Playa Joyel
Playa Joyel, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Cantabrian Mountains, offers a range of accommodations, a pool complex, and direct beach access. Enjoy tennis, cycling, dining, and an on-site animal park in Spain's Costa Verde.

Ultimate 2024 Family Guide to Holiday Parks in Cantabria

Cantabria, a gem in northern Spain, offers a unique blend of stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and family-friendly activities. With its mild climate, expect comfortable summers perfect for exploring. The region's rich heritage shines through its festivals and architecture, while the cuisine, think fresh seafood and hearty stews, is a highlight. For families, the adventure parks and beautiful beaches are a hit with kids. Flight time from the UK is roughly 2 hours, making it an accessible getaway. Booking a holiday park in Cantabria means embracing outdoor living and convenience, all while soaking in the local culture and scenery. An interesting fact? Cantabria is home to the Altamira Cave, known for its prehistoric paintings.

Discover Cantabria Holiday Parks

European holiday parks are a fantastic blend of self-contained accommodation, such as bungalows, caravans, or lodges, with the added benefit of on-site facilities and entertainment. Expect swimming pools, play areas, restaurants, and sometimes even water parks and mini-golf. They're designed to be a one-stop-shop for family holidays, offering the convenience of having everything you need right on your doorstep. Choosing a holiday park over a traditional hotel or package holiday means more space, flexibility, and freedom. Families can enjoy private living areas and kitchens, making it easier to cater to children's schedules and dietary needs. The communal, family-oriented atmosphere of holiday parks also means kids can easily make new friends. Plus, with beach access, waterslides, on-site restaurants, bars, and pet-friendly options, there's something for every member of the family.

Why Take Your 2024 Family Holiday Park Break in Cantabria?

Cantabria, with its lush landscapes and stunning coastline, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. From the prehistoric cave paintings at Altamira to the modernist architecture of El Capricho by Gaudí, it's a region steeped in history yet vibrant and lively. Festivals like the Cantabria Infinite, a celebration of music and art, add to the region's allure. What sets Cantabria apart for a holiday park break is not just its affordability, with family breaks averaging around €500 for a week, but its unparalleled mix of beaches, mountains, and cultural sites. It's a place where every day can be a new adventure.

What's in it for the kids?

  1. Endless Waterslides and Pools: The thrill of waterslides and the joy of splashing around in pools are unbeatable.
  2. On-Site Entertainment: From live shows to mini-discos, there's always something happening.
  3. Bike Hire and Trails: Exploring the park and surrounding areas on two wheels is a big hit.
  4. Watersports: Kayaking, paddleboarding, and even surfing lessons are available at some parks.
  5. Adventure Playgrounds: Climbing frames, zip wires, and more keep the adrenaline pumping.
  6. Kids Clubs: A chance to meet new friends while engaging in fun, supervised activities.

Staying safe in the sun and in the pools

Most holiday parks offer kids clubs, providing both fun and a respite from the sun, with many activities held indoors or in shaded areas. Safety is a priority, with lifeguards at pools and clear safety guidelines for all activities. These parks are designed with families in mind, ensuring a safe, enjoyable environment for everyone.

Pet Friendly Cantabria Adventures

Taking your pet on holiday to Europe is more straightforward than you might think, with the main requirement being a pet passport. Cantabria is a pet-friendly destination, with several holiday parks welcoming pets. Restaurants like El Perro que Fuma and La Taberna del Herrero in Santander welcome pets, making dining out with your furry friend a breeze.
  1. Check your pet's vaccinations are up to date.
  2. Obtain a pet passport or animal health certificate.
  3. Research pet-friendly accommodations and their specific requirements.
  4. Plan your travel route considering pet-friendly stops.
  5. Pack a pet travel kit including food, water, toys, and a first-aid kit.

