Large Group Trip to Lagos, Portugal
Have you ever let your kids plan a vacation? We haven’t. We try hard to plan adventures that they’ll enjoy and learn from. We try to balance free time and kid attractions with highlights for us adults. And so far, our kids love to travel and look forward to each trip, so we must do an okay job. This past weekend we made the trip to the Algarve, Portugal, along with 10 of our closest friends here in Spain for a long weekend. And I think it ended up exactly as if the kids had planned it themselves. And I’ll call it an all-around success.
Some of you might remember that the Algarve was our first overnight trip upon moving to Spain in 2017. We saw a lot of the sites and then our car broke down. This time, we were focused less on the being tourists and more on friendship. And let me say that the Algarve and its laid-back atmosphere is just the place to go on a such a trip with such a large group.
Multi-Family Accommodations in Lagos, Portugal
So, what did these days look like, that I think our kids were so fond of? They started with relaxed mornings. We stayed once again at Boavista Golf Resort & Spa in Lagos. Each family stayed in its own condo, but we had room to join together for pancake breakfasts and pre-adventure pow-wows. I will say that while I find Boa Vista child and family friendly, be advised there are hard marble stairs in each condo. Additionally, it was possible for stealthy toddlers to sneak off the back patios and head towards the pool. So, as always, parents need to keep a close eye.
Beaches in Lagos, Portugal
After a slow start, we headed both days to one of Lagos’ spectacular beaches. On day one, we returned to Praia do Camilo. We dared climb the 200 wooden steps down to the beach, and then back up, with all nine children. The views were worth it, though tide was in and we weren’t able to explore all of the same nooks and crannies as the year before. This trip was a rare repeat destination, and at several points throughout the weekend, it struck me how much our children have grown in the last 14 months or so. Last spring, Cora was barely walking, and Henry struggled to descend all of the stairs at Praia do Camilo due to a combination of short legs and fear. This year, all kids zipped up and down the flights. Which goes to show just how fearless our baby is, and how quickly time does fly.
Anyhow, on day two, we ventured to Praia do Pinhão. The surf was much calmer this day, which made it a super fun swimming day for all of the kids. Less steps are required to reach this beach, yet there are still fun rock formations to explore. Overall, I find swimming at the beaches around Lagos so magical. You’re surrounded on all sides be either a magnificent ocean, or giant rock formations that water and shells and lifeforms have been making their marks on over millennium.
Each day, after time in the surf and sand, we would return to the resort for quiet time. One of the perks of the trip is that while the kids rested, the adults took turns venturing out for adult time. First a moms’ lunch, and the next day a dads’ cocktail. I’m not sure I need to go into how wonderful that was, for a bunch of adults in the throes of parenting small people.
Child and Large-Group Friendly Restaurants in the Algarve
Outside of our car breaking down on our last trip to Lagos, we also struggled to find food. Well, there was Nah Nah Bah, which still has my favorite burger. But, this time, we really ate well. Below are some of our delicious finds.
Beats and Burritos: This was the destination for our mom lunch, and I was so happy with our decision. Beats and Burritos was a bit like a more high-end, sit-down Chipotle. We each were given a build-your-own menu to check off our selections, starting with burrito, bowl, or taco. Other entrees were available, as well as a fun drink selection. The food was fresh and the atmosphere was relaxed and fit in with the surfer/hipster vibe of Lagos.
Ol’ Bastard’s: This nautically themed fish-and-chips joint was a huge hit with our crowd. A reservation was required to fit our large group, but we were comfortable and well taken care of throughout dinner. The kids ate well on popcorn chicken and prawns and lots of fries. The adults ate the best fish and chips and even more fries. And cole slaw, which I’ve missed. Highly recommended.
Three Little Birds in Sagres: This restaurant had delicious nachos, burgers, and tacos on the menu. There was plenty of space to seat our large group, though we did have a reservation. It was also fairly child-friendly. The kids were given colored pencils to draw on the kraft paper placemats, and a small child-sized table had some other activities that occupied the four and five-year-olds in our party. Great ambiance and great food.
A Few Child-Friendly Extras
Every good trip requires a couple of unexpected yet surprisingly awesome extras. And this trip had just that. I have always been terrified of heights, and I’m even more so as a mother. Yet despite this, on Saturday night, I had the most enjoyable time watching the sunset in Sagres, Portugal, with our family and friends. Sagres is the most south-western tip of continental Europe and about a 30-minute drive from Lagos. It is also heralded as one of the best spots to watch the sunset in the entire world. We arrived in to the point about 20 minutes before sunset, which was to take place at 7:20. Cars just park along the road, making it a bit nerve-wracking, but so worth it. I had read beforehand that it would be chilly, even in the summer months, but I was still surprised. We had kids bundling up in sweaters and wrapping up in blankets. Then we focused on keeping them off the cliff edge until the sunset. They were getting silly, but then the truly brilliant sun made its final dip below the horizon and it honestly caught everyone’s attention. Even little Cora, at 2.5 years, paid attention. And kept asking “Where’d it go?” It was quick and free and breathtaking and earned the round of applause it received from all of the people perched on the cliff.
Our other fun treat was a trip into Praia da Luz, which is a small section of Lagos about 3.5 km from the town center. Our destination was the Ice Cream Factory, but we were so happy to have discovered it all. The views from the town’s promenade were spectacular, and the beach was rocky and unlike the others we saw elsewhere in Lagos. There was a small and simply beautiful chapel across from the ice cream that welcomed our family in for short prayer. And the ice cream was delicious. We were able to eat our ice cream in a small courtyard, listening to a live band play at the restaurant behind the hut. It was the kind of break that everyone needs, and just the perfect image to explain what makes Lagos so special.