Looking to impress the kids and keep mum and dad happy? Then check out our Purple tips for six of the best family holidays in Spain. For great family holidays in Spain, you’ll need sunshine, child-friendly accommodation and restaurants and a tonne of things to see and do, not to mention a top notch beach. Here are some of our tips for family friendly fun in the sun for holidays in Spain in 2014.
1. Malaga on the Costa del Sol is one of our top choices. With Nerja Caves to explore, Aqualand Torremolinos or the botanic gardens and cable cars at Tivoli world, as well as great value accommodation and kid friendly restaurants by the bagful, it’s a good choice for a late summer break.
2. If you fancy all year sunshine Lanzarote and specifically Puerto Del Carmen is the place to go. The beaches are to die for and it makes a great base for exploring the island. Lanzarote has plenty of fun activities for kids of all ages including Costa Teguise Aqua Park, go karting in San Bartolome or the Rancho Texas Theme Park.
3. Lloret de Mar in the Costa Brava is a great place to mix city break with sun, sea and sand, in other words the ideal mix of things for kids and mum and dad. Close to Barcelona it’s ideal for a day out at the Museum of Ideas and Inventions, the CosmoCaixa, or simply a walk down the Ramblas, while the beaches are just a stone’s throw away.
4. Alcudia Beach in Majorca is perfect for a relaxed few days on the beach. You’ll find a relaxed pace of life here, so it’s good for a peaceful getaway. There’s lots of space for relaxing on the beach, enjoying long, leisurely meals in child-friendly restaurants and there are a lot of historical sites and the S’Albufera Natural Park.
5. Costa Adeje in Tenerife is a firm family favourite. For little ones there are water parks, clean and shallow beaches and for older ones there are surfing or diving lessons and organised day trips. The whole family will enjoy whale watching trips, while the selection of hotels suits every budget and every kind of holidaymaker.
6. Portinatx in Ibiza is not about partying all night. Away from the noise and clubs you’ll find a haven of facilities for you and your family. From quiet sandy coves, relaxed local restaurants and kids clubs at plenty of hotels offering entertainment and games programmes, it’s a good choice for kids up to 12 years old.
Are there any resorts we missed? We’ve love to get some readers tips on family holidays in Spain.
Set on the rocky west coast of Majorca, Deia Village is a peaceful little place which has attracted many artists and literary figures over the years. The big draw to the village apart from great weather was the village cafe and swimming at Cala Deia and the chance to collaborate with other artists.
Poet and author Robert Graves led the pack, settling there after World War 1 and setting his historic novel Hercules My Shipmate there. Anais Nin visited in the 1920s, while various authors, activists, actors and artists made it their homes. The area hasn’t lost any of its charm in recent years, entrepreneur Richard Branson has a luxury escape there, while musicians like Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler, Mike Oldfield and more recently Caroline Corr and Fionn Regan settled there for various time over the last 100 years.
Get there via twisty ‘don’t look down’ mountain roads, but don’t expect the clubs and chip shops found in other parts of the Balearics, Deia is continuing its heyday lifestyle of relaxed strolls through olive and orange groves, a range of beaches, tasty little traditional restaurants or gardens and ruins that date back to the 15h century. Take your pick of cultural inspiration on a holiday in Deia.
A spy museum, all you’ve ever wanted to know about toilets and real life samples from Big Foot, we’ve got 10 really weird museums from around the world for your pleasure.
Want to become a spy? Actually, can we just ask, who doesn’t? Well, now you can, for a day anyway, at the International Spy Museumin Washington DC, USA. We’re talking gadgets, code breaking and generally being a bit James Bond as you learn about the history of secret agents and get to grips with a life of espionage.
Iceland’s Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, is as the name suggests all about biology and takes it very seriously too. It is home to a collection of more than 215 penis specimens from various mammals found in the wild all over the island including a walrus, a rogue polar bear, a whale. There are also four examples from humans, but we didn’t ask where they came from.
