Family travel snap: escaping the Spanish heat with a day trip to Tarragona

by Imogen Hall

This month’s family travel snap is travelling to Tarragona on the Mediterranean Coast of Spain with Lonely Planet’s Senior Editor Claire Naylor and her family.

Two families enjoying a rest at the Balcó del Mediterrani viewpoint © Marc Naylor

What’s the story behind this photo?

It was late afternoon on a very hot day in July. Whilst we were very happy with our daily routine of pool, siesta, beach and bar in Cambrils, we thought it might be time to explore the nearby city of Tarragona. Plus, the trains have fantastic air-conditioning.

In this photo, we have just arrived in town, climbed the long slope and steps from the station, and are having a rest at the Balcó del Mediterrani viewpoint. It’s so rare to get a good group photo with everyone looking in the same direction, so we’ve stopped trying! Instead, my husband took this snap as the rest of us enjoyed the view and the sea breeze. The colours are fantastic, and the way my son is on the edge of the shot hoping to somehow look through the telescope that’s far too high for him always makes me smile.

We were travelling with five young children, which is a lot of little people to keep happy. Instead of charging around to the main sights, we kept our schedule pretty flexible. And that is why our next stop was an accessory and gift shop called Ale-Hop. Here the kids tried every gadget, played with every toy, and tried on some peculiar rubber masks. Plus, it also had great air-conditioning.

Kids’ perspective

Emma, age 7: ‘We went for pizza later that day and I tried mussels. They were okay… very squidgy. I’d have them again if I really had to. I remember the train home was really late and we were sooooooo hot waiting at the station, and Auntie let me play a zombie game on her phone.’

Trying on the funny masks in Ale-Hop © Marc Naylor

Claire’s tips for visiting Tarragona with kids:

Don’t try to see everything and boggle your little ones with lots of city culture, especially if it’s hot. Our evening in Tarragona was ideal because there was no pressure:

1) Enjoy a stroll through the atmospheric shopping district (beware some steep hills), visit some of the Roman ruins, and pause at the spectacular cathedral.

2) Then take a well-deserved break at a bar in one of the lovely squares – cold drinks and ice cream all round is always a winner. The Rambla Nova is lined with restaurants, and has a wide pedestrianised centre for strolling, dining, or in our case, playing an elaborate post-dinner game of ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’?

3) Failing that, run away from the city for the golden sands of Costa Daurada. The many beaches are wide and clean; the coves are shallow and the sea is gentle, which is ideal for youngsters just learning to swim.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

I’m very excited about our next big trip. First, we’re heading to Disneyland Paris for a one-day theme park extravaganza, before road-tripping down through France to stay with family in Burgundy. From there, it’s back to Spain’s Costa Daurada for more beach time with friends.

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always….

….make sure we’ve got:

1) Snacks and drinks

2) Our favourite cuddlies: MooReen (a cow) and Steven (an elephant)

3) An iPad full of TV shows and games, along with a solemn promise that this time we’ll be good at sharing

PUBLISHED March 2019