Affordable Family Vacations

by Nicola McCormack


Don Quixote never managed to become a knight and move into a castle, but visitors to Spain these days may have better luck. Nearly 100 of the country's palaces, monasteries and historic buildings have been turned into hotel-like paradores run by the government. These Paradores de Turismo are the kind of properties where sliding on time-worn flagstone floors, hiding behind tapestries, and exploring Gothic towers comes as standard—perfect for the Harry Potter generation as well as the Cervantes set. Don't expect across-the-board five-star service, but do expect amazing locations and good-size rooms and bathrooms. Costs depend on setting and season, but the majority of these lodgings are extremely affordable—from as low as $60 for adults. The Parador de Baiona (pictured) is a medieval fortress in Galicia overlooking the Atlantic with a huge stone staircase, swimming pool, kids' play area, tennis courts, and 122 comfy rooms starting at $105 a night, while Parador de Zamora is a 15th-century Renaissance palace on the banks of the Duero River with 52 rooms—some with canopied beds—and a swimming pool; rates start around $200 in high season.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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