Nine Family-Friendly Resorts in Spain
Spain is a country of stunning beaches. Fortunately, there is a chance for families to combine better value-for-money options with great laid-back vacationing. Spain is a destination that provides a full pack of entertainment and activities for kids, sandy and pebble beaches for their parents. Around 600 blue flag beaches await travelers on the mainland and on the islands.
When it comes to visiting Spain with kids most travelers prefer combining beach time with exploring Spanish culture, sightseeing or visiting nearby towns. Due to excellent means of transport in Spain, any corner can easily be reached within its borders. Spain is also a popular destination, offering a wide range of water sports such as windsurfing, snorkeling, and diving.
San Sebastian (Donostia)
San Sebastian is also known as Sanse or Paris of the South. It happened because of its unique architecture that was once copied from the capital of France. One of the main sights to visit in San Sebastian is the Town Hall. You can find it in the former casino building that was originally built up in 1887. The Buen Pastor cathedral stands majestically in the central part of the city. There is no other place in San Sebastian to enjoy Gothic architecture and pipe organ music for free.
Stroll along the Urumea river that divides San Sebastian into two parts. While there don’t miss amazing Maria Cristina and the Kursaal bridges. At the end of the promenade in the old part of the city, there is Aquarium de Donostia. Make sure to walk through a transparent tunnel to see sharks and other inhabitants of the sea.
Oceanographic Museum, situated in the port, introduces visitors to the maritime history of San Sebastian. The San Telmo museum is a place to admire the frescoes of José María Sert. Made of sepia and gold on a red background frescoes are displaying episodes of the Gipuzkoa history.
Libertad Ave is a commercial and financial center of the city. It is the longest street in the city as well with numerous banks and shops along it. The San Sebastian seashore is divided into several different sections with several crescent shaped beaches lined along the water body. The beaches with fine white sand are the pride of the city.
La Concha is claimed to be one of the most famous urban beaches in Spain with an average length of 4700 feet (1500 m) and an average width of 130 feet (40 m).
Ondarreta beach is about 2000 feet long and considered less pompous than La Concha. Nestled between the Miramar Palace and Igueldo Mount this beach can offer not only a relaxing pastime but unusual modern iron “Comb of the Wind” sculpture by Eduardo Chillida.
Zurriola Beach has soft yellow sand and is particularly popular with young people and surfers. Located next to the river and away from the city center it is usually packed with tourists in the summertime and used for dog walking off season. Next, to the beach, there is a bunch of surf schools offering lessons and provide surfboards rental. This is a lovely place for soaking up the sun in summer.
San Sebastián is an amazing mix of architectural styles. This is the place where medieval cathedrals stand next to Renaissance convents and historic buildings are covered with a coating. A huge number of forged details, marble and nice looking architectural elements make up the features of San Sebastian.
A great success of the beaux arts buildings is achieved due to overall sophistication and elegance. Lamp posts, park benches, and fences are mostly made of cast iron with elegant twirls and plant symbols. The unique spirit of San Sebastian is also provided by unusual street signs written in the large angular letters in the Basque language.
San Sebastian has amazed me with its cleanliness. After several days of strolling around the city, I was puzzled, why it is so clear everywhere. I have to admit that nowhere in Europe, and especially in Spain, I have never seen such spotlessly clean sidewalks. Even the side streets were amazingly clear. During my four days of wandering around the city, not a single dirty street was found. Urban and social development helped San Sebastian become a convenient place for everyone.
The Basque cuisine is rich in seafood and offers meals of various food combinations. World-famous San Sebastian’s tapas or pintxos can be found everywhere. These snacks are perfect to pair with beer, wine or cider. Pintxos are kind of sandwiches, canapés or mini-kebabs made from all kinds of ingredients imaginable.
Dozens of bars are positioned so close to each other that strolling along the street usually resembles visiting gastronomic exhibition rather than a historical center of the city. Despite the abundance of bars and cafes, gathered in one place, they all have their unique features, recipes, and frequenters, visiting it for a pint of beer on a daily basis.
It should be noticed that these drinking establishments might get crowded, especially during the lunchtime when you have to display some specific skills to get to the bar counter. Street food in San Sebastian is sometimes overpriced. Given that canapes preparation requires a very small number of products and the main ingredient is a thin slice of white bread, the price range from 2 to 4 EUR per piece makes me feel uncomfortable.
Province of Murcia is known for its Mar Menor unique nature reserve. While La Manga sandspit is the only landform that separates the lagoon from the Mediterranean, it is a popular place with many beaches, hotels and entertainment facilities. Mar Menor resorts provide a wide range of summer activities such as sunbathing, diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing and canoeing.
The depth of the lagoon does not exceed 23 feet (7 m) and is connected with the outer sea by four channels. This fact prevents water from stagnation. In the southern part of the inner sea, you can find five islands of volcanic origin: Isla Perdiguera, Isla Mayor, Isla del Sujeto, Isla Redonda and Isla Ciervo.
Mar Menor has warm and dry Mediterranean climate with an average annual temperature of 16-18 ºC, during wintertime daytime temperature usually does not drop below 5C, but reach 38C during summertime. Meanwhile, sea breezes provide mild temperature on the hot summer days. Rains are quite rare and usually occur in autumn or spring. Due to the unique climatic conditions beach season lasts longer than elsewhere and provide opportunities to follow the water sports year round.
Those who are fond of sunbathing will appreciate wide, sandy beaches of the Mar Menor. Mar Menor’s waters warm up to 34C during peak season and perfect for introducing babies and toddlers to the water. Water and mud of the Mar Menor have a high concentration of iodine salts and minerals. A lot of mud baths can be found along the coast in hotels and at the seashore. The villages of San Pedro del Pinatar and Lo Pagan allow trying the mud baths for free. Due to the shallow waters of the lagoons, it is a great place to teach kids to row, sail and windsurf.
One of the best beaches here is Cala del Pino. A narrow strip of golden sand with a total length of 500 feet (150 m) surrounded by a shady pine forest. The most picturesque beach by the Mediterranean is Playa de Monteblanco with amazing rocky inlets.
Playa de Aro
The resort destination of Playa de Aro is known for its famous golden beaches and carnivals. During the summer months, Playa de Aro is a traditional seaside resort with bars with numerous bars and water slides, winter is the time for town festivals and processions. The water temperature might be uncomfortably cool in June and warms up only by July.
The historic center of Playa de Aro comprises splendid medieval Benedormiens castle, the parish church of Saint Mary, picturesque streets of Sarme, Carrer de L’Hospital, del Sol and del Castell. The coastline of Playa de Aro is divided into eight small sandy beaches. Some of them are complemented by the rocky bays.
Cala Pedrosa is a distant beach to the south of town center. This tiny natural beach is a runaway destination and may look a bit deserted even in the summer months. A beach with a low degree of urbanization has the length of 65 feet (20 m), the width of 50 feet (15 m).
Sa Conca beach area is equipped with showers, toilets, parking, bars as well as the children’s area with rides and slides. Sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for an extra charge. The length of the beach is 1270 feet (390 m), width is 130 feet (40 m).
The main and the most popular city beach, Platja Gran stretches along the historic center of Playa de Aro. More than a mile long (2200 m) and 200 feet wide it is very busy. Platja Gran offers a wide variety of facilities. You can find sunbeds, umbrellas and pedal boats for rent, a parking lot at the southern end of the beach. There are several playgrounds on the beach. Awarded the Blue Flag and Diploma of the Destination Quality Plan.
Next to Platja Gran, there is Cala Rovira beach surrounded by pine trees. An amazing spot that allows escaping the urban bustle but stay in touch with the city convenience. It has golden sands with not a single parking lot around. July and August are the busiest months here.
A secluded Sa Cova beach is can be found in a small bay and hidden between the cliffs having a total length of 180 feet (55 m) and width of 50 feet (15 m). Nevertheless, Sa Cova is quite popular.
Cala del Pi is a wonderful place for scuba diving. Like Canyers and Belladona it is located in a rocky bay with abundant vegetation, having no facilities. If you go there by car, consider leaving it by the side of the road that links Platja d’Aro with Calonge.
Tossa de Mar
This is probably the quietest and laid-back resort of the Costa Brava. With lots of hotels, mostly not crowded, lots of bars and restaurants, no noisy parties or annoying crowds, unlike Lloret de Mar. Therefore, Tossa de Mar appeals to couples, families with kids and those who want to avoid the urban hustle and bustle. This tiny town can be best explored on a bicycle. You can find rental companies everywhere.
The Vila Vella fortress is the main attraction of Tossa de Mar. Built in the 12th century, this stone fortress with three cylindrical towers once reliably protected the city from enemy attacks. Unlike many other similar fortresses, it has retained its medieval charm. Upstairs, in the labyrinth of the fortress, a completely different world can be discovered. Winding streets with bronze sculptures and statues, observation decks, restaurants and taverns and a lovely lighthouse.
