Visiting Portugal with a baby or toddler is high on many families’ wish lists as one of the first trips to take abroad with their little one.
The mixture of sun, sand and culture is an absolute winner and there is plenty for everyone. We took both of our daughters to Portugal when they were just a couple of months old. We loved it and I am sure that you will too.
Here are our top tips for travelling to Portugal with a baby or toddler.
Is Portugal Baby-Friendly?
Yes, Portugal is very baby friendly. The Portuguese love babies. If you are travelling to Portugal with baby you will probably take on the status of a minor celebrity, people will come up to you asking questions and generally coo over your little one.
It is all done in a super friendly way and not intense or anything to worry about.
Is it Safe to Visit Portugal with a Baby or Toddler?
Yes. Like anywhere in the world you should take sensible precautions, but overall Portugal is a safe country for toddler travel.
The driving in Portugal is pretty bad and can take some getting used to. You will see plenty of cars on the road that have clearly had quite a few bumps along the way so it is worth being extra careful when you are on the roads.
Can you get Baby Supplies in Portugal?
You should be able to find anything that you might need for your baby in Portugal. Costs can be higher than in the UK for things like nappies/diapers and in particular baby wipes are way more expensive than at home.
You can find baby food, formula, bottles etc. in the supermarkets but we have always taken a supply with us from home.
When to Visit Portugal
Portugal is a good year-round destination. But, with its Mediterranean climate, your best bet is to go between May and September if you are looking for warmer weather.
The summer months can get busy, especially July and August so if you only have very young children we highly recommend going to Portugal in June or September. It is much cheaper if you can avoid the peak summer months – make the most of avoiding school holidays while you still can!!
Getting to Portugal with a Toddler and Baby
Portugal has a few international airports so it is worth looking at where you can fly to that fits your planned itinerary. It may be that you can use a smaller airport for a more hassle-free journey and a shorter travel time to your first hotel.
The main airports on mainland Portugal are Lisbon, Porto and Faro.
We find that the best way to find cheap flights is to use Skyscanner.
Flying with a baby is always something that people worry about, we have written posts with our top tips for getting through the flight. Don’t worry, the flights are never as bad as you think they will be.
>>> Flying with a baby checklist
>>> Flying with a toddler checklist
How to Travel with a Baby in Portugal
We have travelled to Portugal several times with babies and toddlers.
Sometimes we have used public transport to get around and we have found this to be good value and reliable. On other trips, we rented a car. There are advantages to both but overall having a car makes things a lot easier when you are transporting young kids and all their stuff. It gives you much more flexibility to move around when you want to and also means that you can easily get to more out-of-the-way places.
Public Transport in Portugal
Portugal has a good train network that reaches many of the towns that you are most likely to have on your itinerary. Tickets are reasonably priced and train services are efficient on modern trains. The price of your ticket varies depending on the class of the train and the speed of the service.
In most cases, it is best to book tickets in advance as seat reservations are required, and it will ensure that you get the best price.
You can do this online and get an electronic ticket sent to your phone or you can print them out. If like us, you aren’t always good at planning ahead you can buy tickets at the station. It’s best to check online first so that you know which trains are best for you considering the overall journey time and cost.
Car Rental in Portugal
It has to be said having a rental car makes travelling with babies and toddlers a LOT easier and has become our preferred option when travelling in Europe.
It gives you greater freedom to travel at the time you choose and that best fits in with nap times, it is easier to break up journeys and also allows you to visit places that are harder to visit on buses and trains.
Arranging a hire car couldn’t be simpler, but make sure that you book it in advance, even if it is just the day before. We always book through RentalCars.com, a great comparison site that will help you to pick the best deal.
We usually take our own car seat with us from home as it is much cheaper than renting one for a couple of weeks. We have this one that we use just for travel. If you have children 4 years or older, you might like to take along a Mifold travel booster seat.
Eating in Portugal with a Baby and Toddler
One of the great things about visiting Portugal is the abundance of wonderful food at reasonable prices. One thing that can be a bit challenging in Portugal is the opening hours of restaurants. They open by our standard standards at around 8 o’clock (or 7 if you are lucky) and are often only open for a couple of hours around lunchtime.
