Spain with your family: Practical Guide
20 July 2020
Spain is a true cultural treasure with a rich historical heritage. This plural, warm and welcoming country it a perfect place to spend a few days or several months. Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, this country, which forms the Iberian Peninsula with its neighbour Portugal, is a patchwork of cultures, sublime landscapes and extraordinary monuments. Rich in its thousand-year-old crossbreeding, the Kingdom of Spain is a perfect destination for families, whether they are curious, gourmet or adventurous.
- Spain in a nutshell
- The essentials
- Our luxury addresses for families
- Family activities
- Some formalities before you leave
1. SPAIN IN A NUTSHELL
- State: Kingdom of Spain
- Capital city: Madrid
- Political regime: Parliamentary monarchy
- Languages: Castilian, Catalan, Basque
- Currency: Euro
2. THE ESSENTIALS
- Stroll through the master paintings on display in Madrid’s three largest museums and learn more about the different national and international artistic currents: classicism at the Prado, contemporary art at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and an incredible panorama of the evolution of painting from the 13th century to the present day at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
- Discover Granada, the Sacromonte district and its delicious little streets, its sumptuous churches, its intimate squares perfect to taste some tapas, and, of course, its Alhambra. The walk through this architectural masterpiece, a prestigious witness of the Muslim presence in Spain between the 8th and 15th centuries, will also give you the opportunity to admire the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
- Explore Córdoba and its historic centre, listed as a World Heritage Site. A city known for its tolerance and the successful cohabitation of the different peoples who have lived there, it is home to the Mezquita, an absolutely stunning architectural jewel of finesse, and the Judería, the old Jewish quarter, of great cultural and historical wealth.
- Open up to Andalusian culture on an excursion to Ronda. Cut in two by a vertiginous ravine, one of the oldest towns in Spain stands proudly in the heart of the province of Malaga. Take advantage of the crossing of the Puente Nuevo, dating from the 18th century, to admire the lush green valleys stretching as far as the eye can see and visit the city’s bullring, the oldest in the country.
- Head towards Catalonia to discover a region apart. In Barcelona, stroll through the Barri Gòtic, marvel at Casa Milà and Casa Battló, two examples of surrealist buildings designed by Gaudi, walk along the Rambla, the backbone of the city centre, enjoy the colourful benches of the Güell Park and take a breath of fresh air in the Ciutadella Park.
- Let yourself be carried away by Salamanca’s special energy. Paradoxically, this young, lively and animated city, often neglected because of its small size, is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and named European Cultural City in 2002, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
- Lose yourself in the enchanting streets of Cádiz, a city built on rock and surrounded by thick walls. With almost 3,000 years of history, the city is the ideal place to discover the Costa de la Luz and its fine sandy beaches, take a flamenco course, visit the region’s extensive natural parks and, why not, take the road to discover the famous Rock of Gibraltar.
- Set sail for the Canary Islands. There you will discover the unmissable Tenerife but also Gran Canaria and its jagged mountains, the city of Las Palmas and its almost South American atmosphere, the lush vegetation of La Palma, the true paradise for hikers that is La Gomera, or El Hierro, the wildest of the archipelago, which is home to immense pine forests and numerous volcanic scree slopes.
- Alternate between fiesta and siesta in the Balearic Islands. Laze in Mallorca, between idyllic coves and olive groves, walk along the hiking trails of Menorca, an island declared a World Biosphere Reserve, or join the mythical island of Ibiza, a paradise for inveterate partygoers and families in search of sublime coves and turquoise water.
3. OUR LUXURY ADDRESSES FOR FAMILIES
Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri *****
Located about 30 minutes from the historic port city of Cádiz, the Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri ***** enjoys a sumptuous setting: the Atlantic coast and its 260 kilometres of fine sandy beaches. Proudly overlooking the magnificent Barrosa beach, it is an ideal family-friendly base. Its 195 rooms and suites, designed and decorated by interior designer Pedro Peña, look just like their creator: refined and authentic.
Families will love the 6 swimming pools (one of which is indoor) with thermal bath, the 3,650 sqm spa,bowling, the ultra-quality baby-sitting service, the FREE kids-club for children aged 4 to 12, the 98 sqm Balinese Suite with ocean view, the restaurants in enchanting surroundings and the kids-friendly workshopsoffered in the Happy Minds programme inspired by Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and many more!
They will also visit the Bahía Natural Park where they will have the chance to discover the wealth of local flora and fauna. Teenagers will not be outdone and will be able to enjoy a myriad of activities adapted to their desires: bowling, paddle, cooking classes but also horseback riding, canoeing or kayaking trips.
Bahía del Duque *****
Head for the Canary Islands and, more specifically, Tenerife, to discover the Bahía del Duque *****, a luxurious establishment particularly suitable for families. Recently renovated, the hotel is inspired by the traditional villages of the region to offer its guests an idyllic and authentic atmosphere. The hotel’s 346 rooms and 57 suites offer breathtaking views on the Playa del Duque or the more than 60,000 sqm of exotic gardens that surround the hotel.
Five swimming pools, a mini-club offering creative workshops, treasure hunts or disco nights, a relaxation room with games consoles for teenagers and an experienced babysitting service are just some of the exceptional services that families with children can enjoy at the hotel.
The days will be busy for guests who want to enjoy all that the island has to offer. Take a private tennis lesson at the hotel, perfect your swing on one of the five nearby golf courses, surf the waves or dive under them for a snorkelling session, fly over the coast on a paraglider or admire the stars from the hotel’s observatory – the choice is yours!
ME Ibiza *****
How about heading to Ibiza, the most glamorous island in the world? Take your quarters at the ME Ibiza *****,a luxury hotel combining modernity and bohemian chic atmosphere. All too often reduced to a simple nerve centre of limitless parties, the pearl of the Balearic Islands is also an ideal holiday destination for families looking for peace, nature and relaxation. Modern and minimalist, the hotel’s 176 rooms and 20 suites will delight you with their brightness and comfort.
