Portugal Trip Reports

Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for Portugal are organized alphabetically by city or region within the country. Simply scroll down to read them all. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to Portugal with a baby or toddler.

(7 reports)

March 2007
Lynsey & Family

I booked this hotel with a package holiday with Airtours.

The hotel is in a great location, about a 5 minute walk from the town.

The staff was friendly and the hotel was clean and tidy.

We got a 1 bedroom apartment which overlooked the pool. The other side of the apartment was on the road. It was quiet enough though we heard the odd bit of street noise but not too bad. The apartment was very clean, well equipped and maid service everyday except Sunday.

There is a lovely bakery just around the corner which you could actually smell the buns when you were at the pool sunbathing.

The pool was very nice however we were there with a baby and there was no lift down to the pool so that meant we had to carry the buggy down separately – but it wasn’t too many steps.

There was no daytime entertainment and karaoke twice a week but we didn’t go so can’t report what it was like.

Overall it was a great holiday in a great hotel.

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April 2007
Paddy & Family

We booked this hotel through Expedia and on the recommendations of reviewers on TripAdvisor. We had a really relaxed and very enjoyable 6 days over Easter at the Real Bellavista.

The staff was really nice, very friendly and accommodating. Early check in and a late check out were no problem. They arranged for us to have a room near the restaurant so that our baby monitor would work and any special requests we had for our daughter at dinner were no problem. The breakfasts are fantastic (something for everyone) and we also ate every evening at the hotel because of our baby and it was very good. Very reasonable prices too.

The pool and pool area were very clean and well taken care of. The only negatives we have are that the bed was really uncomfortable (the pillows even more so) and the entertainment in the evening was deadly – someone behind a synthesiser singing music minus one pop hits. One night there was even someone there with a parrot show! But it made us laugh so I suppose it was entertaining.

All in all the Real Bellavista is a very good place to stay.

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July 2006
Bruce & Family

This place is a great deal. We stayed here last July. My wife, our son, (13 months old at the time) and I had one room, and my parents in the other room. We booked online, and they had a special if you stay 6 nights or more you get a free night, which really helped out because we were there for 13 days.

The location is great. You are literally a 5 minute walk to the downtown/centre. I suggest that you rent a car, and pay the few euro to park in their secure lot, or you will get a ticket for parking all night on the streets. The staff were great and very helpful. I had to warm up our son’s meals, (we brought some pre-packaged baby food), and the bartender or waiters/waitresses were more then accommodating with the microwave in the bar/kitchen area. The milk is warm in the morning at breakfast, so that was a great help with the baby.

The food was very good, and included with the price. There were several juice choices, super strong coffee, eggs, mini-hot dogs/sausages, all types of cereal and breads. The room was nice sized. I suggest that you buy a cooler, and they will give you all the ice you want in the bar or kitchen. I liked the hotel so much that the three of us are returning to Sao Miguel in August, and I have already booked this hotel again.

The pool was nice, and there was a little bar out there and the waitress will bring you beers/drinks as often as you like. There is free internet if you want to check your e-mail, and a payphone on the street as you exit the hotel on the left about 30 yards up. We called the US from the payphone and it was cheap. Just put a few Euro coins in the phone and you can for a few minutes.

The airport flight path is behind the hotel, but it wasn’t that noisy at all, in fact it seemed like the jets just coasted in. I actually enjoyed watching the jets come in and so did my son. We checked out some of the other hotels, and I really think this is one of the best deals in Sao Miguel. I’ve stayed in different hotels in Europe, Canada, and all over the US, and this was one of the best I’ve ever stayed at not to mention the price was very fair.

Enjoy your stay in Sao Miguel!

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February 2007
Tess & Family (baby 13 mos.)

I just arrrived back after a week in The Savoy, with my husband and 13-month-old baby. I thought the hotel was good, but not a 5 star standard. I have stayed in many 5* and this did not fit the description. That said, we had a wonderful time and would recommend the hotel to anyone. It has a kind of faded elegance which was appealing. Our room was huge, with a massive dressing area, where we put the baby cot. As parents, it is a sign of a good holiday if the baby is not sleeping next to you! It also had a good sized balcony which was mountain facing (read: overlooking the carpark). It had a minibar and on request the hotel provided a kettle.