A few times in more remote areas we ended up missing lunch service and struggled to find any food at all as the shops are open similar hours.
In the evenings the restaurant opening hours do not really fit in with our children’s eating habits as they usually eat before 6 pm.
This is less of an issue if you are travelling with a baby. With some luck, you will be able to feed them milk and baby food and have them asleep in the stroller so that you can enjoy a nice relaxing meal together.
If you are travelling with a toddler or older child it can be more of a challenge as they get hungry and need something NOW.
On our last trip, we mostly went self-catered and cooked our own dinners which solves this problem (and saves some money), but it does mean that you miss out on trying as much local food.
Most restaurants will be able to provide you with a baby high chair but we like to travel with a Totseat chair harness, just in case.
Where to go in Portugal with a Baby and Toddler
It is always really hard to decide where to go in Portugal. There are just so many amazing places to visit. From mountains to churches, beaches to hilltop castles, Portugal has some of the best and most beautiful in every category.
Once you have decided to visit Portugal, choosing exactly where to travel in Portugal with a baby or toddler is far harder, but don’t stress about it as wherever you go is sure to be amazing! We tend to travel around a bit and we have been to Porto with a baby and Algarve with a baby amongst other places
To help you decide where to go in Portugal with a baby or toddler, we thought that we would share some of the places that we have enjoyed visiting over recent years, always with a child (or two) under 4 years old.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a great place to visit with young children. You can spend your time riding cable cars up steep hills, enjoy sweeping views over the city, visit an aquarium, take day trips to the beach and eat delicious Portuguese custard tarts. What’s not to like?
It is a lovely city with a lot of history, but the historic centre is relatively compact. This makes it ideal for exploring on foot with a baby or toddler. Lisbon is a good place to come for a few nights away or as the starting point for adventures throughout the country.
Porto is a charming city that rises up the hills above the Douro River. Porto is a very pleasant place to spend a few days but if you have more time in the area then there are some easily accessible beaches a short train ride away, or you can take a boat trip up the river to enjoy the beautiful countryside and vineyards.
Algarve is probably one of the most obvious places to visit in Portugal with a baby or young child. You will find some fabulous beaches and plenty of family-friendly accommodation and places to visit. There is loads to do in the area, for some ideas check out this Algarve itinerary
Not far from Lisbon you can visit the lush hills and spectacular palaces of Sintra. You can do it as a day trip but there is plenty here to see if you have more time in the area.
Coimbra is home to Portugal’s oldest university and was once the medieval capital of the county. These days it is a vibrant and beautiful riverside city that is well worth a visit.
Obidos is an amazingly well-preserved walled town that is colourful and fun to explore with a toddler. It is very picturesque and young children will enjoy exploring the old stone walls and the ancient castle.
What Should You Pack for a Baby and Toddler in Portugal?
It is always difficult to decide what to pack for a baby or toddler when you travel abroad. You don’t want to take too much but you also don’t want to be without something that is essential. It is a tough balance to get right.
We have done loads of travelling with our girls and this is what we think works. For long trips, we do washing as we go along, for a couple of weeks you could probably get by without needing to do this.
If you are spending a lot of time on the beach your little one will end up spending a lot of time in their swimsuit, so this is one of the most important items to take.
We like the ones that cover arms and legs as it protects them from the sun without having to worry quite so much about when you last put sun cream on.
Portugal Baby Packing List – Clothes
- 6 short-sleeved onesies or cotton rompers
- 2 full-length onesies
- Washable swim nappy
- 1 UV protective swimsuit with long sleeves and trousers
- 2 small muslins – depending on how sicky your baby is!
- 1 sunhat and 1 swimming sunhat
- 1 large muslin for sleeping under
- Favourite small comforter/ teddy
Other Essential items for a Baby in Portugal
Changing mat/bag: This is probably the most useful item that we packed. A compact place to keep your nappies, wipes, and creams which folds out into a handy changing mat. Proper changing tables are a rarity in Portugal so this gets used all the time.
