Family Travel Q&A: Walk the fairways, and beyond

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered

Q.I am currently hatching a plan for a family holiday in Spain's deep south during the February half-term. We have three children, ranging from 15 to eight. The older two, along with my husband, play golf and hope to get a few rounds in. We also want to explore inland and perhaps do a bit of walking. However, it is important to us to stay by the sea, though we do not expect swimming weather in February. How do the various resorts differ? What will they be like in winter? And have you got any other tips you can offer us?

Andrea Mason

Godalming, Surrey

A.The first thing to remember about the Costa del Sol, as the coast of southern Spain between Malaga and Gibraltar has been dubbed for the last 30 years, is that it has a split personality. On the one hand, there's Marbella and the other ritzy resorts, which have been a playground for film stars and royalty for decades. On the other, there are the high- rise developments offering budget holidays for ordinary mortals.

The second point is that although these are all year-round resorts, the atmosphere does change radically according to season. In winter, the pace is gentle - there is little opportunity for basking in the sunshine, or dancing in clubs till the wee hours. But the golfers in your family might fancy themselves in heaven. The mild climate is perfect for life on the fairways at this time of year, and there are 38 championship courses along this stretch of coast, as well as various other less-exalted (and cheaper) courses.

The three most popular budget resort towns are Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola. In any of them, however, the winter scene is characterised by retired folk strolling along the sea-front and passing their days in the innumerable English bars and cafes. Hardly places to live the "vida loca".

However, despite its ritziness, there is some affordable accommodation in and around Marbella. Certainly, prices are higher than elsewhere, but the environment is infinitely more appealing. The enchanting Casco Antiguo, or old town, is made up of squares and courtyards dripping with plumbago and jasmine. Magic of Spain (0181-748 4220) has apartments sleeping five at Hacienda Beach, five minutes' drive out of town, for pounds 365 per person for a week's stay in February, including flights and car hire.

As far as other bases are concerned, I have two more suggestions, both towns with plenty of Spanish atmosphere. The first is Estepona between Marbella and Gibraltar, an old favourite. Behind the main seaside drag, along the wide, fine-sand beach, are squares and narrow streets lined with orange trees, little restaurants and tapas bars. EHS Travel (01993 700600) has a variety of properties for rent in this area. A two-bedroom apartment at Dominion Beach, just outside the town, is pounds 511 for a week, rental only. Flights would cost pounds 169 each; a group D car, suitable for five, would be pounds 105 for the week.

My other suggestion is Nerja, east of Malaga. This fashionable resort at the foot of the beautiful Sierra de Almijara, perches on a cliff above a string of sandy coves. Thomson Holidays (0990 502555) offers two-bedroom apartments at Capistrano village on the edge of Nerja during the February half-term week for pounds 229 per person including return flights from Gatwick.

Wherever you choose to stay, the greatest allure of the Costa del Sol is driving into the magnificent grey- and-ochre mountains of the Andalusian hinterland. Within a short drive of the coast are dramatic limestone gorges between jagged peaks, and dazzling white towns.

From San Pedro de Alcantara, west of Marbella, for example, the C339 road to Ronda crosses wild open spaces, with sensational views across the Straits of Gibraltar to the distant Rif mountains of Morocco. Ronda itself straddles a steep limestone cleft. Shaded streets hide Moorish courtyards and fountains behind wrought-iron gates and nearby is the mountain wilderness of Sierra de Grazelema National Park, wonderful walking country.

Q.My children and I have been saddened by the recent closure of The Exploratory science museum, here in Bristol. Can you tell us where there are other, high-quality, educational, "hands-on" children's museums around Britain?

G J Williams

Clifton, Bristol

A. I also lament the demise of The Exploratory. Having visited hands- on museums with my children all round the country, I agree that it was among the best. All the same, there are several others. In my opinion, head- and-shoulders above the lot is Eureka! in Halifax, right next to the station. The scope is vast - enough to keep children, and adults, absorbed for a whole day.

There are several displays you should not miss: climb up the skeleton's ribs; fire a distress flare from behind the stricken yacht; go behind the bank's counter and open its vaults; walk into a dream and feed the bits you don't like into Baku, the nightmare-eating dragon.

Just as at The Exploratory, there is no glass showcase or cordon anywhere at Eureka! - and every exhibit is to be explored, played with, learnt from.

There are four main sections - Things, Living and Working Together, Communication, and Me and My Body.

In the latter, children climb into a giant mouth and wobble its loose tooth, then run hands over a massive, lolling tongue learning which bits taste what. They can also present the news in a TV studio and line up satellite dishes to communicate with people in space.

Eureka! (01426 983191) is open daily from 10am-5pm. Admission costs pounds 5.75 for adults and the over-12s, pounds 4.75 for children under 12 and nothing for the under-3s.

Nearer to Bristol, there isTechniquest (01222 475475) in Cardiff Bay, also with a huge array of inventive exhibits, and a planetarium and theatre where shows on subjects such as global warming or natural disasters, are staged hourly.

And, if you are feeling inspired, you can try out other hands-on museums of this kind around the country, including the Discovery Museum (0191- 232 6789) in Newcastle upon Tyne; Herstmonceux Centre (01323 832731) at Hailsham, Sussex; and Stratosphere (01224 213232) in Aberdeen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Auditor

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: IT Auditor , Information Governance, NHS...

    Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

    WPF .NET Developer

    £300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform