Three destinations for a family holiday ‘made in Spain’.

It’s important to get it right the first time when you plan your holiday destination and family fun. So more and more mums and dads opt for boosting their summer holiday budget somewhat, just so they can give their children a really unforgettable experience. Popular choices are the Warner Park in Madrid, Port Aventura in Barcelona and – increasingly – EuroDisney in Paris. These places are great for the youngest members of the family, but they also take their toll on the rest of us too in the end (along the lines of: “I’m home now but more tired than I was before we went”).

To make sure that you’ll actually end up with a family holiday where rest is a fundamental part of the plan, it’s important to prepare the daily schedule in advance, ensuring every member of the family a bit of time to do what they enjoy doing the most (but also taking into account that the children do need a little bit of extra entertainment). So how can this be done, you might ask yourself? Well, if you get the destination right it’s no problem, and if you chose this country for your holidays, even better! These are our suggestions for the month of August:

A journey filled with nature and gastronomy in Bilbao

Adventurous families who love nature: Bilbao is the place to go. It’s a magic place where you can enjoy outdoor excursions on unique paths offering incredible views, and where you can fill your stomach with exquisite delicacies (remember that this Spanish region boasts the most Michelin stars per square metre).

Since a family holiday can’t be only about excursions and tourism, we recommend that you enjoy some days on the beach as well. This can be found in places like Getxo (less than 20 minutes from Bilbao). Here you will find the most beautiful beaches the region has to offer. It’s also a great option if you want to be near everything but would like a hotel with good value for money, such as Petit Palace Tamarises, in Getxo.

Málaga, always a winning option

The perfect choice for a family holiday! Yes, we are talking about Málaga, one of the most visited provinces in all of Andalusia, and a place where you live life at its fullest near the sea during this time of year.

There is more to the city than talking long walks on the always vibrant Calle Larios (where you find the central hotel Petit Palace Plaza Málaga); this regional capital is an ideal destination for those who are looking for that ideal mix of beaches, beach bars (with freshly grilled sardines) and water sports. The biggest advantage? That you don’t need a big budget in order to enjoy your holiday to the fullest.

Discovering the Seville of Game of Thrones

What if you’d tell your kids that you’re going to Seville to visit all the places where the main scenes of the fourth and fifth season of the series Game of Thrones were filmed? Pretty good plan, don’t you think? Here at Destinations for Families we’re great fans of this American series with a European heart, so we can’t miss out on an opportunity to recommend an amazing experience like this.

It’s a journey that goes through the centre of Seville and the main focus lies on the Reales Alcázares of the city (located between the Giralda and the hotel Petit Palace Marqués de Santa Ana). You can finish the visit by taking a tapas route through the centre and then a carriage ride along the banks of the Guadalquivir river.

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Hotel or apartment? Options for a family holiday on Mallorca

When we’re speaking of Mallorca, we’re speaking of a versatile place that allows you to enjoy tourism in all its shapes and forms. The island is the perfect choice for a romantic getaway with a view of the beach in Playa de Muro, but it’s also a great destination for a holiday with friends in places like Magaluf, Palmanova and Can Picafort, or senior tourism with group trips to Valdemossa, Deià or Pollença.

In this review of the many faces of tourism available on the largest of the Balearic Islands we’ve chosen to focus on family holidays. Due to its shape, size and wide range of leisure activities, Mallorca is an ideal place for those travelling with children and/or other relatives. So: when planning where to stay on the island, what should you go for – a hotel or an apartment?

Even if there are plenty of nice places to choose from (two great examples are Playa Garden Selection Hotel & Spa and Green Garden Aparthotel by Garden Hotels), it’s best to go through the pros and cons of each option first. Let’s go!

Playa Garden Hotel

Family life in an apartment

Life in an apartment can be wonderful, but it could also end up as a disaster. And why is that? Well, the desire to enjoy some long-awaited relaxation can make dealing with routine tasks (like ‘cleaning’, ‘cooking’ and so on) feel like a complete nightmare. Only families used to living in holiday apartments when travelling can successfully achieve that balance between rest and household chores.

