Our family travel tips for Europe
Ah, Europe. It packs a personalised, surprising, and revivifying punch. There’s cuisine and coastlines; mountains and monuments; history and heritage. And with different offerings from country to country for families of all shapes and sizes, it’s nigh on impossible not to find something – or somewhere – to perfectly suit yours.
But for each of this diverse continent’s 44 countries, there’s review after review, website after website – each with their own version of the best family vacations in Europe. But we’re here to cut through the noise. Below is a handy summary of our eight favourite Europe family vacations – including where to go, where to stay and a whole host of experiences and activities we’ll plan for you to do when you’re there. They’re tried and tested trips we’ve been on and refined with our own families – and our travelers with theirs. So, read on below for some Europe family travel tips and inspiration – or click here to browse all our family vacation ideas.
If there’s a particular country that catches your eye, the links below will take you straight to the section for each. But if you’re looking for broader inspiration and an overview of each of the best family vacations in Europe, do give this page a read from top to bottom.
Greece family vacations
Greece family vacations are more than relaxing beside the sea (though its balmy beaches are more than capable if this is what you’re after). Shrouded in myth, mystery and legend, Greece is a place to ignite your family’s imagination.
From historical adventures in timeless cities to quality time spent relaxing on picturesque beaches, this luxury family trip to Greece really has something for everyone. And we mean everyone. In Athens, head out an interactive family tour of the world-famous Acropolis, discovering its history from a mythological perspective. In Crete, enjoy lunch in a traditional tavern up on the mountains, with delicious dishes baked in the wood-oven by Grandma Niki. In Mykonos, relax and unwind on stunning beaches and swim in the clearest waters.
If we had to pick just one family-friendly favourite Greek hotel, the sleek and sophisticated Domes of Elounda in Crete takes the crown. As well as its beautiful, earthen-toned rooms, all opening onto private pools or jacuzzis, the hotel pulls out all the stops for its younger guests. And not just through tailored menus and dedicated facilities, but through thoughtfully curated experiences, too. We loved spending time at the KiEpos Greek Garden, where children are invited to plant and cultivate produce, learning lessons of sustainability and healthy eating as they go. Each plant is labelled with your child’s name, meaning that even after your stay, their journey continues with regular updates sent on how their crop is growing.
The best family vacations in Italy
When you imagine the best family vacations in Italy, what springs to mind? For us, it’s hands-on afternoons at gladiator school, cycling leisurely through Florence, and unwinding under twisted olive trees in Puglian paradise. And a bunch of other things, too. Italy makes for a charming family vacation, and it’s infinitely tailorable.
This Italian itinerary brings Italy to life for both the little and not-so-little ones. Taking in the beauty of Florence, before heading down to the icons of Rome and finishing up in the sun-drenched bliss of Puglia, you’ll get a real taste of Italy – from Roman gladiators and pizza making-masterclasses to vintage Vespas.
But that’s not all Italy holds for traveling families. When you come with us, Italy’s not about dreary on-mass tours of signature sights, filled with frustrated “when can we get an ice cream?”’s. Instead, it’s learning to make fresh gelato from scratch in your family’s favourite flavours in Rome. It’s mornings spent with Renzo Buttazzo in his Puglian atelier, learning to carve and sculpt beautiful forms from Pietra Leccese stone. It’s an introduction from the Sardinians to the links between local life and long, happy life in this ‘blue zone’ region – where residents live much longer than the average. It’s visiting the Lamborghini factory in Bologna, and taking one of its models for a spin in their museum’s driving simulator.
When it comes to where to stay, Puglia’s Borgo Egnazia is our favourite family-friendly Italian hotel pick. This stone-carved haven, modelled on a traditional Puglian village, is undeniably luxurious – where you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to refined rooms, rustic suites or magnificent villas. Its four outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, reading rooms, and beach club mean you’ll never be short of choice for how to spend your afternoons here. With service that leaves nothing unthought-of (a specialist childcare team are on hand to keep the kids occupied) feel free to slink off to the serenity of the spa, tee off at the San Domenico Golf Course, or simply unwind under the shade of fragrant olive trees.
