Menorca is quite simply a beach lover’s paradise, and what’s more, the beaches are just glorious, unspoilt, mostly sandy, and often with shallow water making them perfect for families. The northern beaches are more exposed to the Tramuntana wind, and the busiest tourist beaches are on the west coast, but it’s possible to find that little oasis of tranquillity in which to laze and bathe, throughout the island.
Easy bathing for young children can be found on northern Arenal D’en Castell. Horseshoe shaped, and framed by two rocky promontories, this sandy Blue Flag resort beach provides all facilities together with easy parking. Another totally child-friendly northern beach is Son Parc. A swathe of shallow water, a beach bar, watersports and easy parking make this beach a hit.
Western Es Grau provides family fun with shallow water, pedalos, dingy sailing and canoeing. A large sandy expanse, with views of Es Grau fishing village, the beach backs onto a natural park with shady pine walks. One of the top three resort beaches, and ideal for children, is perennially popular Cala en Porter, on the south-east coast. The wide cliff-framed sandy beach, and the crystal clear, gently sloping water offers superb snorkelling and swimming.
If water sports are your thing, then Cala Galdana is a good choice. This south coast shell-shaped resort beach has a spectacular cliff-enclosed location and offers facilities, watersports and seaside activities suitable for all the family. Long peaceful walks to other sheltered beaches are a blissful way of connecting to Menorca’s superb natural environment. South-east coast Cala Torret is home to Binibeca Diving and fantastic snorkelling can be found off the swimming platforms in the sheltered coves along the nearby coastline down to Binibeca Vell.
Menorca’s ‘virgin’ beaches are something very special. Pine fringed cliffs tower along limestone barrancs or ravines, fine-grained sands of every hue, and shimmering sea are the keynotes of these unspoilt beaches. Without services, accessible either by sea, on foot from the Cami de Cavalls or from limited parking areas, these beaches are romance personified. Visit early or late to avoid ‘tour boat’ crowds. Cala Algaiarens two sand dune beaches, Tancats and des Bots have been declared a Nature Area of Special Interest. Collect your picnic provisions from the local supermarket, on the Algaiarens road, and arrive early to park.
Southern Cala Macarella and Macaraletta are stunning twin virgin beaches, in an imposing horseshoe bay. Sheltered by pine-clad cliffs with prehistoric caves, these beaches are a shimmering vision of white and turquoise. A candidate for the most idyllic beach is Cala Mitjana, where shade is provided by surrounding pine forests. After a day at nearby Cala Galdana, bring your picnic here, and watch the sunset.
For a real adventure, arrive at your hidden cove by boat. West coast Son Saura beach can be reached from Ciutedella on daily departures aboard the Menorca Blava. Classic Cruises Menorca depart daily from Addaia, and cruise along UNESCO heritage sites, with opportunities to swim at secluded beaches.
It’s getting to that time of year again when we’re frantically saving for Christmas and the kids begin to get feverishly excited. We all remember how magical the Christmas season was as a child, so why not take the whole family to some of London’s most festive activities this year and get in the mood yourself. There’s a great selection of things to do to that even Scrooge himself could not resist, many of which cost very little indeed.
Saturday’s see Santa’s sledge pullers take a break from their duties to allow you to pay them a visit in Covent Garden. These friendly creatures are as synonymous with Christmas as Santa himself, with children of all ages able to enjoy their winterland charm. It’s free to visit, and they’ll be available from 12th November up to Christmas Day itself.
This colourful woodland makes a beautiful and atmospheric attraction that the whole family can enjoy. The illuminated paths lead you around the complex as you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world in this unique activity. The exciting variety of trees and frosty lakes won’t fail to lift the whole family’s spirits. Available from November 18th-December 4th, tickets are £7 for adults and £3 for children.
The festive season wouldn’t be complete without some carol singing. From evenings starting the 8th December to the 19th, Trafalgar Square will be hosting local choirs who will be singing all your favourite Christmas carols. With the iconic Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree there to greet you too, it makes for a magical evening for everyone.
Boasting the best pantomime in London, Hackney Empire has a production of the children’s classic Cinderella this year to entertain and wow its audiences. Tickets are £9.50 to £27.50, meaning if you have some spare cash available Hackney Empire’s critically acclaimed pantomime will certainly get you in the Christmas mood. Is it the best pantomime around? Oh yes it is!
Giving a breath-taking backdrop of the museum itself and surrounded by vibrant Christmas lights, the ice rink at the National History Museum makes for a wonderfully atmospheric evening. Mulled wine and hot chocolate are available too, meaning you can warm up with a festive drink if you get too cold. It’s £39 for a family ticket, which will be your best option if there are more than two or three of you.
The winter wonderland at the biggest park in London is a must for any family before Christmas, with an array of things to do. Great rides including a giant observation wheel will entertain the kids, whilst the adults can browse the Christmas markets and see the two circuses the park hosts. With the biggest outdoor ice rink in the country there too, it makes for a jam-packed evening with something for everyone. As the icing on the cake, entry is free, though some activities do come with a charge.
As lovely as travelling on a family holiday is, and spending some quality time together, small tiffs and disagreements do occur, when together for days on end in cramped accommodation. Staying in a hotel for your family holiday often only provides you with somewhere to lay your head at night and somewhere to take a shower, whereas a holiday apartment gives you greater facilities and welcomed space for both parents and children to enjoy.
Family apartment rentals provide a home-from-home environment, giving your family the flexibility to both explore your holiday destination, and comfortably relax during the times you are not out-and-about. Many family apartments are located in the heart of fantastic city destinations, meaning you can have popular tourist spots on your apartment doorstep. Great locations within the city centre, can save you not only time and money from unnecessary travelling, but also the hassle of transporting your family around, which can be particularly hectic with young children.
With comfortable home furnishings, and your own fully equipped kitchen, your family is not dictated by hotel restaurant opening times and lack of variety for child-friendly menus. A family holiday apartment gives you the option to dine at your family’s leisure - for the fraction of the cost of dining out. If you have your heart set on visiting local restaurants, you can still save by self-catering for breakfast and lunch, which you’ll find, when eating out for 3 meals a day, can significantly increase the family budget.
Family apartment rentals often offer multiple private bedrooms and separate living areas, as you would expect from a family home. Spacious accommodation and individual rooms give children a separate area for playtime, and also means that mum and dad don’t have to tip-toe round after putting the children to bed, as you would find staying in a hotel. TV’s, DVD and CD players are among some of the home comforts that can be enjoyed when staying in a family apartment, in addition to select apartments providing communal swimming pools, terraces and private gardens.
Apartments, all-round, offer greater value for money and provide higher quality accommodation for all the family to enjoy. Did we also mention that they are often cheaper than hotels…