We always enjoyed booking last minute weekend breaks to Europe before POD was born. Our holidays further afield were researched and meticulously planned although rarely locked down months in advance. Key considerations for us were the destination, including what we could visit locally, and how we’d get there. Plus accommodation, available activities and food options were researched ahead of time. There’s so much more to think about when finding the ideal family holiday and a lot of choice too. Here are a few top tips to get you started before you confirm that booking.
More often than not the best discoveries are made off the beaten track. One of those was when we were in Cantabria travelling from the Picos de Europa to Santander. Suances in the Besaya region is said to have superb beaches as well as being a hotspot for those wanting to surf the waves. That said as we neared this marine town, it became apparent the beach we were heading for was a popular tourist destination. So instead we opted for the smaller Playa de Tagle where POD hoped to play on the beach with the locals.
Rucksacks have become an essential piece of kit in the Dove household over recent years. Of course we travelled a lot before POD came along but these days most of our adventures are outdoors based. We’ve always loved exploring, especially off the beaten track, and we continue to do so even with our six year old daughter in tow. There’s nothing better than blowing away the cobwebs, discovering new places and giving your child the best experiences is there?
Family travel requires a different approach to travelling as a singleton, a couple or a group of adults. Certainly in our pre-parenting days, we often took impromptu ski, sun or city breaks across Europe. While we always researched long haul holidays, our attitude when we reached our destination was very much to go with the flow. We’d change our plans at the drop of a hat and regularly did because we could. Our trips as a family continue to be based on discovery, adventure and exploration but they do require a little more research, planning and organisation. Recommendations from other family travel bloggers is a fundamental part of the process and the advice can be invaluable. Family travel bloggers are a friendly bunch who certainly adopt the community spirit when it comes to helping each other. Here is the ultimate list of our UK faves in no particular order.
We’re of the opinion that you should never travel to the same destination more than once. Occasionally it doesn’t work out that way, like the time we got diverted to Tahiti while en route to New Zealand. We took our honeymoon in Tahiti and had the most incredible time in both Tikehau and Moorea. As such, we always said we wouldn’t go back. And yet there we were dancing with the locals at the airport adorned with flowers!
Last summer was the first time we’d visited Northern Spain having taken trips elsewhere in the country many times. We loved it so much we’re heading back there this summer albeit to a totally different region. If you’ve not been to Northern Spain before, here’s a little taste of what it’s like.
Jameos del Agua was referred to by Rita Heyworth, of Hollywood movie fame, as the eight wonder of the world. Even artist and architect Cesar Manrique described it as the most beautiful nightclub in the world. Although these days it’s an auditorium with a swimming pool, garden and restaurants albeit blended into the landscape. Along with the spectacular Mirador del Rio, Jameos del Agua (in the North East of Lanzarote) is probably the greatest example of Cesar Manrique’s work. The Jameos del Agua, and nearby Cueva De Los Verdes, are part of a 6 kilometre long lava tube.
We spent a week in Lanzarote exploring from the volcanic south up to the lush north. The artist and architect Cesar Manrique has influenced much of the island whether it be interesting sculptures, breathtaking cultural attractions or inspiring projects. Consumed by the beauty of Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique took it upon himself to use his inspiration to preserve the island. His work as an ecologist was even rewarded when Lanzarote became the first island in the world to be awarded a UNESCO biosphere. Spending time here, it’s not hard to understand the impact he made and the significance his work has had. We were totally blown away by what we saw.
Overlooking the ancient capital of Teguise, not to be confused with Costa Teguise, is the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Also known as the Museo de la Pirateria, this fascinating museum sits on the top of Mount Guanapay. The old fortress was originally built in the 16th Century as a watch tower. Its purpose was to protect islanders from pirates and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake who was known as El Draque (The Dragon) to the Spanish. It’s even rumoured there’s a tunnel that connects Castillo de Santa Barbara to the town of Teguise which islanders used when they were being invaded.
If you fancy a getaway close to home, the Opal Coast, or Côte d’Opale, in France is great stretch of coastline to explore. Located just 20 minutes away from Calais, there are fishing villages, seaside towns and sandy beaches to discover. The D940 is a quiet route with dramatic scenery in abundance and views across the English Channel. This coastal route from Calais to Bolougne-Sur-Mer is full of surprises with the hidden charms very much part of the appeal. It’s the kind of region you want to venture back to as there’s so much to see and it’s super easy to get to. Here are just a few of the places we’ve on our travels there.
The rustic cottage we’d booked was located just two and a half hours drive away from Bilbao. Although we’d originally planned to stop in the capital of the Basque Country, we ended up heading straight to the small village of Trillayo. With a population of just 31, and the medieval town of Potes ten minutes away, it was an ideal base for our adventures. We’d totally fallen in love with this 200 year old cottage when we’d seen it online and really hoped it lived up to expectations. It really did, the views from our balcony of the Picos de Europa were magnificent. We’d enjoy breakfast there before heading out each day and evenings were spent watching the swallows fly in circles around nearby rooftops. There was only one day we weren’t out exploring but we’ve pulled together our top picks for things you really shouldn’t miss.