Iceland family vacations
A guide to Europe family vacations would most certainly be incomplete without a mention of Iceland. It’s practically synonymous with adventure – and with making memories together as a family on a whole host of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
From land to sea, this family trip through south Iceland is jam-packed full of adventure – from fluorescent glaciers and temperamental volcanoes to thundering waterfalls and geothermal geysers. Sail out to sea to experience the whale watching capital of Northern Europe, visit Thórsmörk nature reserve where you’ll travel in between glaciers to reveal rivers and valleys surrounded by breath-taking canyons and rock formations, and strap on your crampons, grab your ice picks and head for a vertical climb straight up Sólheimajökull glacier tongue. There’s also the chance to give one of our Field Trip classes a go – snorkeling in the rift between two continental tectonic plates at Silfra Fissure.
A journey like one this works best for older families looking for adventurous group bonding. There’s also this classic Icelandic family odyssey, too, for budding explorers of all ages – with freshly flipped pancakes and warming hot chocolate next to Lake Kleifarvatn, Iceland’s largest lake, and lift trips 120 metres beneath the surface of the earth into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. But as with all our trips, your Iceland family vacation will be completely tailored to your family’s interests and needs – and if there’s something you have in mind, our Travel Experts can make it happen.
If you’re staying anywhere on your Iceland family vacation, make sure it’s the Retreat at Blue Lagoon, on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Designed precisely to show off the surrounding scenery, it does exactly that. Wall to wall glass overlooks moss-covered horizons, broken up by lava trails, dotted with hot springs and blazed over by the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. It’s magic. The hotel is built around the geothermal pools of the lagoon, so the wellness facilities here are, of course, next level. The subterranean spa offers a host of incredible treatments – and in a peaceful corner of the Lagoon, warmed by the calming waters, the whole family will feel a whole new kind of relaxation.
The best family vacations in Croatia
Nothing says family escape like the glistening waters of the Adriatic, paired with the beaming summer sunshine. The best time to visit Croatia is between May and October – aligning perfectly with the school holidays if you’ve got the kids to consider.
On this endlessly luxurious family trip, you’ll begin with a spot of island hopping, history and local cuisine in Croatia, before retreating to the untouched beauty of Boka Bay in Montenegro. First things first, step back to medieval times in Sinj as you encounter the knightly tournament of Sinjska Alka – a celebration of victory over the Ottomans and an experience unique to the region and cherished fiercely by locals. Then, enjoy a spot of private sailing between Croatia’s beautiful islands, before heading out to Zrnovo – one of the oldest settlements on the island– to meet the charming Marovic family in a visit to their unique eco-farm. We’ll also organise a private walking tour through the cobbled Old Town streets of Dubrovnik and along the iconic ramparts that ring the city, before whisking you off to your final stop across the border in Montenegro.
The best family vacations in Croatia and Montenegro all include a stay at the One&Only Portonovi in Montenegro’s Boka Bay – where forested hillsides and stranded beaches flow into mirrored waters. Full of stylish spaces and beautiful views – with a vibe of colonial clubhouse meets coastal contemporary – they know that each guest is different here, and that indulgence means something different to everyone. So whether you’re in the mood for contemporary dining to live DJ beats at Tapasake or a quiet, secluded toes-in-the-sand dinner for the whole family, you’ll come away from a stay here with everything you all needed. And more.
Looking for somewhere different?
We’ve written another guide to the best family vacations just like this one, but in the US this time – from California to Alaska and Oregon.
Finland travel ideas for families
Whether it’s meeting Father Christmas, sleigh rides, visiting storybook towns, witnessing the Northern Lights, or heading out on an Arctic safari, we’ve got a fair few Finland travel ideas for families. Really, it’s the ultimate winter wonderland where the whole family can relax and enjoy the magic.
