Estoril coast for 2 weeks with children?

Old Jan 1st, 2000, 03:26 PM
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Estoril coast for 2 weeks with children?

Is it feasible to spend this amount of time with children ages 5-9 in this area? We are looking for a beach destination, charm, eclectic crowd (not all English and German--no offense intended), good restaurants and still want to feel like we are visiting Portugal. Is this the place? Also, wondering if the beaches are polluted? Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. We intend to travel the end of June. Thanks!
Old Jan 1st, 2000, 04:05 PM
Cheryl Z.
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Of course I'm prejudiced as this is my favorite part of Portugal that I've seen, but I think you could easily fill up a week or so in this area and then go up the coast too. I think your kids would love the village of Sintra, and the Palace especially. Take a horse and carriage ride. The beaches in that area and North looked very clean to me, not overly crowded (but this was in early May). The Atlantic is beautiful and powerful, didn't see alot of swimmers. Don't forget to spend time in Lisbon too. And we loved Cascais. Yes, there is the German and English influence but we saw more of that in the Algarve area. We felt the Estoril coast was very "Portuguese". Great, inexpensive food and local wine. If you haven't been there before just a note of caution about prices/food: You'll be charged for the bread, and the pates, olives etc. that are often already on the table, or brought to you without asking. It's often NOT mentioned on the menus either. So just be forewarned since you're traveling with little hungry ones! The bread is soooooo good (as all the accompaniments were ) that I didn't care! Teach the kids some basic Portuguese words and phrases to use. I (somewhat dumb on my part) expected Portugal to be more "Spanish", and similiar language. It's not, Portugal is truly unique and wonderful.
Old Jan 21st, 2000, 12:58 AM
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I visited Portugal three years ago, in May, and Cascais was one of my favorite places. I stayed at the Hotel Baia in Cascais and was fairly happy with it. There is a smaller hotel called the Estalagem do Faro (my spelling may be off here) along the Cascais coast that looked very quaint—when someday I go back to Cascais, I will book there, as it's smaller and more intimate than the Baia. It's a place I'd recommend you check out. Unlike Cheryl Z., I didn't notice any English and German tourists in Cascais (but summer may be a very different story), and found the restaurants good but, compared to other places I went to in Portugal, a bit on the expensive side. (They really filled up on Friday and Saturday night.) The water didn't look polluted at the little beach in Cascais, but recently a marina was built at the mouth the beach's cove, so this doesn't suggest to me that you'd want to swim there. It seems to me that beachgoers would have better luck in Estoril. Estoril itself, however, is a casino/resort town, and is quite built up and fairly busy; I'm not sure how this translates into water cleanliness (you might want to take a look at The Rough Guide to Portugal, for RGs tend to get into the nitty-gritty of things like polluted beaches). Estoril itself didn't appeal to me. There's a lot more to the area, though. Sintra is beautiful, with castle ruins high up overlooking the city, and, as Cheryl K. mentioned, the Palace. However, you'll need to watch your kids closely if you trek around the high walls of the castle ruins. Gorgeous views, but not too much in the way of safety railings and the like. (Handholding is the simple solution here.) I would've loved Sintra when I was a kid. There are also small, charming towns between Sintra and Cabo do Roca, the western-most point in Europe; for instance, the town of Colares is nice—has a great little pasteleria too (coffee shop with ultra-yummy pastries).
As for things to do with kids there . . . it depends on what your kids find fun. If they want big water sports, I don't think this is the place for them, though maybe Estoril has offerings I don't know about. If your children like parks, there's a small park in Cascais with peacocks and pretty greenery. If they simply like being by the sea—enjoy beach strolling and cliffs and crashing waves and such—then you're in business.
Also, Lisbon is close by—a short train ride away. There's a castle there too. Just getting around on the trams and funiculars can be fun. (If you decide to spend any overnights in Lisbon, the Senhora do Monte is a great place to stay.)
Also, the beaches up along the northwest coast are worth checking out (as Cheryl said); but they are not safe for swimming, from what I've read. Riptides can be a problem. The beaches are great for lolling on, though.
I haven't been to the Algave, because my Portuguese cousin told me that "it's no longer really Portuguese." So I can't compare this area to the Algave. My impression, though, is that it isn't as "swimmer-friendly" as the Algave.
In general, you should do very well with children wherever you go in Portugal: from my observations, Portuguese people LOVE kids. The grouchiest-looking person will brighten up at the sight of a child (though I didn't find too many grouchy people in Portugal—most people are very friendly!). So wherever you go, you can be pretty sure your kids will be more than welcome.
Hope this was helpful.
Old Jan 23rd, 2000, 03:14 PM
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Hi Colleen,

I'm American and have been living in Portugal for the past 4 years. I also have a 5 year old and a 17 month old. Staying on the Estoril coast will keep both you and your kids busy! The beaches are great and your kids will find lots of other children there to play with. A trip to Sintra is great for kids. There is a wonderful toy museum and the carriage ride is a favorite if my kids. In Lisbon, you can go to the castle, ride the trollies, or go to the Puppet musuem. The coach musuem can also be impressive for children if the just keep in mind the coach that Cinderella rode to the ball in! Another fun and inexpensive way to get a great alternative view of Lisbon is to take a ride across the river on one of the MANY ferry boats that run every 5 minutes. Most people use them like a city bus because they have to BUT I like to take my kids on them because they are able to run around and the view is fantastic from the river. My very favorite place to take my kids is the former EXPO '98 site. It is a wonderful pedestrian ONLY area with gardens along the river, restaurants, a sky-tram, and a hugh oceanarium. It's easily to reach no matter where you are (by train, Metro, taxi).

These are just a few of my "parent in Portugal" suggestions. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me an email. Have a great trip- you and your kids will love it!


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