The UK’s favourite family holiday continent is unrivalled for range, quality and convenience.
There are astonishing cities like Prague and Budapest, marvellous Mediterranean coastlines with year-round sunshine and an endless variety of outdoor activities, historic sights, outstanding museums and world-class excitement.
Most UK airports have regular flights to Europe and several countries are as easy to reach by sea as air.
Almost everywhere works well for kids and there are even some places where parents are side lined in favour of younger family members.
So where to go on the continent we think we know, but never fails to surprise?
Teenagers love Austria‘s capital Vienna for the best vintage markets in the world, chocolate with everything, dancing horses and ice skating all round the city all winter. Austrian Tyrol is now one of the best value ski destinations in Europe, has the earliest snow and the most Christmassy, family resorts – the area’s packed with spring and summer activities too. And, if you really want lit-up kid’s faces and magical memories, head for Salzburg in December and just stand back and watch.Take me to Austria
For the past few years Croatia’s offered some of the best value holidays in Europe. The country didn’t stand a chance against an invasion of kids after Dubrovnik became the go-to location for Game of Thrones. But beyond the stand in for King’s Landing, you’ll find white pebble beaches on the Makarska Riviera, gorgeous Adriatic islands and cities like historic Split, where the centre’s built into an Ancient Roman palace. But surprisingly, Croatia is still uncrowded, easy-going and as wonderful for toddlers as it is for teenagers.Take me to Croatia
France has everything for family holidays, from year round Riviera sunshine to Alpine skiing in winter, accessible wilderness landscapes, Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches and some of the world’s most legendary cities. It also keeps a different school calendar from the UK which makes it a good choice for inexpensive mid-term breaks. And, the French love cycling, camping, walking, climbing and sailing. So their home country is difficult to better when it comes to safe, comfortable and well-managed outdoor adventure, whether you’re on the coast of Brittany or in the magnificent Pyrenees.Take me to France
The islands of Greece are outstanding: warm and welcoming to children, easy-going, fascinating and with some of the world’s loveliest beaches, for good measure. Many of the larger islands also have their own airports so don’t involve long ferry journeys. But Greece isn’t limited to remote holiday options. Visit Athens for the Acropolis and, you have the gorgeous Balcánica Peninsula to the east and the Peloponnese, a doable drive west. So amazing your kids with ancient history and giving them a beach break is easily done, even in the busier parts of Greece.Take me to Greece
Germany is an enormous country with unlimited family holiday potential. Berlin has children’s festivals all summer, actively encourages young visitors at events like Lollapalooza and has turned an entire airfield into a giant, family-friendly playground (kids can skateboard down the immense runway at Tempelhof). Children enjoy spa breaks in the Black Forest, ski all over Bavaria, stargaze in Saxony and cruise down the Rhine. Don’t forget this is the land of the Brothers Grimm, so myths and legends are everywhere. And when you want to mix it up a little, you’ll even find Munich’s Oktoberfest is great fun for families.Take me to Germany
With direct flights all year round from the UK to Reykjavik, Iceland has transformed into one of Europe’s easiest countries for short breaks. The island of volcanos, glaciers, lagoons, geothermal lakes, mountains, waterfalls and charming cities, is an unforgettable experience for kids. And Icelanders believe: if children are old enough to walk, they’re the right age to enjoy their unique and rugged homeland. So you won’t find any shortage of learning opportunities mixed in with the fun here.Take me to Iceland
Visit Rome with kids and seeing the eternal city through their eyes is astonishing. The same can be said of Florence and no child fails to be enchanted by Venice. Italy is astounding from end to end, whether you’re skiing in the Dolomites or discovering the Amalfi Coast, braving Umbria and Tuscany in high summer or taking a quick spring break by the Italian Lakes. And there are few places, even on the Mediterranean, where children are more adored, spoiled and generally indulged than they are in this warm and passionate country.Take me to Italy
Every April, kids in Amsterdam are allowed to turn Vondelpark (the largest park in the city centre) into their own used toy market. It’s one the highlights of the annual King’s Day celebrations and just a hint at The Netherland’s tolerant, child-friendly nature. It’s a country of fairy tale windmills and magical theme parks, flat roads for bike trips and canals to drift down, wonderful southern beaches where kids can run wild and cities with squares named after Miffy the rabbit. Visit at Easter for the tulips and treasure hunts, go in summer and enjoy the sun or spend Christmas in Amsterdam and buy a tree from the world’s only floating flower market.Take me to Netherlands
Portugal goes far beyond the stunning Algarve to tempt families. The dramatic west coast is trimmed with stunning beach resorts, seaside towns that seem more Venetian than Portuguese and World Heritage masterpieces like Porto and Sintra. Lisbon is a natural romantic but from the mighty Torre de Belem to mountainous city parks, cycle routes to the sea, colourful festivals and marvellous customs, it works beautifully for kids too. And down in the south, the Algarve can still amaze even the most well-travelled families. If that seems unlikely, take the kids exploring for a few days in the region’s Sudoeste Alentejano National Park.Take me to Portugal
Away from the famous Costas, Spain has too many holiday options to fit into one childhood. Consider the rugged and mysterious north coast for Basque tradition, fantastic family feria, otherworldly Galicia and the thrill of Santiago de Compostela at Easter. Madrid’s in the centre, of course, but trimmed by La Mancha, amazing Toledo and a fast train journey from Valencia – wonderful in its own right or as a gateway to the Balearics. And from the Costa de la Luz to the Costa Brava, fabulous beaches are well paired with child-friendly cities like Seville, Valencia, Cadiz, Granada and remarkable Barcelona.Take me to Spain