The staff were faultlessly good, and the pool area was wonderful. We ate in the hotel on the first night, and were not that impressed. We ate at the excellent local restaurants the rest of the time. I had a massage and facial at the neighbouring Royal Savoy, which was overpriced (E90 for 75 minutes) but it was wonderful. The Royal Savoy is more modern and tasteful, but the classic is more relaxing, and cheaper. End of story.

Note: I heard from a taxi driver that the owner of the properties also owns the one beside the classic and is planning to demolish them both, and rebuild a a six star – permission granted and work due to start anytime. It will be a shame in a way, as the older part of the hotel has a charm about it. But it not a 5 star, and they will lose that billing very soon if they do not rebuild.

Recommended: Riso restaurant – million dollar views on the cliff top in old town, and incredible food.

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April 2007
Brent & Family

I stayed there with my wife and infant and we had a great stay for four days.

The staff was very helpful and the free breakfast, although a little light, was adequate.

The location was convenient and in a great shopping neighbourhood.

We had a few meals in the restaurant which were above average for the other meals that we had in Porto.

In general, I would highly recommend this hotel if you are looking for a decent 3 star with good family-friendly service in a great location.

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August 2008
Victoria & Family (baby 2.5yrs)

Being a frequent business traveler I have been fortunate to stay in a number of 5 star hotels all over the world and for all the Tivoli is excellent I wouldn’t say it’s 5 star in the way the Waldorf Astoria or the 4 Seasons chain or Kempinski chain are, in that it doesn’t have the sheer grandeur, however having said that it is a quality hotel with great attention to detail – Cool, clean lines, simplistic and contemporary.

My review is based more around how the hotel performs and delivers to a young family – my husband and I were holidaying with our 2 and a half year old son. We knew the area ticked all of the boxes as we were there last year and to be honest it was even better this year in catering to our son.

Breakdown of facilities:

Our room – we opted for a top floor marina view room as I’d read the reviews about the noise from the spa construction so I did some forward planning and tried to negate this issue prior to our stay (it’s right to mention this issue now – lots of previous reviews gave me concerns about this but I can honestly say that whilst you can hear the work during the day around the poolside it’s not obtrusive and we found you could hardly notice it – we didn’t hear a thing by night but that may have been down to where our room was situated) I emailed the hotel beforehand and on arrival found everything I had requested in place. The room was spacious 2 x 3/4 twin beds and a cot for our son – lovely clean fresh bedding and an added bonus is the room is carpeted (those with young children will agree that this is a plus for the little ones!!)

Like the other reviews I can also endorse that the bathroom is well equipped – good quality bathrobes (again freshly laundered) and a good power shower.

Girls – the hairdryer is one of these bulky contraptions fixed to the wall in the bathroom so if you don’t want to end up like Monica from the episode of friends with a big frizzy ‘do’ – pack your own!

Nice flat screen T.V – good choice of English channels.

Balcony again child friendly no little gaps that could cause any hazards and the floor area was covered in a kind of astro turf covering which again adds a little more comfort when the kids are playing on the balcony.

We didn’t have an iPod docker in our room which was one aspect I was a little disappointed about – I did ring and ask concierge about this as I had requested one in my email prior to travel. They did offer to move us to another room that had one but to be honest I’d unpacked by this point and couldn’t really be bothered to re-pack and move – but if this is a priority for you check it’s there in your room before you unpack – Concierge should be happy to move you if there is a room available with this feature.

Maid service is twice a day, with a turn down service later on an evening – a nice little touch, and the chocolates you’re given are good quality (unlike some hotels that provide particularly horrid chocs!!)

