Andalusia with your family : practical guide
20 January 2020
Andalusia, the “Real earthly paradise” as the writer Théophile Gauthier called it, is nestled in the far south of Spain. Situated on the borders of Europe and facing the East, this luminous region is a dreamlike and exotic place. Between land and sea, Moorish palaces, Baroque architecture and the Costa del Sol bathed in an azure sea, it is a colourful family destination full of discoveries… a must-see!
Between beaches and mountains, the southernmost region of Spain surprises and conquers the hearts of young and old alike!
- The must-see
- Kids-friendly hotels
- Restaurants for families
- Family activities
- The most beautiful beaches
1 – POSTCARD
Andalusia is the fruit of diverse influences that blend Arab and Iberian culture. Its heritage is a reflection of its rich history closely linked with Africa, since part of Spain was Muslim for several centuries. Moreover, the term “Al-Andalus”, from which the region takes its beautiful name, is an Arabic word. Let’s not forget that Andalusia is only 14 km away from Morocco by the Strait of Gibraltar, which has made more than one traveller dream!
Deploying varied landscapes, this Spanish region is punctuated by mountains to the north and east (Sierra Morena and Sierra Nevada) and the green valley of the Guadalquivir River which winds to the west. Seville, its bubbling capital, displays its cultural charms and its taste for festivities by the side of this long river. In the lands of Cordoba that lies to the north and Granada to the east are flourishing cities renowned for their beauty all over the world.
Open to the sea, Andalusia also fills summer visitors and sun lovers with its superb coastline: the Costa de la Luz can be spotted on the side of Cádiz and Gibraltar, while to the east the famous Costa del Sol is punctuated by the seaside resorts of Marbella or Málaga.
2 – THE MUST-SEE
- Keep yourself up to date with the Spanish way of life in Seville, and not forgetting to bring your fan, an essential accessory for hot Sevillian afternoons. Specialist shops will help you choose from dozens of items in a variety of colours and ornaments. Spend the evening in the Triana district, the cradle of flamenco, which is alive and kicking as soon as night falls: music is in full swing around every corner. Start dancing and… that’s it, you’re real Andalusians! The dream comes true in the gardens of the Alcázar and their sumptuous residence. Parents and children love to replay scenes from their favourite series as they walk through the places that served as the setting for Game of Thrones. Yes, Dorne’s palace is the Alcázar of Seville!
- Take half a day to get lost in the corridors of the Alhambra, the fortress palace that has inspired artists throughout the centuries. Behind its high yellow stone walls hide architectural treasures and sumptuous arabesques worthy of the palaces of the Thousand and One Nights. But don’t let yourself be locked up there for the night… it is said that the spirit of the Caliph still lurks there…
- Take the road to the white villages or Pueblo Blanco in the language of Cervantes. Clinging to the mountains, the narrow streets of these villages invite you to stroll while their old stones are a sure invitation to daydream… Zahara, dominated by the ruins of a Nasrid castle, Sentenil de las Bodegas, a troglodyte village huddled under a huge rock, or the romantic Ronda, are must-see attractions.
Ronda (on the left) and the Alhambra of Granada (on the right) assure you a real trip back in time.
- Change your scenery and let yourself and your family be seized by the raw beauty of the Tabermas desert, unique in Europe. Located in the east of Andalusia, the landscapes of this extraordinary natural park have nothing to envy to the Wild West. Between its dunes and mountains, a lot of westerns have been filmed here: such as “Les cowboys en herbe”!
- Discover a unique place in the heart of Andalusia: the Sierra Nevada. The southernmost mountain range in Europe, it is full of natural treasures. A paradise for hikers, it will also delight lovers of more atypical activities: in summer and winter, try out family dog sledding trips. Your children may be asking for more.
- Taste with delight the fragrant olive oil of the village of Baeza, lost in the green ocean of olive groves. The cobbled streets and remarkable Renaissance monuments have earned this friendly town a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Did you know that Andalusia is one of Europe’s leading producers?
- Enjoy the gentle way of life in Malaga, an emblematic city on the Costa del Sol. A city full of colour due to its façades and its excellent amber, red or rosé wine, it also pays homage to Pablo Picasso and his contrasting palette through a museum dedicated to the painter. Lovers of fine wines should not miss the nearby wine route under any circumstances.
3 – KIDS-FRIENDLY HOTELS
Ikos Andalusia *****
As its name suggests, Ikos Andalusia ***** embodies the Andalusian spirit. Close to the aptly named Playa Bella, this all-inclusive 5-star establishment will open in May 2020 in an innovative spirit. Its location and architecture guarantee families a perfect balance between the serenity and festive atmosphere of this seaside region. This innovative establishment has already received the “Best Resort in Development 2019″ award, which says a lot about this charming address.
The wide bays of its luxurious suites are open to the sea, so that one almost has the impression that the big blue is an integral part of the decoration! In these comfortable settings, you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves… Each of the rooms has a contemporary and refined style, where blue gives pride of place to white in a southern spirit. And have you been told about its gastronomic offer? No less than seven restaurants, most of which are run by the creative energy of Michelin-starred chefs, will take your taste buds on a journey!