We always hear of the priceless art found in countless cities throughout the world, but what about the bad stuff? The Museum of Bad Art in Boston claims to be the only one of its kind in the world. Featuring art that’s ‘too bad to be ignored’ it features plenty of paintings of dodgy blue people, symbols that don’t mean much and some weird uses of nudity.
For all you’ve ever wanted to know about the humble toilet, you could do worse than the International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. The curators tell us: ‘the toilet is a part of the history of human hygiene which is a critical chapter in the growth of civilisation.’
Athens is well known for its museums filled with thousands of years of artefacts that document the birthplace of science and democracy. We like the Tactual Museum, where you’re actively encouraged to touch everything. There are all kinds of replicas, statues and frescoes that you can get up close and personal with.
The Hair Museum of Avanos in Cappadocia, Turkey is a fairly simple idea, but definitely one of the most bizarre things you’ll see. In a room under an unassuming pottery shop, you’ll find caves covered with a collection of over 16,000 locks of hair from women from all over the world. It’s free to enter, and women can leave a lock of their own if they want.
For the latest information and conjecture on the likes of Big Foot, the Montauk Monster, or the Abominable Snowman, then the Cryptozoology Museum, in Portland, USA is a good place to start. It claims to have ‘actual samples’ of hair and unique pieces of evidence from mythical creatures from all over the world.
Your green fingers will start tingling when you hear about the British Lawnmower Museum. As you would expect, it’s dedicated to all things grass cutting and is home to specialised gardening machines, vintage lawnmowers and all manner of parts and conservation materials from all over the world. A truly British experience.
If you’ve got a weak stomach, it might be best to skip the Paris Sewer Museum. You’re guided through the tunnels and pummelled by historical and factual information about the famous underground areas that have featured in French literature including Les Miserables and Phantom Of The Opera.
Love chips? So do we and so do the Belgians apparently, if the Friet Museum is anything to go by. The ground floor offers a 10,000 year potted history of the humble spud and it’s development into the tasty chip we know and love today.
For anyone looking for a great, cheap family holiday on the Mediterranean’s wonderful coastlines coastlines, beautiful coves and transparent waters, the Costa Brava family holidays are the ones to consider. There are plenty of resorts, ranging from easy on your pocket to the lap of luxury, many specialising in family friendly fun. Of course, that’s in addition to the charming local towns and villages, stunning natural scenery and golden sandy beaches with shallow waters, little rock pools to explore and great facilities.
Tamriu is quite a sheltered beach so it’s a great place to relax with your children. A handful of tasty local restaurants offer good value children’ts menus, while it’s only a couple of minutes drive from Begur or Palafrugell.
The beach of Playa de Pals near L’Estartit is an excellent family friendly choice. A huge stretch of sand, there is lots of room for fun and games, and great child friendly eateries and shops. Just be aware that it can get a little rough when the wind picks up.
You’ll find any number of water sports schools and shops right along the coast. If you are travelling with teenagers, maybe they’ll be interest in snorkelling, scuba diving or sea kayaking. For something a little more group orientated, a glass bottom boat trip doesn’t exactly count as a water sport, but is still a nice afternoon out and a lovely way to spend Costa Brava Family holidays.
The AquaDiver park in Platja d’Aro has wave pools, rapids and lots of rides and pools dedicated to children. The pancake house, picnic spots and relaxed pine forest surroundings means mum and dad will enjoy it too.
Aqua Brava is home to Europe’s biggest wave pool, as well as impressive water rides like the Kamikaze, the Black Hole or the Anaconda, a huge river rafting adventure. For smaller children, the Kid’s Lagoon and Island is a good choice, while a restaurant and pizzeria will keep energy levels up.
We’re not sure where this idea originated from, but Gnomo Park in Lloret de Mar is a fun day out, especially for babies, thanks to a specially adapted area. For older children there’s bowling, trampolining, and quad bikes and as the name suggests a dedicated Gnome Farm.
The Cap de Creus National Park is a great choice for hiking and exploring, there are hidden coves and lovely flora and fauna to discover. There is horse riding a plenty, paintballing, geocaching, mountain biking and quad biking found throughout the region if your kids are into lots of activities. The Tren Turistic is also a good choice for children, the old fashioned ‘train’ has been giving tours right along the coast from Roses for years and is a nice way of soaking up the scenery.
