Spain with kids

Traveling in Spain with kids

What does Responsible Travel recommend?

Active teenagers will enjoy mountain biking, rafting, kayaking and canyoning, while the more culturally-minded can get stuck into life in the pueblo – shopping at local markets and picking up Spanish words along the way. There are horses to ride, flamenco dresses to gawp at, natural pools to swim in and some impressive wildlife to track down. And at the end of the day, there’s also likely to be a swimming pool – or a sandy beach to dig around in. Don’t worry about whether there’s any British restaurants nearby – Spanish food is child friendly, as are the restaurants; you’ll see toddlers out and about at 10pm.

Health & safety in Spain

Travel safely in Spain with kids


EU residents can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which gives you free emergency treatment at hospitals.

The EHIC doesn’t replace travel insurance, which covers non-essential treatment along with emergency repatriation and other costly procedures. Ensure you have comprehensive insurance which covers all the activities you are planning to do.

Cool sea breezes and fresh mountain air can be deceiving. Wear plenty of sunscreen, and keep kids covered. The sun in Andalucia is particularly fierce year-round, so hats, sun screen and sunglasses with UV filters are recommended, especially if traveling in Spain with kids.

Carry plenty of water if hiking or cycling – dehydration happens quickly here. Many routes do not have convenience stores or restaurants along the way, so snacks are also advised to keep you going.

 Be aware of altitude sickness in areas above 2,500m. This includes the Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees. If you feel ill (dizzy, nauseous, breathless, headache), the best remedy is to descend. Avoid alcohol and keep well hydrated to reduce your chances of feeling ill. Acclimatising for a couple of days in the foothills before attempting any high-altitude climbs is also advisable.


Take note of the universal emergency number: 112. You can also dial 062 for the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) for mountain rescue services and other accidents.

Most beaches outside of the popular resort areas are unguarded, especially outside of the peak season, although flags are often used to indicate safety. Do not enter the water if there is a red flag, undercurrents can be extremely strong. Keep an eye out for jellyfish as well. The good news is that there are a huge number of blue flag beaches where you can be confident of clean water.

Most of Spain is safe with relatively low crime rates. Pickpockets may act in tourist areas though – particularly in Barcelona. Be careful in bars at night, leave valuables in your hotel and don’t leave wallets or mobile phones on show. Be cautious on beaches too – don’t leave bags unattended while you swim.

Tap water is safe to drink, so bring refillable bottles to save money and the environment.

The weather is unpredictable and varies greatly from region to region. Keep an eye on the forecast if planning to trek or climb in more mountainous regions, and remember: the extreme heat can be just as dangerous as the cold, snow or fog.

Call the London-based Spanish National Tourist Office for safety and weather warnings on 020 7486 8077. If heading to the mountains for skiing, consult the European Avalanche Warning Services.

Due to the increasing number of climbers and skiers who get into difficulties due to negligence, Catalonia has begun to bill those who do not take adequate precautions and require rescuing.

Forest fires are common in summer months.
Be extra cautious when using cigarettes and glass bottles, and never leave them behind. Causing a fire is a criminal offence even if unintentional.

There are numerous rules regarding driving in Spain,
be sure to check you have all necessary equipment before hiring a car. The FCO website is a good place to start. Note: it is illegal to use a mobile phone when driving in Spain, even if you pull over. Completely hands-free units are permitted.

Be careful when driving in rural areas, especially in the mountains.
Many remote roads are unlit and even unpaved – with switchbacks making driving tough.

Activities for families in Spain

What to do with little ones

Stay in a cave! Surrounded by gorgeous natural parks, natural pools, horse riding trails and tiny traditional villages, the cosy cave houses of Granada make an excellent base for adventure or culture vacations for those traveling in Spain with kids. The inside temperature remains pleasantly cool year-round.
There’s more to Spain’s water activities than swimming pools. Try whitewater rafting or open kayaking on the rivers of the Pyrenees, kayaking around the turquoise lakes of the Andalucian Altiplano or even sea kayaking off the coast of Cabo de Gata.
Cabo de Gata, famed as the setting for “Spaghetti Westerns” due to its bizarre desert landscape, is a great choice for families seeking something a little different. Dry weather is virtually guaranteed, but the coastal location keeps it slightly cooler than the rest of the province. As well as exploring Europe’s only desert, kids can visit the genuine Western film sets in Mini Hollywood.

Traveling in Spain with kids asks the experts

Tom Powers, from our supplier Pura Aventura, shares his advice on traveling in Spain with kids:
“Kids being up at midnight in a restaurant is perfectly normal and accepted. When I go to Spain with my young children, within about a day they’re on an adult timetable. It can be difficult for parents who think “What do we do – we’re feeding the children now, but then how can we go out after – bedtime is at eight o’clock, so they’ll be asleep by then…” But in Spain, they do what you do, at the times you do it. So the conflict of trying to make sure everyone’s in bed at the right time disappears; everyone goes to bed at midnight or one o’clock. I find that kids step right into that and they love it. The Spanish don’t separate the kids from the adults – and that makes it a wonderful stress-free experience as a parent.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, shares his top tip for traveling to Spain with kids:

 “A great area for families is the Picos de Europa in northern Spain. You can get the ferry to Santander which works well, and you’ve got good accommodation, great cities like Bilbao, wonderful museums... On that coastline there is lots of family-run, small accommodation, all locally owned. So the Picos is absolutely fantastic for families, but also accessible – you can take the car on the ferry so the packing is one less thing to worry about! So that’s one of my top picks.”
Photo credits: [Top box: mainfish] [Cave stay: dr_zoidberg] [White water rafting: Jesus Jimenez] [Cabo de Gata: Gabriel Villena] [Picos: JOSE LUIS HEREDIA] [: ]
Written by Vicki Brown
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