As part of our cheap family holidays series, today we take a look at the best family beach breaks for Easter. Sandcastles, snorkelling spots, kiddie kayaks; we’ve got it covered.
With the opportunity to pack your own picnics and make your own entertainment (by that we mean burying Dad in the sand, popping pebbles under mummy’s towel and other such naughtiness!) you really can keep costs down on beach holidays. But to help you out further, we’ve found some family-friendly hostels with easy access to sun, sea and sandcastles.
As the tourist hordes make their way South to the Algarve, you and your family should head to the quieter Atlantic coast along the Costa Verde and the Costa de Prata. If you base yourself in Porto, beach destinations are largely covered by the metro line, making day trips easy peasy. If you choose to hire a car you can venture further afield but keep to the pretty coastal roads to avoid the tolls on the motorways.
Espinho: Once the playground for Porto’s wealthy, today the beaches along Espinho attract Portuguese from all over the country in the warmer months. The nearest to Porto is Praia de Baia which boasts blue flag status. Praia Azula, Praia Pop and Praia do Costa Verde are also recommended spots for clean white sand and calmer surf. Mix things up a bit and head to the town’s swimming pool complex which sits alongside the coast.
Aveiro: South of Porto, Aveiro would make another interesting base if you don’t fancy staying in the city. Referred to as the “Venice of Portugal” there are a few colourful gondolas bobbing on two or three canals and the ‘ria’ a lagoon linking Aveiro to the sea. There are miles of sand dunes, graceful Art Nouveau buildings and also a nearby maritime museum and castle. Rent bikes for free to explore the town.
Vila do Conde: Within easy reach of Porto and well serviced by the new metro B line. Praia da Forno and Praia de Nossa Senhora da Guia are safe bets for kids.
Moledo Beach: A protected area, Camarido is a place of outstanding natural beauty and has attracted holidaying locals since the 20th century. Windy weather conditions means the Blue Flag beach great for families with teenagers who want to try bodyboarding and surfing. Families travelling with younger ones should opt for a boat to visit the fortress at the small rocky island.
Family-Friendly Hostels in Porto
In pretty Aveiro, Casa Da Barra offers a sea view apartment for families, with 2 bedrooms able to sleep 7 people. There’s also a washing machine, refrigerator and guest can use the BBQ joint to the building. With two balconies and just minutes away from the sea, what more could a family want?
Beds start at €14pppn.
Croatia has caused quite a stir in the past few years: more and more people are drawn to the turquoise Adriatic Sea and the red-roofed cities that glow at sunset. The best preserved city is the fortified medieval town Dubrovnik, its beauty aptly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. By day, spend your time on the beach but balmy evenings are the time to wander about the Old Town inside the Dubrovnik walls.
Banje Beach: Within easy reach of the city, Banje Beach is your most convenient option. Rent sun loungers and brollies or just throw down a towel.
Copacabana Beach: North-west of the old town on the Babin peninsula, Rio this ain’t. The shallow warm water makes it ideal for families and there are a number of watersports to try. Kayaks and jet-skis are available and kids will love the sea slide chutes.
Sv Jakov Beach: To really escape the tourists, leave the old town by the east Ploce gate, head past the former monastery of Sv. Jakov (St. James) and follow the long stairway leading down to the secluded Sv Jakov Beach. There are a few kayaks and pedalos here too.
Lapad: In the Lapad area, several beaches are enclosed in the peaceful Sumratin bay. Whether you lean towards sand, pebbles or concrete this area has it all so you really can pick your perfect spot. There is a long boulevard with coffee bars and restaurants and the usual paraphernalia of kayaks, sun loungers and umbrellas are available for rent.
All of these beaches have their fair share of beach bars and cafes where you can grab drinks and light lunches but if you are keeping costs down, prepare a packed lunch back at your Dubrovnik hostel.
Elaphite Islands: If you have rented a car you can just take off and find your own beach along this beautiful stretch of coastline. Alternatively, get out on the water on a boat trip to the nearby Elaphite Islands, paradise.
Family-Friendly Hostels in Dubrovnik
With panoramic views to the coast, family-friendly Begovid Boarding House is located in Lapad. With dedicated family rooms the boarding house is a great base for beach holidays. There’s a free welcome drink for weary travellers and kids will love the short 5 minute pootle down to the beach. A market, restaurants and tennis courts are also close by and there are parking spots available.
Beds start at €14.74pppn.
Another great region for blending beach break with fascinating archaeological sites is Sicily. Things will be warming up nicely from Easter onwards and the island boasts stunning stretches of coastline. Lift history out of the stuffy classrooms and let the kids run about in Greco-Roman amphitheatres and prehistoric necropolis.
Taormina: Sicily’s version of Amalfi or Capri, Taormina attracts tourists for good reason. Two picturesque bays face the lonely Isola Bella Nature Reserve, a small island jutting out of the sea and which is narrowly connected to the mainland – a perfect little spot for snorkelling. What kid wouldn’t love a ride on a funivia cable car down to the beach at Lido Mazzaró? This beach is well equipped with loungers and brollies. The crowning jewel is of course the Teatro Greco; the superb horseshoe-shaped theatre sandwiched between sea and sky. Meanwhile the Parco Duchi di Cesaró is the place for a picnic complete with views and a kid’s play area.
Mt Etna: How exciting, a live volcano! To visit Mt Etna, catch the cable car up 2,900m or hop on one of the 4×4 buses to the observatory at 2,400m.
Cefalú: A bustling seaside town with a charming beach, Cefalú is nicely tucked into a bay so the beach is perfect for kiddie winks. A less touristy alternative to Taormina.
Family-Friendly Hostels in Sicily
The brand spanking new Lolhostel Siracusa is a 10-minute walk from the intriguing old island of Ortigia in a traffic-controlled part of town. Even larger-than-life families can find rooms here to accommodate everybody with 3 to 8 bed en suite rooms available. Prices include breakfast, linen and towels, air-conditioning, maps and use of the common kitchen. Kids will like the TV lounge and games room.
Beds start from €15.41pppn.
Rais Gerbi Camping Village is on the border of the Madonie Natural Park and 13km from Cefalú. There are 4-bed en suite chalets or families can opt for 3-bed bungalows half board. On site you will find a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, tennis courts, a football pitch and children’s playground. They also organise horse-back tours and boat excursions.
Beds start from €19.50pppn.
It doesn’t come cheap, but if you are determined to stay in this picturesque Taormina, Casa Rupilio is a family-run guesthouse which offers fine views from the terrace and culinary delights. A delicious breakfast is included and your hosts can rustle up reasonably priced home-cooked dinners. Book private 2, 3, 4 and 5-bed rooms.
Beds start from €16pppn.