How to avoid problems and unnecessary annoyance? Easy: an aparthotel. A winning option that gives you the independence you’re looking for without having to do the things you really don’t want to do during your holiday. What do they normally include? Basically: thorough cleaning of the apartment, sheet and towel changes and general maintenance of the apartment.

In search of the Dolçe Far Niente

If you’re looking for complete relaxation, not having to do any household tasks during your stay, then the ideal solution is to opt for a hotel where everything is done for you. The only things you have to worry about? Choosing at what time to go to the beach, finding activities to entertain your children, and deciding whether to have wine or beer with your meal. The true pleasure of the Dolçe Far Niente.

If you are travelling as a family, the only requirement there is when bookinga holiday is that the hotel must be family friendly, and that (apart from a children’s menu) they can offer your little ones fun activities, free of charge.

A route covering some of Dubai’s best theme parks

One thing that really surprise people about a destination like Dubai is its versatility. This is a capital that is perfect for any kind of visit, whether you travel as a couple (in hotels such as Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa), with friends or – of course – as a family.

Beyond the dunes, the urban enchantment and its many (very many) possibilities, Dubai also has specific attractions that are a lot of fun if you’re thinking of enjoying this destination as a family. The jewel in the crown? The theme parks. Parks of massive proportions with hundreds of attractions that will leave even the most sceptic traveller speechless. This month in Family Destinations we check out the main three.

IMG Worlds of Adventure

With a total area the size of 28 football pitches, very few would ever doubt the magnificence of IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest theme park in Dubai. Located a little over 40 minutes by car from the four-star hotels in the centre of Bur Dubái, this place is ideal if you want the younger members of the family to enjoy themselves like never before.

Apart from attractions that carry the Cartoon Network and Marvel logos, the park (offering the perfect temperature if you consider the fact that temperatures can reach up to 52 degrees Celsius in summer) also offers a 3D cinema, themed restaurants and a lot more.

Legoland Dubai

The LEGO fever has reached beyond the famous stores in London and New York, with the company now presenting its very own theme park in Dubai: Legoland Dubai. Built from millions and millions of LEGO blocks, the park offers around fifty different attractions for families travelling here.

They say that if there’s one thing you mustn’t miss if you come here, it’s The Dragon, a roller coaster faster than 60 km/h. The perfect way of earning a well-deserved rest in your hotel room in Bur Dubai.

Motiongate, or Little Hollywood

Apart from being a pretty and very complete theme park, what we like the most about Motiongate is the near-perfect reconstructions from unique motion pictures that have been converted into attractions.

 

Mallorca: three kinds of accommodation for three kinds of families

Checking whether the dates we prefer will work and trying to find the perfect hotel that will also fit our waller – the truth is that when you choose a hotel for your next holiday there are other things than destination, dates and even price to take into account.

What is the secret to a perfect holiday? Finding that hotel that really fits the way we travel, the way we see life, relax and even entertain our children. Is it possible to really hit the spot in that sense? The answer is that in places like Mallorca, yes, without a doubt.

Family Beach

Active and very adventurous families

Even if no one is ever going to complain about a bit of luxury (it has to be said), it’s a fact that some adventurous families take other, more practical services into account. Location, for example, and making sure there’s plenty of interesting entertainment on offer for the little ones. Chains like Gran Isla are aware that the number of families looking for these things is on the rise, so they have created accommodation options such as Pirates Village Apartments.

Located in the beautiful seaside town Santa Ponça, Pirates Villages does not only offer rooms that are designed for the family’s ‘smaller pirates’; they also make sure the menu is top-level and that there’s easy transport to attractions like the Galatzó farm, Palmanova and Palma, the capital of the island.

Standard families

Those who fall somewhere in between adventure and peace and quiet make up our ‘Standard-families group’. Here we find families with kids between 5 and 7 years of age that might want to rush down a zip-line in the popular Jungle Park, or spend an evening visiting great museums such as the lovely Es Baluard (in Palma).

Jutlandia Family Resort is the best choice for all these families. This hotel is located in Santa Ponça and features specific areas for the bosses of the family as well as a full schedule of entertainment and fun for large and small, which will turn your standard holiday into a sensory experience.

Families who like the island calm

Known for sheltering a cost called ‘the Calm Coast’, the Costa Calma, Mallorca is the ideal place to come for that long-awaited tranquility. In places like Santa Ponça this island becomes a genuine retreat of silence and serenity for families looking to disconnect by the sea, surrounded by the most beautiful flora you can find at this destination.

For this group of families on holiday we would suggest a hotel like the Plazamar Serenity Resort, a hotel located less than 300 metres from the beach and where you can enjoy excellent food as well as an impressive pool surrounded by palm trees.

Resorts you won’t want to leave

Aaaaah, holiday, family, Mallorca, sun, beach and fun! This combination is never going to go out of fashion. The secret is finding the best resort where you can set up ‘base camp’ and retire to when you need a rest and where everything is taken care of for you. The only problem is that you’ll be so at ease that nothing will make you want to leave the resort.

Better than anyone, Meliá hotels have been able to give its original brand ‘Sol’ new life and to make it interesting. It’s now called Sol by Melia. Ever since the chain was established in Magaluf back in the 50s it has always been synonymous with relaxation and a family-like atmosphere, and later adventure and music were added to these attributes.

Couples, families, friends, the young and the not so young can find everything they need, and more, at the Sol holiday resorts. On Mallorca it’s obvious that Magaluf is the Meliá stronghold. I was told that the company is making significant investments there to completely remodel the area and up its level. I can assure you it’s on track. For our last holiday I took my family to the Sol Katmandu Park Resort and the ‘wow’ feeling and all the laughs we shared are still very vivid memories.

Vacaciones familiares

Fun for all ages

To us it was absolute success, because we could combine the beach we love so much with a theme park that has everything you could wish for in terms of children’s attractions, water games, a zip-line (the longest in Spain), 4D-cinema, mini golf and even houses of terror for youth and adults. All this without leaving the resort. What luxury!

If you prefer to leave the kids at home, no problem. Not far away, on Palma Nova beach, you’ll find an exceptional ‘adults only’: the Sol Beach House on Mallorca. There you can experience the exclusive touch that characterises the brand and makes you feel special. If you’re thinking about a romantic holiday, this resort offers everything you might need and it’s also right by the beach.

When you’re at Sol Beach House you’ll probably want to try all the activities on offer: hiking, water sports, yoga, pilates, live music, barbecues, walks on the beach… you name it! But there will be lots of times when you’ll be happy experiencing something we enjoy more and more as the years go by: the pleasure of doing NOTHING. I must admit that there were complaints from my travel companion, who claimed the swimming pool and the gardens had abducted me. No wonder!

Dubai…¿Why not for a family trip?

When you think in Dubai the first thing that comes to your mind are business trips or shopping opportunity, so when a friend told us about his trip to this town with all his family we were quite surprised about all the fun they had there. Not only did they find a four-star hotel in Bur Dubai that was nice and well-priced, the Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, where they stayed at two connected rooms (one for the parents and their little girl and the other for the 8 and 10 years old kids), but also they did lots of funny activities in which they all had fun. If they wanted to convince us for going to Dubai in one of our next trips they made a great job!

One of the visits they were more impressed with was the one to Aquadventure Water Park, a place you get to by monorail. It has a water park, an area for discovering underwater world and a highly special place: Dolphin Bay. Both parents and children had the chance to swim with the dolphins…yes, actually swim with them! One of those dreams many of us have since we were kids.

