Family holidays in Northern Portugal

Most family holidays in Portugal look for sun and sea in the south. Both are also found in abundance in the north of the country, where there are evocative cities to explore, wild mountain scenery and some excellent wine. Avoid the crowds and enjoy the rich holiday opportunities around the Douro or the Minho.

Fly direct to Porto

The obvious reason why so many family holidays to Portugal involve the Algarve is the ease of finding flights to Faro. It's a little tricker reaching the north, but Ryanair flies direct to Porto from Liverpool and London Stansted, while Easyjet offers direct flights from London Gatwick. Book well in advance and it is usually possible to find return fares from under £100.

Porto is a beautiful and interesting city that offers an ideal base for exploring the north. The port wine trade is at the heart of the city's history, and even kids will enjoy exploring the cellars of the port-houses and seeing the historic boats that carried the wine down the Douro.

The Atlantic beaches can be wild and spectacular, but there are also plenty of places where the children can break out the buckets and spades. Viana Do Castelo is a perfect family resort town, with broad beaches and a stylish old town centre, ideal for strolling in the early evening.

Kids who love castles will welcome an excursion to the ruined fortress of Bragança. The frontier town gave its name to the Portuguese royal family, and its battlements still gaze out towards the Spanish border. It is within reach of the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres, a wilderness that offers plenty of hiking and mountain-biking opportunities.

Stay cool in the green north

Although summer months are invariably warm, the north is ideal for those who want to ensure they avoid the fierce heat of midsummer in the south. Family holidays in Northern Portugal offer plenty of alternatives to the beach, and allow the family to absorb a little of the culture of the region.

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