12 excellent places for a family holiday abroad this year

best family holidays in europe
The best family holidays in EuropePIKSEL

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly city break destination with junior culture vultures or a classic Mediterranean beach holiday – perhaps with a kids’ club where your offspring can make new friends while you’re sneaking in a little pampering at the spa – you'll want to have a browse of our handpicked best family holidays in Europe for 2024.

From weekends away with kids to longer beach getaways, like Portugal family holidays, our ideas ensure both the children and adults will have fun on your getaway abroad.

Just a short flight, train journey, ferry ride and/or drive from the UK, Europe is packed with fantastic regions to explore with children, from scenic beach spots such as Brittany and the Algarve to thrilling cities including Naples and Valletta.

Providing you with terrific alternatives to the best UK holidays for families, especially if you've had your fix of staycations and are itching to explore somewhere a little further afield, these family holidays in Europe cover the best of the continent.

Families who love getting active and trying out new challenges in the great outdoors may want to check out Languedoc-Roussillon with its mountain-biking and day-long canoe trips up the Hérault River.

History lovers can relive gory ancient events in the Greek islands or romp around Roman ruins in Croatia. And for all-round fun, Tenerife is always hard to beat, with its funky hotels, the world’s best water park and a cable-car to the top of its volcano. Don't miss a browse of our favourite Lanzarote hotels either, if you're after affordable sunshine and a host of family-friendly places to stay.

So without further ado, these are the best family holidays in Europe for your next 2024 escape.

Languedoc-Roussillon, France

This historic region extending from Provence to the Pyrénées offers the blissful warmth of the Med without the prices or crowds of the South of France. It’s a place for adventures galore in the great outdoors, amidst a gorgeously rugged landscape of rivers, lakes, canals and beaches: kayaking, mountain-biking and horse-riding are just a few of your options.

One of the best days out is a canoe trip down the Hérault, experiencing mini-rapids, jumping off rocks, hunting crayfish, swimming and picnicking on the river bank.

Where to stay: Child- and dog-friendly, Château St Pierre de Serjac is set in the countryside about 30 minutes inland, and is perfect for families. It offers stylish self-catering properties in the original wine-estate outbuildings, some with pools.

Some sleep up to 10, making this ideal for large family reunions. There’s an outdoor heated pool, boules, a tennis court, running and biking trails, and even a kids’ club and a spa.


best family holidays europe
Fabien Astre

Naples and Campania, Italy

Chaotic, beautifully rough around the edges and endlessly thrilling, Naples is a brilliant place for a city break with older kids and teens. The food is outstanding everywhere (it is the birthplace of pizza, after all) and the sights are fascinating, from the ancient catacombs to the crater of mighty Vesuvius (to which you can hike or take a bus).

Combine a city break in Naples – including educational jaunts by train to the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum – with a beach break on one of the islands in the Bay of Naples (Procida is a tranquil haven) and you have all the making of a perfect family holiday.

Where to stay: In the heart of the city, with its best pizzerias and museums right on your doorstep, the Palazzo d’Auria Aparthotel offers seven light-floored suites in a stunning 1500s building.

All have a well-equipped kitchen, and there’s a concierge service on hand to organise museum discounts, boat-trip bookings, restaurant reservations and more.


best family holidays europe
Sebastian Condrea

Algarve, Portugal

Less than three hours’ flight time from the UK, the southernmost sliver of Portugal is a family holiday classic for its balmy weather, many Blue Flag beaches, water parks and fun attractions – a mixture that makes it perfect for all ages from tots to teens.

The south coast beaches are fabulous for inflatable rides, canoeing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing and jet-skiing, while the Atlantic beaches have a wilder charm, and are great for rock-pooling and surfing.

Where to stay: The luxurious Pine Cliffs Resort is a family favourite for its flexible accommodation options, that include multi-bedroomed suites, apartments and villas that are ideal for multi-generational holidays.

There are also multiple pools at the resort, one of the largest kids’ clubs in all Europe, golf and tennis academies, family cookery workshops and superb wellness facilities.


best family holidays europe

Crete, Greece

The largest Greek island is also the cradle of early Mediterranean civilisation, meaning that along with its fantastic beaches and other natural and ancient wonders, you can wander amid a historic wonderland of Minoan palaces, Byzantine churches, Venetian castles and Turkish mosques.

Knossos (the Palace of Minos) is a must: it’s here at Crete’s most important ancient palace that Theseus is said to have trapped and killed the Minotaur in the maze.

Where to stay: Charmingly situated in Rethymnon Old Town just a few steps from the Venetian Harbour and a sandy beach, the boutique Mythos Suites Hotel has a more authentic feel than many of Crete’s larger seaside resorts.

Housed in a 16th-century Venetian building wrapped around a gem of a courtyard pool, it includes suites that can sleep up to four.


best family holidays in europe
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There’s something for everyone in the sun-drenched Maltese islands, from Roman ruins, medieval castles, walled cities and dramatic forts (some hosting exciting historic reenactments featuring the likes of the Knights Templar) to outdoors activities including hiking, mountain-biking, horse-riding and boat trips.

And the beaches are great too, with many hidden away off the beaten track, just waiting to be discovered.