The hotel is located just a few minutes away from Cala Martina beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, where children will love to spend their free time. If they prefer the peace and quiet of the hotel, they can take advantage of the baby-club or kids-club and its swimming pool, which is exclusively reserved for them, free of charge. For a day trip, head to the nearby island of Formentera for a snorkelling trip or take advantage of the many hippy markets dotted around the island.
Finally, after a busy day, finish off with a yoga session at the hotel, a visit to the spa (suitable for the whole family), and a well-deserved aperitif at the rooftop with its breathtaking view of the bay.
What would Spain be without its gastronomy? In addition to the unmissable tapas, ham, chorizo and paella, Spanish cuisine is full of delicious regional dishes, influenced by the different peoples who have left their mark on the country. From Asturian fabada (white beans with blood sausage and spices), Galician-style octopus (seasoned with Pimenton de Vera, smoked paprika), patatas bravas (the star of Barcelona’s fast food) or tortilla (the Spanish speciality), there are plenty of opportunities to awaken your taste buds to Iberian flavours.
Some restaurant ideas
- In Cádiz, La Curiosidad de Mauro Barreiro offers a menu that respects Spanish gastronomy while fusing South American and Asian cuisines. The colourful and tasty tapas will delight young and old alike, and the tasting menu, made with fresh produce bought in the morning at the market, will take you on a journey across the country, between Andalusian culture, Mediterranean flavours and Galician terroir.
- In Tenerife, treat yourself to a special moment at the Maresía, a gastronomic restaurant run by the Padrón brothers. Awarded one star in the Michelin Guide, this avant-garde establishment with a refined aesthetic is a showcase for local gastronomy and seafood. Both brothers are committed to a cuisine that promotes the responsible use of resources and use only the products provided by the nature that surrounds them. From the land (or the sea) to the plate, it’s only a step and you can feel it! Exquisite flavours, maximum freshness, millimetric dressing, nothing is left to chance and the final result is up to expectations.
- On the island of Ibiza, the Utopia restaurant lives up to its name. Paradisiac and almost inaccessible, this restaurant nestling in a small quiet cove, a stone’s throw from the port of San Miguel, is a true haven of peace. Here, there is no real menu, you simply enjoy the catch of the day: sardines, octopus, sea bream and seafood are served almost plain, only spiced up with small touches of seasoning to reveal all their flavours. If you prefer raw fish, ask the chef to prepare sashimi, he will be happy to serve you. Fresh fish, a deserted beach, a calm atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city, what more could you ask for?
5. FAMILY ACTIVITIES
- Spain is full of regional and national nature parks suitable for family walks. Don’t hesitate to set off to conquer the Sierra de la Peña Francia, the Matarraña and its sublime gorges, the magnificent villages of the Maestrazgo, or the extraordinary park of the Sierra de Gredos. The most sporty and curious will go to the canyons of the Sierra de Guara for a canyoning trip between waterfalls and natural pools. Supervised by professionals, these outings are within everyone’s reach and will plunge you into the heart of a sumptuous, preserved and unusual nature. Ready to abseil down walls and dive from the top of rocky peaks? Let’s go then!
- Thrill-seekers won’t miss PortAventura, one of Europe’s most emblematic theme parks. Located on the Costa Dorada, just an hour’s drive from Barcelona (and a few kilometres from the ME Sitges Terramar, a hotel stamped Little Guest), this theme park is divided into six universes designed to make children…and grown-ups dream! Horizontal catapult, roller coaster, free fall, aquatic course, impossible to get bored in this gigantic space entirely dedicated to your pleasure. If you feel like it, you can even stay inside the park and enjoy an unforgettable family experience. Fasten your seatbelts because you might just get an adrenaline rush!
- In Tenerife, don’t miss Siam Park, which boasts the largest water park in Europe. Located in Adeje, in the south of the island, it covers more than 185 square kilometres and offers its visitors an incredible network of water slides, each one crazier than the next, numerous pools where you can have fun with your family, buoy circuits and many other leisure areas. For the more adventurous, there is the Tower of Power with its 28-metre high vertical slide that runs through a pool where sharks and manta rays swim freely. You can even learn how to surf at the park! Indeed, Siam Beach offers one of the highest artificial waves in the world: 3 meters! Children are fed up with cultural visits? Can’t stand crowded city centres anymore? Plunge headlong into this aquatic madness!
- For budding or experienced scientists: we have what you need and you’ll find it in Granada: The Science Park (Parque de las Ciencias)! A planetarium, observatory, interactive museum and leisure area with a wide range of cultural and scientific activities, the Science Park is located just a few minutes from Granada’s historic centre. Visit the vivarium where more than 20 species of butterflies live, watch a show of birds of prey or observe the city from the observation tower‘s viewpoint, the choice is yours.
6. SOME FORMALITIES BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Beware of the Spanish sun, a sunstroke or sunburn can happen quickly! Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and anti-UV clothing for your young children. Our article on organic sun protection for babies, and our comparison of the best pairs of children’s sunglasses could be very useful to help you make the right choice.
- To make sure you don’t forget anything, don’t hesitate to consult our travel checklists for babies from 1 day to 3 years old, toddlers from 3 to 6 years old and children from 6 to 12 years old: pyjamas, toys, plasters, mosquito repellent, swimsuits, armbands or after-sun care… It’s all there!
- A useful contact at last. In case you still have questions, you can visit the Spanish National Tourist Office website, a real gold mine for families who want to prepare their trip well.
Buen viaje y hasta pronto !
Guillaume, 26 years old, passionate about travelling, from Paris