It is the Valentine’s Day news that many of us have been waiting for. And it has nothing to do with love-hearts, chocolates or vastly overpriced flowers. Spain has announced that, on February 14, it will simplify the entry requirements for teenage tourists.
Where previously, children over 12 needed to be fully vaccinated in order to travel to the country of tapas, torros, Tarragona and Torremolinos, as of February 14, they will ‘only’ need to pass a PCR test to board the plane.
While this is still a hurdle that parents would have considered ridiculous and unjustifiable in 2019, this loosening of restrictions does open a path to the beaches of Andalusia and Catalonia that, previously, was blocked to family groups containing teenagers who have not received two jabs against Covid.
Not a moment too soon, either. The Easter school break (April 2-18) is coming into focus, and the May half term (generally May 28-June 5 this year) will not be far behind.
Children under 12 remain exempt from vaccination or testing rules for holidays in Spain. But if your brood features two of the surlier, more senior school-age bracket, and a week under the Iberian sun sounds like heaven, the following nine getaways may prove enticing (unless otherwise stated, all prices are for a family of four).
Andalusia’s biggest coastal city is also blessed with myriad flight connections – but then, as the gateway to the Costa del Sol, you would expect it to be. This means there is plenty of package-holiday availability for the Easter holidays, and families with teenagers can now look to the likes of the Hotel Best Benalmadena. This reliable four-star sits 10 miles down the shoreline from Malaga (in Benalmadena), and is part of the Thomas Cook “brochure”.
The details: A seven-night half-board getaway, departing from Birmingham on April 9, starts at £1,572, including checked bags (01733 224 330; thomascook.com).
If peace and quiet are your main requirements of a Spanish beach break, even with a 13 and a 15-year-old in tow, there is much to recommend Murcia. This less-heralded region, at the south-east corner of the country, is also part of the Costa club – though its own arc of seafront, the Costa Calida, is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the Costas del Sol or Blanca. It should be. “Calida”, those with a grasp of Spanish will know, translates as “warm” – and these 150 miles of shore deliver heat and light aplenty, but without some of the crowds found elsewhere.
The details: A seven-night half-board stay at the Thirty Degrees Hotel Dos Playas, a four-star resort in Mazzaron, flying from Manchester on April 2, starts at £2,166 in total, with checked bags, via On The Beach (0161 5093700; onthebeach.co.uk).
Seville in April
If you have somehow crafted a set of teenagers who like a little history and/or culture to go with their Spanish suntans, there is little to eclipse the glory of the Andalusian capital. Seville may not have a beach, but it swats away the call of the water in the Moorish echoes of the Alcazar palace and the unabashed Gothic magnificence of its cathedral, where Christopher Columbus (or, at least, part of him) lies entombed. Too booooooring, mum/dad? Then the morsels of the city’s tapas bars – of which, according to repute, there are 3,000 – may be of assistance. If not, well, it’s about 60 miles to the sea.
The details: A four-night stay (with breakfast) at the five-star Gran Melia Colon, flying from Heathrow on April 13, starts at £3,037 in all via British Airways Holidays (0344 4930787; ba.com).
May half term
The Costa del Sol may be the most popular destination for a Spanish beach holiday, but it is far from being the only option. The Costa de Valencia, which spreads out on either side of the country’s third biggest city, is an excellent alternative – a little quieter than its more famous counterpart, but no less equipped with soft sands and inviting hotels. Some of them are located at Gandia, a pleasing resort town pitched 45 miles south of the regional capital. Here, you find the Hotel RH Bayren Parc – a solid four-star right on the seafront.
The details: A seven-night half-board stay at Hotel RH Bayren Parc, flying from Stansted on May 28, costs from £2,327 in total, including checked bags, through Love Holidays (020 81751145; loveholidays.com).
From goals to Gaudi via gourmet cuisine, there is very little at which Barcelona does not excel, and this includes the seaside experience. The Catalan capital has a splendid beach of its own in La Barceloneta, although if your idea of a holiday involves getting out of the city, there is much to recommend a journey south-west onto the Costa Dorada. Perhaps to Salou, some 70 miles away, on the outskirts of Tarragona.
The details: The four-star Golden Avenida Family Suites are one of the many options. A seven-night half-board stay, flying from Glasgow on May 28, starts at £2,259 in total through Tui (020 34512688; tui.co.uk).
Salou has one particular family-friendly claim to fame. It is home to PortAventura World (portaventuraworld.com) – the adrenalised oasis which ranks as the most visited theme park in the whole of Spain. Those of a nervous disposition should probably steer clear; those who love to strap in and spiral around should be entirely at home. Attractions include the idiosyncratic wooden rollercoaster “Stampida”, where twin carriages “duel” with each other on parallel tracks – and “Tutuki Splash”, a volcano-themed flume ride. Better still, guests who book into one of the resort’s on-site properties enjoy unlimited entry to the park over the course of their stay.
The details: A seven-night getaway to the four-star Hotel Gold River, flying from Stansted on May 29, starts at £3,708 in total – including bags, transfers and breakfast – through Jet2 Holidays (0800 408 0778; jet2holidays.com).
The largest of the Canaries is also happy to whirl and twirl its visitors. Not least at Siam Park (siampark.net), a zone of giddy excitements on the Costa Adeje, on the south-west flank of the island. Here, the signature experience is the “Tower of Power” – a vertical-drop extravaganza which sees riders plunge 28 metres when a trapdoor opens. Tantalising or terrifying? Perhaps decide once you’ve checked into the nearby Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa, and made a call on whether you really need to leave this five-star joy, with its four restaurants.
The details: A seven-night half-board stay at Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa, flying from Bristol on April 9, starts at £4,787 in total, with Destinology (01204 208 371; destinology.co.uk).
Just as you don’t necessarily need a powdery beach for a Spanish getaway with children, so you don’t have to fly to the south when the north has enticements galore. KE Adventure Travel is well aware of this, serving up “On The Tapas Trail” – an eight-day “family active holiday” in the mountains which shape the top edge of the country. The Picos de Europa may not have quite the height and heft of some of Europe’s more celebrated ranges, but then, you don’t want too much altitude if you are planning a week of trekking, cycling and canyoning with younger travellers.
The details: Two editions of this particular trip are slated for this summer (July 24-31; August 7-14) – from £1,025 per child and £1,095 per adult, not including flights (to Santander). Although this is an energetic holiday, it is suitable for kids aged eight and up. See more at KE Adventure Travel (01768 773 966; keadventure.com).
If the idea of a week in the mountains really excites, then you might also aim for Spain’s northernmost edge. Explore will happily facilitate this with its “Family Pyrenees Multi-Activity Adventure”, which reaches for the rooftop in Aigues Tortes National Park. This is an eight-day affair of white-water rafting on the River Noguera, and mountain-biking in the Montgarri valley.
The details: Three departures with Explore (01252 240 688; explore.co.uk) are slated for July (plus a further two in August) – from £1,267 per adult, from £1,173 per child (including flights). The minimum age for participation is seven; the average child age 14.