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The Algarve, Portugal
With 3000 hours of sunshine a year, we knew the family friendly Algarve was our ticket to paradise.
Health and Safety
With two kids under four, the flight of just over two hours from Dublin was hassle free, we flew direct with Ryanair costing €450 for a family of four, which was super affordable.
Once we set down in the Algarve, the region’s clean and safe campaign had just rolled out.
Masks were mandatory in every restaurant, once seated you could unmask but it meant safety was top of mind and dining out felt so liberating.
We were embarking on a whistle stop tour of the Algarve so hiring a car was essential.
Don’t be seduced by the car rental, the minute you get off the plane, it’s almost double the price in the airport so you’re better off getting a shuttle to one of the car rentals offsite.
We opted for a rental company a little outside by transfer which is half the price.
We were greeted at the airport by our Airauto rep who was all chatty with Erin and Eila and it was about 30 minutes later after filing the paperwork that we were on our way to destination number one.
Car rental itself for a decent family car is very reasonable but during the high season the prices go up.
Off peak you can hire a family car for as little as 40 euros per week. Baby and booster seats cost an extra four euros per day.
Where to Stay
Our first stop was the swanky Quinta do Lago, famed for golf you won’t get better greens than Quinta in Europe, they are immaculate.
We stayed at family friendly five star Martinhal for two days, by far the most luxurious family stay you could ever envisage.
Just 20 minutes from Faro it felt like we were descending on the Beverly Hills of the Algarve.
Martinhal Resort consists of a variety of townhouses up to 5 bed large villas with their own pools.
Brightly coloured Mediterranean style, the M bar was situated in the pool hangout area.
Everything was there, a kids games room with Foosball, trampoline, fountains, table tennis, a gym, indoor pool and steam room.
Mums and dad’s rarely get to chill with their kids at a pool that offers five star service and five star cuisine and that’s exactly what Martinhal offers.
Portuguese cuisine is up there with the best in the world, fresh produce is everywhere, it’s all cooked from scratch and the sunny climate means the fruit and veg tastes even sweeter.
Purple rosemary grows amply around the estate and the chefs garnished our scrumptious fare with the fragrant herb.
It was off to GiGi’s beach within walking distance from Martinhal.
Rated in the top five beaches in the Algarve, we were captivated by the walk across the bridge over the protected river of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Erin and Eila were overawed by the crabs scurrying along in the river, it was wonderful to see our girls mesmerised by nature.
The restaurant you’ll find here is the fish restaurant Gigi where football fans will regularly see Christiano Ronaldo dining. It’s quite the celeb haunt in Quinta.
If you fancy a dip in the sea The East Coast of the Algarve has slightly warmer waters than the West but a swim in the Atlantic is sure to dust off the cobwebs.
Next up we were tourist hotspot bound checking out Albufeira, a coastal city in the southern Algarve region of Portugal.
Once a tiny fishing village a major holiday destination, with sandy beaches and a busy nightlife strip.
The modern marina is a great base for dolphin watching and boat trips.
Surrounded by candy-colored apartments, with a waterfront promenade.
Eden Resort is a ten minute drive from the Marina, the perfect base to boat trip.
The family resort is a nice escape from the bustling nightlife scene.
A bright playground and an aqua splash park mean the kiddies are always entertained.
From Eden we ventured on the Dream Wave boat trip.
A high octane speed boat, the trip lasted two hours and we got to explore the impressive coastline between Albufeira Marina and Carvoeiro.
Getting to see dolphins up close and personal delighted little Erin, I had no idea that a dolphin never sleeps! The mammal sleeps with one half of his brain awake so he can remember to breathe and avoid danger.
Part of the tour took us along the rugged coastline and Rock formations were breathtaking and the Benagil cave, cited as one of the best five must sea caves in the world, is on the tour.
Next stop was Sagres Martinhal, the furthest point West of the Algarve.
I have never been as impressed with a pool view, literally you’ve got a 360 degrees view of the Atlantic.
Martinhal Sagres is a true delight for any family who loves luxury and wildness.
Situated in the furthest point West, if you love nature and surfing this is the number one location.
I adored the surf camp run by Martinhal, our teachers arrived in a cool surf van for pick up and brought our small group to the jaw droppingly stunning Praia da Cordoama famed for surfing.
After about 20 attempts and lots of teaching I eventually stood up!!
Sagres is famed for Cape Saint Vincent, the southernmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe.
As a family we were in heaven at Martinhal, the pool overlooked the bay so you could be sipping on your cocktails as the kids play in the pool.