The mini bar is well stocked – like most families with children we emptied the hotel supply’s and purchased our own from the nearby supermarket (the nearest one is out from main reception -walk down the ramp to main car park – cross over road and walk to the left for about 20 yards – turn right and the supermarket is just ahead of you on the left hand side through a small car park area) The hotel aren’t keen that you do this but to be honest didn’t challenge us on most of the items we replaced in the fridge – they obviously realise that with small children you require things such as fresh milk, fruit, confectionary etc.. Although on one occasion they did remove our adult supply of Sagres beer and replaced it with the hotel issued bottled beer!!! Which is fair enough I guess.

There is plenty of hanging space and drawer space in the room – I did take a few hangers with me which came in handy.

The air conditioning was a bit poor in our room – to be honest we didn’t really need it for the first 4 nights as there was a real strong wind on an evening which kept things nice and cool but half way through our stay the wind suddenly dropped and the room was stifling – Reception actioned this immediately and sent an engineer to our room – who couldn’t get it fixed although it did get marginally better – reception offered to change our room but again this was more hassle than it was worth by this point during our stay so they provided us a fan instead which did the job.

The hotel:

Reception/Check in – Efficient and friendly – we arrived at 10.30 am and although the hotel stipulates check in is not until 2 pm I had requested in my email to them prior to travel that I’d like to check in early. True to their word they had our room ready for us.

Concierge – again efficient and knowledgeable – they helped with all of our questions/requests.

Orion room – Breakfast – superb – Great choice , cooked, continental, made to order etc etc. everything you could want to stock up for the day – nice to have the choice of taking breakfast both inside or outside on the terrace overlooking the pool.

Hotel Bar – the bar situated on the first floor (Floor 0 – same floor as reception) won’t allow children inside so if you want a pre dinner drink or a nightcap and have kids, then be aware you need to order your drinks inside and sit in the foyer area outside of the bar.

Sirius grill (restaurant) – we got given a 10% discount voucher and booked to eat there one night – to be honest with a small (and vocal!!) child – it’s not the ideal setting – it’s a very quiet, more formal restaurant – more suitable for couples/older families. They also did not have a child’s menu. We changed our minds and headed to the marina with it’s multitude of restaurants more suitable and relaxing for a young family!

Pool – Exceptional!

One large pool separated into deep and shallow ends and a separate baby pool.

Pool and poolside area scrupulously clean. No shortage of sunbeds – you don’t need to do ‘the old towels down at 7 am’ routine – it doesn’t matter what time of day you amble down to the pool there are tons of empty sunbeds, tons of parasols and plenty of space between you and the next set of sunseekers! No sardine situation here! We tended to end up on the grassy area near to the middle pool bar simply as there were less people so our son could have a good roam around plus this area is nearer to the gates to access the beach so you could roam between the two as you wanted.

Pool towels are provided so no need to pack your own; they can be changed as often as you wish throughout the day.

One word of caution for families with young children – the little stream that runs round the back of the pool area is not particularly well cordoned off – it just has a single strand of rope – and it looks positively filled with algae which can be quite dangerous and on one occasion a family we were talking to at the baby pool – their eldest son slipped and fell in luckily he was o.k but we learnt, after the hotel staff looked overly concerned, that there are snakes in the stream (apparently they are harmless water snakes and no-one has seen them venture around the poolside!) I was a little skeptical about this but the family we talked to said they had actually seen one and it measured around a foot long! Don’t know if this is true but feel obligated to pass this on!

You will also note there is a grassy area with sunbeds at the back of the baby pool that is also cordoned off – we learnt that this was due to an incident that happened a couple of weeks before – the ground had become very boggy and gave way and a little boy sunk into it again luckily he was o.k but it took a while to get him out – again they’ve cordoned this off but just be vigilant

Pool bar – there are 2 – the top bar (next to Nikki Beach) doesn’t open unless the top area of the poolside is particularly busy (it wasn’t open often during our stay) the bar does a cocktail of the day which is always welcomed at the end of a tiring day! They also do kids non alcoholic cocktails – we caused a few raised eyebrows when my 2 and a half year old son loudly announced at the end of each day that we were going for a margarita now! ( a non alco one for him of course!)