Consider visiting the city museum with Marc Chagall paintings, then crawl through a narrow hole in the city wall and find yourself standing on a cliff above a small beach. Great panoramic views of the city, beach and the sea are worth going there.
Tossa de Mar center comes to life in the evening together with its countless shops, cozy cafes and buzzing nightclubs where you can enjoy the live music. If you skip these tourist traps and pass them to a narrow square with the church of San Vicente, you can reach a picturesque promenade of Passeig del Mar and Gran Platja with even more restaurants, volleyball playgrounds, and the pier, from which you can get to neighboring cities of Lloret de Mar and Blanes.
The coastline of Tossa de Mar stretches 14 kilometers along the sea shore and is divided into small beaches, some of which are located in the secluded bays. There are four main beaches, so in the summer months, you can expect to find several scuba diving schools. Storms can occur in Tossa de Mar, so during these days, any activity on the coast or on the sea is prohibited.
The Gran beach is separated from the other coast with jagged rocky cliffs to the north and the medieval fortress of Vila Vella to the south. You can rent deck chairs, umbrellas, small boats and water bikes on the coast. In July and August, as well as during the days of local holidays, the beach is very popular and can be crowded. The beach has a total length of 1400 feet (400 m), a width of 150 feet (45 m).
Not far from the Gran beach, there is a small bay with a natural Playa del Reig. The beach is not equipped, but the lack of urban facilities, coupled with privacy make this beach a popular place for families with kids.
Mar Menuda and Es Codolar beaches are great for scuba diving. Both located in the bay surrounded by rocky cliffs. The beaches are located in the bay bounded by rocky areas of the coast; Equipped with sun loungers and deck chairs, you can also rent pedal boats.
Magnificent Cadiz, a city in the ocean, is situated on a narrow peninsula and can be called the oldest city in Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC, Cadiz with all its historic districts nestled on a narrow peninsula that reminiscent of chameleon tongue extends into the sea with the attempt to catch the Fort of San Sebastian. Half a day is enough to explore the main attractions of Cadiz, but the city will make you want to return to experience the spirit of an ancient fortress that once saw the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and the Arabs.
Cadiz may not be as charming as the Granada, not as elegant as Sevilla, but travelers flock here to soak up the sun and relax, enjoy seafood and epic sunsets, discover historical heritage. Any beach can be reached within a few minutes due to a convenient location. Cadiz was once surrounded by a city wall, but now the only fortification left is the Gate of the Earth or Puerta de Tierra.
If Cadiz is on your bucket list you may want to start exploring the city from climbing up to the top of the Cathedral’s dome. Visit the small park of Alameda de Apodaca with excellent views of the ocean or hang out at the Square of San Antonio. Be sure to stroll along the city walls that separate the city from the sea and visit San Sebastian and Santa Catalina forts.
Cadiz Carnival is considered one of the most beautiful in Spain. Usually, the date falls on February or early March, on the weekend before Ash Wednesday, so if you are planning to visit Cadiz during this time it is better to book a hotel in advance.
Caleta Beach or Baño de la Viña is one of the most popular free beaches in Cadiz with families. Located in the northern part of the Old Town between the San Sebastian and Santa Catalina fortresses, this very beach is the place where residents prefer to spend their time on hot summer days. Caleta Beach has a convenient location not far from the center and high urbanization level. The beach can be crowded during peak season. However, the beach is worth visiting in case you’re a couple and wish to spend your romantic evening admiring gorgeous view of the sunset.
Another great playa to chill out with kids in Cadiz is Victoria Beach. Can’t be compared to Caleta Beach because of wide-open spaces that provide enough space for everyone. The beach has great facilities and plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. Stick to Victoria Beach as one of the best options for family holidays in Cadiz.
Barcelona is an amazing place to visit with kids. The city of Gaudi is known not only for its architecture, monuments, and museums. There are lots of stunning beaches, so it can be difficult to pick the best one. La Nova Icária is considered the most spacious and crowded beach in Barcelona. Barceloneta is the closest beach to Gothic Quarter and La Rambla.
A tiny town of Calpe is famous for its cafés and restaurants, a real paradise for gourmets. The fish market in Calpe attracts seafood lovers from all over the Costa Blanca. The market and the fish auctions take place around 5 p.m. every day when fishing boats return to port. Just about an hour or two after the market opening, fresh catch can be tasted in local restaurants.
