchens and restaurants. We swam outside in their pool in December. 

  1. Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort: This luxurious resort offers stunning ocean views, family-friendly amenities, and stylish accommodations. It’s perfect for those seeking a relaxing beach getaway with top-notch facilities.

  2. Memmo Baleeira Hotel: Situated near the beach and overlooking the picturesque Sagres Harbor, this modern hotel offers comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views. It’s ideal for couples and families looking for a chic yet laid-back atmosphere.

  3. Pousada de Sagres – Charming Hotel: Housed in a historic fortress overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this charming hotel combines traditional Portuguese hospitality with modern comforts. Guests can enjoy elegant rooms, an outdoor pool, and easy access to nearby beaches and attractions.

  4. Mareta View – Boutique Bed & Breakfast: This intimate bed and breakfast offers cozy rooms with sea views, personalized service, and a relaxed ambiance. It’s a great choice for travelers seeking a cozy retreat close to Sagres’ beaches and surf spots.

  5. Sagres Time Apartamentos: These spacious apartments are perfect for families or groups, offering self-catering facilities, modern amenities, and a central location within walking distance of Sagres’ restaurants, shops, and beaches.



Explore the narrow alleys of the old town, adorned with colorful tiles and historic landmarks such as the Church of St. Anthony and the Mercado Municipal. For a taste of adventure, embark on a boat tour to the iconic Ponta da Piedade sea caves, where towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters create a mesmerizing natural spectacle. Afterward, indulge in a culinary feast at Restaurante Adega da Marina, renowned for its mouthwatering grilled sardines and regional delicacies.

I’ve said it a million times. Lagos is really our home away from home. I reckon we’ve been at least 10 times. We think it has a better downtown shopping area than the other Algarve cities. Cool beaches are walkable. And there some historical places to visit. With the kids, we feel pretty safe. Without the kids, we’re constantly offered drugs. 

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Best Restaurants to try out (and always, always get that rice seafood gumbo-type dish):

  1. Restaurante O Camilo: This charming restaurant offers fresh seafood dishes and stunning views of Praia do Camilo beach. Enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere overlooking the sea.

  2. No Patio: Located in the historic center of Lagos, No Patio serves delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Dine al fresco on the cozy patio or enjoy the stylish interior ambiance.

  3. Nah Nah Bah: For a taste of international cuisine with a laid-back vibe, head to Nah Nah Bah. This popular restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring burgers, wraps, salads, and more, as well as a selection of craft beers and cocktails.

  4. Casa do Prego: If you’re craving authentic Portuguese flavors, Casa do Prego is the place to go. Specializing in grilled meats and traditional dishes like prego sandwiches and cataplanas, this restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and friendly service.

  5. The Green Room: For vegetarian and vegan-friendly options in Lagos, visit The Green Room. This cozy cafe serves delicious plant-based meals, smoothies, and desserts, making it a favorite spot among health-conscious travelers.

Best Places to Stay:

  1. Cascade Wellness Resort: This luxurious resort offers elegant accommodations, including rooms, suites, and villas, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Guests can enjoy a range of amenities, including multiple swimming pools, a spa, and direct access to Praia do Canavial beach.

  2. Tivoli Lagos Algarve Hotel: Situated in the heart of Lagos, this stylish hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites, as well as a rooftop pool, fitness center, and onsite restaurants. It’s a convenient base for exploring the city’s attractions and beaches.

  3. Carvi Beach Hotel Lagos: Located just steps from Dona Ana Beach, Carvi Beach Hotel offers affordable accommodations with stunning ocean views. Guests can relax on the rooftop terrace, enjoy a drink at the beach bar, or explore the nearby shops and restaurants.

  4. Lagos Avenida Hotel: This modern hotel is centrally located near Lagos’ historic center and marina. With contemporary rooms, a rooftop pool, and a stylish restaurant, it’s a great choice for travelers seeking comfort and convenience.

  5. Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda: For a boutique hotel experience, consider Vivenda Miranda. Set within a charming Mediterranean villa, this adults-only hotel offers luxurious rooms, a spa, and panoramic views of the coastline. It’s the perfect retreat for couples or solo travelers looking for tranquility and relaxation.

  6. The Salty Lodge: I’m afraid to actually recommend this place to everyone. It’s right in town, has a great view. Pet friendly. It’s the place we always stay. Please don’t go so it won’t be booked out when we go. 



Luz is the place to go if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Lagos (as well as the seediness). Experience the laid-back charm of Luz, a tranquil village nestled between golden sands and rugged cliffs. Stroll along the palm-fringed promenade of Praia da Luz, where azure waters lap against the shore, or wander through the cobbled streets of the village center, dotted with cozy cafes and boutique shops. Don’t miss the chance to savor authentic Portuguese flavors at Restaurante OndaLuz, known for its delectable seafood dishes and panoramic ocean views.



