Can anyone recommend a good place to visit in November that is quiet and cultural but also has access to a beach and is suitable for a 2yr old?
We have travelled a reasonable amount independently pre-child but the thought of dragging a 2yr old round local bus stations and into random environments etc is less appealing than when it's just the grown ups.
Equally though, the thought of getting a package sends a shiver down my spine so want to find a good compromise that I can book independently. We've got a week in November, travelling from the UK so I was looking at Middle East / Northern Africa / Cape Verde / Canaries for the climate, and avoiding long haul Far East/Southern Africa due to the distance (12hrs on a plane with a toddler.....) and having only a week.
The "blue-sky" ideal would be a secluded villa/cottage somewhere with beach access and a good local environment to experience something more cultural than a faceless resort with massive water parks and 125 restaurants.
Happy to (and would rather) hire a car in any country.
Any thoughts, would be very gratefully received.
It's a problem. If it's sunny and got a beach, often lots of people will go there so anything but quiet
I would have suggested Tunisia at one time. There were troubles there but things seem to have settled down, but you never know.
The Canaries are busy all year around but culture there is extending your pinkie when holding a glass of something alcoholic. La Palma, Lanzarote and La Gomera are the quieter islands. So is Fuertaventura but when the wind blows, you can get sand blasted by the fine sand on the beaches.
There is also Madeira which can get a bit noisy in the capital if a cruise ship turns up but otherwise is OK.
Out of the school holidays and July-August, much of Spain is OK. I've been in Benidorm in December and had brilliant weather. The place is actually quiet most of the year and has two excellent beaches, tours available to nearby places and such. People who have been there go back time after time, so not as bad as it's July-August reputation. But if you don't want the town itself, there are quiet nearby resorts like Calpe, Denia and such.
Even Mallorca. Get away from the south and there are some nice places. A car comes in handy for such places so take a driving licence along in case you decide on a car. Hire is very cheap and there are some very nice out of the way places for not too much money. The Greek islands though they may have good weather do tend to close down mostly around mid October so too quiet.
You could try icelolly and see what cheapies they are doing, or if you have a place in mind, try lowcostholidays.
One point. The sun can be very strong that time of year and roast your child if left out in it for some hours so do be careful. Needless to say, check on balcony railings. Can you child crawl through them? And worst of all, keep an eye on your child around even the shallowest water. There are stories of the very young drowning in inches of water when a parent has taken their eye on them for just a few minutes. I'm not trying to worry you but bad things do sometimes happen.
You might like to check out this thread --> http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=90321
Also, I can highly recommend Morocco for travelling with kids. I was in Marrakech for a week with an 18 month old and I was blown away with how much she opened doors for interactions with locals. They were so welcoming and everyone would pick her up for hugs, admittedly this kept her very happy but we also stopped frequently for drinks/snacks, and that worked for us in the heat, too!
Essaouira was a great day trip for the beach but as it has a more relaxed vibe overall that could be a good base for you.
Final recommendation: a cotton baby carrier/backpack. From her position on her father's back, Miss 18mo could see everything that was going on, wasn't left out or lost, and fell asleep easily. I think you can get some for up to 3 years but ideally you need one without a frame so it's not bulky.
I understand your aversion to package deals at resorts. But it actually makes sense for you at this point. Once the kids hit 8 yrs old, kids are easier to travel with. But for now, a package with interesting excursions is a good way to go.
We have taken the kids to Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, in this way. ALL had a great time! It just requires a different mind-set
PS - you will see that none of those destination are listed it in my travel map. Like many here, I don't consider those trips to be real... The good news is, your probably on the right forum!
Great advice everyone, thanks.
Panama/El salvador/Nicaragua I would never have considered with kids!
I am currently looking at Morocco, and some nice villas etc, around Agadir which means we're not too far from a beach for the little man, and could drive up to Marrakech for a day trip too. Will research Essaioura too now off the back of this advice
Lisbon has so many cultural gems to explore, from history to music, architecture to art. Quaint backstreets to wander, cafes and parks where you can sit and watch the world go by. Armed with a Lisbon Card you can travel to the beaches at Cascais and Estoril and beyond.
The only drawback is that the city is built on a series of hills and may be hard for a little one. But there are lifts and funiculars to get to the higher bits, covered on your Lisbon Card.
If you need any specific information on Lisbon - I don't live there, but it's my favourite city in Europe - feel free to ask about hotels, sights, transport, food etc. any time.
Enjoy planning your lovely trip.