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6 cheap-but-lovely places for families to stay in Portugal

By Nadine Mellor

Who doesn’t love a bargain? And Portugal is one of the best-value countries to visit in Western Europe. It has an amazing coastline of cliffs and sandy beaches, delicious food and drink, characterful historic towns and cities, and under-the-radar bucolic countryside. All of which can be enjoyed without too much outlay, making it a super destination for family holidays that won’t break the bank. Here are six of the best places to stay.

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1. Muxima, Algarve

Set within a cork and eucalyptus forest is this colourful seven-room eco-retreat whose well-travelled owners welcome families with open arms. Buffet breakfasts are included in the very reasonable rates and the suites have kitchenettes for straightforward self-catering. Leap off a rope swing into the spring-fed swimming pool (with shallow end) which resembles a pond, complete with dragonflies, lily pads and frogs. Further attractions at Muxima (pictured above) include resident farm animals, an outdoor playground with Wendy house and sandpit. There are a host of family-friendly Atlantic beaches 20-30 minutes drive away.

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2. Casa das Penhas Douradas, Serra da Estrela

Two hours inland from Porto is this wonderful mountain park of glacial valleys, granite tors and ancient villages, perfect for outdoorsy families looking for adventures off the beaten track. Casa das Penhas Douradas (pictured above) is a sleek (and modestly priced) hotel with a heated pool and sauna, and glorious views. It operates year-round for snowshoeing in winter or biking and hiking in summer. There’s a kids menu, children under four stay for free, you get a huge breakfast and picnics can be made up for the day. Get back for complimentary high tea at 4pm.

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3. Boutique Apartments Porto, Porto

If you’re flying in and out of Portugal’s second city to explore the Douro River and beyond, these contemporary light-filled apartments (pictured above) in a 19th-century seafront mansion are perfect for families on a budget. You’re a short tram ride into the UNESCO-listed city centre, there’s a sandy beach on your doorstep, the kitchenettes are well-equipped (plus a gourmet breakfast is included in the rates, delivered to your door), and each can sleep up to five people.

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4. Ha Mar ao Luar, near Setubal

With an unrivalled position high above the historic port of Setubal, and with views that stretch forever along the coast and out to sea, is this understated peaceful retreat, Ha Mar ao Luar (pictured above). The accommodation is quirky: take a suite in the main house or one of the hideaways, including a windmill, in the garden; all bar one have kitchenettes for self-catering (breakfast is included) and half have space for children. There’s a swimming pool, beaches and boat rides nearby, and you’re under an hour from Lisbon airport.

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5. Villa Pedra, Beiras

Once a remote, abandoned hamlet, now painstakingly restored as a cluster of self-catering cottages complete with walled swimming pool, this serene retreat (pictured above) offers amazing value for money. Light interiors boast retro-chic styling, each cottage has a fully equipped kitchen and private garden, and there’s a superb restaurant on site. There’s an aviary within the grounds and Roman ruins to explore nearby.

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6. Quinta Bouca d’Arques, Viana do Castelo

In the far north of the country, 10km inland from the coast, you’ll find this family-run estate (pictured above) comprising an old manor house with newer boutique B&B self-catering apartments within the extensive gardens. There’s a big sweep of lawn to play on, a secret wooden house, woods to explore and a large saltwater pool. Head out on one of the complimentary bicycles to the farm up the road or playground nearby, and try wild swimming in a local river. Beaches and watersports are 15 minutes’ drive away.

All images courtesy of i-escape.com.

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