Where to stay, Lloret de Mar for its lovely seaside scenery and great transport connections. It’s also a good place for walking thanks to the woods that surround the town. Tossa de Mar, a fortified old town, is ideal for sun, sea and sand with a little bit extra in the form of great restaurants offering children’s menus and a couple of bars and clubs for older teens. Estartit might be one of the most popular family resorts in the area and has been accommodating British tourists for years. There is a huge range of hotels, apartments and restaurants to suit every budget.
Drenched in sunshine, there’s a reason it’s called the Costa del Sol. Did you know there are at least 300 days of sunshine every year on the Costa and it gets up to a balmy 27 degrees in the summertime. Its regional capital Malaga is no different and is the right mix of nightlife, beaches, shopping and total relaxation.
If the weather isn’t enough to convince you how about the price? It’s cheap as chips on Malaga holidays 2014, especially if you know the right places to go. And that’s before we start on the native Malaguenos. The friendliest people on earth? Only one way of finding out.
The obvious first choice is Playa de la Malagueta, the blue flag town beach. A busy beach, with good facilities and easy to get to. Get to the Playa Las Acacias early as it’s a popular choice. Great for kids with its sheltered sandy coves and it’s huge so there’s plenty of room for everyone. Beside the El Candad marina you’ll find the Playa Palo with a good atmosphere and lots of facilities and bars. Further on from the city there are great beaches to discover like the Santa Amalia in Fuengirola, El Padron in Estepona and Casablanca in Marbella. So really it’s up to you!
What to do in Malaga
Along with Seville and Madrid, Malaga is at the heart of bullfighting in Spain. Although clearly the sport is not for everyone, the bullring at Plaza La Malagueta draws throngs throughout the throngs of locals during the season (April to September.) Malaga Bullring via @ mer de glace
Malaga is the birthplace of the legendary painter Pablo Picasso and the Picasso Museum houses a selection of his works, with a detailed audio tour added to it. The café and shop are worth browsing in too. There’s also a Museum of Dollhouses in Malaga, a cute collection that’ll impress any little princess. Learn all about the history of the area at the Museo de Artest Populairesor treat yourself at (our personal favourite) the Wine Museum of Malaga. Retreat from the hectic streets by visiting the Renaissance city Cathedral or take a walk in La Concepcion – Jardin Botanico (the Botanic Gardens.)
Day trips from Malaga
The imposing Alhambra Palace in nearby Granada is one of Spain’s most important attractions. It’s part cathedral, part castle and part palace and has inspired poetry, music and even mathematics. You’ll definitely need to get tickets in advance to make sure you get in. Night view of the Alhambra via @ Teosaurio
Mijas and Nerja are two delightful little villages very close to the city. They have small lookout points, offering beautiful views of the Costa. Furthermore there are plenty of smaller resorts to discover nearby. Travelling west from Malaga City, you’ll find Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella. Going East you’ll get to Rincon de la Victora or Torre del Mar. Most of these are just a few minutes on easy connections by train and are well worth going to for an evening out eating or exploring.
Family fun on Malaga Holidays 2014
Visit the town of Juzcar. In 2011 all the residents got together and painted every building a lovely sky blue, in honour of the Smurfs movie. Juzcar image via @ manuelfloresv
Worth a look if you’ve got the time. The Aventura Amazonia in Marbella is an action packed activity park with 83 challenges and 20 zip lines. Enough to keep little ones busy for hours. Selwo Adeventure in Estepona has over 2,000 animals from across the world and also offers some activities, like zip wires. Aqualand in Torremolinos is the biggest waterpark on the Costa, big enough to spend the whole day and just minutes from downtown, it’s a top choice.
Shopping in Malaga
Sales in Malaga run on and on and on, even in the classiest shops in the centre of town. Start with the fancy designer shops around Calle Marques de Larios. The marble boulevard just screams big bucks. Well worth an afternoon out is the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for a riot of colour, the freshest in fruit and vegetables and yummy cheese (and a great tapas bar in the corner.) It’s ideal for stocking up if you’re self catering.