Some of the best family vacations in Europe occur when huskies, reindeer and the Northern Lights are involved. Just like they are on this trip to Finnish Lapland. From a spa experience like no other, relaxing in an outdoor jacuzzi amongst the trees and ice-swimming in the lake in Metsäkyly Forest, to riding out on your very own snowmobiles into the magic of snowy surrounds – you’ll also visit Father Christmas’ workshop in Santa Claus Village and meet some of his most trusted helpers on a local reindeer farm. Head out for a magical evening of Aurora Borealis hunting from a reindeer-pulled sleigh, before spending the next few days discovering Helsinki’s flourishing food scene as well as its cultural side with a day at Suomenlinna fortress, for a spot of history. This is a trip to enchant and delight the whole family – and it’s not one to be missed.
Octola is a place where the whole family can really leave the everyday behind and enjoy totally spellbinding natural surroundings – namely, the lush snow coated forests that dapple the property’s three-hundred-hectare private landscape. As well as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking and mushroom foraging, amongst other things (all accompanied by your own private wilderness guide) – we especially love the miniature snowmobiles available for the little ones to explore on. It’s unusual to experience such remoteness and peaceful seclusion, whilst still having impeccable private service and every comfort right at your fingertips. But that’s just what you’ll find here.
Switzerland family vacations
Switzerland family vacations are ideal for families who love getting into the great outdoors and exploring in nature together – especially in the summer months when the hiking opportunities around Switzerland’s idyllic lakes and hillsides are at their very best.
This Swiss family escape is packed with highlights – ones designed especially for outdoorsy families who love to explore and try new things. You’ll jump in the iconic Hammetschwand Lift and descend the 1,132 metres down to the lakeside for a stroll through the Old Town of Lucerne, and visit Stadtkeller, where an evening of traditional Swiss entertainment – from yodelling to Alpine horn blowing and flag spinning – awaits. One day, you’ll climb Mount Rigi. With sweeping views across the entire Swiss Mittelland and onto Germany and France, the kids will feel on top of the world. The next, you’ll explore Jungfraujoch as you board the iconic cogwheel train at the village of Grindelwald and head on up to Europe’s highest railway station. There’s also a visit to picture-perfect Chillon Castle where, alongside a private guide, you’ll discover this island castle and descend deep into its dungeons before jumping in a boat and sailing across the water to Vevey for a beautiful candlelit dinner. In Broc, home to the Cailler chocolate factory, the children’s eyes will light up as they unlock the secrets behind chocolate making before getting a taste themselves. It’s an indulgent, fast-paced trip. And different from the usual European summer vacation, that’s for sure.
The Bürgenstock Hotel in Lucerne is the place to be on all Switzerland family vacations. Offering a totally immersive wellness experience in the Alps, the family will love the infinity edge spa pool, looking out across the lakes and mountain beyond, as well as the treatments inspired by Alpine nature the spa offers. Inside the hotel – itself an architectural wonder – floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer panoramic, unobstructed views of the Alps in its 102 rooms. Its very own restaurant also hangs over Lake Lucerne, with stunning views over the water below. There’s nothing not to love in this Alpine gem.
Family vacations in the UK
When it comes to Europe family vacations, the UK and Ireland are at times overlooked. But we’re huge fans, and we’ll tell you here exactly why. There’s so much history and heritage throughout its nations – in both iconic, sprawling cities and utterly beautiful green countryside, giving way to countless adventures our family travelers love.
First things first, one of our favourite British family adventures. Take Me on a Story is your family’s chance to follow in the footsteps of your favourite storybook characters – this time, those of Alice in Wonderland. On five-night journey through rural Oxfordshire inspired by the Lewis Carroll classic tale, you’ll head down the rabbit hole together. Staying at the undeniably luxurious Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a boat trip along the River Thames where the author first saw the rabbit disappear. Follow it through the countryside and find yourselves in the heart of Wonderland. We’ll also arrange for you to visit Catherina Eden’s atelier where the kids will receive a bespoke made-to-measure costume to take home – to really get into character. Compete on the croquet field under the Queen of Hearts’ watchful gaze, embark on an immersive treasure hunt to help Alice find her way home, and enjoy your very own Mad Hatter’s tea party along the way.
