Great places for family fun in the sun this summer
Spain always offers a compelling mix of fascinating culture, great food and a tempting climate, from the Canary Islands to the quaint seaside villages and resorts of the Costa Brava. The northern coast of Spain offers a range of beach destinations along with the cultural sights of Bilbao, including Frank Gehry's famous Guggenheim building, and the alluring town of San Sebastian, which also has a fine array of beaches and fine dining options.
Not too far away, the Algarve in Portugal offers enchanting beaches and the pretty pastel-painted town of Tavira. Portugal also has Praia da Amoreira beach, which has been hailed by some as one of the best beaches in Europe. If your fancy turns to Italy - and there are plenty of reasons for it to, including the food - consider Puglia, or the heel of the country. This region has lots of beaches. To escape the crowds, stick to the less fashionable and less crowded Ionian Sea or the western side of the Puglian peninsula for beaches of great beauty, such as Punta Prosciutto. For a more party atmosphere, there is always Torre Lapillo with its lively beach clubs.
Orlando is generally a winner in the family holiday stakes, combining the balmy weather of the sun-drenched deep south US state of Florida with a huge range of theme parks - so many that the city has become known as the global capital of theme parks. With family-oriented resorts and almost endless activities and entertainment for the children, Orlando is a place families return to again and again. Theme parks in Orlando include Walt Disney World, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Extending from the tip of Florida are its Keys - the tropical islands extending about 120 miles from shore. With fishing, boating, scuba diving and snorkelling, the Florida Keys offer relaxation and lots of activities for younger members of the family who want to stay busy.
Florida is not far from the Caribbean, of course, which is another popular region for sun, sea and a chance to relax. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and its combination of great beaches, colonial heritage and warm hospitality is only going to become more popular. For a sense of going back in time, with farmers still using oxen to plough their fields, visit the south-eastern part of the island. Other enticing activity-filled resorts for families in the Caribbean include Barbados, Jamaica, and the natural diversity and stunning rainforest of Belize and Costa Rica.
How about Morocco? There is lots for the children to see in Marrakesh and they can ride out into the Sahara Desert on a camel, hike in the Todra Gorge or even climb Mount Toubkal - the loftiest peak in North Africa - when they get bored. It is not difficult to arrange camping out in the desert and children will love the idea of running up the dunes to watch the sunset and then sleeping outside under canvas, or even the stars.
Sun is also guaranteed in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has glossy hotels with pools and loads of activities for children, not to mention retail activities for adults. Abu Dhabi also has a range of sights; welcoming, well-equipped resorts; and a wide array of restaurants and spas.