There are more than 160 eateries in Calpe that offer traditional Valencian cuisine and dishes from around the world. Fried squid, octopus, cuttlefish, fried little fish called Pescado frito would set you back 5-6 EUR, a platter of assorted mariscada seafood is around 30 EUR.
Panoramic views of Calpe, sea, and beaches can be enjoyed from Penon de Ifach or the Calpe rock. You can use a tunnel that leads through the rock to reach the small observation deck with a spectacular view of Fossa Beach and surrounding area. Residents say you can even see Ibiza if the skies are clear. The rocks inside the tunnel are slippery, so you will need appropriate footwear. The Cape has the status of a nature reserve, with more than three hundred species of plants.
The total length of the beaches in Calpe is around 7 miles (11 km). Besides, there are great secluded bays that can only be reached by sea. The bays like Cala El Collao or Racó del Corb are great for scuba diving and sweet spots away from the crowd.
Calpe festivals and carnivals are held to honor traditions through annual celebrations and processions dedicated to local religious events. In early August the city honors the patron saint of Calpe, the Virgen de las Nieves. There are lots of cultural events held on this day. Including the ceremonies of laying flowers at monuments and many multi-colored flashes of fireworks in the evening.
The oldest fiesta in Calpe called Moors and Christians is being held in late October since 1682. Everyone is welcome to attend the festivities representing the capture of the city by the Moors and the subsequent Christian reconquest. The participants are divided into two camps: defenders and attackers. The festival lasts for several days with splendid parades, medieval outfits, and unique spirit.
10 Things To Do in Calpe
- Stroll along the coast, passing the beach of Arenal-Bol, cove of Morello and Cantal Roig to reach Cala El Raco near the Penon de Ifach
- Explore the Calpe countryside with kids during horseback riding. Or experience an adrenaline rush through outdoor and adventurous activities like buggy driving on the beach and jet skiing
- Wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town, admiring the paintings on the walls
- Take an advantage of a prime location of Calpe to take a ride to Denia or Benidorm
- Get inspired with La Muralla Roja, a castle looking house by Ricardo Bofill in Partida Manzanera street
- Grab some fresh fish at a local eatery
- Go out and watch people (or maybe get trinkets as well) at a weekly Saturday market. It is held in the old town, between Avenida del Norte and Calle Puerto. The market usually runs until 1.30pm
- Stroll the timber walkway in the northern part of the Las Salinas lake to watch flamingos and many other wild birds. If you come to Las Salinas with kids it would be convenient to watch birds on the roadside.
- Climb up the Penon de Ifach to take great photos and say hello to seagulls living on a rock
- Visit a musical performance at the local theater with well-known Spanish singers
Tarifa is the southernmost point of mainland Spain, a place where the Mediterranean waves meet the waters of the Atlantic. Strong winds and gorgeous scenery attract windsurfers and artists. There are four beaches in the city. Playa de los Lances is the most popular beach. Located just to the east of Tarifa, La Caleta beach is often missed by travelers. This is an amazing corner to escape the crowds. Fishermen and a few tourists usually go there. To reach La Caleta use the pathway from the south of the town.
If you travel with family and would like to chill out with locals consider visiting Playa Chica to the west of Tarifa. Even though the beach can get very busy on particular days, it is still a good option as it provides a full range of beach facilities and is sheltered from the strong winds.
Valdevaqueros beach is a place that gathers windsurfers and kitesurfers to enjoy strong winds near the huge dunes. The beach is equipped with showers, bathrooms. Beach bars and parking lot are located at the mouth of Rio del Valle. You can use buses running from Tarifa to get to Valdevaqueros beach.
Those fond of Spanish history should definitely visit the Castle of Guzman El Bueno. Originally built in 960 AD on the order of Moorish Caliph, the castle was recaptured in the siege of 1294 and named after the Christian commander Alonso Perez de Guzman. This solidly-built fortress is an incredible mixture of cultures, not just Moorish, but Roman, Christian, and even the Bronze-age. The admission fee is 2 EUR.
Another heritage site to visit not far from Tarifa is the ruins of the ancient city of Baelo Claudia. Located near Bolonia Bay, Baelo Claudia is considered the most important archaeological discovery of the Roman period in the territory of Andalusia. Once a splendor town with amphitheater, market, and Basilica had fallen into disrepair after an earthquake and was abandoned by the 6th century.
