The top 10 child friendly European holiday destinations (by baby swimwear experts aka us)!
We believe that the ideal family holiday should tick some essential boxes:
- Sunshine, great scenery and fantastic things to do.
- Accommodation options to suit everybody/all ages.
- Ideally a relatively short plane, train or boat ride away (or combination! We're experts at combination travel holidays)!
Luckily for us, all of these boxes can be ticked with a European holiday. Europe is close-by, culturally diverse, full of new things to be discovered and has a great climate to boot.
We’ve got lots of ideas to get you into holiday booking mode so here are our top 10 recommendations for your next European family holiday (and a few pointers at what not to do)!
If it is variety you’re looking for then Brittany is the ideal family destination. Its many miles of unspoiled countryside, sandy beaches and lively neighbourhoods create endless choices of things to do. Walking, cycling, rockpooling, climbing, sandcastle building, sailing and exploring the many markets, shops and festivals will keep the whole family busy for days on end. You can even set up camp in spacious and comfortable safari tent with Eurocamp and make the holiday even more of an adventure.
South of France is also amazing. We've just returned from a trip with the children to the Roman city of Nimes where we visited the Haribo museum and the beaches of Marseillan and Languedoc Rousillion. Don't forget your trunks and toddler swimwear as swim shorts for boys and men are not permitted at these type of european holiday parks. Luckily, we had our Platypus Australia rash vest and boy shorts at the ready for our kids so they could enjoy the three swimming pools.
The Algarve has a pristine coastline and year-round sunshine which makes it a beautiful family holiday destination. With bustling resorts, quaint fishing villages and quiet mountain-top retreats you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation, though a self-catering family cottage is always a winning option as you’ll have lots of freedom to explore. The Algarve also boasts lots of toddler and child-friendly beaches to play on so you can all relax and have fun at the same time.
Quieter than mainland Spain (and neighbour, Majorca), Menorca is a wonderful island for grabbing some peace and tranquility while also keeping the whole family entertained. What’s more, there are lots of affordable family villas with private pools so you can truly set up a home-from-home. Top activities include setting sail on the popular Pirate Cruise, exploring the Wednesday Markets, splashing around at the waterparks and – one for the parents – visiting the famous gin distillery and sampling the island’s favourite tipple.
Another top destination for child-friendly beaches is Zakynthos in Greece. With its gentle, sloping shores and white sandy beaches it’ll be an immediate hit with the kids. An extra special additional treat, if you visit in August, is the chance to glimpse the baby loggerhead turtles hatching on Gerakas beach. Zakynthos also offers lots of accommodation options including beachfront hotels, family apartments and villas, many with on-site kids’ clubs and nurseries if needed. Just a little further with a 4 hour flight time plus 1 hour plus transfer.
If you fancy somewhere a little off the beaten track this summer and slightly further afield then give Sardinia a try. Its paradise shores with turquoise waters and white sands will have you falling in love with the place the moment you arrive, plus it offers some more unusual places to stay. The Monte Sixeri Farm estate, for example, features rustic converted farm building apartments, a playground, a restaurant and a pool. Plus the kids can help the staff feed the pigs, sheep and hens!
If you and the family can stretch to a four-hour plane journey then the beautiful volcanic island of Lanzarote is activity central and makes an ideal family getaway. With a pirate museum, submarine safaris, diving, go carting, aquariums and waterparks, it’s a guaranteed hit with little ones. There are plenty of family hotels in the big resorts if you want to be at the centre of the action, but you can also choose the quieter locations with boutique hotels, apartments and traditional bungalows if you fancy something a little more unusual. It is quite a small island to navigate and we've spent great holidays there exploring by car. It is very safe to drive in Lanzarote and our favourite trips are always to the breathtaking, volcanic Timanfaya National Park, down to the south coast where Playa Blanca is located and driving along the east coast, which is quite hilly with lots of tiny villages and seafood restaurants. For shopping, the capital city of Arreceife is worth a trip and it has some great play parks for smaller children.
This gem offers safe, child-friendly beaches, lots of physical activities such as climbing and hiking, plus towns and cities with fortresses and castles all steeped in history and great for exploring. In Croatia it’s generally cheaper to rent a private apartment than to pay for hotel rooms when traveling with kids, plus it means you can rent a car and explore even more of this stunning country; there’s a lot to see after all.
This is Trogir in Croatia.
Another beautiful Italian destination perfect for families is the island of Sicily; especially good if you’re a family of beach-lovers. The many beaches offer endless hours of fun and relaxation, and they’re dotted with affordable family villas. We've stayed a few times with James Villas which offer a great selection of these – so you can get out of bed and jump straight into the sand! Sicily is also home to incredible adventure parks and playgrounds, hundreds of castles to explore and, how could you forget, the majestic Mount Etna which you can ascend by cable car if you’re brave enough!
Early evening in Sicily
Looking for somewhere a little closer to home? Dublin is a vibrant hub of great activities, days out and lots of fascinating history. Dublin Zoo, the Natural History Museum and the HYPERLINK "http://vikingsplash.com/" Viking Splash tour of the city are just a few of the most popular attractions you and the kids can enjoy. Child-friendly and affordable hotels are more than plentiful here too, so you’ll have no problem finding some great accommodation to relax in at the end of a long day’s exploring.
For us, a trip to Barcelona is the ultimate sunny city break that the whole family can enjoy. A perfect mix of lively city life and relaxing beaches with so much to explore it’ll keep everyone occupied for the entire trip. Take a cable car up to the old castle, visit the animals at the aquarium and zoo, explore the crazy and colourful sculptures of Parc Güell and wander along the boulevard of Las Ramblas for days of guaranteed family fun. Family-friendly hotels and villas are also in good supply here and are the best option if you want to see as much of the city as you can. We stayed for three nights in Barcelona at Hotel Grums just near to the port and Montjuc so ideal for two little boys. We then got the train 47km down the south coast to Vilanova i la Geltrú and stayed with Al Fresco at a holiday park called Vilanova Park which was great with a lovely town just a 10 min easy bus ride away for groceries and a nice little high street.
Aren’t we lucky having all of these incredible places just a short plane or ferry hop away? Wherever you go in Europe this summer we hope you have a fantastic time, and don’t forget your sun safety!
Expect lots of this on your European family holiday!