If all your family wants is a holiday on one of the beaches near Lagos, with the occasional jaunt into town, boat trip, or a day at the zoo or a water park, it is perfectly possible to manage without a rented car. All package holiday companies include coach transfers from Faro airport to your accommodation as part of the deal. For those who are traveling independently, most larger hotels can arrange minibus or taxi transfers.
For family outings, most of the purpose-built visitor attractions in the area (and further afield in the central Algarve) offer coach or minibus transfers from your hotel. That said, the cost of a taxi to and from the airport is not much less than a week’s car rental, so for shorter stays there is no big saving.
If you plan to head west of Lagos, there is really no alternative to hiring a car from Faro airport. There are local buses, but they are geared to the needs of local schoolchildren, workers and shoppers so they tend to operate at times that do not suit holiday makers. Don’t even think about trying to drive in the narrow streets of Lagos’s old quarter – there are plenty of car parks on the outskirts of the old town and along the waterfront.
By British standards, car parking is cheap (around €0.50 per hour) but make sure you have some change for the ticket machine before you set off for a day’s exploring.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Top Family Attractions :
Meia Praia Beach, Lagos
Meia Praia is one of the Algarve’s best family beaches, with good facilities and miles of sand with space for everyone.
Furry lemurs, tightrope-walking monkeys, funky gibbons and baby wallabies.
Forte de Ponte da Bandeira
This miniature castle is good for playing pirates.
This huge, shallow bay must be one of the most amazing patches of white sand beach in Europe and is a favorite with surfers – including absolute beginners as well as experts.
Fortaleza de Sagres
Death-defying local fishermen cast their lines from the awesome cliffs that surround this impressive fortress from which many of Portugal’s 15th- and 16th-century explorers began their long voyages of discovery.
Family-friendly Trips :
Although it’s advertised as a ‘submarine’ the Aquabus doesn’t really plunge into the depths – it’s a glorified glass-bottom boat, with windows below the waterline that allow passengers to watch the undersea world going by without getting their feet wet.
Caravel Boa Esperança
A visit to the BoaEsperança, which is usually moored outside Lagos Marina, is an eye-opener for grown-ups as well as children. This wooden sailing ship is a faithful replica of the caravels that in the 15th century carried Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias across the Atlantic to Brazil and round Africa and the Indian Ocean to India and China. What really strikes you is just how little it is – just 23.8 metres long.
That’s smaller than many of the modern yachts in the marina. The Boa Esperança is owned by the local councils, and sails up and down the coast – and in 2003 she sailed all the way to London. The caravel does not make regular cruises – and only has room for 22 people – but if this is your kind of thing contact the Algarve Regional Tourist Board to put your name on the waiting list for the next trip.
To take a trip on the Boa Esperança, you have to contact the tourist board (by e-mail, fax or in writing) with the names of your party, asking to be placed on the wait- ing list for the next departure. After that, it’s just the luck of the draw, and there may not be a trip leaving at a date to suit your family. Just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Prices and the length of the trip vary, starting at €40.
License: Creative Commons
Dennis is a professional Portuguese traveller, that loves Algarve and Portugal.You can find out more about him here.