If you are planning a family holiday, the Costa del Sol is a perfect choice…
Its one of the most popular family holiday destinations and flights from the UK and Ireland take approximately 3 hours making it manageable with toddlers. Its popularity with families is largely due to the endless stretches of golden sandy beaches but there are other draws to the area also. There are loads of toddler and child friendly activities as well as baby and toddler friendly hotels and restaurants. You will also be able to find all your essentials such as powdered formula, baby food and nappies in towns and cities along this stunning coastline.
Package holidays can make travel with younger kids easy and hassle free. Falcon and Thomson have some great family friendly hotel offerings in the region with crèches, kids clubs and activities which are especially designed for young children.
What to do
Parents can take in the ancient history of Granada or explore Nerja with its cobblestone streets and caves. You can also go further afield with visit the famous Rock of Gibraltar or the beautiful city of Seville. You will be spoilt for choice of beaches in this area and the Mediterranean waters are the perfect temperature for swimming. It is also a shopper’s paradise and if you go to Gibraltar you can partake in some duty free shopping.
There are plenty of busy tourist resorts such as Torremolinos, Marbella and Benalmadena. These have something for everyone with busy nightspots and more family focused quieter areas and resorts. There are also plenty of smaller family friendly resorts along the Costa del Sol such as Nerja, Elviria, Estepona and Casares. There are also plenty of fun filled activities for older babies and toddlers such as nature reserves, aquariums and water parks with shallow pools for paddling.
For more see Top Attractions for Families on the Costa del Sol
Baby & Toddler Essentials
There are plenty of large supermarket chains in the Costa del Sol where you can buy formula, food, wipes and nappies. Many of supermarkets close on Sunday. Most large supermarkets are open from 9am until 9pm and smaller shops might close for lunch between about 1.30 and 4.30pm.
For formula fed babies, the quality of the water is generally good however safer to use bottled water to feed your baby and your toddler. For babies under 6 months the bottled water should be boiled as it is not sterile.
If you are unsure of the local brands you should bring your formula with you. You can purchase it online from Boots (click and collect) and collect it at some airports in the UK and Ireland after checking in. This is a good option if you do not want to carry everything with you through the airport. Just ensure that your airline’s policy allows you to carry products purchased at the airport onto the flight.
When purchasing bottled water in the Costa del Sol make sure you buy a brand with a low mineral and sodium content such as Evian, Beyaz and Font Vella to avoid tummy upsets.
The following powdered formulas are available to purchase on the Costa del Sol…
Aptamil – is available in some pharmacies and also in El Corte Inglés and Eroski.
Cow and Gate – called Almiron in Spain and is available from some pharmacies.
Hipp Organic- Eroski, Alcampo, El corte Ingles, Hipercor, Opencor, Leclerc, Gadisa, Caprabo, Dinosol, Carrefour and Consum.
Hero, Baby Bio and Nestle formulas are locally produced and widely available in supermarkets in Spain. Remember that numbering on the containers of formula is different from the UK and Ireland so look for the word ‘meses’ which means months.
Fresh cows milk (called leche entera) should be available in most of the larger resorts and towns, if not UHT milk is available everywhere.
Expat Baby Shop operate a delivery service in the Costa del Sol for British baby formula (SMA, Aptamil and Cow and Gate).They offer a delivery service to in and around the Marbella area. Another option is to visit Morrisons in Gibraltar where you will be able to pick up UK products.
Baby Food in the Costa del Sol
Many of the larger hypermarkets, such as Carrefour, Lidl and Mercadona sell organic and non organic baby foods. Be aware that many of the local or Spanish brands contain small amounts of sugar or salt and some travellers warn that the quality of the food is different and not as palatable to babies and toddlers.
Pureed food, baby cereals and yoghurt should be available in most stores and these are generally the same quality as at home. Another option is to visit Morrisons in Gibraltar where you will be able to pick up UK products. A better option is to take a small amount of the baby food that you trust with you and then cook homemade food at your accommodation, if possible. Boots offer a range of organic, salt free, baby stock cubes which are small and easy to pack and will make a great base for cooking.
Sterilizer bags are great for holidays and are small enough to pack. Another option is to bring sterilising tablets or microwavable steriliser bags if you will be staying in self-catering accommodation.For further information on formula, food and sterilizing, please click here.
Nappies and Changing Facilities in the Costa del Sol
Nappies are widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies as well as baby bottles. Dadots are the same as Pampers and Huggies are also available. Be warned that in the resorts you could be paying up to €13.00 for a dozen nappies. If you will be buying nappies in Spain you will need to know your baby’s weight in kilograms. You can also buy wipes in supermarkets and pharmacies and Huggies wipes are available in Carrefour.
Changing facilities are available in department stores and in some restaurants on the Costa del Sol.
Renting Baby Equipment in the Costa del Sol
Strollers are sometimes damaged by airlines and they can be cumbersome to deal with at airport security. If you decide to leave your stroller and other baby equipment at home you can rent what you need in the Costa del Sol. Spain Baby Gear Hire arranges deliveries of equipment such as strollers, prams, car seats and cots along with feeding bath equipment, play mats and safety gates to Malaga airport and throughout the region.
Flight time to the Costa del Sol from Ireland and the UK is between 2.5 hours and 3 hours making short enough to travel with restless toddlers. Malaga international airport services the Costa del Sol. Buses and trains run very frequently from here to every destination along the Costa del Sol.
You will be able to rent a car at Malaga’s airport or in most of the resort towns. Remember to pre-book a car seat if you are not bringing one with you to ensure availability. Traveling to and from Costa del Sol with a car is usually not a big issue, except when the traffic is heavy. Normally during the height of the tourist season, the main roads become packed with cars trying to access the beaches. Primarily, the busiest traffic occurs on Sunday evenings and on national holidays.
Taking a train to see other areas is one of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to see things outside of Costa del Sol. The train can also be taken to and from the airport. Within the Costa del Sol, there is the Cercanias train that goes from Malaga to Torremolinos and Fuengirola. Between Malaga and Torremolinos, there is a stop at the airport. The main train station in Malaga is at Vialia, which also has the bus terminal. The trains are generally stroller accessible and the central carriage has a ramp which comes down to the platform.
There are plenty of buses in Costa del Sol that can take you between the towns and also to other areas in Spain. The main bus terminal in Malaga is at Vialia. You can leave your stroller open on the bus as long as its not too crowded however you may need to lift your stroller up one step.
There are usually taxis available to take tourists where they want to go, but there are certain times of day when it’s hard to find one – like late afternoon when everyone is ready to go back to their hotel. During the summer months, it’s also sometimes difficult to find a taxi without a short wait. You can pre-book a taxi with a car seat (if you are not bringing your own) from Malaga Airport Transfers. Taxis can take you from the airport to your resort. From Malaga to Marbella or Nerja, the cost should be around €70.