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Traveling Spain with 3 kids in July

My husband and I want to travel Spain with our 3 kids (ages 7,10,13) during the month of July 2022. I don’t want to be moving around a lot, instead I was hoping we could be based in 2 or 3 places and take day trips from there. Where would you recommend being based in (3-4 different locations over 1 month)?
Thank you! We’ve never been to Spain before and my kids have never traveled internationally. We’re from Washington state, USA

Posted by
1322 posts

I’m doing some research now so can’t help you. It will be very hot there in July in case you are unaware.

Posted by
2267 posts

The summer time is the perfect time to visit Northern Spain, which is often referred to as "Green Spain". It's quite the contrast compared to the south of the country, and looks more like Ireland mixed in with the Alps. The weather is much more temperate and wet, more similar to the Pacific northwest.

The north offers medieval villages and monasteries, picturesque wine regions, emerald waters of Bay of Biscay, culinary delights of the Basque country, Celtic culture of Galicia, and towering jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa. Something for everyone.

I feel the north is best experienced with a car, which allows you to stop at the more off the beaten path sites. With one month, one can do quite a nice road-trip starting in San Sebastian and snaking along westwards to Santiago de Compostela, exploring the regions of the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia along the way.

Next steps would be doing some research on what places/activities specifically you are interested in as family and develop a skeleton itinerary. Lonely Planet has some pretty good sample itineraries for Spain - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/narratives/planning/itineraries

Posted by
19172 posts

Carlos has identified the right areas to cover, in my view. If you really want just a few bases, I guess I'd choose one in Galicia, one in the Pyrenees and Barcelona or somewhere in Barcelona's orbit. There's so much to see and do in that city that it seems a shame to stay elsewhere and have to day-trip into the city over and over and over again.

But time in the Picos de Europa would also be good, especially with children; there seem to be a lot of outdoor options there. And there are so many lovely cities stretched out across northern Spain--places like Leon, Oviedo and Burgos. It seems a shame to have a month and miss them all.

Note that even in mid-summer, you cannot count on beach weather (that is, going-into-the-water weather) on any given day along the northern coast of Spain. There will be nice days, but there will be many overcast/rainy days, and the water will be pretty cool. I saw people in wetsuits in June. The east coast north and south of Barcelona would have more reliable swimming opportunities.

Central and southern Spain is likely to be hot, often miserably hot, in July. Before committing to time in those areas, do check out the actual, historical, day-by-day weather statistics available on timeanddate.com. I've linked you to the July 2021 data for Seville, which is about the hottest major city in Spain, so you can see how bad it can be; the daily high temperature was 90 or higher every day of that month. Definitely look at more than one year's data for a more reliable idea of expected conditions.

Posted by
3155 posts

If you do decide to include northern Spain, consider visiting one of the cave sites with pre-historic paintings. Your kids may find them quite fascinating. There is, of course, Altamira, which is a reproduction; but the museum is interesting. In addition, there is the cave of Tito Bustillo near Ribadesella. We also visited another site, but the name eludes me. Google will help you the find places,opening times, and reservation requirements if any.

Posted by
3306 posts

When we took our children when they were about 10 and 14 in 1994, my son only wanted to play basketball and my daughter wanted to swim. Neither wanted to see museums although we did take them to the Prado. We did the whirlwind tour of the country and saw all the main sights from Granada to Sevilla and Córdoba, and Mérida to Madrid, but that was to ensure they saw the main sights in case they never got back. I wouldn’t do that trip now as there was a lot of driving involved. The heat was brutal in Andalucia and Extremadura, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting those regions if there are places you wanted to visit. My son loved castles and couldn’t get enough of them. Both loved the Roman theater in Mérida and walking around Santillana Del Mar in the north. We all enjoyed the Fernando Botero exhibition of sculptures along Paseo de Recoletos in Madrid that just happened to be taking place when we were there.

For bases to take day trips from, consider Lugo or Zamora as they are smaller and have fewer tourists. Burgos or León might also fit you needs but are larger. There are plenty of small towns and nice beaches along the north coast. If you wanted smaller places to stay, consider Olite or SOS Del Rey Católico in La Rioja and Aragón. Soria might also fit your needs. Where you choose should be dependent on what you like and want to do. If you live in western Washington state where there are plenty of mountains you may want something different, so Picos de Europa for example, may not be what you’re looking for, even though it is worth visiting.

