Family-Friendly European Breaks

San Sebastian

Swerve Europe’s usual tourist traps and head to these cool family-friendly cities instead, suggests Ali Horsfall 

San Sebastian

GO: Foodies have long flocked here, but this northern Spanish city has tons more to offer than Michelin stars. There are sandy beaches and a buzzy old town to explore, and the cosmopolitan feel has been bolstered by it being this year’s European Capital of Culture, with events and exhibitions springing up all over the city.
DO Stroll the car-free promenade and pop down to the famous La Concha beach, in a bay with soft sand that’s great for tiny feet. Ondarretta, Zurriola (loved by surfers), and the gorgeous mini-island of Santa Clara, are the other city beaches.

STROLL: Tots will love taking the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igueldo ( where you’ll find a retro amusement park and stunning views. On a dodgy weather day, the aquarium (aquariumss. com) delivers – and it’s at the edge of the harbour where you can watch the boats.

EAT: Pintxos, the Basque region’s tapas, are perfect for little hands and tummies. Many old town pintxos bars are stand-up style, but you’ll find lots of tot-welcoming joints with tables too, so don’t be put off a pintxos crawl; just make sure you’re hungry.

SLEEP: Overlooking the bay, The Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra looks like it could be in Eastbourne. Inside, though, it’s all shiny mod cons with great sea-view rooms ( Want to self-cater? There are stylish, clean apartments all over the city (

Discover the other European cities Gurgle loves in the October issue, out September 1st.

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