- Algarve Family holidays
Brits have been heading to the Iberian Peninsula for family holidays in the Algarve for generations now, and it shows no signs of waning in popularity. Portugal's south coast may be short, but it offers some of the best beaches in the country, and while it - like the rest of the Portuguese coastline - is in the Atlantic, it's easy to think of it as the gateway to the Mediterranean as it reaches east through Spain to the narrow Strait of Gibraltar and the true beginning of the Mediterranean Sea.
Europe's western frontier
'Algarve' literally means 'The West', and Portugal is about as far west as you can get in Europe - the capital, Lisbon, is in line with the most westerly locations in Ireland and the furthest north-west reaches of mainland Spain too. Despite the name, the Algarve itself is not specifically in the west of Portugal, and family holidays in the Algarve can take in resorts throughout the country's south coast, from Lagos and Portimao to Albufeira and Quarteira, and along to Faro and Tavira.
A home from home
Maybe it's because Portugal is so closely in line with the UK that so many Brits choose the Algarve for their holiday home or to retire in the sun. There's a thriving expat community in the area, and this is good news for cheap family holidays in the Algarve too, as many locals will have learned to speak English fluently in order to cater for the expat market, while many of those expats themselves run tourist-friendly British bars where the children will be welcome too, and these are packed every night in the peak season in the resorts all the way along the Algarve coast.
Warming up in the Algarve
No matter when you visit, you can expect the weather to be warmer than you've left behind back home in the UK. Even in the spring or autumn, it's a good time to take family holidays in the Algarve, with daytime temperatures reaching into the 20°C. The region as a whole has about half a million permanent residents, and at peak times this number is doubled when tourists are counted too - a reminder of just how important holidaymakers are to the local economy, and why the welcome is so warm from the Portuguese hospitality trade.
Why the Algarve is so great for families
With one of the best climates anywhere in Europe and a selection of stunning but safe beaches, Algarve family holidays are unsurprisingly popular. The kids will love splashing around in the clean, shallow and calm waters or building sandcastles on vast stretches of golden sand. Then, after your day on the beach, sample some traditional Portuguese cooking, with plenty of fresh seafood and simple family favourites to enjoy. The Portuguese love kids too, so expect to be made a fuss over wherever you go.