Also as a marine adventure, the Dubay Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which apparently is of the biggest in the world. One of the best things is the aquarium tunnel, which offers you the possibility of walking right through the biggest tank so you can see very close to the over 300 sharks and rays that live in it. And though they didn’t personally do it, it seems that you can rent some sort of scooter that takes you deep below the surface of the aquarium!

They also visit three curious places. One of them is Kidzania, where children can role-play activities done by adults in real life, so they can meet their own abilities and interests. In fact, they ‘work’ as a fireman, doctor or journalist, amongst many other options, and in exchange they ‘get paid’ with the official currency of that place, the KidZos, that they can use to buy products and services in this entertainment center.

The next one is Sega Republic, a theme park about games and characters created by Sega company (you can find Sonic there, the hedgehog of the videogames), or Children’s City, a place in which children can not only play, but also learn how to build a bridge, test out space equipment, get up close to high technology or learn some more about astronomy at the planetarium.

But to us was particularly surprising the fact that they enjoyed some ice skating at the Dubai Mall. Yes, ice skating in the middle of the desert, it’s not a joke! And it also looks fantastic the Bounce Dubai, an urban playground with over 100 interconnected trampolines where you decide if you want to make it easy or really challenging, but a safe experience anyway.

And, definitively, since you are in Dubai you must at least once enjoy some romantic moments. As for our friends, they hired the babysitter service and they enjoyed ‘Dubai la nuit’ on a thursday, apparently one of the best days to do so. A well-deserved lovely dinner and a drink (yes, no-muslims are allowed to drink alcohol) on their own after a whole day with the kids.

Tips for travellers looking for a perfect family holiday on Fuerteventura

Warm, comfortable (due to its handy, compact size) and filled with activities to enjoy day and night: Fuerteventura has been, and will always be, one of the best destinations for those who enjoy travelling as a family. A way of travelling that provides you with unique and endearing family moments, but also requires a lot of prior planning and a study of the destination in question, paying attention to issues such as: temperature at the destination, service for the children, climatology, type of cuisine and much, much more.

Even if Fuerteventura is a place that has been able to adopt to various ways of travelling, the island has its different ‘pros and cons’ that should be taken into consideration to avoid last-minute surprises or badly-planned excursions, both in time and in form. If you have focused on Fuerteventura as a place where you’d like to spend your upcoming summer holidays please take note, because today we’re going to outline some ‘travel tips for families’ that will come in handy:

Fuerteventura

A warm climate, but with surprises

While everyone knows that the climate on the Canary Island is warm year-round, the fact is that the Atlantic Ocean makes the stuffy, warm temperatures that characterise the archipelago during the day change into a much cooler breeze once evening falls. Cool, as in…? Cool as in wearing (especially the children, so they don’t get cold) a thin jacket, a jumper or a knitted cardigan. But only in the evening.

Tasty, but spicy food

The culinary culture on Fuerteventura is – for sure – exquisite and very tasty as far as adults are concerned, but when it comes to your child (or children) perhaps it’s not that spectacular. This is because most children are not used to spicy food and the fact is that the Canary Islands have a lot of sauces and spices that feature strongly in their gastronomy. So don’t hesitate to ask for what ingredients each dish contains in case you have any doubts.

Excursions in nature with… bathrooms?

One of the things we all love about Fuerteventura is the natural environment, the landscapes and the many excursions to unique corners of the island. Excursions that we recommend you study in depth to avoid having to run around looking for ‘bathrooms with changing facilities’. The best way of avoiding surprises is to find out beforehand at your hotel or from your travel agent what to expect, as they will surely come up with the best solution for you and your family.

Hotels for families on the island of Fuerteventura

One thing you’ll not have to worry about is finding a good, family-friendly hotel. On Fuerteventura there are plenty of hotels offering good value for money that cater to families on holiday. Among the most popular ones we find gems such as the IBEROSTAR Fuerteventura Palace, IBEROSTAR Playa Gaviotas, and IBEROSTAR Playa Gaviotas Park.