We’ve recently returned from our summer holiday at a villa in Spain. We chose to take a full two weeks again this year, after trying it for the first time last year. We’ve always been a 10 days abroad kind of family. But we’ve found two weeks is a great amount of time to properly relax and unwind, especially for Matt who works full-time. We lucked in with the weather this year. Whilst the UK experienced a heatwave, so did Spain, and it was between 32-38 degrees C most days.
My parents have a villa in Spain near Denia, so we stayed there as we have done most summers for the past few years. Some people may think it’s boring to return to the same place every year, but for us it really is like a home from home, but with gorgeous weather and stunning views. We know where all the shops are, the beach is 10 minutes away, we have our own little routines of what we buy and eat. We can go to our favourite restaurants for main meals at lunch time or a couple of evenings now, without completely screwing our daughter’s routine. Plus if you get a villa with its own pool you have constant entertainment in the form of swimming or jumping in the pool (pretending to be a certain animal, if you’re our way inclined…)
I am truly in the camp of holidaying at a villa whilst children are small. You have a kitchen, a TV, everything you need. Oh and air con. You can put the kids to bed and sit out and enjoy your views with some Sangria. Bliss. Oh and there’s wifi… (Also good for me!)
Denia, Spain – a great holiday destination for families
The villa is about an hours drive from Alicante airport but it’s an easy route, pretty much straight on the motor way until you’re all the way there. The villa is at the top of a mountain so we need a car to get to the shops, the beach and other places.
The Marina, Denia
It was Father’s Day a few days after we arrived so we headed to the Marina in Denia where there are some lovely restaurants. A couple of my favourites are El Bravo and Lattitude. Sadly one we loved last year, Sharmi, has closed and changed. We headed to Republic where we’ve been before, as they did a good children’s menu. Matt really enjoyed his Menu of the Day, but I was adjusting to the heat so wasn’t that hungry and just had a main. Even under the shade it was scorching hot, with hardly any breeze. We were tucked around a side we’ve not sat at before, but there were still lovely views overlooking the boats.
Valencia – just an hour away
On Monday we headed to the Bioparc in Valencia which we’ve been to the past few years. My brother told us about it and it’s fantastic for kids. I’m going to write another post about the places we visited in Valencia, but to explain, it’s basically a zoo. There are lots of animals to look at and the zoo is set out in a really lovely way, using rocks and boulders where possible to section areas off. There are only a few areas with glass – where the lions, gorillas and snakes and stuff are! The only problem with going in June is that is was so hot and if you have a toddler who likes to be picked up and carried, you all end up a bit sweaty!
Swimming every day = progress
The next few days were spent lazing around the villa playing in the pool. Miss Belle stopped swimming lessons last year after basically crying in every class. Since then we’ve just taken her as and when we can on a weekend or with a friend and she’s enjoyed it more. We knew we’d have a chance to swim every day at the villa in Spain. We bought her a new float vest and this really helped her find her confidence this year. Although she still held on to us and wouldn’t go under, (why force them if they don’t like it?), she kicked and splashed and was thrown up in the air constantly. She loved it. Her swimming came on so much in the two weeks, it was great to see.
On two evenings we went out to our favourite restaurant which is on the mountain and had the best steak ever with chips and vegetables. We booked for 7pm and were back by 8pm meaning, Miss Belle wasn’t too late to bed. It’s so much easier now she’s a bit older to be able to go out for meals in the evening. Luckily she napped for about two hours every day bar two, so she was able to stay up later. Some nights she didn’t go to bed till nearer 9pm! Plus, the naps mean she was out of the heat at the hottest part of the day.
We had several beach trips. We tended to go just for a few hours in the morning, come home for lunch and then nap time. Whilst Miss Belle slept, me and Matt could then sunbathe or swim. Miss Belle loved to make sand castles with Daddy and go and find shells. There are beaches in Denia itself but we’ve found one quite seaweedy. This one is nearer Ondara and there is no seaweed at all. The sand was more stoney than I remember it being last year, but it didn’t matter. Finding shells provided hours of entertainment.
One day we drove to Javea, which is about 30-40 minutes away. We found a lovely bay with a nice tapas restaurant. It was windy and rocky so we didn’t swim. But the breeze was very welcome in the 38 degree heat!
We ordered far too much lunch that day. (Isn’t that always the way with tapas!?) We had some other tapas one evening in Denia after taking the tourist train around the town, which Miss Belle loved. Sadly, the tapas didn’t match the one we had in Javea though!
In our second week we went back to Valencia to the aquarium, Oceanografic. I have so many pictures that I want to do it justice in another post. But safe to say, it was excellent, and I think I actually enjoyed it more than the Bioparc this year. That could have been because the air conditioning was so well needed this year!!
My parents arrived on Tuesday night before we left on Friday so we had a couple of days with them. They took us to a new restaurant called Val De Cavell just outside of Gata de Gorgos, which did amazing food. There were horses to look at and a play area too which kept Miss Belle entertained. She was so hot she had rosy cheeks and I’ve never seen her drink so much water!
On Thursday it was Matt’s birthday so we had a trip to the beach, came home for lunch and cake, and managed to go out for an evening meal whilst my parents baby sat. Always a bonus of going away or having a few nights with your parents or friends!
Relaxed and refreshed
We left having had a lovely restful break, (well as restful as holidays with toddlers can be) and having made some lovely memories.
If you’ve not been to the area before it’s well worth a visit. Denia is incredibly child friendly and great for families. There are plenty of beaches, some great restaurants and everyone is very nice. I’ve mentioned there are also some great days out only an hour or so away in Valencia. More on those next week. Plus Benidorm is about 30-40 minutes away with other beaches and a theme park, Terra Mitica. We’ve not been yet, but that’s on our list for when Miss Belle is older! Even if you choose somewhere else, I think the perfect summer holiday can be found by choosing a villa in Spain. It’s only a short flight away, you generally get good weather and there’s good food to be had! Perfecto!
I’m linking up with some of my favourite bloggers: