If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that we have just arrived home from a trip to Portugal with Martinhal. So after staying at their complex in Cascais, I thought it was only right to write a post about 5 things to do in Cascais with children and include a bit about where we stayed and why, without a shadow of doubt, it will make your holiday 100 times better than you could imagine.
When Martinhal got in touch and asked me if I would like to come and visit their Cascais complex and then head over to their inner city Lisbon hotel I jumped at the chance. I’ve always heard great things about Martinhal but if I’m honest I didn’t believe the hype quite so much… I mean, kid friendly is the same everywhere yeah? It’s CHILD friendly and a little bit adult unfriendly… gaudy plastic crap everywhere, silly themed stuff that the kids love but the adults want to stab their eyes out with a spork… not the case at Martinhal. Not even slightly.
I’m going to be posting various posts about this all week, but I will start with 5 things to do in Cascais with children because my kids reliably inform me that it is the best pool/beach style holiday they have EVER had. High praise from these two.
So first things first, where to stay in Cascais.
Martinhal Cascais family resort is exactly that – friendly for the whole family, and that includes babies, toddlers, tweens, teens and adults alike. Everything, from the furniture chosen to the design, is done with all parties in mind – no sharp edges so children can’t hurt themselves, but design lead so adults aren’t stuck with an eyesore.
The rooms are spacious and luxurious, with touches for the children never missed: a travel cot without the extra fee, a potty and baby bath in the room, a toilet seat, flip flops for the children and even dressing gowns too. All the touches that are usually for adults only, readily available for the kids too. The facilities were second to none with every taste catered for – a beautiful huge bath for me to relax in and a shower big enough for all of us to fit in (we tried!).
On the first evening we went to the main restaurant and everyone enjoyed a delicious meal. One thing I would say is that you shouldn’t go expecting the usual kid’s Buffett of chicken nuggets and chips – this isn’t available. What was available was pasta (which Edith ate plain) so most picky eaters are covered there and a range of veggies, grilled chicken and calamari. The boys devoured enough calamari that we had to check they hadn’t sprouted tentacles. Breakfast was an absolute triumph, with everything from English breakfast staples like bacon and sausage through to freshly pressed juices and fresh honey. What I really loved was that the area outside, whilst gloriously designed and filled with beautiful decor, was also perfect for children to run about and play. Edith had spotted the play house from the balcony in our room and spent all of breakfast playing, coming back to us, playing and so on. It was awesome – and meant I got a hot coffee. Yep, HOT coffee.
We spent a lot of time in the pools on this part of our Portuguese adventure, and Martinhal has 4 to choose from. 3 of which are heated! The indoor pool also has a hot tub, steam room and sauna – which Edith discovered and kept dragging everyone into. Speaking of spa: you might have seen on Instagram that Edith and I had our nails done in the spa? We took advantage of one of the many Mommy & Me (and also daddy & child) spa offers that they have and she loved it! Just look at that face.
The hotel playground and kids club is a triumph – whether you like kid’s clubs or not, this is an area you would 100% use. Flexibility is the name of the game with Martinhal – want to leave your children and go off complex for the afternoon? Great, they will have a blast. Want to play in the playground with your kids and dip in and out of the kid’s club room until they are happier? Great, you will both love it. M Bar is situated just above the kid’s club too, so they offer family brunches to help the kids get used to kid’s club if they are unsure.
There is a football pitch, trampolines, zip wire, bean bags to relax on, plastic wine glasses to sip from whilst out of the restaurant and wine glasses while in. A kid’s club pool, air hockey tables and every day, every hour there are a host of activities put on – including an activity sheet for the teens – so often overlooked in “family friendly” places.
The hotel even offers a shuttle into Cascais… which brings me from talking about our amazing accommodation (and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the ONLY place to stay if you are taking a family to Cascais) to 5 things to do in Cascais with children.
1.) Go to the Beach.
Cascais has the most lush beach. It’s not huge and it’s not overcrowded. It’s beautiful. From warm water to paddle in (erm, warmish…) to fish spotting with a snorkel in the slightly deeper water, it’s ideal. They also have a surfing and relaxing – a bit of everything for everyone right? I really loved the harbour beach too, we sat on the side and watched the fish in the deep water and then walked down to the tiny beach and had a paddle in the water.
2.) Walk the cobbled streets and find the carousel.
Portugal struck me as labyrinth like. There are so many things to see and do, the streets form a genuine labyrinth and around every corner there is a new shop, new beautifully decorated wall. In one of the small park areas there is the most beautiful carousel I think I have ever seen and we loved it – it was 6€ for 2 goes each and the kids LOVED it. Walk around (it’s so small in the main part of Cascais , you can’t miss any angle) and enjoy!
3.) Walk among the Harbour
The harbour, though small, was super fun for the kids. They adored seeing the boats and all of fish in the water which is crystal clear. There is also a really sweet Jewellery shop on the front of the Harbour with a cafe next door to grab ice creams.
4.) Visit the Castro Guimaraes Museum.
We walked into the square just as this had closed, but it was truly amazing just to walk around the outside, so it’s one to add to the list for sure. The buildings are from 18-19th Century and absolutely glorious.
5.) Visit Sintra.
Ahh this is something I was so desperate to do and we missed it! Sintra is the old town essentially, a beautiful place with castles and views galore. I was told by a follower on Instagram that it is very hilly so be prepared for walking but don’t come home with regret at missing it!
p.s – I will get a vlog added to this as soon as it’s live!