Thinking of holiday destinations that will please both you and the kids can be difficult. Here are five great holiday options you that you might not have thought of…
History boffins will know Elba as the island to which French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814, most others will have never heard of it.
For those in the latter category, Elba is an Italian-owned paradise 20km east off the coast of Tuscany. And don’t be thinking Alcatraz, this isn’t a prison… and you’ll never want to leave.
But what is there for the kids?
Firstly, the cycling. The routes through forestland are nicely shaded and wonderfully varied. And don’t worry, whilst Elba is popular with serious and professional road cyclists, you can avoid the relentless, undulating miles of tarmac and head for the dirt routes.
There are a whopping 130 beaches hugging Elba’s coastline and the clear blue seas and soft white sands make it a snorkeler’s paradise. The campsites are well facilitated, clean and the people are friendly, but be aware of early morning tent temperatures – they’re not conducive to a lie in.
Safaris in Europe are of the ice adventure kind, particularly up in the northern reaches of Scandinavia. Rug up and keep warm sailing, kiting, dog sledding or hiking through Poland, Greenland, or Norway – there are plenty of packages to shop around for.
In the Arctic, marine animals like seals, whales and dolphins are plentiful, as are musk-ox, reindeer or even polar bear.
But this is one safari where the animals cannot steel the limelight…
The Northern Lights are one of nature’s great displays: a mysterious, multi-coloured show in which the night sky is suddenly lit up with an astonishing glow that twists and swirls – apparently a bit like a lava lamp!
“One for the bucket list” is a popular hyperbole nowadays but this really is “one for the bucket list”. Perhaps the lava lamp metaphor needs rethinking? Especially given that most lava lamps have been sat dormant since 1976.
Over 14m people visited Disneyland Paris last summer making it the most popular theme park in Europe. Apart from the obvious allure of the Disney brand and a collection of high-octane roller-coasters, there are other reasons this is a smart family trip.
Firstly, it is ridiculously easy to get to: Trains now go every hour from St Pancras International.
And accommodation is a doddle. If you don’t fancy the train back that very evening, then stay in one of the seven themed-hotels.
In terms of the park itself, smaller children are happy enough to mingle with Minnie, Mickey and Minion(s) and older kids have a glut of white knuckle rides to pick from including Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain (they like their mountains in France).
Lough Key Forest Park, Ireland
Lough Key Forest Park is 800 hectares of jaw-dropping Irish countryside. Situated on the south side of Lough Key in County Roscommon, this really is a brilliant camping spot.
The Forest Park contains a hodgepodge of attractions, most of which possess enough intrigue and rareness to keep the kids happy. These include the Ice House, Gazebo, Ruined Church, Stables, the Bog Gardens, Wishing Chair, the Fairy Bridge, Drummans Bridge and the Deer Paddock.
The park’s main estate, Rockingham House, was burned down in a fire started by an electrical fault in 1957, in its place stands Moylurg viewing tower. Here is the cool part: the servant’s tunnels still exist with one entrance near the tower. Underground tunnelling networks! Kids! They’re going to love it.
City, surf and trekking in Morocco
Once the go-to country for boho escapism, Morocco is now a superb family holiday destination. Just 3.5 hours by plane from the UK and serviced by budget airlines, the country boasts stunning mountain ranges, imperial cities with bustling souks and a coastline that is perfect for water sports.
The Atlas Mountains, home to North Africa’s highest summit, are home to winding trails, sleepy Berber villages and breathtaking views. Trekking in these unspoilt parts is rewarding and whilst it is challenging, there is no reason why children can’t enjoy it as much as adults (FYI if it is too tiring, you can always hire a mule!).
Crumbling palaces, peaceful gardens and buzzing market squares make the populous urban areas intriguing and you’ll get your fill of snake-charmers, food stalls and general bustle. The smells, sounds and sights capture the imagination, whatever your age.