Where to stay: In the heart of the history-soaked Maltese capital Valletta, the boutique Palais Le Brun blends historic character (it occupies a 17th-century Baroque palace) with modern luxuries including a sparkling rooftop pool.

The great-value family suites are spread over two levels and include a separate lounge area, espresso machines and flat-screen TVs.


best family holidays in europe
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Tenerife, Spain

The largest of the Canary Islands retains its longtime popularity for good reason – away from the over-developed spots, you’ll find not only incredible beaches but also tonnes of other attractions. Some of our top picks include Mount Teide, Spain's highest peak, with cable-car rides up to its volcanic heights, and Siam Park, which is consistently named the best water park in the entire world in the TripAdvisor Readers’ Choice awards.

The dolphin- and whale-watching here is particularly spectacular, too, while those who love cycling will find great routes and facilities galore.

Where to stay: The music-inspired Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife oozes fun, with a beach club, a kids’ club for junior ‘Roxtars’, the Teen Spirit space, three swimming pools and a saltwater lagoon.

There’s also a spa and, as you’d expect, endless activities to keep the whole family entertained.


best family holidays in europe
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Kalamata, Greece

Greece is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Europe, so you can rest assured that even some of the lesser-known locations have all you need for a successful holiday. Kalamata is one such place, a bustling city on the Peloponnese peninsula that boasts calm waters, culture and plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

Food-loving families will love enjoying Kalamata's world-famous olives in situ and discovering the delicious local cuisine in one of the many tavernas and restaurants dotted throughout the city. For a day out, head to the ancient city of Pharai to see the castle and far-reaching views, while more adventurous types should consider a trek through the Taygetos Mountains or sea kayaking experience.

Where to stay: If you make Messini Beach Club your base, you'll have all the fun of Kalamata within easy driving distance while still being able to relax in the embrace of an all-inclusive resort. There's a long, sandy beach that little ones will love, plus a children's pool, play area, giant chess board, bicycles, crèche and tonnes of activities. While for adults, there are all manner of water sports plus a spa for R&R.


best family holidays europe
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Brittany, France

For a blast of Atlantic sea air just a short ferry hop from the UK, this much-loved region of France can’t be beaten. The French version of Cornwall shares a Celtic heritage with parts of Britain – a fact visible in its many ancient sites – a rocky coastline dotted with fabulous beaches and picture-postcard lighthouses, and lots of family attractions from theme parks to aquariums.

Don’t miss the world-class Océanopolis at Brest, and the crêpes go down a treat, too!

Where to stay: Le Lodge Kerisper is a little oasis of child-friendly boutique chic. It's a short stroll from La Trinité-sur-Mer’s pretty harbour, with an outdoor pool in its lovely garden, bike hire and suites sleeping up to five people.


best family holidays in europe
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Paklenica, Croatia

Adventurous, outdoors-y families will love this under-the-radar Croatian destination. Located slightly inland from the coast of North Dalmatia, Paklenica National Park is a nature-lover's dream with its high peaks, deep gorges, caves, thick forests and epic views.

Spread across 100 square km, there are hikes, walking and cycling trails, and climbing experiences suitable for all levels, plus old villages to discover and plenty of wildlife to spot.

Nearby, you'll also want to see the seven interlinked waterfalls in the Krka National Park, the stunning Plitvice Lakes, and perhaps treat yourselves to a kayak or canoeing experience on the Zrmanja River, that's thought to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Where to stay: Located between the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea and the towering peaks of the Paklenica National Park, Alana Beach Club makes a great base for families looking to enjoy the area – be it on day trips to local villages and mountain excursions, or the water-sports and other activities on offer at the resort.


best family holidays europe
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Sicily, Italy

Great for young explorers beach lovers alike, this Italian island is centred on Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. No visit is complete without a cable-ride ride or 4WD jaunt over its lunar-like volcanic landscape.

History abounds all around Sicily but especially in the compelling capital Palermo with its Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins and catacombs. But best of all, perhaps, is the food: healthy, delicious and seriously great value.

Where to stay: A place to really get away from it all, Villa Boscarino is located in the cathedral city of Ragusa that's 20 minutes from the coast, and nestled in a delightful Mediterranean garden with a refreshing swimming pool.

Most of the 14 rooms sleep three or four; one has its own lovely loggia.


best family holidays in europe
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Menorca, Spain

Quieter and less developed than its Balearic neighbours Ibiza and Mallorca, thanks to its UNESCO biosphere reserve status and absence of long coastal roads, Menorca is an excellent place for a family holiday in Europe.

Among its many unmissable spots is the charismatic Fornells, a fishing village known for its divine lobster stew, as well as its beautiful big bay hosting water sports. There’s also the coastal nature reserve of S'Albufera des Grau with its dunes, wetlands and Talaiotic and Roman ruins.

Where to stay: For families who love hip accommodation, Menorca Experimental is just the ticket. Its kids’ concierge can set your brood up with everything from a paella cookery class or horse-training lesson to an archaeological Jeep safari.

Of the airy, streamlined rooms, some come with their own dipping pool, and there are also dedicated family rooms with private gardens and privileged access to the infinity pool.


best family holidays in europe
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