Dog walking routes in Cantabria

Route Distance (miles) Scenery Postcode
Saja-Besaya Natural Park Various Forests and rivers 39500
Comillas Beach 1.5 Beach and cliffs 39520
Picos de Europa Various Mountains 39588
El Sardinero 2 Beach promenade 39005
Cabo Mayor Lighthouse 3 Coastal path 39012

Dining at the park, or heading out

Many holiday parks boast on-site restaurants, offering convenience and a variety of dining options. Cantabria's local cuisine is renowned for its seafood dishes, like "marmitako" (tuna pot) and "rabas" (squid rings). For a family-friendly dining experience, try Casa Sampedro in Torrelavega. Couples looking for a romantic dinner might enjoy El Nuevo Molino in Puente Arce, known for its exquisite setting and gourmet dishes.

Outdoor activities for the whole family

Cantabria is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering everything from kayaking on the Deva River to exploring the Picos de Europa on a cable car. The region's activity centres, such as Deva Adventure Park, provide a range of activities including zip-lining and archery, with prices starting from €15 per person. Most centres are open from spring to autumn, making summer the perfect time to visit.

Handy packing list

Item Details
Travel Documents Passports, health insurance cards, driving licence, pet paperwork
Clothing Weather-appropriate attire, swimming gear, comfortable walking shoes
First Aid Kit Plasters, antiseptic cream, painkillers, any prescription medications
Entertainment Books, games, tablets with downloaded movies/shows
Snacks and Water For travel days and excursions
Sun Protection Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses
Toiletries Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap

Top Europe Parks for 2024 in Cantabria

Playa Joyel

  • Booking Agent: Keycamp
  • Nearest Airports: Santander (SDR) (40 km, Approx. 40 min), Bilbao (BIO) (90 km, Approx. 1 hr 10 min)
  • Address: Playa de Ris 39180 NOJA
Playa Joyel About this park: Playa Joyel stands out for its direct beach access and range of family-friendly facilities, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Cantabrian Mountains. Reachable via Santander or Bilbao airports, it's a prime spot for a nature-infused holiday. Pools - The park boasts a family pool, a children's pool, and a Jacuzzi, ensuring water fun for all ages. While there are no slides, the pool complex is a hub of activity, offering a refreshing escape under the Spanish sun. For the kids - Children are spoilt for choice with tennis, football, basketball, and cycling. The park features kids' clubs, playgrounds, and an indoor play area, alongside an animal park open twice a week, ensuring endless entertainment. What's on-site? Adults can enjoy dining at the on-site restaurant, unwind at the bar, or explore the underground disco. The park's tranquil beach setting is perfect for relaxation, while nearby towns offer delightful day trips. What's nearby? Attractions include Parque de Cabárceno (50 km), Santillana Del Mar (67 km), Picos de Europa mountains, Zoo Santillana del Mar (67 km), and Santander (44 km). Each offers unique experiences from wildlife to cultural sights, all within driving distance. Accommodation options: Playa Joyel offers a variety of accommodation, from traditional to modern units, suitable for couples, groups, and families. Each is well-appointed with amenities like air conditioning, ensuring a comfortable stay. Pets are welcome, making it ideal for the entire family.


What exactly is a European holiday park?

A European holiday park is a resort offering a variety of accommodations and amenities designed for holidaymakers, particularly families. These parks often include self-catering lodges, caravans, and sometimes camping sites, along with facilities like swimming pools, play areas, restaurants, and entertainment programs. In Cantabria, such parks are nestled in stunning natural landscapes, offering a blend of relaxation and adventure.

How do I pick the right one for my family?

Consider what's important for your family. Do you need a kids' club, a pool, or proximity to beaches? Cantabria's holiday parks, like Playa Joyel or Cabuerniaventura, offer various options. Look at the park's location, the types of accommodation, and the on-site facilities. Reading reviews from other families can also provide valuable insights.

What types of accommodation are there?

Accommodations in Cantabria's holiday parks range from luxury lodges with private hot tubs to comfortable mobile homes and apartments. Some parks also offer glamping options or pitches for tents and caravans, catering to all preferences and budgets.

How do you even get there?

Getting to Cantabria is straightforward. If you're flying, the nearest airport is Santander, which is well-connected to the UK. From there, you can hire a car or take public transport to your holiday park. Driving from the UK is also an option, with ferry services to Santander from Plymouth or Portsmouth.

Is visiting Cantabria at peak times a nightmare?

While Cantabria is popular in summer, many holiday parks are designed to handle peak season crowds, offering a serene experience despite the higher number of visitors. Booking activities and dining options in advance can help avoid disappointment.