Albufeira, a lively resort town for college-aged kids and Brits of all ages. Known for its big beach and swanky clubs. Spend your days nursing a hangover on the golden sands of Praia dos Pescadores or exploring the charming (though could be way more charming) cobblestone streets of the old town, where whitewashed buildings and guys practically begging you to eat at their crappy restaurant while watching rugby will transport you…somewhere. For a taste of local cuisine, head to A Ruina, a surprisingly hidden gem tucked away in the heart of the old town, where you can savor authentic Portuguese dishes paired with fine wines from the Algarve region.

Now may be a good time to say I’ve never met anyone who actually liked Albufeira. 



Gale, a serene coastal enclave known for its pristine beaches and secluded coves. Take a leisurely stroll along the scenic boardwalk of Praia da Gale, where golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see, or venture off the beaten path to explore the rugged cliffs and secret caves that dot the coastline. After a day of exploration, indulge in a sumptuous seafood feast at Vila Joya, a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its innovative culinary creations and breathtaking ocean views.

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Faro, a charming city brimming with historic landmarks and vibrant street life. Explore the medieval streets of the old town, where ancient walls and Moorish architecture tell the story of centuries past, or wander through the bustling markets and lively squares that come alive with music and color. For a taste of local flavor, dine at Faz Gostos, a beloved restaurant serving up traditional Algarvian cuisine with a modern twist, accompanied by live Fado music and warm hospitality.

Faro may be a bit busier than the other Algarve cities. But it has a bit more to see as well, which helps. Great airport as well. 



Carvoeiro is what Albufeira wishes it was – an enchanting little fishing village made touristy, but in a good way.

Explore the hidden coves and sea caves that line the rugged coastline, or simply unwind on the pristine sands of Praia do Carvoeiro, one of the Algarve’s most beautiful beaches. After a day of exploration, treat yourself to a delicious meal at Restaurante Ele & Ela, a cozy eatery known for its fresh seafood and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Carvoeiro, with its stunning coastline and laid-back atmosphere, offers a range of charming accommodations to suit every traveler’s preference. Here are some of the best hotels in Carvoeiro:

  1. Tivoli Carvoeiro: Overlooking the picturesque Vale Covo beach, Tivoli Carvoeiro combines luxurious amenities with breathtaking ocean views. With spacious rooms, a rooftop bar, and direct access to the beach, it’s an ideal choice for a relaxing seaside getaway. Practical notes on Tivoli – it’s probably not the best bang for your buck, but it is the best hotel in the area. Also, importantly, if you don’t get an ocean view room, don’t stay here. 

  2. Vale d’Oliveiras Quinta Resort & Spa: Nestled amidst lush gardens and olive groves, Vale d’Oliveiras Quinta Resort & Spa offers a tranquil retreat just a short drive from Carvoeiro. Guests can indulge in spa treatments, dine at the on-site restaurant, or relax by the pool surrounded by nature.

  3. Pestana Palm Gardens: Situated within walking distance of Carvoeiro’s bustling town center, Pestana Palm Gardens offers spacious villas and apartments surrounded by lush greenery. Guests can enjoy access to the resort’s swimming pools, tennis courts, and nearby golf courses.

  4. Monte Dourado Resort: Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Monte Dourado Resort boasts stunning panoramic views and easy access to Carvoeiro’s pristine beaches. With fully-equipped apartments, a swimming pool, and tennis courts, it’s an ideal choice for families and couples alike.

  5. TUI BLUE Falesia: Located just a short drive from Carvoeiro, TUI BLUE Falesia offers modern accommodations and a range of amenities, including multiple swimming pools, a spa, and a variety of dining options. Its cliff-top location provides breathtaking views of the Algarve coastline.

Here are some of the best dining spots:

  1. O Pescador: Known for its fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese dishes, O Pescador offers a cozy atmosphere and stunning ocean views. Indulge in grilled fish, seafood rice, or the daily catch of the day while enjoying the sea breeze on the outdoor terrace.

  2. Rei das Praias: Nestled on the cliffs overlooking Carvoeiro beach, Rei das Praias is a beachfront restaurant renowned for its seafood specialties and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Dine al fresco on the terrace and savor dishes like grilled octopus, seafood paella, and homemade desserts.

  3. Villa Medici: For a taste of Italy in the heart of Carvoeiro, head to Villa Medici. This family-run restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine, including wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta, and classic Italian dishes. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from their extensive wine list.

  4. Boneca Bar Restaurante: Located in a picturesque cave overlooking the ocean, Boneca Bar Restaurante offers a unique dining experience with stunning views. Enjoy fresh seafood, grilled meats, and traditional Portuguese dishes while watching the sunset over the Atlantic. Touristy and fairly crowded. But right next to our favorite caves and walking areas. 

  5. Onze Restaurante: Situated in the charming town center, Onze Restaurante is a contemporary eatery known for its innovative cuisine and stylish ambiance. Chef-driven dishes highlight local ingredients with a modern twist, creating a memorable dining experience.

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Great reasons to visit Carvoeiro:

  • Stunning Beaches: Carvoeiro boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve region, with golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and dramatic cliffs providing a picturesque backdrop for sunbathing and swimming.

  • Algar Seco: One of Carvoeiro’s standout attractions is Algar Seco, a series of natural rock formations carved by the sea over centuries. Visitors can explore the rugged coastline, admire the stunning sea caves, and even swim in secluded grottos.

  • Traditional Fishing Village: Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Carvoeiro has retained its charm as a traditional fishing village. Stroll along the narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses, visit the local fish market, and experience the authentic Portuguese way of life.

  • Coastal Walks: Nature lovers will appreciate the scenic coastal trails that wind along the cliffs surrounding Carvoeiro. The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is particularly popular, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and access to hidden coves and beaches.

  • Vibrant Culture: Throughout the year, Carvoeiro hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals that celebrate its rich heritage. From traditional folk music performances to seafood festivals and artisan markets, there’s always something happening to immerse visitors in the local culture.

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Salema Beach


Salema Beach, a peaceful fishing village nestled along the scenic coast of the Western Algarve. Spend your days basking in the sun on the golden sands of Praia da Salema, where clear waters and gentle waves invite you to swim, surf, or simply relax and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. We like to take our friends here because the water almost looks as beautiful as the Bahamas.

For a taste of local cuisine, head to Restaurante Buzio, a family-run restaurant specializing in fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese dishes, served with a side of warm hospitality and stunning ocean views.

7 Hanging Valleys Hike


Embark on a scenic adventure along the breathtaking trails of the 7 Hanging Valleys, where dramatic cliffs and lush valleys converge to create an unforgettable hiking experience. Traverse rugged terrain and winding paths as you journey through the stunning landscapes of the Algarve region, passing by hidden beaches, secluded coves, and panoramic viewpoints along the way. After a day of exploration, unwind with a well-deserved meal at O Litoral, a charming restaurant nestled in the heart of the Algarvian countryside, known for its hearty Portuguese fare and rustic ambiance.

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Now, this is an easily traversed trail. Kids and the elderly alike can be seen on it. And, wow, it’s just stunning. 

Here’s a list of the seven stops (“Hanging Valleys”) you’ll encounter on the hike:

  1. Praia da Marinha: Renowned for its towering cliffs, turquoise waters, and golden sands, Praia da Marinha is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal.

  2. Vale Centeanes: Nestled between rugged cliffs, Vale Centeanes Beach offers a peaceful retreat with its pristine sands and clear waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

  3. Praia de Benagil: Known for its iconic sea cave, the Algar de Benagil, this beach is a must-visit on the hike. You can admire the stunning natural arch and even take a boat tour inside the cave.

  4. Praia da Albandeira: A hidden gem along the trail, Praia da Albandeira boasts secluded coves, fascinating rock formations, and tranquil waters ideal for snorkeling and exploring.

  5. Praia do Carvalho: Accessible via a narrow staircase carved into the cliffs, Praia do Carvalho is a secluded beach surrounded by impressive rock formations and turquoise waters, offering a serene escape from the crowds.

  6. Praia do Vale de Centeanes: Located at the mouth of a lush valley, Praia do Vale de Centeanes is framed by towering cliffs and lush greenery, providing a stunning backdrop for sunbathing and relaxation.

  7. Praia do Carvoeiro: The trail ends at Praia do Carvoeiro, a charming fishing village with a beautiful beach surrounded by colorful boats, seaside cafes, and stunning cliffside views.



Loule, where ancient ruins and medieval architecture offer a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage and culture. Explore the narrow streets of the old town, where traditional craft shops and artisanal boutiques showcase the best of Algarvian craftsmanship, or wander through the vibrant markets and bustling squares that come alive with color and energy. For a taste of local flavor, dine at Avenida, a cozy restaurant serving up traditional Algarvian cuisine with a contemporary twist, accompanied by live music and friendly service.

Now, this is where the locals go. Loule has the best weekend marketplace in the region. Go early on a Saturday if you want to get parking. Because of the market, and castle, and ubiquitous French you hear in the streets, this almost feels like a French village. 



Silves, a picturesque town steeped in history and surrounded by scenic beauty. Explore the imposing walls of the Moorish Castle, an ancient fortress perched atop a hill overlooking the town, or wander through the winding streets of the old town, where whitewashed buildings and cobblestone alleys evoke a sense of old-world charm. After a day of exploration, treat yourself to a delicious meal at Cafe Ingles, a cozy eatery known for its homemade pastries and savory Portuguese dishes, served in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Look, the Algarve can get a bit repetitive. But Silves fills a bit of that void with a nice little castle and the feel of Southern Italy. I’m not saying Silves is amazing. But I still think it’s worth checking out. 



Aljezur, a tranquil village nestled amidst the rolling hills and lush valleys of the Western Algarve. Explore the historic castle ruins that overlook the town, or wander through the charming streets of the old quarter, where traditional architecture and local craftsmanship abound. For a taste of authentic Algarvian cuisine, dine at Tasca D’Aljezur, a cozy taverna specializing in hearty Portuguese fare and regional delicacies, served with a side of warm hospitality and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

This is the new California. Full of surfers, young families, and expensive home prices. But, unfortunately, unlike California, lacking in restaurants and things to do. 


Look, there’s just too much to explore. Too many little places to see. It’s honestly the most fun to just drive and get lost – stopping when it suits you. And sometimes you’ll just stumble onto amazingness – see below.