Tarifa is well known for its strong winds, which are caused by the difference in temperature between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. And due to the clash of high and low-pressure zones on both sides of the shore. The mountains near the Strait of Gibraltar create the wind and cause the funnel effect. Poniente and Levante winds are the two main wind currents here. Since the eastern Levante current is stronger, it might continue blowing for weeks. If the wind comes from the mainland it usually doesn’t provide waves required for kite surfing. For windsurfing, Levante is more suitable.
The best time to catch Levante waves is summer (June and July). Poniente comes from the Atlantic in winter and brings cool air from the ocean. July is the time for the strong wind and highest quantity of windy days. The full moon high tides also create nice conditions for strong wind.
To enjoy a spectacular view of the Straits of Gibraltar and somewhat Morocco for free visit Miramar Gardens. You can find these gardens on top of the old city walls next to the Town Hall. A rectangular paved square with Moorish-style pool and mosaic benches is a great place to relax after a long walk.
It is hard to imagine any other place to spend a holiday with family in Costa Dorada that would be less popular than Salou. The entire coastline mainly consists of beaches with a wide array of facilities and a safe, gentle slope into the sea. Llevant is the most recognized and the longest beach in Salou.
If you find yourself near the railway station while wandering through the city, consider visiting free painting exhibition in the Tower Vella de Salou. Originally built by the Archbishop of Tarragona in 1530 the Watchtower keeps the spirit of the Medieval times. It now became one of the cultural centers of Salou with exhibitions and installation art. In addition, the tower is the place for Contemporary Enamel Art Museum. Here, you can find an amazing collection of decorative items that have been implemented in a variety of ways. Enjoy the sculpture “The Dance of the Graces’ by Artur Aldoma Puig placed in the garden. It was created in 1990 when Salou was proclaimed to be the Heritage Town of the Sardana Dance.
Port Aventura is the most famous amusement park in Spain and one of the biggest in Europe. A lot of attractions, fireworks light up the sky every night. Water slides and a variety of theatrical performances attract around 3 million visitors annually. Port Aventura is divided into six themed areas: the Mediterranean, the Wild West, Mexico, China, Polynesia, Sesame. Each zone has its own attractions, landscapes, cuisine and even the staff uniforms. Within the park, you can also visit Caribe Aquatic Park with numerous geysers, water bars and Bermuda Triangle swimming pool with artificial waves and lagoon for the kids.
The most popular place to go for a walk in Salou is the Passeig Jaume I. The walkway stretches more than a kilometer along the local beach and drenches in flowers. The paved road is decorated with mosaic. It depicts the family coats of arms of all the nobles who accompanied the king in his voyages. A monument to the King can be found in the middle of the boulevard.
While strolling along the Passeig Jaume you may discover several villas, decorated in a modern style. The very bulk of them you can admire at the end of the boulevard. Chalet Bonet is an example of the late modern architecture. The front face of the house is decorated with ceramic mosaic with a sundial and a neo-Gothic proverb: “Seize the time that passes and does not return”. But not only these estates reminiscent of the modern era. Numerous chimneys in Salou are decorated in the Art Nouveau style as well.
Once a fishermen’s village, now it is filled with buzzing nightlife that attracts travelers from all over Europe. The partying starts at the sunset and the clubs stay open until dawn. There are a lot of opportunities to go out with kids since there are plenty of ice-cream carts and family restaurants all around.
If you are looking for a place a little less hectic than the street of Carlos Buigas, head to the opposite end of the Levant beach where the port is. Carrer de Barcelona street that starts from here and runs to the railway has some decent Spanish tapas bars and restaurants. Pass over the railway tracks and reach the intersection with Via Roma street to get suitable options to choose from.
Festivals And Culture
Festivals in Salou are held year round and while some of them are staunchly traditional, others are designed to lure even more tourists.
Summertime is traditionally abundant with festivals and various cultural events in Salou. A huge number of events like Nits Daurades or Golden Nights summer festival attracts many tourists holidaying in this region. Having started in late July or early August it runs until mid-August and offers a lot of activities for kids and adults. The Golden Nights festival starts with the opening speech and finishes with Firework Castle. A performance of lights and sparks late at night.
Another spectacular show to visit in early September in Salou is King James I Festival. In the 13th century, Salou became a point of departure for Monarch’s fleet on its way to reconquest Mallorca from the Moors. The town celebrates this festival on a grand scale. Townsfolk dressed in medieval outfits attending a procession and commemorating King’s inspection before boarding the ships. The show ends near the pier with a medieval performance.