Like all the establishments with the “Ikos” label, this newcomer is a paradise for children from 4 months to 14 years old. Under the benevolent presence of the highly qualified professionals of the Worldwide Kids organization, your toddlers won’t know what to think. Unless football enthusiasts practice perfecting their “heads” at the resort’s WK Football Academy.
Marbella Club Hotel Golf Resort & Spa *****
A jewel of architecture, the MarBella Club Hotel Golf Resort & Spa **** knows how to deal with children!
The Marbella Club Hotel Golf Resort & Spa **** is a haven of peace whose present is at least as prestigious as its past. Former private residence of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, this extraordinary place has seen many celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Sean Connery or Brigitte Bardot pass through the orange trees of its splendid gardens… so chic! An exclusive atmosphere always floats within its elegant white suites furnished with care. At the Marbella Club, the charm of the Orient is lavishly expressed in the white Spanish stone, while the many tree-lined terraces and comfortable loggias invite you to la dolce vita. We love: the mountain as a backdrop, the rattan furniture and its warm touches, the bougainvillea clusters that enhance the architecture and the candlelight at nightfall!
For the toddlers, the figures speak for themselves: 5,000 m2 of playground are dedicated to them! Better still, 365 days a year, they can practice flamenco, gardening, plastic arts and cooking in its incredible kids-club.
Palladium Hotel Costa del Sol ****
Sunshine 320 days a year, an average annual temperature of 20° and a fine sandy beach bordered by maritime pines… what more could you ask for? The Palladium Hotel Costa Del Sol **** offers all the conditions for a successful Mediterranean stay, close to Malaga, capital of the Andalusian way of life. Moreover, the tribes’ favourite spots are undeniably the fine sandy beach, the hotel swimming pool with its two slides and the three whirlpool baths installed on the rooftop of the establishment.
The Palladium Hotel Costa Del Sol’s comfortable rooms and suites, most of them communicating, welcome families in a refined setting. Children from 6 months to 10 years old benefit from free nannies and activity leaders who offer a wide range of fun activities for children of all ages. Mini-golf, horse riding or water activities are on the programme, always with the same motto: the more the merrier!
4 – RESTAURANTS FOR FAMILIES
Tapas, sunshine and rosé… what better way to celebrate the arrival of the holidays?
Oh, Spanish flavours! Its tapas where mountain ham (great Andalusian speciality!), dried tomatoes and local cheese are king, its cold soups so thirst-quenching with sweet names (Salmorejo, Ajoblanco…) or its aubergines fried in honey have been putting everyone in agreement for several centuries! Not forgetting the seafood (fish and seafood) and the excellent wines of the region of Malaga and Jerez de la Frontera, which make the region a gastronomic destination.
- Set in the alleys of Marbella’s old town, Skina has already been awarded two Michelin stars: enough to make your taste buds sparkle! Chef Marcos Granda works with local producers and boldly twists gastronomic traditions. His plates, sometimes surprising, are very modern. In the middle of summer, we love cold basil soup served with an ounce of white tuna. It is worthy of the best gazpachos! Meat lovers turn to the faux filet of beef in its juice accompanied by local pears while sweet toothers savour the generous mango soufflé. A refined and authentic experience. Itinerary
- In Malaga, El Pimpi is the place to be to enjoy yourself while listening to good music and taking the pulse of cultural life. Adjacent to its delicatessen, El Pimpi’s gastronomic area offers the best dishes in the country. From the chestnut Lomo from Alto Genal to the excellent Iberian ham from Bellota and mountain-ripened goat’s cheese. In addition to tapas with olive oil that will delight children and picky eaters, meat and fish dishes are also served. Our preference is for Iberian pork cheek with Pedro Ximenez and fried squid with spicy mayonnaise. Keep your eyes open, you will always come across the great cultural figures of the region (flamenco dancers, painters…). Itinerary
- On the rattan armchairs of the Hotel Marbella’s famous beach club, just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea, the whole family will find something to satisfy their taste buds. Meat and fish, grilled in front of you, add their delicious flavour to the splendid setting of the restaurant. A pleasure for all the senses! With its allergen-free, gluten-free, healthy and vegan options, the menu satisfies everyone, especially the youngest. The starters are infused with the flavours of the sea: delicious shrimp tortillas or clams from Carril sautéed in garlic and fine white wine. The fillet of turbot enhanced with a drizzle of parsley olive oil or the luxurious lobster paella will suit the greatest appetites. The little gourmands will finish with the MC’s unmistakable chocolate mousse! Itinerary
Want more food inspiration? Discover with us the best hotel restaurants in the world!
5 – FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Tapas, sunshine and rosé… what better way to celebrate the arrival of the holidays?
