Europe is a relatively small continent, but it’s packed with fascinating and amazing places to visit. You could spend every holiday for the next ten years in any one European country and still not see everything it has to offer.
Taking a holiday with your family to Europe is a significant commitment of time and money, so you want the experience to be the best for all the family members, youngest to oldest. Choosing the place to go will be a challenge, not because you’ll be short of choices, but because there are so many fantastic places to choose from!
To help you decide on the best place to go and how to organise a trip everyone will love, you need to spend some time thinking and planning for your great European adventure.
What do the kids want to do?
There are two factors to consider when it comes to the desires of your kids. First, their age, and second, their interests. You need to look for a destination that has activities and places of interest for children of the same age, plus bear in mind the suitability of a location from a safety point of view. A clifftop rental with views across the bay and an open-air swimming pool might sound idyllic, but if you have young kids, you’ll be worrying the whole time about making sure they don’t step off the cliff or fall into the pool.
Somewhere like Disneyland Paris probably sounds like a no-brainer, and there are many advantages to such a plan. You won’t be short of entertainment, that’s for sure, and you’ll still be able to spend time exploring Paris and the surrounding area if you can drag the kids away from the park now and then. You do need to be sure that all your kids will enjoy the experience though, and you as well, otherwise it won’t be much of a break for those who aren’t as enthusiastic.
One way of accommodating everyone’s desires is to come up with an itinerary that includes lots of different activities, so everyone gets a chance to do their favourite, or go where they most want to go. Look for a location that’s within easy travelling distance of a variety of landscapes and sources of entertainment, so you have:
- Culture, shopping, theatre, and nightlife in the big city
- The tranquillity and beauty of the countryside
- Access to wildlife and nature
- Opportunities for sports and recreational pursuits
- Access to the sea, rivers, and lakes
- Special events such as concerts, fairs, and exhibitions
By being close to a variety of different sources of entertainment, everyone can choose an activity they’d most like to do, and no-one feels left out.
Another great idea for family trips in Europe is to have a themed vacation:
· Sun and sand
Holidays on the coast are ideal for families, as they offer a range of ways to spend your time together without having to do the same thing. Your teenager can lay on the beach soaking up the sun (safely of course!), you can relax and read a book or do some puzzles, and the more active members of the family can play in the waves, build sand castles, collect seashells, look for fossils, go snorkeling, explore rock pools, and search for wildlife under rocks.
The south coast of England is perfect for all these activities, having spectacular sandy beaches at Bournemouth and Poole, and the Jurassic Coastline further west for fossil and wildlife enthusiasts.
There are many beautiful Mediterranean beaches in Europe, from Portugal, along the coast through Spain, the South of France, Italy, Greece, and the Baltic countries. An ideal family holiday idea is to rent a villa in Majorca, from where you can enjoy the sun and sand of the Majorcan beaches, explore the fascinating history of the area, or take a tour around the other Balearic Islands.
Europe is rich with history, and much of it has great relevance for families. Mainland Europe has many museums, monuments, and of course the war graves from the First and Second World Wars. Many people across the world have relatives who perished in the wars, and as the time passes and kids grow up without knowing anyone who lived through that time, being able to see the historical records and get close to the reality of war is vital. War tours are both educational and character-building for children, and in Europe, there’s no shortage of opportunities to see at first hand what the wars were like. If you know you have relatives buried in Europe, it can help you choose where to stay, so you can visit the grave and the site of the battle where they died.
Going further back in time, many Americans can trace their ancestors back to the European settlers who founded the country in the 17th century. If you can trace your family tree back to the Pilgrim Fathers, you’re akin to royalty! Settlers from many countries landed in America in those early years, and then there was another influx of Europeans at the end of the 19th century, so places like Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK are prime places for researching your family tree. Genealogy isn’t a dry and dusty pursuit; it’s now an active and fascinating way to find out about how you came to be and get in touch with your roots. Family history projects create lots of fun activities as well as learning opportunities for the kids, so they’ll be delighted to take part in the ancestral treasure hunt.
Your holiday in Europe has so many possibilities, both for having fun, relaxing, and finding out more about the past and the world around you. The only problem is that you need to start planning now because you’ve got a lot of research to do to help you decide where to go! On the other hand, you could just stick a pin in a map of Europe completely at random – you’re sure to have an amazing time wherever you go!
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