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What's a great home base to explore Spain from?

Cadaques, Spain.

Alexandre Menard/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Question: We're planning a multi-generational family getaway to Spain. What's a great home base to explore from?

If it's your first visit, Evelyne Drouin, a Spanish travel specialist with AMA Travel in Calgary (, suggests starting in Barcelona. There's so much for the whole family to do here from exploring L'Aquarium Barcelona to marvelling at Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral.

Then, as hard as it is, corral everyone into a rental car and kiss the city goodbye for your holiday's main home base: the northern Costa Brava – the "dramatic coast" – known for its sea-swept views and ancient ruins. Specifically, Drouin, who visits the country on an almost-annual basis, recommends stopping in Aiguablava near the town of Begur. Here your kin can unpack into the Parador de Aiguablava (, one of the government-run historic properties-turned-hotels.

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From Aiguablava, she says there are plenty of day trips to keep family members happy: wandering the art galleries of Cadaques, visiting the birthplace of Salvador Dali and exploring the bird sanctuary of Aiguamolls Nature Reserve. Or just enjoy the Mediterranean views and quality time with each other from this mountain perch.

Meanwhile, Robert Zuzek, president of Kompas Express (, a Toronto-based tour operator, suggests basing your clan in the vibrant metropolis of Madrid, or one of its nearby picturesque towns such as Segovia or Alcala de Henares, the birthplace of Cervantes.

The cities and their surrounding areas offer so much for all ages, says Zuzek, who has been sending travellers to Spain for almost four decades for the museums, restaurants, concerts, nightlife. One of his highlights? Touring the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid with a guide who tailored the experience to his five-year-old twins.

In the end your task may be narrowing down where you want to go this time. As Drouin says, there's an old Spanish proverb: " 'More things grow in the garden than the gardener sows' … It is an appropriate saying for travellers to Spain who invariably find more than first expected."

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Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith.

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