- Here, it’s not just a blue house hanging on the hill but… a whole village (and even its church)! While the façades of the neighbouring villages are invariably white, it is the azure that is put in the spotlight here. In Jùzcar, which is also called “village of the Smurfs” one can cross from one street to the other, the Papa Smurf, the Smurfette and all their merry acolytes (or at least their statues!). In 2011, Sony Pictures has chosen this small town to promote the international release of The Smurfs. Bingo, all of Spain is talking about it! In any case, the wacky spirit of the little blue men floats everywhere: not bad for a return to childhood! Itinerary
- The incredible light of the Tabermas desert and its surprisingly exotic landscapes have been the setting for many westerns. It is not for nothing that these places are nicknamed “Little Hollywood”. The still intact settings of the Fort Alamo and Oasys Mini Hollywood, villages invite young and old alike to travel back in time. Several times a day, shows of all kinds replay the memorable scenes from the films that were shot there (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, For a Fistful of Dollars, The Oilwomen or, in another register, Lawrence of Arabia) and plunge you into the atmosphere of the Far West (French cancan show, film stuntmen…). Sheriffs, cowboys, Indian villages, forts and fantastic rides have the gift of making your little ones dream. If you feel like it, it is even possible to disguise yourself and put yourself in the shoes of your favourite outlaws! Itinerary
- The Costa del Sol, acclaimed by tourists for its mild weather, is increasingly appreciated by surfers for its waves. Good news for the amateurs, it abounds in surf and kiteboard schools for the whole family, especially in the surroundings of Marbella. The beach of El Chanquete, which is swept by the winds, is ideal for the practice of these maritime sports. In addition to a very accessible car park it is also equipped with showers, which is always welcome after a day at sea! Accustomed to working with all kinds of levels and ages, these schools and kiteboards allow sports tribes to safely experiment windsurfing but also stand up paddle or sea kayaking! Itinerary
- For even more freshwater thrills, visit Aqualand Torremolinos, the craziest water park in the region. Depending on everyone’s tastes, you can get your adrenaline pumping on one of the highest slides in Europe (22 metres high, hold your breath!) or do a buoy race on the famous Boomerang track. Equally impressive, the Anaconda slide is ideal for families. The little ones might not want to leave the games and jets of the Kidzworld, while those who love peace and relaxation can relax in the warm bubbles of the Chillout and play area. Itinerary
- For the more adventurous, smallminded hikers with a thirst for discovery: the Caminito del Rey (King’s Path), is a hike of about 7 kilometres, over a footbridge along the steep wall of the Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes, in the Los Ardales Natural Park. Vertiginous precipices suspended footbridges and rocky paths, in short, the landscapes are breathtaking! In order to access this unique place in complete safety, reservation and helmet are mandatory (possibility of renting on site). Please note that children under 8 years old are not accepted on the site for safety reasons. But your teenagers might just love it. Itinerary
6 – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
Poetic and romantic, La Caleta, in Cadiz, inspires dreamy families
- Among our three favourite beaches on the Costa Del Sol: the wild Cabopino wins the prize. In addition to being located in the heart of Las Dunas de Artola nature reserve and its unspoilt landscape, this beach is covered with a carpet of golden sand. Its shallow, crystal-clear waters are simply ideal for children. Bonus: in spring, this protected area is covered with a carpet of sea daffodils, which makes it even prettier. Itinerary
- Other than the beach and atmosphere. The Playa de Nagüeles, very close to Marbella city centre, is one of the most luxurious in the region. Its location and its jet-set atmosphere make it one of the most luxurious beaches in the region. It is also known as the Golden Mile. After a row of palm trees, an exceptionally clean beach is revealed. Another big advantage for parents is that the bathing is supervised and the beach gradually slopes down into the sea, making it more comfortable for the little ones to swim. It is in this exclusive area that you will find one of the most famous beach clubs in the city, the Trocadero Playa. Gourmets should not hesitate to visit it! Itinerary
- The 850-metre-long Alicata beach stretches out in a quiet area near a residential neighbourhood. This pleasant beach has all the amenities such as a large car park, showers, but also toilets and sun loungers with umbrellas. You can stay here all day long to organize sandcastle competitions or… siesta in peace and quiet. And who knows, maybe you’ll run into Antonio Banderas, who owns a property right next to this playa bonita? Itinerary
- A historic city that has inspired the world of the seventh art on many occasions, Cadiz enjoys some of the most beautiful beaches in the Autonomous Community. History and nature lovers will be won over by the exquisite picture painted by its Andalusian beaches with their generous curves, between dunes and mountains. Among the most beautiful and popular is the famous and poetic La Caleta beach. Itinerary
7 – WEATHER
It’s no secret that in southern Spain it’s warm all year round. This is the advantage of the temperate Mediterranean climate, even the winters are mild (at least on the coast, since in the mountains it snows quite often at this time).
All year-round, the sun is shining. In the south-east of Andalusia, rainfall is scarce, especially in summer. Temperatures, which can reach up to 40 degrees in July-August, are always more pleasant at the seaside. However, bring hats, sun screens and sunglasses for your family. Little Guest is on all fronts and also advises you on your choice of sun protection and baby sunglasses!
In spring and autumn, the temperatures, usually between 24 and 28 degrees, are simply perfect for exploring this beautiful region.
The only thing left at this point is for me to wish you a good trip and hasta luego, amigo!
Mylène, 28 y.o, art and travel lover, from Strasbourg, France