Baby Carrier: These were essential for getting around, both our 9-month-old and 3-year-old needing carrying quite a lot. The cool mesh carriers are great for hot countries.
Nappies/diapers: We always had a decent supply of nappies with us in the bag but they are easy to get hold of in most places.
Baby wipes: These are much more expensive than in England so it is worth bringing a supply from home.
Teething necklace: Good for keeping your little one entertained and quiet whilst travelling or in the baby carrier.
Nappy cream: Just in case of any sore bottoms you will want this on hand.
What to Pack for a Toddler in Portugal
For our toddler/pre-school age daughter we took the following which worked out just right for a long trip where you expect to do some washing as you go along. If you are happy to pay for more frequent clothes washing, you could get by with less than we had.
Toddler Packing List
- 4 cotton/linen summer dresses. This is what our daughter wore most of the time. For a boy (or a girl who doesn’t like dresses), you will probably need shorts and a t-shirt most of the time so bring more of those.
- 4 t-shirts
- 2 shorts
- 2 pairs of lightweight trousers (good for covering up if there are mosquitos about and for buses and planes)
- 1 long-sleeved top
- 4 pairs of underpants
- 2 pairs of socks.
- Pyjamas (not that essential in summer – pants or light shorts will do)
- 1 long UV protective swimsuit and 1 normal swimming costume. Our girls spent most of the time in their swimsuits when staying on the coast.
- Trainers (you could probably leave these at home if you don’t plan to walk through any jungle/ forests),
- Sandals (necessity),
- Beach shoes (our daughter like to climb the rocks on the beach & kayak so these came in really handy).
- 1 sunhat and 1 swimming sunhat
Other useful items to take:
Pop up travel cot: We like this one as it pops up in a second and closes like a tent to keep mosquitos out. The girls think that it is fun to have a tent! Check out our review of the best travel cots
Beach tent: If you are planning to spend a lot of time on the beach, it’s well worth taking a beach tent to provide you with some shade and privacy. This makes it an ideal spot for your baby to feed and sleep.
We have the Littlelife family beach tent and it has been great for us on the beaches of Sardinia. We found it especially useful when our baby was very young and not yet able to crawl or sit.
Blackout blinds: These travel blackout blinds are great to make your room dark at night times
Totseat chair harness: This baby totseat is a great backup to have when eating out with a baby. Baby high chairs are quite widely available but not every restaurant has them and often they only have 1 or 2 chairs for loads of tiny diners.
Drinking bottle: This is essential. Find a kids bottle that your child can easily drink from and that you can take anywhere.
Suncream: This is available in Portugal, but we always take some so we are prepared.
Hand sanitiser: Very handy for keeping hands clean on the move.
Disinfectant wipes: We used these to clean high chairs and the floors in hotel rooms.
First Aid Kit: There are bound to be times when you need a plaster or bandage so we always take a first aid kit along ours contains Calpol, Benadryl, antibiotics for mastitis, children’s inhaler in case of croop, mosquito repellent for kids and adults, Bonjela, plasters, paracetamol.
Kids tablet: Basically a lifesaver on the plane or when you need a bit of quiet time. We like the Amazon Fire kids tablets but there are loads of great options covered in our best toddler tablets post.
You will probably need fewer toys than you think to keep your kids entertained whilst away. But it is definitely worth taking a few things to keep them occupied on journeys and if you want some quiet time in the hotel.
The toys we liked the best include stacking cups which are compact and brilliant, you can use them to make sandcastles on the beach, to pour water in the pool or even to stack on the floor. A few Duplo bricks, toy cars, and colouring/activity books also come in handy, especially at mealtimes.
Hopefully, this gives you a guide for what you should be packing with you when you take a toddler or an infant to Portugal. For more comprehensive information, check out our post on the best baby and toddler travel gear, and this baby and toddler packing list (it is tailored to SE Asia but should help you plan for Portugal too)
7 Great Things to do in Portugal with a Baby or Toddler
The things that you do in Portugal with a toddler or baby will largely be influenced by where you have chosen to go and by the exact age of your child. The things to do in Portugal with a 6 month old or things to do with a 10 month old, can vary quite a lot from what you might do in Portugal with a 2-year-old.
