Finding a holiday destination that suits the whole family – and is easy to get to – is no easy feat.
But to satisfy the sun worshipper, thrill-seeker and history buff in your family, look no further that the PortAventura World resort in Spain.
Located on the Costa Daurada and just an hour from Barcelona, the colourful resort is a world away from our grey days and wet weather.
As a family of three – two adults and a toddler – we had a fantastic time and would go back in a heartbeat.
We stayed at the four-star El Paso, the main all-inclusive hotel in the resort and a popular resort for families. Just a five-minute walk from the parks, it is also extremely close to the train station and a short walk to the town of Salou.
Where to stay
PortAventura World is home to six stunning hotels, all completely immersive and will transport you to the Far West, the Caribbean or even the heart of Mexico.
Mansion de Lucy (five stars), Colorado Creek (four stars) and Gold River (four stars) are all located in the Far West area of the resort, a continuation of the Western-themed part of the main theme park.
Hotel Caribe (four stars) transports guests to a tropical oasis, with tropical gardens and Europe’s largest white sand swimming pool. The four-star PortAventura Hotel, meanwhile, is the closest you can stay to the action as it’s located right at the park’s entrance.
What to do
Theme park fans like me will be delighted with PortAventura Park and Ferrari Land. The main park was once owned by Universal Studios and, for anyone who has visited the Orlando and California parks, this will be obvious. PortAvenura features six worlds within the park and the theming and attention to detail is remarkable. Guests can walk through China one moment and be Hula dancing in Polynesia the next. The set-ups and facades aren’t lazy or thrown together, they are incredibly immersive, and the attractions are hard to beat.
For the real thrill seekers, PortAventura Park is home to rollercoasters such as Dragon Khan and Shambala. Dragon Khan boasted a world record with its eight inversions when it opened in 1995 and Shambala, which opened in 2012, is a dizzying 256ft high and shoots guests round at up to 83 miles per hour.
Ferrari Land reminded my Disney-loving self of Epcot. A homage to the super car franchise, you can walk thought little Italy and soar through the air in the Flying Dreams attraction (very like Soarin’ for any Epcot fans!). There is also a children’s area with mini versions of the thrill rides such as Red Force and Thrill Towers. Admission to PortAventura Park is unlimited when staying at a resort hotel and staying at one of the hotels also includes one trip to Ferrari Land.
Caribe Water Park closes in early September (to make way for something a lot more frightening) so we missed out on this trip but our hotel pools all remained open until the end of September.
Having the train station so close to the resort is a real bonus. We stayed at the El Paso hotel and it took us less than five minutes to reach the platform and that was with a three-year-old in tow. Barcelona is just over an hour away by train where you can go shopping at La Rambla, pack in some culture by visiting La Sagrada Familia and step foot in the legendary Camp Nou stadium.
However, we decided to stay a bit closer and take the eight-minute trip to Tarragona. The port city is peppered in Roman history but is also home to stunning, quiet beaches, bars and a fantastic food and shopping scene. As Spain’s second most important Roman site (the first is Mérida) the old ruins include a seaside amphitheatre which is crying out to be posted on instagram.
When to go
We were visiting for the Halloween season which was brilliant fun. Again, the similarities to Universal Studios were frightening as they take the scary festivities very seriously. New for 2019 is La Isla Maldita, the new Halloween passage of terror. The Caribe Water Park has been taken over by ghostly pirates and guests must escape. The passage is longer than most and takes a terrifying 35 minutes to walk (or run) through. The resort also follows suit with Universal Studios and turns popular horror films into real-life experiences such as bringing to life the Spanish found-footage film, REC.
However, if swimming and water parks are important to you, you’ll want to go in summer months as all hotel pools are only open from May until September and the Caribe Water Park closes in September and doesn’t open again until June.
And eco-friendly visitors will be pleased to know that in spring 2020, PortAventura will become Europe’s largest solar park with one third of the resort’s electricity coming from solar power.
How to get there
There are two airports close to the Spanish resort, Reus and Barcelona. Scots can grab direct flights to both airports from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Reus, which is the closest of the two. Flights to Barcelona are regular from most Scottish cities and getting to the resort is quick and easy by train.
To find out more and to book for Halloween, visit PortAventura World – Theme and leisure park