Europe, with its rich history, diversity, fascinating culture and breath-taking scenery is an obvious choice for a family holiday, whatever the time of year. It’s close proximity tends to prompt multiple visits- and with so much to see, it’s entirely possible to visit year on year without ever returning to the same place. The most appealing destinations tend to offer that magic combination of fabulous beaches and high-quality accommodation, plentiful options to eat out and sample delicious wines, and enough culture to add an educational slant to even the most relaxing of holidays. With so many tempting destinations to choose from, the hardest decision is drawing up a short-list. That said, we find the following usually feature on most people’s bucket list- a wonderful trip around Greece taking in the Parthenon and some of the stunning islands, perhaps by boat for the sailing enthusiasts amongst you, or an Italian sojourn in Rome, Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast for foodies and culture buffs, a taste of authentic island life in North-East Majorca, and for a city break like no other, charming Dubrovnik is hard to beat. Beyond the more established destinations though, opportunities abound to go off the beaten track, to see local life, try out neighbourhood eateries and soak up the sun in pretty coves hidden from prying eyes.
- Croatia’s spectacular coastline, clear blue waters, pine forests, historical towns and picture-perfect fishing villages provide the ideal ingredients for a fabulous family holiday. The exquisite Roman, Venetian and Byzantine legacies offer a varied and very scenic architectural landscape. Not surprisingly, given its rich maritime past and pristine waters dotted with pretty islands, Croatia is popular with sailing enthusiasts. An efficient and extensive ferry network gives you every opportunity to explore the picturesque islands.
- This beguiling island, with its apparently endless summer, beautiful Mediterannean scenery, wealth of history and warm welcome has been luring British tourists for generations. It manages to juxtapose reassuringly familiar touches – red pillar boxes, high street staples such as M&S and Pizza Express and the fact that cars drive on the left – with undeniably Cyrpriot traditions and appeal. Think village restaurants plying platters of delicious meze and local wine, shimmering blue seas, quaint mountain villages and venetian castles.
- You might not be surprised to hear that over 70% of Finland is forest – more than any other European country. Zipping past snow-laden trees in a snowmobile or husky sledge in pursuit of a glowing sky is surely an unforgettable experience to share. No wonder Santa likes it so much here! Lapland unquestionably offers some of the best views of the captivating Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis – usually visible from the end of August through until April (the best viewing is often at the beginning and end of the season). Leaving the exquisite scenery, stunning natural sights and Father Christmas to one side for a moment, one thing we do recommend on your visit here is an authentic Finnish sauna experience – the country has on average one per household. They are a place to relax and warm up in the company of friends and family.
- Our love affair with France is a long-standing one. As our nearest neighbour, there are plentiful travel options, whether you are just popping over the Channel to sample the quiet pace of life in Burgundy, enjoying a leisurely drive to the Dordogne or pretty Western Coast, or heading to the lavender fields of Provence and tempting azure-blue waters of the Cote d’Azur.
- Synonymous with sleepy white-washed villages, colourful harbours, aqua blue waters and white sand beaches, Greece with its gloriously rich history, is an obvious choice for a bucket and sand holiday with a difference. In recent years a number of stunning boutique-style hotels have opened their doors in some of Greece’s most beguiling locations, giving discerning family travellers options which are a million miles away from the old package holiday image of Greece. The ‘real’ Greece is in fact very easy to find but with over 1000 islands and miles and miles of mainland coastline, the hard part is choosing where to go.
- Italy conjures up images of lemon groves, hauntingly beautiful Tuscan vistas, alpine lakes, coastal roads clinging to cliff-faces which fall into sparkling azure waters, piazzas, vespas, high fashion, culture at every elegant corner, frothy cappuccinos and a rainbow of gelatos guaranteed to give you a brief glimpse of nirvana. Food, beauty and style mingle effortlessly in every aspect of daily life – all you can do is slow down, relax and appreciate everything that this charmed country has to offer.
- A friendly welcome, spectacular coastline, balmy weather, delicious food, world-class wines and close proximity all combine to lure visitors to this vibrant, many-faceted country. In recent years, much has been done to attract a more discerning tourist, with stricter controls on permitted development, the opening of some truly charming and authentic hotels, the sympathetic restoration and re-development of historic buildings and the promotion of ‘real Spain’- those untouched villages and coastal areas which have retained their character and appeal are now coming into their own.