In the heart of the city you’ll find the Smile Bank, a cute shop selling all sorts of funny souvenirs, cute t-shirts and personalised gifts. If you need a hat, fedora, sombrero or panama (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Go to Ricardo del Cid Fernandes on Calle Caldereria, an old school favourite.
Green fees in and around Malaga
Golf courses abound in Malaga from approximately €17 at the Casares Costa Golf designed by Juan Carlos Martinez to €65 at the La Cala Resort and plenty in between.
Nightlife in Malaga
There are some great bars, music venues and of course, clubs in Malaga and the surrounding areas offering everything from a quiet drink in a cosy snug to dancing on the table all night long. The ZZ Pub is a favourite with locals and has lots of live bands. Mane in nearby Benalmadena is open late, has free entrance at the weekend and you can expect pumping dance music all night. The Velvet Club on Calle Juan de Padilla 22 has great music and prides itself on its midweek parties, but note they close at 3am. If karaoke is more your thing, head for Dixie’s on Salvador Allende 9. A small, friendly establishment, run by locals, it is a great place to get your night started.
Hen and Stags in Malaga
Malaga’s also an up and coming hen and stag party destination. With a tonne of clubs, cheap bars and booze and loads of activities like, a fiesta meal (with stripper) for the ladies or very special nights out for the lads, with added dancing for the groom to be, you and your gang can have as much fun as you want.
Malaga is a delicious taste of Spain and one of the most surprising things? The prices. One visitor who has just returned from a short trip to the city was delighted to find: “abundant coffee and wine at €1.50 so you can savour a stop frequently.”
Malaga has delicious Spanish cuisine and great international choices too. Start with a trip to Tapeo de Cervantes, C/Carcer 8, for reasonably priced, excellent quality food. Arguably the best bargain tapas place on the Costa del Sol! For something special, the Restaurante Amador at Calle Bandaneira 6 is a quality establishment offering beautiful, fresh Spanish food along with delightful views. For seafood Marisqueria el Kaoba is a mid priced must. Finish your evening with a stop at Malaga’s top sweet shop, Cafe Lepanto at Calle Marques de Larios 7.
The Barcelo Malaga is just a few minutes from the city centre and right on the handy AVE high speed rail line, so it’s a great choice for couples who want to soak up the sunshine and relax. The Hotel Las Vegas is right on the waterfront at La Malagueta beach and all rooms have a full or partial sea view. The Malaga Centro is in a great location as its name suggests and just a couple of minutes to the beach. Hotel Domus, just five minutes from Pedregalejo Beach and with simple rooms, this is good value choice, but is a little further from the city centre (4km.)
For more cheap Malaga holidays give Purple Travel a call on 0207 993 9228.
Cosmopolitan. Cultural. Cool. Barcelona is a Catalan metropolis. A magnet for European tourists, this low-cost city break offers shopping, beaches, nightlife, cuisine and more. With so much to cram into a short break, you’ll need the Purple Travel Barcelona travel guide:
What to do in Barcelona
Shopping in Barcelona A paradise for bargain hunters, Barcelona’s most famous street, Las Ramblas, offers sublime shopping opportunities on all sides. In El Corte ingles, at the northern most tip of the Ramblas, you’ll find seven floors of shopping, categorized into different genres. If you can’t find what it is you require there, you won’t find it anywhere.
There is a plethora of shops all along the road, as well as dozens of cafes and restaurants for when you’re all shopped out. Take a break with a jug of sangria and take in the colourful hustle and bustle of the street, frequented by artists, tourists and friendly residents. You can also take a stroll through the lanes of the Gothic Quarter and the Raval neighbourhood to find boutiques backed by historic architecture and creatives on every corner.
Beaches in Barcelona Despite being a major city, Barcelona actually offers some lovely places to get away from it all and relax. Many of its beaches date back to the years when the city turned to the sea and took part in a renewal programme for the Olympics. Our favourite is Barceloneta Beach for its sand artists, drums, dancing and more. However, Barcelona’s well-maintained beaches extend several miles north from there, with many fantastic beaches along the way. Along this stretch are various cafes where you can grab a bite, which by night, become beach bars, where you can experience a slice of Barcelona nightlife.
