As Portuguese society largely revolves around family life, the country is very child-friendly and families will find it one of the easiest European destinations for a holiday. The two main worries for parents in Portugal are cars – which are usually fast moving – and the strong sun. Keep young children covered up between 11am and 3pm, make them wear a hat, and always apply a high-factor sunscreen. Be aware, too, that many castles and monuments are unrailed and may have very steep drops, while sea bathing – especially on the west coast – can be hazardous, with dangerous undertows. Cobbled town centres and stepped alleys are also difficult for anyone with a toddler and a pushchair.

Most hotels and guesthouses can provide an extra bed or a cot (um berço) if notified in advance. There is usually no charge for babies and small children who share their parents’ room, while discounts of up to fifty percent on accommodation for older children are not uncommon. Babysitting and child supervision are available at most four- and five-star places, though you’ll have to pay.

Children are welcome in all cafés and restaurants at any time of the day. Indeed, waiters often go out of their way to spend a few minutes entertaining restless children; tots may even find themselves being carried off for a quick tour of the kitchens while parents finish their meals in peace. Highchairs (cadeirinha de bebé) are normally the clip-on-table variety. Specific child menus are rare, though restaurants will nearly all serve half-portions (meia dose) as a matter of course – these are still too much for most children to finish, but the Portuguese often simply order a dose or two between the family. Note, however, that restaurants rarely open much before 7.30pm (so British children may need to adjust to eating later than they are used to) and local children are often still up at midnight.

Specific changing facilities in restaurants, cafés and public toilets are largely nonexistent, and when you do find them – such as in larger shopping centres – they are usually in women’s toilets only.

Fresh milk (leite pasteurizado) for babies is sold in larger supermarkets; mornings are best as it tends to sell out by mid-afternoon – gordo is full-fat, meio-gordo half-fat and magro skimmed milk. Mini-mercados, smaller shops and cafés generally only stock UHT, which is what most Portuguese kids drink. Nappies/diapers (fraldas) are widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies, as are formula milk, babies’ bottles and jars of baby food – though don’t expect the full range of (or indeed any) organic or salt-free choices you might be used to at home.

Most museums, sights and attractions don’t usually charge for small children, while under-12s get in for half-price. On public transport, under-5s go free while 5- to 11-year-olds travel half-price on trains but pay full fare on metros and buses.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Lisbon has rightly garnered a reputation as being one of Europe’s hippest cities – but Portuguese cuisine remains somewhat unknown. Rest assured, though, Li…

24 Aug 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best beaches in Portugal

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

For many travellers, Portugal is synonymous with images of golden sun-baked beaches. And with a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, there’s enough sand for…

28 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Lisbon’s accommodation scene has exploded in recent years, so there is no shortage of places to stay, from histor…

14 Mar 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month