I like it! How do I book?

Booking is typically done directly through the holiday park's website or a reputable travel agency. Early booking is advised, especially for peak seasons, to secure your preferred accommodation and dates.

What if we have to cancel?

Most holiday parks in Cantabria offer flexible cancellation policies, but these can vary. Check the terms and conditions at the time of booking, and consider travel insurance that covers cancellations for added peace of mind.

What amenities and facilities will be on-site?

Expect a range of facilities, including swimming pools, children's play areas, sports courts, and entertainment programs. Many parks also have on-site supermarkets, laundry facilities, and bike hire services. Specific parks like Playa Joyel even boast direct beach access and an on-site zoo.

Is it all-inclusive?

Most holiday parks in Cantabria are not all-inclusive, focusing instead on self-catering accommodation. However, they often feature restaurants and bars on-site, and some may offer meal packages or dining options as part of the booking.

What dining options will be available?

On-site dining typically includes restaurants serving local and international cuisine, casual cafes, and takeaway options. Many accommodations come with fully equipped kitchens for those who prefer to cook. Nearby towns also offer a plethora of dining experiences, showcasing Cantabria's rich culinary heritage.

Can you leave the park and explore Cantabria?

Absolutely! Exploring Cantabria's beautiful landscapes, charming villages, and stunning beaches is highly recommended. Visit the famous Altamira Cave, enjoy the beauty of the Picos de Europa National Park, or explore the historic city of Santander. Holiday parks often provide information on local attractions and activities.

What do I need to pack?

Aside from personal items, pack for varied weather conditions and bring comfortable walking shoes. If you're staying in self-catering accommodation, consider bringing some basic cooking supplies. Don't forget swimwear for the pools and beaches!

Is it different to a package holiday?

Yes, holiday parks offer more flexibility and a 'home away from home' experience compared to traditional package holidays. They provide the freedom to plan your day, meals, and activities, making them ideal for families wanting a personalised holiday experience.

Can you drive there?

Driving to Cantabria is a popular option for many, especially for those looking to explore the region at their own pace. The road network is excellent, and scenic routes make the journey part of the holiday experience. Remember to check ferry options if you're coming from the UK.

How does check-in and check-out work?

Check-in procedures are straightforward, often requiring just a booking confirmation and ID. Check-in times vary but are usually in the afternoon, while check-out is typically in the morning. Many parks offer the option for late check-out or early check-in for an additional fee.

Are there any sneaky hidden costs?

While most costs are upfront, some parks may charge extra for amenities like Wi-Fi, laundry, or certain activities. Always check what's included in your booking and ask about any potential additional charges.

How accessible is it for guests with disabilities?

Many holiday parks in Cantabria are equipped with accessible accommodations and facilities. It's best to discuss specific needs with the park prior to booking to ensure they can accommodate your requirements comfortably.

Is Wi-Fi available, and is it free?

Wi-Fi is available in most holiday parks, often free in public areas. Some parks may charge for in-accommodation Wi-Fi or offer premium services for higher speeds. Check the park's policy before booking.

Can you take a baby to a holiday park?

Yes, holiday parks are ideal for families with babies, offering a comfortable and safe environment. Many provide baby-friendly amenities like cots and high chairs, but it's wise to confirm availability when booking.

What if someone needs a doctor when we're there?

Holiday parks usually have information on local medical services and some may offer on-call medical assistance. It's also advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses.

What are the best parks for experiencing Cantabria's natural beauty?

Playa Joyel and Cabuerniaventura stand out for their stunning locations, offering direct access to natural attractions and beautifully landscaped grounds. They provide an immersive experience in Cantabria's breathtaking landscapes.

Are there any cultural experiences nearby?

Cantabria is rich in history and culture. The Altamira Cave and the medieval town of Santillana del Mar are must-visits. Many holiday parks organise tours or can provide information on local cultural attractions.

What outdoor activities are available for families?

Cantabria offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from hiking in the Picos de Europa to surfing on Somo Beach. Many holiday parks are ideally situated for exploring the great outdoors and often provide equipment hire and organised excursions.