Nightlife in Barcelona
The first thing you must know about Catalan nightlife is that the Spanish dine late, therefore the clubs don’t kick off until very late (over the weekends, the best period is between 3am and 7am). One of the best places to see and be seen is Elephant Bar, situated in the Les Corts neighbourhood. This two-storey, baroque-style villa is adorned with colonial decor, plush sofas and an exclusive VIP area. One of the most popular is the slightly cheesy Razzmatazz, which boasts five floors of varying music types, which function as separate clubs, despite having just one entrance fee. Other places you may want to check out are Pascha, the sister of Ibiza’s superclub, Sutton, a New York style nightclub with many celebrity guests and Mirabe, whose outdoor terrace is the perfect place to take in some of Barcelona’s best views.
What to see in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia
This enormous temple, designed by Antonio Gaudi, is one of the master architect’s most ambitious and impressive works. As yet unfinished, the building is often said to be a summary of everything Gaudi designed before (think leaning columns, designed at the correct angle so that they support the upper tower). This ongoing construction is funded by tourism, so be sure to check it out, you never know, they may finish it one day…
Poble Espanyol – “Spanish Village” This small, Spanish village is home to different quarters, built to replicate the style of architecture from different parts of Spain. Here, you can findhost of specialist craft shops selling Spanish goods and it is also the venue of the famous flamenco show at tableo de Carmen.
Another innovative creation of Gaudi’s is La Predrera (meaning quarry), previously known as Casa Mila. The beautiful building displays Gaudi’s characteristic wavy brickwork and colourful tiles.
Barcelona FC Museum
If you are a footie fanatic, then this museum is the one for you. With wall to wall trophies, pictures and statues of the Spanish greats, you’ll be in football heaven. You can choose one of two ticket optios: buy a ticket for the museum and to see the stadium or you can buy a dual ticket where you get to see the museum and behind the scenes at the club.
Picasso Museum The Picasso Museum is arranged in chronological order, showing the artist’s early paints right through to his final works. This allows you to see the development of Picasso’s thinking over time and how his distinctive designs became what they are today.
What to eat in Barcelona
Even before the molecular gastronomy craze made Catalonia famous for its fun cuisine, Barcelona possessed its own unique tastes and textures, sausages, wild mushrooms, spring onions with romescu sauce and acorn-fed hams from southwestern Spain. These are married with sparkling wines from the Penedès. Try Mesón Cinco Jotas on Las Ramblas, which serves a cselection of ham and charcuteria from the famous Sánchez Carvajal artisans in the town of Jabugo, Huelva. Or for the vegetarian, try Casa Félix, which is the classic Valls calçotada restaurant (a sweet, long-stemmed, twice-planted spring onion), which has entire dining rooms enclosed by enormous wine barrels.
Sun soaked, dazzling seas, year round warmth, lively clubs or relaxed lounging, it’s no wonder Tenerife Spain is a perennial favourite for tourists from all the UK. Straight out of Doctor Who, the lunar landscape is inspiring; it has its own volcano, year round good weather, the black beaches are something to marvel at and it would be tricky to find a livelier year round holiday hot spot.
Ideal for groups Playa de las Americas the busiest and one of the biggest resorts in Tenerife, Playa de las Americas isn’t just for groups, but for anyone looking for fun in the sun. There are endless sandy beaches, water sports by the bucket load and all night long clubbing.
Great for families Los Cristianos On the southern coast of Tenerife you’ll find great deals and lots of fun for youngsters. The soft, sandy beaches and shallow waters make it a great place to break out the bucket and spade while family friendly days out, fishing or sightseeing make it an excellent all round choice.
Perfect for couples Play Paraiso is exactly as its name suggest – paradise like. It’s a relaxed and peaceful resort that’s perfect for spending long, lazy days soaking up the sunshine on the beach. If it’s something livelier you’re after than the nearby Costa Adeje or Playa de las Americas offers unbeatable nights out.
