Porto is blessed with a warm summer climate and is the perfect place for some family fun during many months of the year. As a thriving metropolis, it is also well stocked with things to keep the little ones occupied even when the sun is not shining, so if you are looking for a destination that offers culture, adventure, urban sophistication and rural charm, with lashings of entertainment thrown in for good measure, look no further than Porto for your next family holiday stop in Portugal.
There is plenty to do for children in Porto, whether you are travelling on a budget or have plenty of money to spare. The city is swathed in large areas of greenery, both landscaped and wooded, providing lots of parkland in which the little ones can run and stretch their legs.
Take a picnic and combine lunch and a stroll with a touch of culture at the Serralves Museum and Gardens, or the Palacio de Cristal, the landscaped gardens of Portugal’s answer to our old Crystal Palace.
For a wilder walk, the Parque da Cidade is the perfect place. Many hectares of greenery have been honed to provide an idyllic horticultural space that links the bustling city centre of Porto with the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Thanks to Porto’s proximity to the sea, this is a great city in which to combine urban culture and beach life, ensuring that there is plenty to keep both children and adults happy during their visit. Many of the beaches are well geared up for summer tourists, with plenty of eateries in which to sample the gastronomic delights of the sea, and surf schools at which to hone the art of riding the fine Atlantic rollers.
Children in Porto who prefer to admire the treasures of the sea from the safety of dry land will enjoy a trip to Sea Life Porto, located next to Goncalves Zarco square. Here they will encounter nearly 6000 sea and freshwater creatures representing more than 100 different species, including sea horses, sharks, clownfish and octopi.
The attraction has been carefully designed so as to maximise its views over the Parque da Cidade and out to the Ocean beyond, giving the impression of bringing the sea closer to the myriad of creatures that live in the well-tended confines of the centre.
From sea to space, the next of our activities with children in Porto is a visit to the city’s planetarium. The Planetario do Porto is a large observatory and space science education centre located within the city. It plays host to regular exhibitions, as well as a permanent presentation about the solar system and the night sky. There are also ad hoc educational events for children aged 6 to 12.
Children in Porto will love the city’s many museums. There are several art galleries and museums packed full of ancient artefacts that are of interest to all ages; however, children in particular will enjoy the Military Museum and the Museum for Transport and Communication.
The Military Museum houses a fascinating collection of weapons, military uniforms, warfare equipment and artillery dating from the 16th to the 20th century. It has also cleverly developed an exhibition using toy soldiers, which illustrates how battles have developed over time, from before the middle ages to the present day.
The Museum for Transport and Communication is the perfect destination for car lovers, but boys and girls alike will enjoy learning about the history of cars in Portugal and admiring the first model in the country ever to make it onto the road.
Activities with children in Porto needn’t be limited to land and sea. The Douro River, which runs through the heart of the city, provides a view of Porto from another perspective. River tours score highly on the list of activities with children in the area, whether for a few hours, a full day or even overnight on a trip down the verdant river valley beyond.
If running off energy is a priority, try a trip to Gondolandia, a suitable option for children in Porto. Gondolandia is a large play park located just outside the city centre, with a range of facilities including climbing equipment and play areas plus the odd obligatory computer game for the older ones.
Not adventurous enough? How about a horse riding trip at the Porto Horse Centre, a bike exploration in the hills and valleys of the Natural Park or a spot of abseiling or parascending, courtesy of one of the specialist adventure tour providers which are located in the local area? The world is your oyster.