Are you looking for the best family vacation ideas in Europe – somewhere the whole family can have fun, experience another culture and take part in activities together? Vacations are a way to make memories the whole family can hold on to forever, and there are many activities that you and your family can enjoy across the UK, France, Italy, and Portugal.
Here are ten of the best places to vacation across Europe.
Best for families who enjoy the outdoors
Scotland is great for outdoor fun, and some of the best things to do with your family include kayaking, hiking, and canoeing. Scotland is also ideal for families that enjoy sightseeing (or even staying!) at historic castles, exploring lakes and rivers, or for older members who may enjoy a round of golf and a wee dram of Scotch whisky. Thanks to its many lochs and stunning mountain ranges – not to mention beautiful national parks such as the Cairngorms – Scotland is a beautiful wilderness ideal for nature exploration.
You can visit Scotland all year round, though summer, which starts in June and runs through August, is the best time for exploring the great outdoors.
Further reading: Best family activities in Scotland
Best for families who love their history
Ireland is a land that has a rich history with some truly stunning scenery and cultural sites. Some family vacation ideas include visiting Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Bill Castle Demesne, the Inishowen Peninsula, Chocolate Garden, Cliffs of Moher, and Killarney. You can also plan your trip around St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy Irish music, parades, and green-dyed beer.
The best time to visit Ireland is around March, the season when St. Patrick is celebrated. While St. Patrick’s is celebrated across the world, revel in the authentic experience of celebrating it in the land of the patron saint.
Further reading: Best family holiday activities in Ireland
Best for families seeking to experience authentic English life
If you’re looking for chocolate-box towns and villages that capture quintessential English life, the Cotswolds is a perfect choice – in fact, we’d go as far to say it’s one of the best European vacations in England (it’s one of our faves!). There’s so much to do across the six counties covered by the Cotswolds, including visiting different farm parks such as TV presenter Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park in Cheltenham, Fairytale Farm in Chipping Norton, Cattle Country Adventure in Berkeley, and the Prinknash Bird and Deer Park. Other fun ideas include visiting the Cotswolds Waterpark, the Corinium Museum, and taking a ride on the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire Steam Railway for a taste of heritage.
The best time to visit the Cotswolds is between March and October when all activities are available, and weekends in December when steam railway trips are offered.
Further reading: Best family activities in the Cotswolds
Best for families seeking coastal breaks and rural life
All fun family vacation ideas in Wales take advantage of the country’s unique profile, with a magnificent coastline, scalable mountains, rivers for rafting, and even bouncing on cave trampolines. A family vacation in Wales truly is a combination of different experiences and adventures, with plenty of historic ruins and heritage sites to explore too, from castles to disused coal mines.
The best time to visit Wales is when the flowers are in full bloom, and there are warm and pleasant temperatures, which is typically in spring and summer from March to August.
Further reading: Best family activities in Wales
5. The Dordogne
Best for families that want to make memories in the sunshine
The Dordogne enjoys over 200 days of sunlight every year. To make the most of this sunny region, you and your family could go for a spot of kayaking, cycling, and swimming. The Dordogne has some of the best chateaux in France, making it one of the best European vacations for adventure and discovery. Visit Château de Beynac, Château de Castelnaud, and Châtaeu de Bridoire to explore rich French heritage with your kids.
You can visit the Dordogne between May and October but be wary of the high season in July and August when the sites might be crowded.
Further reading: Best kids activities in the Dordogne
Best for families that enjoy parks
Aquitaine is a magnificent area on the French southwestern coast, which also boasts plenty of French countryside with activities in which you and your family can engage; from visiting the Walibi theme park and the Bassin d’Arcachon, to an assortment of amusement parks and water parks. You’re never going to be short on things to do, which makes this one of the best European vacations for families who don’t want to stay still and want to fully explore the area (while also having lots of fun!) Don’t forget to pack a towel when visiting Aquitaine to enjoy the various water activities available!
The best time to visit Aquitaine is during the spring and summer months when high temperatures are ideal for water activities.
Further reading: Best family activities in Aquitaine
7. Loire Valley
Best for families that crave French culture and outdoor activities
The Loire Valley is renowned for its chateaux. This French region has numerous great family vacation ideas, including Zoo de Beauval, Mini Chateaux, The Touraine Aquarium, Savonnières Grottoes, Troglodyte Village, and Le Cadre Noir. You can also engage in kayaking, canoeing and other water activities, go on bicycle tours, and participate in wine tasting – perfect for older members looking for family reunion vacation ideas.
You will have the best experience when you visit the Loire Valley when there are fewer crowds – between April and June, and between September and October.
Further reading: Best things to do with kids in Loire Valley
Best for families that love pristine beaches
Puglia, otherwise known as the southeastern ‘heel’ of Italy, epitomizes the Italian holiday and has some of the best beaches in the country for those who enjoy relaxing breaks and water activities. But if you want to explore further than the coastline, you’ve got the limestone Trulli houses in Alberobello, the intriguing Castellana Caves, which are the largest in Italy, the Fasano zoo and the Fasano amusement park, and the scenic seaside town of Polignano al Mare.
The best time to visit Puglia is during the summer months between May and September. Puglia, being in the south of Italy, however, never gets too cold, meaning that you can plan your trip for any time. It’s one of the best European vacations for an escape out of season!
Further reading: Best family activities in Puglia
Best for families that love the rustic country scene
Tuscany has a relaxed vibe and family-friendly villas. If you are looking for a place for your first family vacation, then Tuscany offers the best destinations for adventuring, wine tasting, exquisite Italian cuisine, and tours to the ancient city of Florence. Tuscany is the ideal destination for families looking to unwind and spend quality time together.
The best times to visit Tuscany are between April and May and between September and October when there are fewer crowds.
Further reading: Top 7 things to do in Tuscany with the kids
Best for families that love a beach break
The biggest draw to Portugal’s Algarve is its “beach on the rocks” where families can hang out on the expansive stretches of sand and explore the many cliffs and small caves. The Algarve offers a glimpse into Portuguese culture where individuals can stroll along city streets and enjoy the local cuisine.
Visit the Algarve in May – June and September – October to avoid large crowds and hot weather.
Further reading: The best family-friendly beaches in the Algarve
Are you ready to plan your next family vacation? We offer unique and extraordinary places to stay across the globe that are ideal for large groups such as families and wedding parties. Check out our collection of family-friendly villas and chateaux. And if you need any help deciding which vacation rental is the best for you, talk to our concierge team.