Choosing a holiday that’s right for the whole family can be tough. There are plenty of family-friendly villas out there, trust us, we have some great options – but what about everyone’s likes and dislikes? Your family is totally unique, and not everyone would like to spend the whole week on the beach or touring the countryside wineries. How about an educational holiday, where you and your kids can get totally involved in the incredible science, history and more that Europe has to offer. Indulge your kids’ nerdy side with a family villa holiday perfect for learning. Geeks, rejoice! This one’s for you.
Learn all about it: Volcanoes
The island of Sicily is home to Mount Etna. Europe’s largest active volcano, it has been exploding for hundreds of thousands of years. Its current altitude is around 3350m, but fascinatingly, its size grows and shrinks as the years pass. Let kids learn all about the earth’s molten core, and what makes it sometimes come crashing to the surface in a volcanic eruption. There are loads of activities to get involved in on your family holiday in Sicily, and many take place on the volcano itself such as hiking, biking and horse and donkey riding, including guided tours to see the crater itself. Kids will love learning so close to one of natures ultimate forces.
You can also see the neighbouring volcanic islands, including Stromboli from Sicily. Famous for its violent and spectacular eruptions, Stromboli is one of the world’s most active volcanoes – and has been exploding almost continuously since 1932. It’s the furthest one in a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Sicily, called the Aeolian Islands. Boat trips leave from Milazzo to visit them, and trips can be organised to trek up to the craters.
Situated in the beautiful region of Mount Etna, historical Villa Giacomo is a fantastic spot for your family holiday in Sicily. It has a wonderful outdoor space perfect to run around in, including a pool to keep little ones entertained. As a bonus, the terrace and patio with pergola are perfect for Al Fresco dining.
A spectacular setting is an understatement for this astounding Sicilian villa. Located in the area of Cava d’Ispica in Modica, it overlooks a huge canyon and is close to many archaeological sites including the necropolis, grottos and castle in the cave. It’s within a stone’s throw of Mount Etna, and also has great beaches close by for when you need a chill day. Perfect for families of volcano enthusiasts and explorers, this villa is sure to impress.
Learn all about it: Prehistoric cave paintings
Where: Lascaux, Dordogne
Between 18,000 and 10,000BC, when mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers were still around, before the pyramids and Stonehenge were even thought about, an ancient civilisation were busy making incredible paintings deep in the caves of the Dordogne. The most famous of these caves at Lascaux were discovered by accident by a group of children and their dog in 1940. Consequently, over a million visitors traipsed through to see them – causing huge wear, tear and decay to the paintings, which had survived unscathed for millennia. The original caves were closed in 1955 but now visitors can view meticulous replica caves and learn all about the paintings, the stories behind them and the civilisation responsible.
The National Museum of Prehistory is also in the region and is a fantastic place to learn more about the Magdalenian people and marvel at the huge selection of artefacts on display.
History-loving kids will love to stay at this impressive 15th century cottage on the shore of a lush lake.The medieval town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is just a short drive with plenty of hot spots to explore. Take a detour and venture out to Périgueux where you can dig into history at the Perigord Museum of Art and Archaeology and visit the Vesunne Museum for a educational day trip.
This 12th century castle dates all the way back to the Hundred Years War, and history seems to surround you as soon as you step in the door. It’s ideally located for visits to historic sites like Castelnaud and Beynac as well as being very close to the National Museum of Prehistory. When you’ve had your fill of history on your family holiday in the Dordogne, the river is in easy reach and great fun for swimming or canoeing.
Learn all about it: D-Day landings
The infamous D-Day landings happened on June 6 1944, it was a pivotal moment in World War 2 and the largest seaborne invasion in history. Just after midnight, 160,000 Allied soldiers crossed the English Channel and stormed five beaches in Normandy along a 50 mile stretch, in an attempt to win back the region from the German occupation. They outnumbered the Germans vastly, but the battle still raged for over a week before the Allied forces eventually won, gaining an important foothold to advance through France in to Germany. Germany surrendered the war just under a year later.
There are many museums, cemeteries and places of interest about the D Day landings to visit on your family holiday in Normandy. Kids will love to see the hulking, gargantuan remains of Winston Churchill’s floating Mulberry Harbour at Gold beach, before learning all about it in the Arromanches D Day Museum. The museum at Utah Beach re-tells the D-Day story in 10 sequences and has bomber planes and memorabilia to marvel at. The centre at Juno Beach is more interactive for restless kids, who can get in a German bunker and experience what it felt like to be the German troops, seeing the view of advancing Allied forces across the sea.
This 15th century chateau is set in 6 acres of grounds, with plenty of space for kids to run around and play in. It even has its own rowing boat at your disposal which can be used on the castle’s original moat. It is just a few minutes’ drive to the D-Day beaches and is well-placed for enjoying the rest of Normandy’s many attractions, such as the wonderful Bayeaux Tapestry.
Children will love staying in this quirky tower on the beach. Set over three floors, the design of this ingenious property is a work of art. Every space has been used to its full potential, and a small family is perfectly catered for. The view of the sea is sublime, as is your proximity to the lovely village of Cote Fleurie and the resort towns of Honfleur and Deauville. Play king of the castle with the kids on your chill-out days, and enjoy exploring the coast to discover Normandy’s history on your adventuring days.
Learn all about it: Greek Mythology
As the story goes, in the beginning there was nothing but chaos. Then came the sky and the earth, who got together and had children, the Titans. One of the Titans, Kronos, became jealous of his father and divided heaven and earth so that he could rule over creation. He married his sister, Rhea and made her his queen. As they began to have children, Kronos was afraid that the prophecy of one of his children overthrowing him would come true, as he had overthrown his own father. So, he ate all his children. All except one, Zeus, who Rhea hid away to protect. He grew into a God, and matured enough to gain the powers he would need to take on his father. He struck Kronos with a lightning bolt, making him vomit up his siblings, all now fully grown Gods too. After a fierce battle, Zeus and the Gods defeated Kronos and the Titans and banished them to the underworld. The Gods divided the earth between themselves and made their home on Mount Olympus.
There are very few family holidays in Greece where you will not find sites of interest surrounding Greek mythology. It is a huge topic, that you could study for years and still not scratch the surface. The stories are fantastic, and have been retold again and again throughout history and kids today are sure to be just as fascinated by them. Consider visiting Mount Olympus on mainland Greece, where the Gods all lived, and the site of the original Olympic Games. The ruins at Aptera, near Chania on Crete are captivating, or visit Santorini itself. The island is said to be the beautiful daughter of Euphemus (son of Poseidon, the god of the sea), and a nymph he met in a dream.
Athena Villa, Crete
This stylish and sleek villa is the perfect vantage point to gaze across the ocean, and imagine what the Gods would have thought about the kingdom. Just half an hour’s drive from the historic site at Aptera, this villa is also well placed for fantastic beaches and the wonderful town of Chania, with the fantastic Venetian harbour to explore. There is also tennis and a wonderful private pool on-site, for when your budding mythologists need a break.
Villa Artemis, Santorini
Wonderful Villa Artemis really makes the most of Santorini’s Goddess-like beauty. Enjoy one of the famous sunsets from this fantastic traditional hilltop village location. Kids will love the cave-like quality of the white-painted curved ceilings, and will have so much fun spotting where they want to visit next from the incredible roof-top view.
We hope that’s given you some food for thought when planning your family villa holiday, give our awesome concierge team a call if you need more advice. We also have some top options and ideas for kids activities in Normandy, Dordogne, and Sicily too!