When it comes to spending the Autumn half term with the family there are plenty of options out there – touring the highlights of the Algarve, exploring volcanoes in Lanzarote, or simply relaxing by the pool in one of our popular destinations like Mallorca. But the world is a big place and life is short so we’re taking a look at a few destinations that don’t automatically spring to mind for a family break. With a little bit of digging we’ve discovered they have all the perfect ingredients needed for one happy family holiday.
Gran Canaria boasts an all-year round warm climate so pack your flip flops and your sun hat. This island has beaches galore to explore, from white sandy stretches disappearing far into the distance to rocky havens for explorers.
Things to do in Gran Canaria with the kids
Day trips to consider include splashing till your heart’s content at Aqualand in Maspalomas – ideal for all ages. Palmitos Park – where you can see butterflies, orangutans and komodo dragons and the Angry Birds Activity Park. Heaven for pre-teens, this playground is full of climbing frames, zipwires, go karts and scooters.
Animal lovers should head for the protected dunes of Maspalomas. Set off on a camel hunt or sail the seas on a dolphin and whale-watching trip. If rescued animals pull your heart strings, the Parque de Los Cocodrilo is home to 300 rescued crocodiles and a family of rescued Bengal tigers amongst other lovely animals plus your entrance fee goes towards their upkeep.
Tour the capital city of Las Palmas on a bus tour and hop off at the Botanic Gardens en route for a stroll in the shaded gardens whilst you discover around 500 different plants from the islands.
Pre-schoolers will love the mini train at Playa del Ingles and if you’re looking for an amusement day out, Holiday World Amusement centre will tick the box with its ferris wheel, bumper cars and rollercoaster.
Last tip to squeeze in is a visit to one of the national parks … Tejeda National Park requires a drive to the mountainous centre of the island from where you’ll enjoy spectacular views, passing pretty mountain villages that are just waiting to explored. Guayadeque National Park is known as the village of caves where many have been converted into houses. Explore an entire village of cave houses and stop off at the restaurant with tables and chairs carved from oak trees for a unique experience.
Tucked away in the Atlantic sea, Madeira might not be the first destination that comes to mind against the classic well-visited lands but give us a chance and we think you’ll be smitten when you learn about the veritable treasure trove of fun things to do.
Things to do with the kids in Madeira
We have to start with the Skywalk! The Cabo Girao viewpoint has a suspended glass platform which offers, if you have the courage to walk on it, spectacular views over the ocean and villages 580m below.
A fun day out for the kids in Funchal would be to go for a walk through the Old Town looking out for the painted doors. You could then take the cable car up to Monte and visit the castle with its fabulous gardens. Finish the day off with a toboggan ride in a wicker basket! Let the carreiros, guide you down the narrow streets back to Livramento, an experience you’ll cherish for life.
Pack your swimming bag and visit the lava pools in Porto Moniz, take a dip in the crystal clear water captured in the natural pools of volcanic rock.
Go for a walk! There are 2,200 km of footpaths winding through the forests of Madeira running alongside the levadas, or hillside irrigation channels. Breath in the fresh air and enjoy being close to nature or take a ferry over to the nearby island Porto Santo for the day.
At only two hours from the UK, Menorca offers a week of sun, sand and sea with over 100 beaches to take your pick from. A quieter destination than its sister Mallorca but still jam packed with fun activities for families.
Things to do with the kids in Menorca
Go snorkelling. Many of the beaches have shallow sandy seas with rocks dotted here and there making the perfect ambience for young underwater explorers.
Plenty of fish can be seen from the glass bottomed boats available in Cala n’ Bosch or try the boat trip around Mahon, the world’s second deepest natural harbour.
If you want a change from the beach you’ll be guaranteed fun at Acquarock the island’s fun splash park with slides, wave pool and a gentle play area for the smaller members of the family.
More entertainment can be had at Castillo Menorca, an inland children’s entertainment area with a go-kart track, swimming pool and mini golf.
You can feed the lemurs at Lloc de Menorca, a zoological park with exotic animals and a park for children to play in.
If history is your thing there are plenty of prehistoric remains to explore, Bronze Age stone towers and ‘taulas’ – huge stone tablets placed in the shape of a T.