Portugal with kids: Martinhal Cascais review

If you’re visiting Portugal with kids, you’ll certainly be spending multiple days in Lisbon. Read our tips for Lisbon here. When you need a reprieve from city touring, head to the nearby seaside town of Cascais, where Martinhal Cascais is a resort destination in and of itself.

Most resorts designated as ‘kid-friendly’ or ‘family-centric’ are loud and overstimulating. Martinhal Cascais completely defies this expectation and greets parents with serenity and five-star luxury. Kids are welcomed and celebrated here—every aspect of Martinhal Cascais has kids in mind—but not at the expense of adults. Instead, this property remains elegant and calming while also maintaining a relaxed vibe.

Martinhal Cascais review:

Indoor/outdoor kid-friendly spa pool

Upon check-in, kids are greeted with goodie bags with stuffed (plush) toys, hats, ping-pong sets and the like. Parents are given the run-down of the resort: suites come as either half board (breakfast and one additional meal per day included) or full board (all three meals per day included), allowing you to create a fully inclusive experience. Or, you can opt out of any included meals, and pay a la carte (suites often include fridges and wet bars and villas include full kitchens).


We suggesting visiting Martinhal Cascais mid-vacation, and using this posh, peaceful property for some much needed R&R. Rooms and suites vary, but in general, the property has 60+ deluxe rooms that sleep four, with either pull-out bunk beds or sofa pullouts) and four suites (with a slider door division between bed and sofa pullout).

Martinhal bunks in most rooms (they fold up in the daytime!)

All rooms have kid-friendly features such as potty chairs, high chairs, and baby proofing, and additional gear such as bottle warmers or cots (cribs) can be requested. Twelve stand-alone villas line the side of the property, six of which sleep six instead of the standard four). However, these villas are awkward to reach; even though they’re adjacent to the playground area, a fence necessitates going around via road each time you come and go). Unless you really need the space for six, I suggest a suite in the main resort building or a deluxe room instead.

Martinhal villas

Bathrooms are gorgeous and feature oversized tubs and step-in showers. All rooms are bright and airy with sleek glass at every turn (but plenty of shades for when you need them). Most if not all have very spacious balconies or patios with outdoor furniture.

Most meals are had in the main dining space downstairs, which is where families meet for the breakfast buffet serving all manner of hot dishes (eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes), a wide variety of gourmet cheese and cut meats, breads, croissant and pastry, cereals, granola, and yogurt, fruit, and freshly-squeezed fruit juices. Mimosas are available for adults, as well as anything else you care to order from your server. Even the honey is presented in an actual comb, and cheese wheels are hand-cut on-site. A full, leisurely and gourmet dinner meal is served here as well, at indoor and outdoor patio seating. Lest you think this sounds pretty much awful with young kids in tow, fear not: a small playroom is located to one side of the dining room, staffed so you can let kids play there without leaving your own meal to get cold.



In fact, throughout the property, what I deemed ‘roaming nannies’ are always at-hand, ready to step in and entertain your children while you relax, read a book, eat a meal, or simply have a conversation. This is as amazing as it sounds. If you want to eat elsewhere for a change of pace from the dining room, the M Bar is located above the kids’ club, and offers a more casual (yet still delicious) lunch and dinner menu. Parents can opt for a balcony seat and watch their kids play on the playground below, or make use of the kids’ club or one of those useful roaming staff members. There’s a full bar here as well, as well as a lobby bar located by the dining room.

Martinhal Cascais kids’ club

The spa books appointments for adults as well as ‘mom and me’ and ‘dad and me’ type treatments for kids, and the additional spa facilities, including the indoor pool, hot tub and sauna and the smaller outdoor pool and lounge deck are all open to kids (accompanied by parents). This is a great opportunity to teach children about quiet indoor voices and how to behave in a spa-like environment without anyone fussing at them to leave.

I cannot emphasize enough how calming the entire property feels. Parents can truly have a restful holiday without sacrificing any of the amenities kids crave. I really don’t know how they achieve this, but it’s magic.

Outdoor pool hangout (seasonal)

What to do on site and off:

On-site, families will find a plethora of activities. The kids’ club welcomes kids up to age 12 (and this is flexible for older siblings) and baby club (for infants) are both fully-staffed and open daily. They’re located across the lawn from the suites adjacent to an impressive climbing structure, kid-sized zip lines, an in-ground trampoline and an in-ground air mattress for jumping. Right outside the brightly-lit indoor kids’ club and baby club lies an indoor heated pool (housed under a plastic dome to keep the air very warm inside).

indoor kids’ pool

Kids can be served meals in the club, or parents can check them in and out at will. Parents can also join their kids in the pool area, or in a separate play around for family use. Across the grounds, a seasonal outdoor pool complex with zero-depth entry beckons in the summer months, and all year-round, the Martinhal spa offers an additional indoor/outdoor pool where kids are welcome. Additional outdoor lounging areas and play structures are dotted across the resort grounds. If all this isn’t enough, there is also a turf futsal (soccer) field and bike rentals on-site (starting around 15 Euro for two-hour rentals…helmets available).

just part of the outdoor playground

When you’re ready to explore further afield, the beautiful Portuguese coastline awaits, easily accessible by foot or bike from Martinhal: just navigate 2-3 blocks to the coastline, then enjoy the well-maintained bike and pedestrian path that hugs the ocean. This is a rocky section of coastline, so parents of young kids will want to take care, but the views are spectacular. If you take the path left from the resort, you’ll end up in the town of Cascais (about 2 km), where multiple sand beaches and a marina await. Head in the opposite direction and a slightly longer bike ride or walk will take you to a more rugged, windy beach mostly used for surfing and kite surfing.


It’s well worth spending an afternoon or two at Cascais, enjoying the historic town center and beaches. Several fortresses still perch on the rocky cliffside, including Cidadela Palace of Cascais that now serves as a multi-use space for restaurants and museums near town. En route, you’ll also pass by the Santa Maria lighthouse and Boca do Inferno, a dramatic, gaping cliffside attraction where kids can peer down at the sea from bridges and paths.

Let the kids play in Marechal Carmona Park, then walk the main pedestrian street of Cascais or play on the beaches. Four are located past the marina area, including Pescadores, Rainha, Conceicao and Duquesa. We think Conceicao is the largest, offering lounge chairs to rent to settle in. In town, several inviting rooftop bars offer homemade pitchers of sangria should you find yourself kid-free (or have brought plenty of kid-friendly snacks to keep little ones happy).

How to get here: TAP Portugal is the way to go, with direct flights now from New York and Boston. They even have stop-over options for travelers who can only spend a few days.

Disclosure: I experienced Martinhal Cascais as a guest of the resort, for the purpose of review. All opinion remains my own.