There are always lots of staff walking around to take your drinks orders. they also come round frequently with fresh fruit and cold towels – little touches like these do make the hotel worthy of its 5 stars.

Baby Copa (crèche) – quite good facilities – painting, plasticine, lots of buckets/spades/balls and pool inflatables (so you don’t need to buy your own) obviously my son being only 2 and a half I didn’t leave him unattended so I don’t know what activities the staff organise but it was good to wile away a couple of hours during the midday day heat in here

Play park area – located near to the baby pool – again good facility keeps the children entertained – a play apparatus with slides and climbing – there is also a sandpit adjacent.

Beach – if you’re not going to pay to lounge in Nikki Beach then you’ll need to take your own parasol in the public areas.

Nikki Beach – you have to pay for the sunbeds and parasols – 10 Euros per sunbed 10 Euros per parasol. Then it increases if you want a bed or a 4 poster (aprox 100 Euros for a 4 poster but you get a free bottle of champagne).. However top tip – if you go on an afternoon and find some beds that someone has just left i.e. they have left the towels that Nikki Beach issues you on the empty beds then you don’t normally get asked to pay! Plus it’s so busy on an afternoon they can’t possibly keep up with who’s coming and going who has paid and who hasn’t! However point to note on a late afternoon Nikki Beach suddenly becomes Ibiza chill out zone! Ibiza tunes blast from the resident DJ and all the beautiful (usually topless) people start to party! It’s an experience to watch but not exactly a relaxing atmosphere!

All entrances to the hotel either via the gate to and from the beach or the doors onto the marina are all opened only by your room card – which is a plus point from my perspective for security – especially with young kids.

Nikki Beach restaurant – you can access via the pool area of the hotel, fabulous setting very Moroccan/Tikki, great food and service, great to eat or even just for cocktails. A bit pricey but worth it if you can’t be bothered with the hustle and bustle of the Marina every night.

The Marina – I wrote an in-depth review of the marina in my review of the Vila gale ampalius hotel last year so please feel free to refer to it below.

Lots of great restaurants too many to mention all but particular highlights – Old Navy, Casa i steak house (far end of the marina), Zu Yi and our favourite for lunch/early dinner – Deck Royal – superb food / superb setting on a deck jutting out onto the water.

Ones I don’t recommend – Harbour View Chinese – food just awful! Nastro Italian – service incredibly slow, totally disorganised and the staff are clearly not thrilled by their job which translates through their lack of customer care!

Must Dos – Zoo Marine especially if your little ones are a similar age to mine – so clean and well organised caters for all with swimming pool area, water slides, children’s rides and fantastic marine shows. Facilities are fantastic there are drinks/food/ice cream stands literally every 10 yards. We have been back twice now and loved it even more each time.

Recommend you buy the tickets from the Zoomarine shop on the marina you get tickets for 20 Euros a saving of 3 Euros per ticket.

We got a cab there this time – we took the bus last year but to be honest it made so many stops on the way it doubled the journey time and was quite tiring not to mention no flexibility in terms of your pick up time. Bus is a lot cheaper of course but a cab cost us 34 Euros each way round trip 68 Euros – it was worth it! Concierge will organise for you.

Quinta do Lago – nice little shopping complex – especially good for childrenswear Ikks, Catimini, Ralph Lauren, Oneill, for boys Boss/Ralph Lauren. For girls mostly swimwear missoni, chloe etc and a store which stock custom Barcelona and more quirky edgy clothes. Some nice little restaurants and bars.

The Weather – beautiful, very hot during the day but not oppressively hot. Breeze seems to stir on an afternoon and during an evening and can get quite chilly on an evening pack a wrap or cardy and a blanket or hoody for the children, having said that halfway through our stay the wind dropped and it was lovely and calm on a night.

I know this review is a bit lengthy but if you’re a fussy parent like me it’s good to know what to expect when you take young babies/toddlers – for us Vilamoura was a natural choice for the past 2 years in a row as its child friendly, safe, clean with lots of superb choices to eat and facilities. Next year we’ll venture a little further afield once our little boy is a little older until then you can’t go wrong with Vilamoura!

