You’ve been working all year and the kids are finally out of school, which means it’s time to escape the daily grind and spend some well-deserved quality time with your family. But planning your trip and finding the perfect place where everyone will be happy might feel like an impossible task if it’s your first family holiday. Where should I go? Is it safe? Will there be lots to do? You don’t know where to start looking, particularly if you want to try somewhere other than the traditional resorts and amusement parks. Here are our favourite family-friendly destinations in Europe with travel tips and tricks to make it an unforgettable trip:
Italy’s bigger cities like Rome, Florence and Venice are very popular during the summer months which means that although there will be plenty to do, it will be hot and crammed with tourists. The buzz might be just what you’re looking for, however if you have little ones, somewhere quieter and more relaxed could be better suited.
How about booking a house or flat in Tuscany instead? Fly into Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa or Florence Peretola, then rent a car for the duration of your trip. This means you won’t have to worry about scheduling your time around public transport or fork out for cabs. You can drive into Florence for a day in the city before returning to somewhere much more chilled out for your evening.
Food can sometimes be tricky when you have to cater to everyone so Italy is ideal - who doesn’t love pasta, pizza and gelato? Self-catering is a great option because it allows you to be flexible with meal times, but make sure to find a local trattoria for authentic Tuscan cuisine.
Head out of the capital towards the coast. Albufeira is an old fishing town in the Algarve region of Portugal which has now become a hotspot for seaside holidays for families. And if you want a break from the sandcastles and swimming, there is plenty more to do: ride jet boats, sail on a dolphin-watching boat, or head away from the water to Parque Aventura, a high rope adventure course for children and parents alike.
Eating out might be a bit trickier here as the speciality is seafood which might not suit picky eaters, but there are still plenty of options. Family-friendly restaurants are in abundance in the centre and along the beachfront to accommodate young children; Culture Trip’s Top 10 restaurants list will give you lots of inspiration (and food envy!). If you do fancy trying something new, the fish served in the Algarve is fresh, delicious and not to be missed.
Croatia has grown in popularity as a holiday destination, especially Split and Dubrovnik. For somewhere a little different, check out Šibenik in the Northern Dalmatia area. With medieval architecture, warm weather and the beautiful Adriatic coast, you can’t go too far wrong. Take a day trip to Krka National Park where there are stunning waterfalls and hiking trails through undisturbed nature — a great place to get everyone away from their phones and enjoying the outdoors.
And if that isn’t enough, at the end of June, Šibenik transforms during the International Children’s Festival, celebrating imagination and creativity when ‘the city squares are surrendered to children and dedicated to the development of all the artistic forms of their creative drive’. What a fantastic way to explore the city and involve your kids in the local culture.
The best way to get to Šibenik for most people is through Split Airport, particularly if you are flying from another European country. It’s relatively close and if you fancy a day trip to Split, you are only a car’s journey away.
A trip to Germany is like walking into a fairytale. Home to the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle, which inspired the design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Füssen is ideal for family holidays with a slower, quieter agenda. You can get to the castle on foot by when you have the option of a horse-drawn carriage, why not live out the ultimate fairytale?
The scenery is breathtaking; take a trip to one of the many lakes like Hopfensee for a chilled boat trip and views that are second to none. Or you could brave the cold and book a trip in December when Füssen holds a quaint market in its historic town centre. Check out this fab itinerary for a shorter stay by Nicola at polkadotpassport.com. Although its family-friendly, this is definitely a trip to take with babies or older children as the laid-back atmosphere won’t be fun for the younger ones who want to run around (or for you trying to entertain them). However, the storybook feel to the place is enough to make it magical for the whole family.
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