Finding a holiday which offers relaxation for parents and adventure for kids
is not easy. But inland Spain might have the answer.
The high plains of the Granada province were once home to the first
villagers in Europe. Now a predominantly dry region (known locally as the
Badlands) the area used to contain a giant lake surrounding rich vegetation
where mammoths, rhinoceroses and other creatures once thrived. Now it is
scattered with traditional
The village of Castril sits in the northeast of the area where a hidden
valley meets the foot of a mountain range. The landscape is full of stunning
vistas featuring lakes, waterfalls and spectacular gorges. And there is plenty
of wildlife to keep nature lovers and bird watchers happy. It is not uncommon
to see dozens of vultures and eagles circling in the skies above. And the
Sierra de Castril Mountains are home to one of the largest chough colonies in
The village is 50km from the nearest big town and 150km from the city of
Granada. And the whole area is free from commercialisation. The nearest
McDonald’s or Starbucks is more than two hours away. If you are looking to
escape the trappings of modern life, this is the place for you.
A great place to relax and unwind, there are many outdoor activities to keep kids and adults amused. It is a mountain biker’s paradise and hikers will find plenty of routes that stretch deep into the mountains. There are four lakes nearby including La Bolera across the border in Jaen. There, visitors can enjoy swimming and kayaking. There are also canyoning excursions in the nearby gorges. Stargazers can enjoy guided views of some of the clearest skies in Europe. And if that is not enough, there is horse riding and 4×4 trails.
If you do feel the need to reconnect with civilisation, the village is close
enough for a day trip or overnight stay in Granada city. There, you can visit the
Alhambra palace and stroll the nearby Arab quarter known as the Albaicín.
And the kids will love the city’s interactive science park.
You will need to hire a car to get to Castril. Granada airport is under two
hours away but there are limited connections and car hire options, so
a better option might be to fly to Malaga airport which has great
international connections and is under three hours away, through some stunning
scenery. The Malaga car hire choice is
far greater, too, with options including long-term and green car hire, as well
as a variety of vehicle sizes to accommodate you and whoever you bring along on
your holiday. Almeria airport is another option, within driving distance at
around two hours away. Once there, you will find the price of food, drink and
accommodation to be cheaper than most other places in Spain.
Where to stay
For a real eco-friendly retreat, stay at the Hotel El Geco Verde. Situated
down a three-kilometre country track, this converted farmhouse offers
traditional-style accommodation in a spectacular setting. The hosts can arrange
many excursions including cheese and bread-making and a trip to a glass-blowing
factory (Castril was once known for its glass-making industry). There are other
accommodation options including a village hostel and rural houses for rent. Or
you could rent a cave house nearby.
If you are looking to relax in a rural environment where time appears to
have stood still but still want plenty for you and your kids to do – there are
few better places.