Lloret de Mar gets the family seal of approval
Situated in the northeast of Spain, Costa Brava is around a two-hour flight from UK airports. Once you arrive at Girona Airport it will only take between half an hour and an hour to get to your resort, so you and the kids can be in the pool in no time.
Highlighting its family focus, Lloret de Mar has been awarded the Family Tourist Destination seal of the Catalan Tourism Agency, as a high number of hotels and restaurants in Lloret de Mar provide facilities including highchairs, cots, kids’ menus and entertainers. For a laid-back family holiday, Malgrat de Mar runs at a slightly slower pace, but still has loads of family-friendly restaurants, parks and a 14th-century fortress and old town for the explorers.
The lifestyle in Pineda de Mar, to the west, is so laid back it’s horizontal. You can lie on the beach and look up at the castle or travel to Barcelona by car in under an hour for its famous zoo, stunning fountain show and exquisite architecture.
Best family friendly beaches
Starting with the most action-packed beaches in Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar’s main beaches, Lloret and Fenals, each have a summer sports zone and miniclub with inflatables, paddling pools and supervised activities to keep the kids amused all day long. Both beaches are Blue Flag certified and backed by plenty of great restaurants and kiosks.
Malgrat de Mar has three beaches stretching across more than four kilometres, with a central beach, one for watersports, and a final Blue Flag number. All three beaches are connected by a single promenade, so you don’t have to stick to just one beach and can wander along whenever you fancy a change of scenery. Alternatively, you could try one of Tossa de Mar’s three beaches, such as the Platja Grand, which is backed by magnificent rocky cliffs and a perfect starting point for boat trips.
Beaches here also have all the facilities you need to make it an all day event, with restaurants and cafes lining shores.
Best family activities in Costa Brava
One of the largest waterparks in Europe, WaterWorld in Lloret de Mar is accessible from wherever you stay in Costa Brava and has over 20 amazing rides. This action-fuelled day out has a huge array of rides, from speed racer slides, to Hurricanes, Kamikazes, river rafts, and child-friendly water playgrounds and splash areas. For more in the way of active pursuits visit either Arbre Aventura natural park for sports activities and rope courses or neighbouring Gnomo Park that has gnome-themed play for younger kids.
In the centre of Lloret de Mar an open museum is set up with signs that guide you around town to discover places of historic, cultural and natural interest. They include the Maritime Museum, Santa Clotilde Gardens beside the sea and Sant Joan Castle.
There’s no better way to enjoy Costa Brava’s outdoors and beautiful scenery than by spending a day high above the trees in an aerial adventure park. Costa Brava Park Aventura lets you experience this outstanding region from new heights, with over 500 meters of ziplines in their treetop wonderland.
Located right in the heart of Costa Brava’s forest, kids will love the adventure activities suspended between the trees.
Spend your day playing out your very own Tarzan fantasy, swing through the air, climb bridges, go through tunnels and zipline through the forest. This park has seven aerial trekking courses so you can choose which ones best suits your abilities and meets your heights threshold.
Boat cruises are an excellent way to take in the views of Spain’s north eastern shoreline and to find out why they call it the ‘wild’ or ‘rugged coast’.
Much of Costa Brava is a designated nature reserve, meaning there’s no building allowed and you can enjoy an unspoiled view. Sail past the rocky mountains, rough terrain, cliffs and lush forests. Look down below and spot the colourful fish and coral as your sail by.
Some catamarans also stop half way for swimming and snorkelling and provide a home cooked meal of paella.
Costa Brava’s cities have a lot to offer a family holiday, but maybe no more so than Barcelona.
Barcelona’s busy streets are laden with exciting sight-seeing adventures around every turn, from historical cathedrals, to narrow streets meeting restaurant filled plazas, and a Gothic quarter with mesmerizing architecture.
There’s also endless kid-friendly fun here, from science museums to the Zoo de Barcelona. For an extra childhood treat, visit the Museu de la Xocolata where your family can learn about the origins of chocolate making and even get to sample some goodies.