Please feel free to email me if you want any further info or have any specific questions – more than happy to help


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August 2007
Victoria & Family (baby 18mos)

We travelled to Vilamoura and stayed at the Vila Gale Ampalius for the first 2 weeks of August. This review is mainly aimed at giving an insight to all other young families about to travel. We are a young (well 30 something couple!!) with an 18 month old (wild) boy!! Going it alone as a 3-some for the first time (every other holiday had the grandparents in tow for moral support!!) We hope this review is of some use for other young families. In summary we found the hotel and the area excellent, as follows are a few hints and tip offs!

The Hotel: Excellent amenities. Pool area great – baby pool fine although our little one being a sheer daredevil preferred the adult pool. Pool bar is well stocked although service can be a little frosty!

Breakfast is great – plenty of high chairs for babies and the staff can’t do enough for your little one – in general the hotel and area is very child friendly. Our little one normally had a 3 course brekkie, comprising of lots of fresh fruit, followed by cereal and yoghurt, followed by some beans on toast! Stock up for the day if you’re on a B&B basis (which is the board basis we’d recommend as the restaurants are a plenty along the marina for lunch and dinner). There are cold and hot milk canisters in the restaurant at breakfast if you want to fill you little one’s bottles. For adults the breakfast is fine – lots of choice, but point to note don’t look forward to your standard English bacon and sausages! – it’s streaky bacon and hot dogs all the way in Portugal! But saying that, it’s great to set you up for the day and a nice large, light airy dining room to boot.

We ate at the hotel twice and both times were quite good.. the first occasion was a weekly bbq – plenty of choice of meats, salads, side dishes, fresh veg and fruit and unlimited wine, beer, water and sangria we paid 25 euros per person and babies were free. The second occasion was a Brazilian night – again good choice of food for the same price – I think we’d get a bit sick of the choice if we had opted for a half board but on an occasion when we couldn’t muster up the energy to dine on the marina if our little one was flagging dinner at the hotel was absolutely fine.

The room: We had a standard double with kitchenette facilities with a side sea view – the hotel had put a cot in the room when we arrived (they had provided all cot bedding – but seeing as though I’m fussy about such things I’d taken my own fitted bottom sheet!) and the cot seemed sturdy and followed cot standards – it had a pull down side rail for easy access.

The air conditioning was more than adequate to the point it got a little cold during the night if you left it on and our little one woke up a bit cold, flip the panel down and alter the strength of the fan to lowest and that seemed pretty fine – maintained temperature at a steady 19/20 degrees.

For all there was plenty of wardrobe space in our room there was little drawer space – be prepared and take some small baby hangers with you then you can take advantage of the hanging space and minimise the drawer space you need.

The fridge has adequate space for all you may need if you remove the hotels offerings and replace with your own. My only criticism about the room would be not overly huge so if your little one likes to have space to run around try and minimise your time spent in the room. The housekeeping was adequate but they didn’t replenish the beverages or snacks all that often, the safe in the room wasn’t working when we got there – try it and if it’s not working ask reception for an access key to activate it beware it costs 2 euros per day! Our housekeeping didn’t clean the rooms until late afternoon if you require your room to be turned around sooner you can ask at reception to ensure housekeeping make your room an early morning slot.

I’d recommend taking your own bath mat if your little one is active in the bath! There was no bat mat in our room so I was pleased I’d gone prepared. The hairdryer is a ‘fixed to the wall job’ so take your own if you don’t want to end up like the Friends ‘Monica in Barbados’ episode!!

Last point about the room.. there is no kettle or microwave so take a travel kettle if your little one needs sterilised bottles or a travel sterilizer.

The Marina: Lovely Marina – lovely vibe to it – not nearly as swanky as Puerto Banus marina in terms of the people/cars/boats and shops but in our opinion it was better – the layout was much bigger and more space-y and the vibe was much less pretentious without losing any of that ‘people watching appeal’!

