This patch of Andalucia is the soul of real Spain. Beyond the Cortijo del Marqués, a journey to Granada takes in distant rugged mountains and fragrant orange and almond trees. There, you'll find the Alhambra – a sightseeing must – while wildlife-loving kids will wolf up the Lobo Park at Antequera.
Down the road from the Cortijo at Carretera Jaen in Albolote, Restaurante Romero (+34 (0)958 453 268) offers typical Spanish cooking via its decent €15 menu del día. There’s an outdoor terrace and bar and, on summer nights, you’ll often find the barbecue lit. The short kids’ menu is in Spanish only, but staff are super family-friendly and will go out of their way to help with little ones.
The Unesco World Heritage site of Alhambra (+34 (0)958 027 971) has a day's worth of wonders, including the 9th-century Alcazaba fortress, Nasrid Palaces and Generalife gardens. Intriguing history, beautifully landscaped grounds and spectacular feats of water engineering make for a fascinating archi-tour, and the converted palace stands today as one of Europe’s most important historic records of Moorish architecture. Book tickets well in advance to avoid lengthy queues (or the possibility of not getting in at all). The site is enormous, so pick your priorities. Little ones can play make-believe conquistador up turrets and on terraces, or hide-and-seek among ornate columns, hidden courtyards and fountains. Don’t forget to bring bottled water, snacks and sunscreen: the summer sun can be punishing. There are also two museums and various other monuments on site.
If you’re in Granada, stop by La Buena Vida at 12 Calle Almireceros (+34 (0)958 994 616). It has a good selection of Spanish beer and some excellent, keenly priced tapas (try the tapenade, goat’s cheese with honey or chicken paté). Lively, authentic and popular. You’re not going to find a highchair in here but the small portions of croquettes and meatballs are perfect for mini appetites. Expect it to get rowdier and busier as the evening goes on.
Support wolf conservation and learn about el lobo itself at Antequera’s Lobo Park Wolf Reserve (+34 (0)952 031107), about 40 minutes away by car. All the animals that roam free here do so in an entirely natural environment – most were reared within the park so they’re used to being around humans. This is a unique opportunity to observe these wild animals and their social practices – you can even visit for a Full Moon Party with a difference and watch the reserve’s residents howl at the proverbial moon. There’s a little zoo area where youngsters can meet foxes and goats as well as baby wolves – it has an educational bent, so your would-be park wardens will come away having learnt where cheese and milk come from, how a sheep’s woolly coat becomes a jumper, maybe even what came first, the chicken or the egg. Entry €11; €7 for under-12s