Madrid is the financial and cultural hub for Spain, and much of Southern Europe....more
Madrid is the financial and cultural hub for Spain, and much of Southern Europe. There is a huge amount to see and do there, as well as excellent nightlife in terms of bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment. As the area has been inhabited since Roman times, there are also plenty of historical sites to explore and enjoy. At the other extreme, you can also visit the Bernabéu stadium, home of Spanish football giant Real Madrid. This is usually popular with the younger members of the family, and many of the older ones! For art lovers you are torn between the Prado Museum, with works from the 12th to 19th Centuries including Goya, Velasquez and Rubens, or you can go to the Reina Sofia Museum for art from the 20th Century and beyond. The Reina Sofia houses Picasso's most famous painting Guernica, as well as key works by artists such as Salvador Dali - it gets incredibly busy but is a crucial place to visit!
While Madrid is a huge city, and it is easily possible to spend a whole holiday exploring, there is also a lot to see outside the city itself. Suggested excursions include Toledo, former capital of the country and a medieval city full of charm, and Segovia with its extraordinary castle which was used as inspiration for Walt Disney's iconic castle logo.
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, has become an increasingly popular place...more
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, has become an increasingly popular place to visit in recent years, with a warm Mediterranean climate in spite of its place facing the Atlantic Ocean. Full of bleached white limestone buildings and intimate alleyways, Lisbon's mix of traditional architecture and contemporary culture makes it the perfect place for a family holiday.
As Portugal's capital, there is a lot to see and do in Lisbon. Even exploring the city centre will take a few days out of a family holiday as there is no real central district, although Praça do Comércio is a good central place to start, in Baxia, or Rossio, the city's main square which has a sort of Trafalgar Square feel to it. Or you might try climbing up the Cristo Rei, a huge statue of Christ with spectacular views across the whole city. The Castelo de São Jorge also offers great views and isn't quite such a steep climb. A short tram ride to the west of Lisbon will also bring you to Belem, where you can explore attractions like the Belem Tower and the Belem Cultural Centre, which features a fantastic art collection including works by Dali, Picasso, Warhol and Magritte. In downtown Lisbon, you'll also want to visit the Gulbenkian, which has to be Portugal's answer to the British Museum full of fascinating cultural artifacts and with some superb gardens in the grounds. It's possible to have a fascinating educational family holiday in Lisbon, and there are also plenty of great beaches to work on your tan.