There were lots of little Noddy rides to keep kids entertained and the restaurants and bars are a plenty.. the ones we ate in which I’m going to give a mention to were child friendly and the food was superb. Try Old Navy (Dinner), Casi’i Steakhouse (Dinner), Mayflower (Dinner), The Deck Royal (lovely for lunch or a chilled out afternoon / early evening drink) The Irish Cabin bar (again for a giant toastie for lunch or a chilled out drink) – they became our regular haunts. The Nasolo Italian had lovely quality food but to be honest the service was incredibly bad – waiters with attitude and the length of time to take your order let alone deliver your meal with a little one hungrily waiting was abysmal. I gave the manager feedback when we left and to be honest it was met with a ‘couldn’t care’ attitude.

There are lots of supermarkets around the hotel got to the top of the street and in both directions around 100 yards either way you’ll run into one – they stock Johnson’s products and nappies.

There’s a MacDonald’s at the top of the street to the left if you absolutely need one!

The little Vilamoura train stops right opposite the hotel it’s 4 euros per adult babies free – to be honest it doesn’t take you anywhere really worth seeing (the old town – don’t be deceived by its title it’s very residential and comprises of lots of nice villas, the new Hilton hotel and some golf courses) but for little ones it’s mainly the novelty of sitting on the train!

The world famous franchise, Nikki Beach, is right opposite the hotel entrance (sits within the Tivoli Marinotel complex) it’s free to get in and fantastic for Dinner – we ate there one night it’s incredibly child friendly – although no high chairs (take a portable booster seat it’s the best tip we could pass on!!) but it is first class in the food and service not to mention a stunning setting and worth getting dressed up for one night! It also has a beach bar opposite the restaurant which is another idyllic setting be warned it costs 15 euros for the sofa plus a free drink and price goes up if you opt for a beach bed or a four poster to lounge on – but it’s worth doing if you fancy an afternoon being waited on, on the beach while the little ones run around.

There is a gypsy market in Quarteira every Wednesday – if you go out of the hotel take a left and walk along the beach promenade it’s approx 35 mins on foot or 10 mins by cab – it’s o.k if you like that sort of thing! We found Quarteira was very shabby, and thanked our lucky stars we weren’t staying there – the market sells everything you’d imagine a gypsy market to sell from you (bad) fake bags, leather goods, clothing to music and electricals.. it’s very loud and crammed too so if you have the little one in tow be prepared to be shoved around a bit – to be honest we stayed about 10 mins and high tailed it out of there!

Water parks: We went to Zoomarine and loved it! The dolphin/Sea lion and birds of prey show were very entertaining – the animals are kept in lovely conditions and are well cared for – there are lots of rides and two big pools – you can easily spend the full day there – what impressed us most is the great facilities there are loos with baby changing facilities every 50 yards – they are very clean and there are water/confectionary machines/hot dog stands / beer stalls every 20 yards as well as 3 restaurants. There are also loads of picnic benches if you want to take your own lunch – it’s excellent and well worth it – we booked our tickets and coach transfers at the kiosk on the Marina just at the foot of the steps from the Irish Cabin bar.

We also bought tickets to the Aquashow water park which was the absolutely the opposite of Zoomarine – it was big, very local, dirty and smelly! We took a cab to this park as it’s only 10 mins away from the hotel. And we stayed no longer than 10 minutes when we got there! There is hardly any space to pitch up your towels for the day and no shade! If you go take your own parasol, it may be o.k if you have older kids who will be thoroughly entertained by the water rides (although one or two didn’t look that safe to be honest!!) but for little ones, personally we hated every minute!

Lastly we visited Quinta De Lago for an afternoon of retail therapy which was lovely – very upmarket and lovely selection of designer clothing (especially kidswear – Catimini/IKKS/Ralph Lauren etc), we had a lovely lunch in The Melting Pot pub overlooking the square perfect for people watching (and maybe some celeb spotting!)

Whilst my review is longwinded, I hope it helps! I know I would have appreciated an in-depth review before we went especially if it’s your first holiday away with your little one!

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