The UK is also home to several of our Field Trip classes – fascinating, hands-on educational encounters around the world crafted especially for families. In Ireland, explore James Joyce’s Dublin. From your guide, who lived and survived through these years, you’ll gain a unique understanding of the history and politics that led to ‘the troubles’ and an insight into how landscapes and places can be ‘read’ and interpreted as documents of history.
In England’s capital of London, immerse yourselves in the top-secret rooms where Churchill and his war cabinet made history and determined the future of Britain during World War II, on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, led by its director – accessing exclusive areas of the museum seldom open to its usual visitors. This is a British history masterclass with a twist.
In Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, dig deep to find your competitive sides and host your very own family Highland Games. Historically, the country’s clans would gather in their masses to compete in events such as the caber toss and ‘weight throw’, all accompanied by the music of pipe bands and jigging dancers. Now, it’s your turn.
The possibilities for family vacations in the UK are virtually limitless. And with a vast offering of fabulously high-end hotels to match, you’ll return home longing for more.
Family trips to Norway
Norse mythology, channelling your inner Viking, and adventure and exploration in the most beautiful surroundings are just some of what you’ll find on family trips to Norway – which happen to be some of the best family vacations in Europe, if you ask us.
Adventures through the Lofoten Islands are the pinnacle of family trips to Norway. Beginning very much off-grid, you’ll pick up your paddles and explore Reine’s world-famous fjords by sea kayak. Lacing up your boots, you’ll also hike to the summit of Reinebringen Mountain for incredible views of the fjords and Lofoten Wall (trust us, it’s well worth the sweat). You’ll zoom off in your own private speedboat to Refsvikhula Cave, adorned with 4,000 year-old cave paintings, and ‘Bird Mountain,’ where thousands of birds reside – from Puffins to Sea Eagles. In Borg, you’ll discover if you have what it takes to make it as a Viking, with rowing 78-foot longboats, archery and axe throwing – before replenishing your strength with a deliciously authentic Viking dinner. The ultimate end to your adventures, you’ll snorkel in the crystal-clear marine paradise of Resshola cave. And that’s only half the things your Norwegian trip might hold in store.
When it comes to where to stay, Manshausen is the perfect place from which to experience the Norwegian wilderness together as a family. A 55-acre island, it’s something of a special world of its own. Seven stunning glass cabins, where you’ll stay, line it – offering breath-taking views of incredible mountains and deep-blue waters out of their floor-to-ceiling, fjord-facing glass windows. Days spent hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock-climbing and swimming here give way to evenings spent soaking in the sea-water hot tub and watching the midnight sun paint the skies in magnificent hues. There’s no doubt you’ll return home with many a tale of family adventure to tell.
Family vacations in Denmark
Taking your family on a vacation to Denmark is always a good idea. In this impeccably fashionable corner of the world, experience the best of both worlds – as chic-cities and magical islands await.
On this fairytale Scandinavian adventure that stops off in Denmark, we’ll show you why the Danish are the happiest people on earth, all whilst you stay in one of the most magical hotels we know: the fairy-tale countryside castle, Kokkedal. Home to one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, we’ll take you to see North Sealand – more affectionately known as the Danish Riviera – where you’ll visit the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kronborg Castle. Head to the stylish capital of Copenhagen to try exquisite cuisine and gaze at the superb architecture, including the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Explore the trendy Norrebro district, a vibrant multicultural area littered with cool cafés and design shops – of course, your guide will show the best of the local boutiques for a taste of Scandinavian cool. Bask in the rugged beauty of the Faroe Islands, where you can stop at Gásadalur – or Goose Valley – to capture the perfect views of these magical islands then stay at the beautiful. Explore this untouched archipelago, flying through the skies by private helicopter before visiting the village of Gjógv for a glimpse into rural Faroese life.
But whatever suits your family on your Danish adventures, we’ll make sure it’s a memorable trip you’ll all remember fondly together for years to come.