A city break with children can be great for the whole family as there are so many attractions from museums and art galleries to parks and play grounds to keep everyone amused. But a city break with a beach is absolutely fantastic! Re-visiting Barcelona with my family in tow was wonderful as it was great to be doing something more grown up for a change. Mornings spent vising the old town and afternoons on the beach. Bliss! The golden rule is to plan carefully and not to overdo it. We found the Casal Solleric (a reasonably quick whizz round to see the key paintings and sculptures) followed by lunch and then a visit to the beach was the perfect day out.
Babygoes2 have given us their top five picks for city breaks with beaches. Babygoes2 customers get exclusive offers and the best prices plus there’s a £15 (€20.90) Amazon voucher for all My Nametags customers booking a holiday through babygoes2* and quoting My Nametags. Check out http://www.babygoes2.com, call 01273 230669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. * terms and conditions: Bookings must be made through babygoes2, min booking value £500. Voucher issued on completion of stay.
Mallorca: Palma de Mallorca
With direct flights from most major European airports, a compact yet fascinating old town, excellent food, upmarket shopping and chic beach resorts, picturesque Palma de Mallorca is an ideal choice for a family city break at any time of the year. There is much to explore: the stunning Cathedral, the Almudaina Palace, the mainly traffic-free maze of medieval streets in the atmospheric old town, the Arab Baths. Museums and art galleries – such as the atmospheric Casal Solleric with its regular (and free) art exhibitions. The excellent Palma Aquarium is always a bit hit with children too. And best of all, this ‘pocket sized’ city is all easily walkable – ideal for little legs. And when it’s time to relax after some serious exploring – the beach is close at hand – whether it’s the urban beach just minutes from the old town, or the chic beach resorts of Portixol and Ciudad Jardin. Stroll or cycle along the prom, or simply soak up the sun on the beach, and later retire for lunch or dinner to one of the many excellent restaurants and cafes –many specializing in regional dishes, but most with a good selection of tapas – which are ideal for children.
Stay: Sheraton Arabella, 5 star luxury, just 10 mins from the centre in the exclusive Son Vida area, with interconnecting rooms and suites, plus an excellent kids club.
Set on the sophisticated Cote D’Azur, Nice is the perfect choice for a glamorous break en famille. Hop in a cab from the airport (just 6km away) and in no time you’’ll be wandering through the tiny streets of Old Nice, exploring the Matisse museum, marvelling at the amazing array of colours and perfumes at the flower market on Cours Saleya. Stroll or cycle (bikes can be hired from Holid ay Bikes (00 33 493 82 27 00; loca-bike.fr) along the stunning Promenade Des Anglais – the beautiful palm-lined beachside promenade. And you won’t want to miss a stroll to the Parc du Chateau – a huge park, with beautiful views of the city, a waterfall, cafe and a good sized playground. And Nice, bien sur, is a gourmet’s paradise – whether it’s gourmet ice cream, or a 5 course gourmet meal – and sampling the culinary delights of this engaging city is definitely features high on the list of the top 5 activities for both children and their parents!
Stay: La Perouse, lovely small hotel with much character and an unbeatable location tucked into the hillside at the Eastern end of the Baie des Anglais with outdoor pool and access to a private beach, yet only 5 mins stroll from the Old Town.
Barcelona is one of the world’s unmissable cities – and is perfectly suited to a family trip – as so much can be explored by simply strolling around and soaking up the sights and atmosphere. Adults and children alike will marvel at the famed modernist architecture, such as Gaudi’s Sagrada familia (book ahead to avoid the queues); the Rambla is full of colourful street performers, the Gothic quarter cool and quiet, with its maze of tiny streets. Children will love the chocolate museum (Museu de La Xocolata), the CosmoCaixa science museum and the funfair in Parc Tibidabo – perched high above the city. And the lovely Parc de Ciutadella makes the perfect break from sightseeing – with its boating lake, lawns and rose garden. And then there’s the beach of course – with soft sand, sparkling sea, and every usual seaside activity including watersports. This is also one of Europe’s great dining cities – and it’s easy to eat en famille, whether at a relaxed tapas bar, or in a fab restaurant such as Semproniana (http://www.semproniana.net) , where you can enjoy new interpretations of classic Catalan dishes, and on Saturday lunchtimes (term time) they host Patacutxi, a cooking workshop for children aged 4-10, while their parents relax and enjoy their lunch.
Stay: The Majestic hotel – right in the centre, family rooms, mini fridges in rooms, rooftop swimming pool, babysitting
A winning combination of sparkling Adriatic sea, beach, and stunning pedestrian-only old town, make Dubrovnik an ideal choice for a city break with children. This is a city where you really can have the best of both worlds. Spend part of the day relaxing on the beaches, enjoying the sea, or perhaps even taking a ferry from the Old Harbour to beautiful Lokrum island – just 10 mins away – an oasis of forests, rocky beaches and excellent swimming. Or if the children are old enough, take a sea kayaking and snorkeling trip along the coast – an adventure to remember! Then turn to things urban – and take a stroll around the spectacular city walls (plan your trip at the cooler times of day – as it’s quite a long walk), then wander round the famous, car-free terracotta-roofed atmospheric old town, with its baroque churches. And you’ll want to find time to take a trip on the cable car up to Mount Srd, for amazing views of the city and the Adriatic. When it’s time for dining – Dubrovnik is famous for seafood, but there’s no shortage of family-friendly eateries of all types and to suit all budgets.
Stay: Radisson Blu Resort and Sun Gardens – just outside the city centre, with pool, kids club, and offers not only rooms and suites, but also residences with kitchens which are ideal for relaxed family stays.
On the sunny South coast, just 40 mins by train or car from Gatwick airport, Brighton is known as ‘London by the sea’ – and is perfectly suited to a family escape. This vibrant, historic city has something for everyone. The stunning Royal Pavilion is a must-see, as are the tiny winding streets of the Old Lanes, with their antique and jewellery shops, the North Laine with its eclectic mix of contemporary and vintage shops, and – always a huge favourite with children – the Sea Life centre. Cultural activities abound for all ages – take in a show at the spectacular Dome concert hall, or the Theatre Royal – or perhaps a film at the independent Komedia cinema in the North Laine. The city is compact and easily walkable and you’re never far from the beach – which offers the quintessential British seaside experience: take a ride on the Brighton Wheel and enjoy panoramic views of the city and coast, sample all the fun of the Pier, try your hand at beach volleyball, browse the boutiques in the arches right opposite the sea, and enjoy an ice cream in a deckchair on the beach. Cycle lanes run right along the promenade, and bikes (as well as roller blades) can be hired. Or have a go at windsurfing or sailing – lessons available for adults and children at Hove Lagoon, on the seafront. And when it comes to deciding where to eat – Brighton is a foodie’s paradise, with restaurants and cafes serving everything from fish and chips to Michelin starred fare.
Stay: The Hilton Metropole – grand hotel right on the seafront, with rooms and suites, childrens menus, family packages, indoor pool.