As lovely as beaches are I’m one of those people who really don’t like sand that much, it’s hot, gets absolutely everywhere and really isn’t at all child friendly. If you have ever been to the beach before with small children then you know that sand ends up in every single crevice and body part humanly possible. It ends up all over your car and doesn’t seem to disappear for years! Also, kids just love to try and eat it, whatever you do they always end up with it in their mouth. If, God forbid, you try and have a picnic on a beach with little ones, more often than not, you end up with screaming kids with gritty sand filled mouths. The best thing about the beach, is that kids love the water and love to paddle.
Central Portugal has the solution to overcome all of these sandy issues, River Beaches, they are just simply ideal for kids!
So a river beach (praia fluvial), is just that, an area based on a river where you can go to swim, picnic and sunbath or relax. Some river beaches are based near damns and on lakes, where you can do more adventurous water-sports. Some (unfortunately) do have sand, others have grass or concrete/stone area. The river is usually dammed at some point so there are generally no currents and most have a shallow area, no big waves to contend with. During July-August River Beaches usually have a lifeguard and seem so much safer for the little ones than the big bad ocean. There are also restaurants and cafes at most. During off-season they are near enough completely deserted so you can have the place to yourself. Even if it’s too cold to swim, they’re a lovely place to picnic and paddle, some even have a children’s play area too.
The water is clear, salt and chlorine free, reviving and refreshing and warmer than the sea. I don’t know about your kids but both of mine tend to drink the water in swimming pools and the sea, I’d much rather they drank super clean river water (a sign at the river beach displays just how clean the water is), than salty seawater or chlorinated pool water.
In Central Portugal you are never too far from the sea, as Portugal has a huge coastline but if you want to live in the cooler, cheaper, more relaxed centre then the river beaches really do offer an excellent way to swim, bathe and paddle in a natural environment with a few man-made perks.