Travelling to Spain with a toddler or children and looking for tips and suggestions on how to plan the perfect Spanish family vacation? Then this guide is for you.
Whether you are headed to the beaches of the Costa del Sol or prefer a city break in Barcelona, Madrid or Seville, Spain certainly offers up a diverse selection of great destinations to suit any preference or budget.
But how do you go about planning for your holiday to Spain with a toddler or children? In this guide I’ll be sharing all my top tips and suggestions to hopefully help you in the process.
Where to Stay in Spain with a Toddler
Whether you’re looking to enjoy the major cities, like Madrid and Barcelona, or prefer to explore Spain’s hidden gems, there is plenty to discover with your family. You can choose the region or city to stay in according to the type of vacation you’re after.
Finding Top Family Hotels in Spain
Depending on your budget, you’ll find an abundance of family-friendly accommodations in Spain. When booking your room, be sure to request a cot if you need one, as there are usually only a few available.
If you’d like to use your Spain visit to enjoy a date night or two, look for hotels that offer childminding services. These hotels usually fall within the mid-range to luxury accommodation with regards to budget, but the extra cost is worth it if you need some downtime.
If you’re able to splurge a bit and book into a Spanish resort, you’ll find that many provide a play area for kids. There are also Spanish paradores. These are luxury hotels that are located inside converted historic buildings like castles or built with views of ancient buildings.
Find family-friendly hotels in Spain here.
How to Get Around Spain with a Toddler
If you’re travelling with a toddler, Spain offers many ways to get around, from subways and buses to your own rental car.
Spain has world-class public transport, and it’s incredibly family-friendly. Children under the age of four will generally travel free, while those between 4 and 12 travel at discounted rates.
Buses are great to use in Spain’s cities, although they do sometimes need to be flagged down. They’re often quite accessible for strollers, and you’ll be able to reach your destinations quite easily.
The subways may prove to be trickier since a lot of them don’t have elevators. This means parents might have to haul strollers up and down stairs.
You should be able to order a taxi from your hotel and ask for a car seat. However, not many of them have car seats. So, if you don’t have your own, you’ll have to wait for an appropriate taxi or hold your baby on your lap.
If you’re planning on visiting a few different parts of Spain, and want independence in your travels, car rentals are a great choice. Much like taxis though, only some car rentals will come with a baby car seat.
You may have to bring your own seat, rent one independently, or book well in advance to secure one with your rented car.
If you plan on using your feet as your primary mode of transportation, you’ll want a stroller or carrier for your toddler. When they get tired and don’t want to walk anymore, carrying them between attractions can be uncomfortable for everyone.
You can rent strollers if you’re unable to bring one from home. If you’re planning to visit one of Spain’s quaint villages and walk through the cobblestone streets, a backpack carrier may be better suited.
Things to Do with a Toddler in Spain
Many attractions, museums, and galleries offer free entry or discounts for children younger than 4 years old. There are also plenty of activities here that are perfect for keeping your toddler’s attention.
Here are some of the top things to do during your family travel to Spain.
Head to the Beaches
Sand, sea, and sunny skies are usually a favourite for any energetic toddler. Thankfully, Spain’s coast has numerous clean beaches for the whole family to enjoy.
Some of the best beaches in Spain for kids include:
- Playa de la Arena in Cantabria – this splendid beach has a dedicated family area for parents and kids to enjoy.
- Playa de Muro in Mallorca is a peaceful beach with advanced life-saving equipment and location service to prevent anyone from getting lost.
- Playa Poo in Asturias is a sheltered beach with no waves; perfect for tiny ones who enjoy splashing in the water.
Find a Playground
Wherever you stay in Spain, there’s bound to be a fun-filled playground where the kids can run around. This is a great way for toddlers to release some of their seemingly endless energy and enjoy the outdoors.
You’ll no doubt also find local and tourist kids playing, so your kids will be able to make and interact with some new friends.
Feel Royal for the Day at a Castle
Spain has so many gorgeous castles spread throughout the countryside. Visit these to show your toddler the magical life of past royals. Let them explore the towers and feel like princes or princesses.
This activity is also great for older children since they’ll be able to learn more about the history of the castle and the country. And of course, it will make for some spectacular family vacation pictures.
Some of Spain’s best castles to visit with young children:
- Alcázar of Segovia is a must. It’s massive, magnificent, and is even said to be the inspiration for Disney World’s Cinderella castle.
- One of the oldest castles in Spain is Loarre Castle in Aragon. It’s partly in ruins but offers tons of intrigue and exploration for kids both inside and outside.
- Navarre, Spain, offers more than just a visit to a castle. Here, you can spend the night inside Olite Castle. And if you’re here in August, you’ll be able to see the medieval festival too.
Take a Family-Centred Tour
An experienced local guide can help you discover all the child-friendly activities and landmarks. Book one of these family-focused tours:
- walking tour around Barcelona – it has an interactive itinerary for kids aged 4 to 12.
- guided tour of Valencia complete with quizzes and stimulating learning activities for kids and adults alike.
Tips for Dining in Spain with Kids
Spanish eating times can be somewhat disruptive to a toddler’s routine, with dinner often not happening until 21:00. And so, family outings to restaurants may be best done at lunch, which is a large, significant meal in any Spaniard’s day.
You’ll find plenty of children-friendly restaurants in Spain, and youngsters are welcomed in many casual eateries. If your toddler needs a highchair, it’s best to make a reservation and book one in advance (ask for a trona), since there aren’t often many of these on offer.
Some restaurants will also have a children’s menu, offering foods that are easy for toddlers to eat. These options are usually more appealing to younger tastes too.
If you need to buy milk for nap and bed time, then:
- Whole/Full fat = Blue
- Semi Skimmed = Green
- Low Fat = Red
- Notes: Look for the coloured writing on the carton. Semi skimmed is semi destinada. UHT is very common but you can buy fresh in most larger supermarkets.
General Tips for Travelling in Spain for Families
- Spaniards are generally friendly and love children. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter to heat a bottle or feel shy when needing to change a diaper in public.
- On that note, be aware that there are not many changing rooms to be found, so it’s best to pack a changing mat.
- The pharmacies will stock all the necessary items for your toddler, including diapers, baby food, and formula. Some of the name brands may differ, though.
Born and raised in South Africa, Marco Santos from Travel-Boo, together with his partner moved to sunny Lisbon over 3 years ago. With an absolute love for Europe, he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese heritage along the way. Marco has set out to blog and share his passion for travelling through and exploring both Portugal, Spain and throughout Europe, through his blog Travel-Boo.