tips for family travel to the costa del sol

family enjoying the Costa del Sol

With its miles of sandy beaches and long list of things for children to do, the Costa del Sol makes a great family-friendly destination. And children are guaranteed a warm welcome too because the Spanish love kids. To ensure you and your family enjoy the best possible holiday, we’ve put together some top tips for family travel to the Costa del Sol. 

Download our Family Fun Costa del Sol Road Trips – your 7-day itinerary fully planned with suggestions and recommendations to ensure a holiday for all of you. 

Before you arrive 

While spontaneity can be a good thing, the best holidays usually involve some planning. Plus, with children, particularly small ones, you don’t really want to leave anything to chance. These pre-departure tips help you get all the boxes ticked before you arrive at Malaga Airport. 

Choose your time of year 

Sunshine is pretty guaranteed on the Costa del Sol, regardless of when you choose to travel. But, as we all know, hot sunshine and baking temperatures aren’t the best for small children. With this in mind, we’d recommend visiting at any time of the year apart from July and August. 

If you can only travel during school holidays, choose early July or late August for slightly lower temperatures. 

Book your car seat(s)

When you book your car, be sure to reserve a baby car seat or booster seat. The best car hire companies on the Costa del Sol stock the best equipment for travelling children and usually include it in the price. But demand is high, so ensure you book what you need when you make your reservation. 

Book your accommodation 

Most hotels on the Costa del Sol welcome children and make provision for them. When you’re booking, check for special deals or extras. For example, many hotels include another bed in the room for no extra price. 

All the accommodation recommendations in Family Fun Costa del Sol Road Trips are family-friendly. 

When you arrive 

Once you’ve made your plans and booked your car and accommodation, it’s time to touch down and enjoy your holiday.

Shopping for baby/toddler equipment 

You’ll find baby essentials – aka nappies, food, formula milk etc – on sale at most supermarkets on the Costa del Sol. Pharmacies also sell food and formula milk, although prices are higher. 

Sun protection 

UV rays burn all year round on the Costa del Sol – you can even get sunburn in January – and younger skins need extra protection. Whatever time of year you choose to visit: 

  • Smoother your children in sunscreen with a minimum protection of 50. Reapply regularly and always after swimming.
  • Make them wear hats and if possible, sun protective clothing.
  • Provide some shade at the beach between April and October. For example, buy a beach tent or umbrella, hire a lounger with umbrella or sit under the palm oases at the main beaches. 

Beach safety on the Costa del Sol 

Most resort beaches have daily lifeguard services from early June to late September and at weekends from Easter to early June.  Outside these times, the beaches are unmanned.

With small children, watch out for:

  • Shelving beaches that take you quickly out of your depth. The best family-friendly beaches are those along the east side of Marbella and those in El Palo and at the west end of La Misericordia in Malaga city. But whatever the beach, keep a close eye on your children at all times in the sea and in swimming pools.
  • Jellyfish in the summer. Sometimes, swarms of jellies arrive on the Costa del Sol and while the stings are rarely fatal, they hurt and can cause allergic reactions. If your child gets stung, wash the affected area with salt water (not fresh) and remove any tentacles with tweezers or the edge of a credit card. If the reaction is bad or your child is in pain, seek medical advice – beaches with lifeguard services also provide medical attention.
  • Sea urchins at any time of year. On stony beaches such as those in the Maro area near Nerja, sea urchins live near the shoreline and can leave a nasty sting on your feet. Wear protective footwear to avoid them.

Eating out with children on the Costa del Sol 

The good news is that most bars and restaurants welcome children with open arms. The exceptions are obviously establishments at the higher end of the market – you won’t see children dining at a Michelin-star restaurant, for example. 

Some restaurants have kids’ menus, but if your chosen spot doesn’t, go for sharing plates. Not only do they give your kids the chance to try lots of different dishes, they’re smaller portions than a full main course. 

If you’ve got a younger child on baby food, ask the restaurant or bar to heat it up for you. They’re usually happy to do so. 

All the restaurants recommendations in Family Fun Costa del Sol Road Trips are family-friendly. They’re also in locations where your kids can safely run around after the meal while you relax over a well-deserved glass of vino. 

Things to do with kids on the Costa del Sol 

As a top family destination, the Costa del Sol comes packed with great activities for kids. From waterparks and surf camps in the summer to zoos and aquariums at any time of year, there’s literally something for all ages. There are even several museums that your kids will love. 

Our Family Fun Road Trip recommends the best activities in each destination – get your copy now. And if you’re looking for inspiration in the capital city, read these ideas for children’s activities in Malaga.

Now get your guide

The best complement to these tips for family travel on the Costa del Sol is our Family Fun Costa del Sol Road Trip. This downloadable guide plans your entire trip for you, so that all you have to do is choose your accommodation and book your activities. All for just €4.95. And while you’re shopping, don’t forget to have a look at our other Road Trips – discounts are available for purchases of 2 or more guides.

Buen viaje!