When infants are really small you take advantage of the fact they are small and light and spend a lot of time sleeping. This should mean that to a large extent you can spend your holiday in the same way that you would have before you had children.
As they get a bit older you will need to factor in more time doing ‘kids things’ to keep them happy (our preschoolers absolutely loved Zoomarine in Algarve). Here are some ideas of things to do with your little one.
Hit the Beaches
Travelling with a toddler or baby can be hard work so we always like to factor in some beach time. It keeps them happy and is somewhat relaxing for us.
If your baby is at the stage where they put everything in their mouth you will need to be prepared to see them eat quite a lot of sand. Just keep an eye out for stones, shells, crabs or anything else that they might like to put in their mouths. We take our beach tent with us for some portable shade, privacy and somewhere for the baby to sleep at nap times.
Toddlers will love to paddle in the sea and play in the sand and luckily Portugal has some of the best beaches in the world. The beaches of the Algarve are probably the most famous and many of them have some stunning rock formations, they can be small and crowded though.
For wide open beaches, we love the Atlantic beaches of southwestern Portugal, but they are popular with surfers so be prepared for big waves and they are not ideal for swimming with a baby or toddler.
Even the major cities of Lisbon and Porto have easily accessible beaches so you are never far from a great beach in Portugal.
Explore Pretty Old Towns
One of the great things about Portugal is just how many cute old towns they have dotted throughout the country. It is not just the famous places that have stunning architecture, you will find nice little places wherever you go (although not quite so many or quite so nice as in Italy – in my opinion anyway).
We like to just wander aimlessly when we visit old towns. Why not let the kids have the map and chose your direction?
Go for a Hike
Having a baby or toddler need not mean that you confine yourselves to the beaches and towns. Grab your baby carrier and head out into the hills!
There is some lovely scenery all over Portugal (although the trail marking isn’t always the best) and you should be able to find some nice little walks to enjoy with your little one.
Escape the Heat in a Church
If you visit Portugal in the summer you will probably be blessed with some glorious, sunny weather. This is great, but it can get a bit much at times so we often pop into a church to get out of the heat.
Churches are almost always cool, have pews to sit on and have a bit of a rest. This is great if you are carrying a baby around and want to put them down for a bit.
Find a Park
Finding a playground has become something of a priority for us on our travels, our girls are never happier than when they are climbing or sliding or spinning on something so we always try and break up the day with a trip to a local park. The only hard part is getting them to leave again so that we can explore some more!
Take a Boat Trip
We always enjoy taking boat trips, they are invariably in beautiful locations and give you a different perspective on things than from the land.
With a baby or toddler, it is generally best to go for shorter-duration trips. Some boat trips that we have enjoyed include a river trip up to Douro river from Porto and short trips out to sea in Algarve.
Go for a Bike Ride in the Countryside
We find going for a bike ride with a baby seat on the back to be a truly liberating experience, and both of our daughters absolutely love it.
Cycling is such a great way to see the countryside you can travel at a good pace and see lots, but you are not travelling so fast that you miss everything in a blur.
There are many great places to cycle in Portugal, but probably one of the best areas is the Douro valley. Here you can cycle through vineyards and past quaint villages where it seems like time has stood still.
We have also done plenty of mountain biking in the hills of the Serra da Lousa, but it can’t be done with a baby and even the road around here aren’t ideal as they are very steep (very little traffic though).
Portugal with a Toddler or Baby
We hope that you have enjoyed reading our guide to visiting Portugal with a toddler or baby. We really love it in Portugal and think that it is a great family travel destination. That’s why we keep going back!
I always like to explore new places and Portugal is one of the few countries that has drawn me back for multiple repeat visits so there must be something pretty special about it.
Hopefully, you will enjoy your trip to Portugal with your child as much as we have with ours.