Travel’s much cheaper these days and now we know the ancient cities, fascinating islands, intriguing regions and stunning mountains almost as well as the beautiful beaches.

So have we done Spain? Not a bit of it – even Benidorm, the original attraction, has wild and magical Sierra Helada waiting to be discovered less than an hour from its crowded summer resorts.

But that’s Spain: just when you think it can’t surprise, it up and delights with something completely new, unexpected and only perfect for families.

Why go on holiday in Spain

  • Direct flights

    There are direct flights all year round from most UK airports to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearics.

  • Unique architecture

    Barcelona is the only entire city in world to ever have received a RIBA Gold Medal for architectural excellence – the award’s normally given to an individual architect or single building.

  • UNESCO World Heritage sites

    Spain has 45 UNESCO World Heritage sites – third greatest number worldwide.

  • National parks

    Spain has 15 National Parks. Teide on Tenerife is the largest and most visited and Picos de Europa in northern Spain is a UNESCO Bio-Sphere.

  • The Spanish coastline

    The Spanish coastline is over 7000km with ten costa including Costa Brava, Costa Blanca, Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol.

  • Feria and festivals

    During summer, Andalusia alone has over 100 Feria and the Basque country has even more, including San Fermin in Pamplona and the final Feria of the season, Bilbao’s Aste Nagusia. Feria are only matched by weird and wonderful festivals like La Tomatina (tomato throwing), El Colacho (jumping over babies) and, oddest of all, Santa Maria de Ribarteme (the festival of near death experiences).

Where to go


Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and first choice for kids – even if they think Parc Güell’s just for fun or want to play all day on 5km of Mediterranean beaches.

  • Sant Gervasi, L’Eixample, Diagonal Mar and Barceloneta are all Barcelona barrio for families with everything from 5-star seafront hotels to self-catering apartments. And sunny, beachy Cost Brava resorts are an easy drive east of the city.


World Heritage-rich Valencia is one of Spain’s loveliest cities and does everything from kid-size adventure in Sierra Calderona and water sports on huge city beaches to major attractions like City of Art & Sciences.

  • Valencia city centre has a good choice of 3-5 star family hotels.
  • Costa Blanca towns and villages – just half an hour south – have great self-catering and all-inclusive resorts: try Déna for cuteness and Benidorm for theme parks.


Madrid is a great capital, home to Spain’s best museums and swept with acres of fabulous parks, gardens and historic plaza. It doesn’t have beaches but it’s fantastic for kids in spring and autumn. Or visit at Christmas for street stalls, ice rinks and El Rastro: Europe’s biggest flea market and a mecca for little comic book collectors.

  • Try Barrio Salamanca for grand family hotels (rooftop pools are a thing in this area). Latina has more character and colour, good for aparthotels and fun with older kids.

The Basque Country

The Basque Country isn’t always as sunny as the south, but cities like San Sebastian are small enough to enjoy and big on excitement – La Concha, the world’s second most beautiful city beach is here. And, out of town, it’s all cliffs and wild emptiness, little roads, pretty villages and plenty of freedom. Best for family Feria in summer, Bilbao’s Guggenheim and campsites.


From the eastern Algarve border almost all the way to Murcia, Andalusia is magnificent. It’s home territory to the gentle Costa de la Luz and the legendary Costa del Sol. Ancient and magical Ronda is up in the mountains. Historic Cadiz and Malaga are on the coast. And, away from the blue sea and golden sands, kids can be enchanted by Moorish Granada and thrilling Seville. Best for beaches, all-inclusive family resorts, sugar-cube mountain villages and spectacular Sierra.

Dramatic Galicia

Dramatic Galicia is a favourite with Spanish families in summer. Rugged and wild, it’s a playground of crags, sea-stacks, vast lighthouses, roaring seas, mysterious little islands and sweetly calm, sandy coves. Santiago de Compostela is the captivating medieval capital, one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages and where to be at Easter to see the country’s most spectacular Semana Santa celebration. Best for impressive coasts, pretty fishing hamlets, historic hotels, cosy self-catering and extreme adventure.

What to do

  • Isla Magica, Seville
    From Incas to Pirates, Isla Magica plays fast and loose with history but the waterpark’s wonderful. Isla Magica
  • Barcelona Zoo
    One of Europe’s best loved zoos in the city centre’s Ciutadella Park. Barcelona Zoo
  • Tower of Hercules, Galicia
    The world’s oldest lighthouse is awe-inspiring and a thrilling lookout. Tower of Hercules
  • Oceanografic, Valencia
    Europe’s largest aquarium is all-round astonishing. Oceanografic
  • Montjuic, Barcelona
    Barcelona’s monument and museum packed mountain is the city’s most popular day out for families – travel up on cable car from Barceloneta. Montjuic
  • Parque de Attractiones, Madrid
    130 plus rides and thrills make this huge park a favourite with Madrid families at the weekend. Parque de Attractiones
  • Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
    Surprisingly, this isn’t the most visited sight in Barcelona (that’s Poble Espagnol) but it is and always will be remarkable – always book in advance and the guided tours are excellent. Sagrada Familia
  • Playa del Silencio, Asturias
    Mere beach doesn’t quite describe this phenomenon and it’s in breathtaking Asturias, so all the more reason to go. Del Silencio
  • Malaga Noria
    Cool, soaring and 70m high kids can scope out the entire Costa del Sol from this Ferris wheel. Noria
  • Las Lagunas de la Mata, Torrevieja, Alicante
    Plan to spend at least a day in this outstanding natural park. Lagunas de la Mata

Educational value for kids

  • Visit the Alhambra in Granada and try to work out even one of its puzzle messages.
  • The Picasso Museum in Malaga is superb – the artist was born in the city.
  • Take a self-guided Gaudi tour of Barcelona with older kids and see how many ‘lesser known’ works you can find. There are quite a few, but start on Plaça Reial off La Rambla and look for lampposts.
  • Go pick up picnic stuff for Barcelona’s beaches at La Boqueria, it’s Europe’s most famous food market – kids can take cooking classes here too.
  • Trek Andalusia’s Sierra Nevada in spring or go for inexpensive winter skiing.
  • See how many of Spain’s World Heritage sites you can tick together.
  • Costa de la Luz is loved by Spanish families for laid-back holidays. Discover Roman ruins on beaches, towering sand dunes and some of the country’s best water sports without crowds – you can hop over the border to Eastern Algarve from here too.


Getting about with kids in Spain

Cities are easy: Spain has some of Europe’s best urban transport networks and fast inter-city train services. For coast and country hire a car. Touring round regions is irresistible and, if you’re in the south in summer, you can always escape to the cool of the mountains when it’s too hot by the sea.

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