Home to breathtaking scenery and delicious food, and within easy reach of the UK, northern Spain makes an ideal holiday destination for families. Here are 10 unmissable adventures to share with your children
Hike in the Picos de Europa
Most routes in this spectacular national park can be enjoyed in a day. Try the six-mile Bajo los Picos trail above pretty Mogrovejo village – a gentle uphill forest trail that emerges into meadows surrounded by soaring mountains. The paths are clearly marked and easy to follow, but don’t forget to pack plenty of water, food and sun cream, as there aren’t any shops around.
Go caving in Costa Verde
Caves hold mystery and intrigue for all ages, so don’t miss Cantabria’s biggest attraction – a replica of world heritage-listed Altamira cave near Santillana del Mar, where the walls are filled with Paleolithic art. Also worth seeking out is El Soplao cave in Cantabria, where children can explore six miles of geological formations, learn about stalagmites and stalagtites, and gaze in awe at fossilised insects in amber from millions of years ago.
Spain’s Mediterranean coast may attract more visitors, but for amazing surf, untouched sandy shores and breathtaking cliffs, the north wins every time
Mundaka and the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Basque country
This picturesque fishing port at the mouth of the Guernica estuary is part of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, which has the greatest variety of landscapes in the Basque country, from splendid beaches to wetlands, cliffs and mountains. Explore on foot, by bike or by boat and don’t miss diving at Cabo Ogoño. If you’re a surfer, the left-hand barrel wave at Mundaka is highly rated by pros.
Meñakoz, Basque country
Only half an hour’s drive from Bilbao, between Sopelana and Barrika, Meñakoz is a wild, pebbly beach that attracts both nudists and surfers. Hikers explore the paths that wind around the cliffs, watching the waves thundering on to the rocks. This stretch of the Basque coast is perhaps most dramatic on a grey day in winter, while locals come all year round to watch the sunset.
Travel to France or Spain by ferry and you can experience wildly different adventures in the space of just one day, says Anna Hart
Do you crave a cultural city break, a gastronomic adventure, a vineyard jaunt or a sporting trip? If you plot your route right, there’s no need to choose. Travel to France or Spain by ferry and you really can have it all.
Many ports in France are much more than a place to start and end your holiday – it’s often worth making time in your itinerary to explore these coastal towns. Here are five of our favourites
This medieval city is home to many arty shops, markets, restaurants and pavement cafes – make sure you try the seafood (Le Chalut in the old town is very popular), and locally brewed cider. The ancient intra muros, or walled town, with its winding medieval streets and impressive Cathédrale St Malo is a major draw, plus you can enjoy stunning views of the town and harbour from the ramparts. At low tide the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé can be reached on foot, and if the weather’s good, make sure you take some time to relax on one of the city’s many gently shelving sandy beaches.