What is one of the few key requirements when you’re looking to book your annual family trip? For me, the weather plays a huge part – there’s nothing better than feeling the warmth on your face and the cooling sea breeze as you’re exploring new destinations. Family sun holidays and a large dose of sunshine are good for the soul. The kids love playing by the pool and on the beach, and it’s a necessary requirement to have an ice-cream and cold beer on a daily basis. Of course, good weather isn’t always guaranteed but if you’re heading to Europe this summer, then you’d be pretty unlucky not to benefit from the Meditteranean climate.
The Best Family Sun Holidays in Europe
Europe is a great choice if you have young kids and toddlers. Short flight times from the UK, as well as cheaper options from many airline carriers, as well as a huge choice – there are 44 countries in Europe which are home to so many different cultures, landscapes, coastlines and attractions. For us, it’s a no brainer. As a family, we’ve made a conscious decision to explore as much of Europe as possible – it’s so close, after all.
If you’ve been looking to get away this year but are still feeling uninspired then perhaps a site like 101 Family Holidays can help with narrowing down the options. By using their filters, it’s easy to see what family sun holidays are suitable for you tailoring results to your preferences such as budget and the ages of your children. In the meantime, having perused their website extensively here are a pick of some of my favourite family sun holidays in Europe.
The last time I went to Ibiza was in my early twenties with a group of girlfriends on what would be a wholly different type of holiday now. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t really see much of what is considered to be a paradise for family sun holidays. It may be a party island for some, but would you believe Ibiza has a whopping 80 beaches where families can enjoy safe swimming in calm waters, discovering small coves, as well as picnics and activities such as jeep safaris and waterpark fun? There are many villas and hotels that cater to families in Ibiza such as the Nobu Ibiza Bay Hotel which has a stylish and contemporary vibe to remind of those hedonistic days but also a kids club, babysitting services and kid-friendly restaurants on site.
I’m not quite sure why Bulgaria hasn’t been on my radar – but that’s about to change. With pleasant temperatures of around 25ºc during the summer months, as well as being quieter than its European neighbours, Bulgaria’s seaside resorts such as Bourgas, boast stretches of golden sands and clear waters but more importantly, is amazing value for money. Balkan Holidays who specialise in Bulgaria trips says that on average, a week’s family sun holiday in Bulgaria can cost as little as £2,000 in peak season while eating out is also cheap – pizzas are around £3 per person. Now, that’s a bargain.
In a few weeks, we’re excited to be heading to Dubrovnik in Croatia. It’s somewhere I have long wanted to visit with the family and we’re staying in the Old Town – known for being one of the key locations of Game of Thrones, and its beautiful beaches and crystal clear Adriatic waters. But a week isn’t enough to explore what the country has to offer. Which is why there’s always next time… Olivers Travels has a range of stunning coastal properties in Croatia and one of my particular favourites is Villa Pharia in Hvar. I can just see myself jumping off that terrace straight into the sea, couldn’t you?
Family sun holidays in France is a must and a doddle for us Brits to travel across the Channel – especially if you have a baby or toddler. It really is just a case of packing up the car and catching the Eurotunnel or ferry. And once in France, it’s so easy to navigate the roads. We once took a road trip in Burgundy exploring castles and medieval villages but this summer, we’re heading further south and exploring Brittany before staying in the Dordogne for over a week. We can’t wait to kayak down the river and explore all the pretty towns and villages – and we’ve been informed that the weather will most likely be balmy. There are five regions in southern France including Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which is high on our agenda for next time. In fact, some of Vintage Travel’s handpicked villas with private pools are tempting me already…
Having been married in Italy in the Amalfi Coast, I can safely say, Italy is in our top five family sun holidays destinations in Europe. One of Peanut’s first trips abroad was to Sardinia – an Italian island that is surrounded by azure blue seas, as well as being extremely child-friendly. We’ve also stayed in an Italian villa in Tuscany – and being able to explore nearby Florence and Siena has been a huge highlight of our travelling past. There are so many regions in Italy from ancient cities to the Italian Lakes, all so uniquely different, but for us, I hope our next Italian sojourn will be to Sicily, which has a reputation for being one of Europe’s most family-friendly destinations. The Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, offers the perfect Sicilian getaway. Set within two-miles of breathtaking coastline, the Verdura really has something for everyone. From a golf course for my husband, complimentary kids’ club for my youngest, a football academy for Monkey and a spa for me.
When the weather warms up in the UK, there is sometimes no better place to be than at home. We have so much on our very own doorstep and I am guilty of forgetting that. Just off the Normandy coast, the Channel Islands are known for their unusually warmer climates in comparison to the mainland, and Jersey – the largest of them – boasts epic beaches and jaw-dropping cliff top views, plus plenty of activities to keep families entertained. It would make for an idyllic island escape and it’s an area that has been on my wishlist for some time. There are plenty of accommodation options for families such as The Merton Hotel located in St Saviour who have family suites and serviced apartments and even an Aquadome Leisure Centre which can provide hours of watery entertainment, whatever the weather.
Mallorca has long since a popular destination for families – and some of the best regions for kids include the capital Palma, which has plenty of activities including an Aquarium – and is a city which has an abundance of charm and character and should not be missed even if you’re travelling north to the beaches and bays of Alcúdia and Port de Pollença. But while some destinations such as Mallorca offer up the image of package holiday goers and large all-inclusives, it is possible to experience family sun holidays with the epitome of luxury. The Son Bunyola estate is one such place – nestled in an unspoiled corner of the island, complete with a private chef, tennis courts, and a babysitting service, this is the ultimate dream Mallorcan paradise.
Our last family trip to Portugal was a few years back when we visited Lisbon. It was a packed long weekend, which saw my husband struggle with the pushchair up those cobbly Lisbon hills. Was it a family-friendly city – not so much in terms of logistics, but once we headed to the coast, a totally different ball game – the Portuguese love kids. Meanwhile, my sister is a huge advocate of the Algarve – with its sandy coves and white-washed villages, as well as a huge range of family-friendly resorts. Pine Cliffs has been her choice for two-years running now and she cannot speak highly enough of the facilities tailored to those families particularly with young children, particularly the qualified nannies who provide peace of mind for parents while their children are in the kids’ club.
Another gem in the Meditteranean, Greece has over 225 inhabited islands dotted in the Ionian and Aegean sea. Favourites of ours include Zakynthos, Santorini, Kefalonia, Crete and Corfu – all worth visiting and all so very different from one another. Santorini, for instance, is famed for its blue-domed roofs and amazing sunsets in Oia, while Zakynthos gave us the opportunity to watch turtles hatching and discover some amazing family-friendly beaches.
Crete may be full of ancient history but it also has vast stretches of sandy beaches, caves to explore, turquoise blue seas to snorkel in and amazing family-friendly villas in which to spend a relaxing holiday. But if you really want to discover Greece, perhaps a sailing holiday might be another option? It’s the best way to really discover all of Greece’s hidden hotspots, and there are many family sailing holidays who cater even for toddlers.
Although beaches and poolside fun is pretty essential when it comes to family sun holidays, it needn’t be the case all of the time. If you have a family who loves adventure then perhaps a trip to Scandinavia might be more suitable? In the summer months, it’s all about the great outdoors in countries such as Sweden and Norway. Exploring fjords and kayaking along Norway’s extraordinary rivers, as well as take in the jaw-dropping scenery on bikes – there is so much to do as Best Served Scandinavia can organise. Meanwhile, if you’re still hankering after some sunbathing and beach time, Sweden’s Riveria, the Beaches of Skane has powdery white sand for you sink your feet into.
*This post was written in association with 101 Family Holidays