The best countries in Europe for a family vacation

FranceGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

I love  receiving emails from readers.  It’s a great way to know that my blog helps you find gorgeous holiday.  The other day, one of my US readers, asked for baby friendly European destinations for this summer.  I responded with some suggestions and advice and that got her very excited and happy.

Trousse chemise, Ile de Re, VIA From the Poolside blog on boutique hotels and stylish rentals for family holidays

 

So I thought it could help others who are based outside of Europe and wonder how welcoming some of our fellow countries will be to their little one.

Here are the countries where we’ve been with Mademoiselle and had a nice welcome and an easy time in the summer.

Family-friendly countries in Europe

France

France is very friendly with babies and in most restaurants, you’ll be able to get a high chair and help with heating up your daughter’s food or bottle.

The regions that I recommend are the ones where I like to go on holiday with my family and they are in the West of France.  The south of France (Mediterranee, Cote d’Azur) is lovely but VERY busy during the summer months.

La Flotte harbour, Ile de Re, VIA From the Poolside blog on boutique hotels and stylish rentals for family holidays

For family-friendly areas, by the sea, I’d recommend

  • Vendée (where I’m from) and in particular the island of Noirmoutier there. It is a pretty island, not yet too touristy. I spent many childhood holidays there. You can see a selection of hotels in this post.
  • Ile de Ré is very family-oriented but more expensive than Noirmoutier.  This is where a lot of Parisians come to. Still, a charming place to discover and some areas are cheaper than others. Some tips about hotels and houses here.
  • Biarritz and the Basque country as well as Les Landes: beautiful beaches and mountains, be careful with the sea though and make sure to only swim where it’s monitored.  This hotel couldn’t be more child-friendly given that it’s a former summer camp!
  • Arcachon and its area is nice too: a reader of mine booked a house there after finding it here. Her blog post gives a good idea of what to expect there:
  • Cap Ferret is just opposite Arcachon and lovely but again a bit expensive.  You could always stay around Arcachon and do a day trip to Cap Ferret.
  • Languedoc: this is getting you closer to the Mediterranean beaches.  A lovely way to approach the south of France. It could be worth looking into a place like Chateau les Carrasses.  They do self-catering with hotel services and the region is near the “Canal du Midi” which is very characteristic.  We stayed there on their opening year.  They also now have a new place called Chateau Serjac.

Then of course, if beaches are not essential, you can’t go wrong with Provence!

Italy

Everybody will tell you that Italy is very very kid-friendly.  We had a lovely stay in Venice and people couldn’t be kinder to Mademoiselle.

Country House Villadorata in Sicily, Italy.

Only caveat is that again, the whole country is a bit pricey, especially in the summer.  In terms of regions, I would recommend exploring

  • Umbria: there are in particular some cute B&Bs and nice houses to rent.
  • Sicily: lots of culture, beaches and a choice of accommodations for all budgets.
  • Puglia is supposed to be lovely too but might be too hot in the summer for little ones.

Spain

Great family-friendly place too.  In terms of areas:

  • Andalucia: it can get quite hot in the summer but the cities of Cordoba and Sevilla are just splendid.  See this post for some ideas of affordable accommodations.
  • Catalunia: last summer we were on the Catalunia coast near Tamariu and Begur.  Lovely, very family-friendly, affordable options for food, accommodations etc but VERY busy in August.
  • Mallorca: a favourite destinations for a lot of families in the UK.  You can either go high end luxury or big resorts.  I would advise going in July as August is very busy again.  My brother and his wife stayed in this lovely hotel.  There are also lots of houses to rent.  Finally, Minorca, is a smaller balearic island so less busy (relatively).
  • Bilbao: back on the Atlantic coast and the Spanish basque country.  Great for foodies as there are several Michelin restaurants.  You also have the Guggenheim and some relaxed places to stay.

Portugal

The Algarve is an area very well known for family holidays, especially if you like being on the Atlantic ocean. This is great for older children who can have much fun in the waves.

Comporta is a beach favourite for many Portuguese people as well.

Casas do Coro, Portugal. Hotel and self-catering.

I have listed several houses or hotels in the country.  I’ve only been to Lisbon myself but certainly the range of new hotels opening is appealing.

Greece

This is my personal favourite. You could just rent a nice house in one of the islands and do nothing but enjoy the sun and the heat. Again, very nice people who love kids.  Everywhere you go, they’ll be welcome.  On the plus side, you are guaranteed nice weather, lovely hues of blue and white and good food at very decent prices.

Villa Fabrica, Santorini, Greece, luxury villa to rent, From the Poolside blog on boutique hotels and stylish rentals for family holidays

There are a lot of ideas about Greece on the blog: from simple B&Bs, to design houses to rent, to relaxing hotels.  Take your pick!

More resources for family-friendly travel advice in Europe

From the Poolside resources

In addition to the various hotels and villas that I linked to in the countries explanation above, you can do some further research by either

Useful blogs and websites

The following blogs and sites will also give you a good insight into European travels with a family:

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