Posted by
383 posts

Hi, this might be a bit of an off-the-wall suggestion — but have you considered a campsite based vacation?
In 1995 our kids were 4 and 6 years old and we stayed on Eurocamp sites on the Costa Daurada and Costa Verde which allowed us to do day trips to Barcelona, Tarragona (excellent Roman amphitheater), Port Aventura theme park; Bilbao and the Gugenheim, Santander and lovely coastal villages, coves and caves. On the journey from the Costa Daurada to the Costa Verde we stopped off at Zaragoza for a day and night and visted both the magnificent basilica and the impressive Moorish Alijaferia.
The kids loved it — and still recall our adventure. They made loads of friends with French and Spanish kids and picked up the travel bug.
The sites were all excellent, with really good swimming pools, and bars with live entertainment in the evenings. The accommodation, large, chalet-sized tents, are all equipped with cookers, utensils, crockery and cutlery, other useful gadgets and fridges. All we needed to supply was sleeping bags and towels — and because it was July the lightweight sleeping bags we took rolled up to the size of a towel. The site staff were super helpful and friendly. Considerably cheaper, and a lot less hassle, than renting apartments or staying in hostels/hotels. It was the not the sort of holiday that we would normally jump for — but I'm, and the family were, very glad we did.

Posted by
1130 posts

Quite the range of age for all the family in terms of what each person will find interesting. You are blessed to have 30 days to create a wonderful journey of memories. Keep in mind a journey does not need to have a multitude of different destinations in order to be memorable.

Some thoughts (BTW, we have traveled with our daughters internationally as they grew from pre-teen to present day).................

I will go "pragmatic" before diving into destinations.

Top tip, HYDRATION is vital to enabling enduring the heat. Please start hydrating everyone the day prior to the trip (a long flight is a dry environment which will suck the moisture out of you). If you fly out of SEATAC there are several locations where you can bring a plastic bottle and fill with water after passing through security. Upon arrival keep hydrating daily with healthy doses in the evening and early morning. Do invest in purchasing fruits and icy drinks for consumption while you are out and about.

Wherever you travel, July is high tide for tourists and a combination of heat and lines can take the delight out of the journey. Do take advantage of booking online tickets allowing scheduled arrival times at sites. Doing so is a major time saver and stress reliever. Become a local and adapt to the "siesta" as there is great value to NOT baking in the heat and allowing your feet to rest. AVOID believing your trip expense requires going all out to gain the maximum use of your dollar. Slow down you move too fast, you got to make the moment last. BTW, tennis shoes are great but trap the heat and sweat. We use sandals. Dusk is the beginning of the next day for enjoying your journey. Locals come out to socialize, stroll and kids run about playing. It is tough changing the eating patterns of a family, but we learned to eat lighter meals later enabling the opportunity to partake in more local evening events. Dirty secret, we allow our girls to eat at McDonalds while abroad for the sanity it seemed to provide them and us. Which brings up another subject........... When is the last time your family has spent 24 hours together daily for 30 days without a break? Think it through and discuss how each adult can be okay with "abandoning" the other in order to have some "me time". Sanity is at sake.

Wherever you go we strongly recommend renting an apartment. A kitchen, separate bedrooms, family room and maybe a washing machine justifies the effort. Seeking AC functioning locations is vital, but also a location where the rooms face an interior courtyard is important (sound control from street noise). BTW, Thirty years we abandoned staying in hotels and took to staying in neighborhoods outside of traditional tourist zones. We found cheaper places to eat, more engagement with local events and a less stressful environment. The internet has made finding great locations easier to the point where researching online expat news sites helps find well recommended apartments for let.

Spain offers a wonderful selection of markets to wonder and experience a variety of foods and experiences. Kids love being able to sample the display of tastes available in these markets and we have found vendors are warmly welcoming to kids. Shopping is family situational, but some of the best souvenirs our family purchases is clothing. Once back home wearing a garnet/shoes purchased abroad is a great reminder of the journey. "Where did I get this scarf? At a second hand shop in Barcelona.".