Hit the beach OBVIOUSLY! There’s a big variety of beaches on the island. Some are made of dramatic, black volcanic sand, some are sandy, other’s shingle and others rocky. Most have beach bars, with excellent facilities and if you’re looking to strip off you’ll find naturist beaches on Playa de la Tejita in El Medano, or Playa de las Gaviotas in Santa Cruz.
Splash out at a water park Two major water slide parks are available in Costa Adeje the Thai themed Siam Park filled with slides and fun for all the family and Aqualand which has its own dolphin show, sure to impress kids of all ages.
Feast! Tenerife Spain has some delicious gastronomic treats on offer. The fact that it’s an island means it offers some delicious fresh fish simply boiled or baked in salt. Rabbit is a popular choice, while goat and beef are also good for the carnivores amongst you. You can’t leave Tenerife without sampling some of the wrinkly potatoes, papas arrugadas, or some of the fresh locally produced cheese.
Carnival Every February, Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the second biggest carnival in the world, just after Brazil’s famous Rio street party. A riot of colour, there is music, singing, dancing, parades, fancy dress and the party goes on for days.
Visit the House of Honey Learn how honey is collected at the Casa de la Miel, built to support Tenerife’s bee keeping sector. Find out how apiculture works and get to taste some of the local favourites.
Let your hair down Head for the banging resort of Playa de las Americas, the home of nightlife on the island. The whole place is just building up every day to happy hour and there you’ll find the best clubs and bars filled with pumping music, great deals on drinks and dancing on tables. Just remember, what happens in Tenerife, stays in Tenerife.
Shop ‘til you drop Take advantage of the lower taxes in Tenerife Spain and head for the capital Santa Cruz. Bargains are everywhere with plenty of department stores to splash your cash, or small boutiques filled with bargains. Take home some local turron (a type of nougat) ceramics, leather goods or a pair of espadrilles.
Try to catch the green flash At sunset and sunrise an optical illusion sometimes occurs, where a green spot is visible on the horizon, usually for only a second or two. It’s been known to happen in Tenerife and with great views out to the ocean, if you’re lucky you might just catch it.
Auditorio de TenerifeThe imposing structure of the Auditorio de Tenerife is found in the island’s capital. Designed by Santiago Calatrava the dramatic building hosts musical performances, operas and conferences, but the building itself is a sight to see too.
Teide Volcano If you’re planning on hiking, or want to cheat your way by cable car, a trip up the spectacular Teide, the highest point in Spain is a must, just be sure to apply for a permit to the get to the top. The views are well worth it and you’ll thank us when you get home!
TEA Tenerife This arts space in Santa Cruz is the Tenerife equivalent of the Tate Modern. Culture vultures can lap up contemporary and surrealist art in its permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Go rural Check out a cave house built into the mountains, go whale watching, or hiking or tickle your taste buds with some delicious local products. Teno Rural is a fun day out for all the family to discover the nature and history of the island.
Top hotels in Tenerife
Costa Adeje Gran Hotel A fantastic all inclusive option, the 5* Costa Adeje Gran Hotel is in a great location close to the shops to pick up a couple of bargains, the transfer times from the airport are about 50 minutes and the nearby beach and water park are perfect family fun.
Adonis Isla Bonita Hotel Just minutes from the beach, this 4* offers a warm and friendly holiday experience. The spacious, brightly coloured rooms are ideal for relaxing after busy days on Playa Fanabe Beach or the nearby Siam Water Park.
Columbus Aparthotel This 3* in the busy and vibrant Playa de las Americas resort is great for young people who want to be close to the bustling nightlife, water sports facilities and great beaches.
Sandos San Blas with a focus on environmental well being and sustainable tourism, the Sandos San Blas Nature Resort and Golf is a little slice of paradise. Play 18 holes, or head for the loungers to soak up the sunshine.
Laguna Park The infamous Laguna Park I and II accommodations are in a great party of Tenerife, just off the Las Americas Beach. Close to the bustling centre, with great facilities, it’s an excellent all round option for couples, families or groups.