Other popular holidays in Spain
If you fancy checking out somewhere else in Spain, try Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol or Costa Dorada.But if you’re set on a holiday to Costa Brava, take a look at our Costa Brava travel guide for more information on how to plan your perfect family holiday in the Spanish sun. We’ve also rounded up the top five family hotels for you to choose from.
Hop around the diverse offshore islands
Numerous clusters of islands lie off the coast of Croatia, just a short boat trip away from Dubrovnik. Hvar is considered one of the most stunning and belongs to a group called the Dalmatian Islands. It offers an elegant Venetian era town, as well as a palm-lined, seafront promenade clustered with luxury yachts. It’s also a delightful hiking area with a rugged landscape of purple lavender fields and hillside vineyards, perfect for romantic strolls or family days out.
The picturesque island of Brac is famous for Zlatni Rat – a beach on a spit of land jutting into the sea. Located on the island’s south coast, it’s one Croatia’s most photographed beaches. It’s also where windsurfers like to head, and the line-up of other sporting opportunities also includes scuba diving, sea kayaking, parasailing, water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding and pedalos.
Just a 15-minute boat ride away lies one of the most visited Croatian islands, Lokrum. This forested spot offers botanical gardens and a former monastery with a mesmerising network of walled gardens. You can get to these diverse offerings by catamaran and taxi boat.
More attractions in the surrounding areas
The whole area around Dubrovnik is brimming with cultural and scenic opportunities. Just a 20-minute drive away is Trsteno, home to the oldest arboretum in the world and boasting the 15th century renaissance summer residence of the Gucetic-Gozze family.
It has an astounding garden, which continues to be cultivated to this day and is famous for its 500-year-old Asian plane trees. Trsteno Arboretum was used as the setting of the Red Keep palace gardens in the much loved TV series ‘Game of Thrones’.
Another 20-minute drive away in a different direction is Konavle Valley, where you can ride on horseback or cycle through pine forests and rocky coastal planes. There’s also the Peljesac peninsula for some fantastic wine tasting tours, while slightly further afield lies the glamorous country of Montenegro. Day excursions are available, although hiring a car is recommended to explore all that this area has to offer.
Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car for the best views ever
Some of the best views of Dubrovnik can be seen while taking a ride on the Dubrovnik Cable Car, which starts on a hillside above the town, offering views across 60 kilometres on a clear day. This would have been excellent for spotting enemy sailing ships, which is why the Imperial Fortress, located nearby, was built on this spot in the early 1800s.
If you can’t get enough of the scenery you can stay while you have a meal at the Panorama Restaurant which sits at the top of the cable run. Boasting awesome views, it also serves Mediterranean specialities and tasty cocktails, so you can completely unwind and recharge before you enjoy the panoramic views on the way back down.
Walk along the fortified city walls and browse an ancient market
Dubrovnik was always a heavily fortified spot and the city walls and imposing presence of St John’s Fortress remain largely intact. One good place to start exploring is to take a stroll along the top of the wall working your way round and spotting areas you’d like to explore further.
You may also want to visit the beautifully baroque Gunduliceva Pljana square which is home to the oldest market in Dubrovnik. Browse for fruits, vegetables or local handicrafts here, just as people have done for centuries, and at the end of market an official feeds the pigeons, keenly watched by local cats.
The quiet setting of this hotel is right on the beach and just a 10-minute walk to the town's shops and restaurants. Its four pools include an indoor heated one and two for children, plus a whirlpool. There's a TUI Family Life kids' club, for 3 to 11 year olds and a playground, as well as the option of bike hire, crazy golf, tennis and football. Themed nights and show cooking are laid on at the buffet that has a special kids' section, and there's a separate snack bar and two poolside bars. You can stay in adjoining rooms that connect to make up family suites.
The modern Aquarium and Spa Hotel has nautical themed rooms and is a five-minute walk from Lloret de Mar's bars and restaurants in a peaceful area. It's the same distance to Fenals Beach with lots of activities and there are indoor, outdoor and kids' pools. The lounge has a stage where evening shows are performed and the buffet restaurant doubles as entertainment with show cooking. While the children are at the kids' club you can use the free spa with fitness suite, Turkish bath and bi-thermal shower, plus the option of massages for a fee.