IMPORTANT! Department store https://www.elcorteingles.com has great bathrooms on their top floor and sometimes a grocery store in the basement. How to beat the heat? Window shopping in an AC department store!

Do challenge the whole family to sampling different food experiences. Take the time to purchase food within local meat/fish/produce markets. Encourage the kids to take the lead in selecting foods.

OK, next post will be about destinations.

Posted by
1130 posts

Long ago our first trip to Europe was for 30 days, sans kids, and I insisted on getting the value out of the journey by staying in a minimum of four locations. We had a wonderful journey, but learned there is nothing worse than pulling into a town (we drove) while looking for a place to eat and sleep (pre internet). Over the decades we learned to maximize our journey by minimizing the destinations.
That said I ask for your patience while reading the following..............

Barcelona is the place with the most to offer your family.

Barcelona offers a HUGE menu of a large variety of family experiences while also providing a great public transportation system. The metro system (safe, clean and relatively inexpensive for a family of five) connects to a rail system enabling easy access to a variety of day trip locations. In striving to outline the variety of experiences please consider your family can:
- spend a day at the beach and swim in the Med
- visit Montserrat and take a cable car up a mountain for a family hike and to visit a montesary (all by public transport)
- visit an ancient roman city underground in the center of old town Barcelona
- day trip to roman ruins north of Barcelona
- day trip south of Barcelona to another beach town cuz July and the Med are meant for each other.
- Museums, architectural delights, parks, a seaside port are just the better known experiences

The list goes on and on but let's consider stress reduction and maximizing the journey.
Renting an apartment and unpacking once is a huge relief for a large family. We packed less knowing the ease of being able to do wash and what clothing would be needed for the journey. NOT being luggage mules is a huge element of reducing travel stress. We have visited Barcelona often and keep peeling layers off the known menu and finding hidden discoveries. We have also learned the less we relocate equates to a cheaper trip.

Yes, hard to accept staying in one location can be justified with 30 days to spend. Do your research on how many day trip opportunities are available from Barcelona and also listen to recommendations I know fellow posters will provide. I leave you with a suggestion, we have rented an apartment for a month in Malaga to provide a stable home base and then journeyed to Seville and Granada where we rented a hotel for two nights each. Yes, we "double paid" for accommodations, but the ease of bringing overnight travel bags (in lieu of packing everything up) greatly eased our experience.

Am envious as our family still speaks about the shared travel experiences, even when "glitches and drama" was encountered. All of you will be richer for the investment you are making and I am not speaking of money.

Posted by
984 posts

I'd be bored after 10 days in three places but that's me. If you take a bunch of day trips you're still moving around a lot even if you don't change hotels (and you'll do some backtracking). How about building a journey around the country? Fly into let's say Barcelona or Madrid or Seville and stay 5-6 nights with appropriate day trips. Then head out to your next stop for 5-6 nights (or more or less). During your journey you can plan the rest of your trip and decide how many nights in each place work best for you. Fly home from a different place than you flew into if it's more efficient.

Posted by
19172 posts

I don't think I'd want to set out with a family of five on a one-month summer trip without having all my lodgings locked down. I do travel flexibly myself in high season, but I am a solo traveler, and I have to spend a considerable amount of my time on some evenings researching available rooms at future stops.

Posted by
626 posts

As for Seville in summer, "Seville to become world’s first city to name heat waves"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/10/19/seville-spain-heat-wave-names/

Can naming heat waves call more attention to them and save lives? Seville, Spain, will be the world’s first laboratory to test this concept in 2022, when the city launches a new initiative to name and rank heat waves, much like weather forecasters do for hurricanes.
Public health officials have long sought to raise awareness of heat waves, which are the leading cause of weather-related deaths in many parts of the world. The problem is more pressing now as climate change increases the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme heat events.

... Seville is a city of nearly 700,000 people in the south of Spain and popular with tourists. It’s in the country’s Andalusia region, which is among the nation’s hottest. On Aug. 14, the city of Montoro, about 100 miles to the northeast, soared to 117.3 degrees (47.3 Celsius), Spain’s highest temperature on record.