Andalucía's facilities, climate and attractions are ideal for families. The region's culture revolves around the (extended) family, and children are welcomed at all but the most formal restaurants, as well as at bars and most hotels. To get the most of what's on offer, plan ahead.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Málaga Province

Parents may balk, but the theme parks around Torremolinos and Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol have undeniable appeal for children, while beaches with shallow waters and boat rides should have the whole family smiling.

  • Almería Province

And now for something completely different: the Wild West shoot-'em-up shows in desert film locations are bound to knock kids' socks off (not literally, you understand…).

  • Seville

Seville has great leafy parks, boat trips and an amusement park on the former Expo site.

  • Cádiz Province & Gibraltar

Older kids will love the kite- and windsurfing in Tarifa, which is one of the major destinations for the sport in Europe. You can also hop on a ferry to Morocco for the day.

Andalucía for Kids

The Andalucian basics – beaches and fabulous climate – are pretty good raw ingredients for starters. Add to this water sports, museums, parks, boat rides and loads of ice cream and it becomes serious spoil-them-rotten time. Note that the majority of theme parks and entertainment for children are in Málaga province, especially along the Costa del Sol.

Away from the coast, you may not find so many dedicated kids' attractions, but every town will have at least one good-sized children’s playground. Public spaces, such as town and village plazas, also morph into informal play spaces, with children kicking a ball, riding bikes and playing while parents enjoy a drink and tapas in one of the surrounding terrace bars. Many Andalucian towns also have municipal swimming pools – ideal in summer.

Eating & Drinking

Whole families, often including several generations, sitting around a restaurant or bar table eating and chatting is a fundamental element of the lifestyle here, and it's rare to find a restaurant where children are not welcome. Even if restaurants do not advertise children’s menus (and few do), they will normally be willing to prepare a small portion for your child or suggest a suitable tapa or two.

High chairs in restaurants are increasingly common but by no means universal, and nappy-changing facilities are rare.

Favourite Foods

It's perhaps not the healthiest of snacks, but you can’t go wrong with ordering your child a churro (or two). These thick, tubular doughnuts are irresistible to children – and to children at heart.

Discerning young diners may like to ease themselves into Andalucian cuisine by tasting various tapas; this will allow them to sample new flavours gradually and on a small scale. Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), albóndigas (meatballs) and, of course, chips (or French fries) are a good bet. You can also find kebabs or shwarmas in places with a large North African population – essentially a hot chicken wrap, kebabs are tasty (and messy) enough to be a big hit with most youngsters.

You can generally find freshly squeezed orange juice in most bars. Other popular choices for children are Cola Cao and Nesquik, chocolate drinks served hot or cold with milk.

Discounts

Children pay two-thirds of the fare on the high-speed AVE train, but full price on most buses and ferries. There are generally discounts for admission to sights, and those under four generally get in free.

Children’s Highlights

Theme Parks

Tivoli World, Arroyo de la Miel As well as various rides and slides, there are daily dance, musical and children’s events.

Isla Mágica, Seville Plenty of rides, including a roller coaster, plus pirate shows, bird-of-prey displays and more.

Oasys Mini Hollywood, Desierto de Tabernas Wild West shows, stagecoaches, can-can dancers and a zoo at this former film set for westerns.

Aventura Amazonia, Marbella Adventure theme park with ziplines.

Museums

  • Museo Lara, Ronda Vast private museum; includes exhibitions on witchcraft and torture instruments that kids with an interest in the macabre will doubtless enjoy!
  • Parque de las Ciencias, Granada Interactive displays and exhibitions at Granada’s popular science park.
  • Casa Museo de Mijas, Mijas Folk-themed museum with models, artefacts and a donkey made from esparto grass.
  • Museo del Bandolero, Ronda Dedicated to the local bandits, with lots of photos, exhibits and weapons, plus a gift shop.
  • Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville Includes daily flamenco performances at the family-friendly time of 7pm.

Caves, Caverns & Castles

Cueva de Nerja, Nerja Full of spooky stalactites and stalagmites.

St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar A huge natural grotto with a lake and atmospheric auditorium.

Gruta de las Maravillas, Aracena, Huelva Explore 12 caverns here, including stunning underground pools.

Centro de Interpretación Cuevas de Guadix, Guadix Cave museum re-creating typical cave life for a family.

Cueva de la Pileta, Benaoján, Ronda Fascinating, uncommercial caves with narrow, low walkways, lakes and cave paintings.

Castles Jaén, Segura de la Sierra, Alcalá La Real, Almodóvar del Rio and Málaga have castles with displays designed to amuse children as well as adults.

Wildlife

  • Bioparc, Fuengirola Refreshingly animal-friendly and enclosure-free zoo in the centre of the town.
  • Selwo Aventura, Estepona Wild-animal park with an African theme and animals including rhinos, giraffes, hippos and cheetahs.
  • Dolphin-watching, Gibraltar The strait of Gibraltar is home to several species of dolphin. Whales can occasionally be spotted, too.
  • Parque Ornitológico Loro-Sexi, Almuñécar Tropical-bird aviary full of parrots, peacocks, macaws, cockatoos and toucans.
  • Mariposario de Benalmádena, Benalmádena A butterfly park with several reptiles, including iguanas and a giant tortoise.
  • Centro de Fauna Silvestre Collado del Almendral, Cazorla Kids can take a mini train on a 5km ride around a 1-sq-km enclosure and see wild boar, mouflon, ibex and deer, as well as rescued birds recovering in cages.

Other Sights & Activities

Fairs & fiestas Annual fairs are held in every Andalucian town and village and always include a funfair with rides for kids.

Rowing boats Rent a rowing boat to paddle along the moat at Seville’s Plaza de España or a four-wheel bike to explore the park further.

Windsurfing & kiteboarding Older children can take courses in both sports at Tarifa on the Cádiz coast.

Trip to Morocco Take a speedy ferry from Tarifa to Tangier for the day.

Planning

This is an easygoing, child-friendly destination with little advance planning necessary.

When To Go

July and August can be very busy with Spanish families, as well as foreign tourists, in the main tourist resorts, and some hotels are block-booked by tour companies. May, June, September and October are good times to travel with young children: the weather's still warm enough for paddling in the sea but hasn't yet reached serious sizzle. The theme parks and attractions are also not too crowded – aside from the Easter holidays, that is.

Accommodation

Most hotels and even hostales (budget hotels) will be able to provide an extra bed or cot for a child or baby. However, always check and reserve in advance as there will be a limited number available. You will sometimes be charged a supplement for this. When selecting a hotel, check whether it has a kids club, activities geared to youngsters and/or babysitting facilities.

What’s Available

You can buy baby formula in powder or liquid form, as well as sterilising solutions such as Milton, at farmacias (pharmacies). Disposable nappies are widely available at supermarkets and farmacias.