February 21, 2024
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‘Chat, countryside, laughing and love’: readers’ favourite family holidays | Travel

‘We barely left the villa’, Italy

Last year, we hired a lovely property sleeping eight two miles from Lake Garda. It was in a hamlet with two gorgeous Italian restaurants and a shop selling seemingly everything. We drove from Lincolnshire with our two dogs, in our motorhome. Our three grown-up children and their partners joined us there. The property owner arranged a pasta cooking day with local wine, meat and cheeses. We barely left the villa and the time spent just talking and playing games was priceless. Having nothing but time to chill and talk proved to be our best holiday.
Cath Delsignore

A magical Wye weekend

Evening in the Wye valley.
Evening in the Wye valley. Photograph: Anna Stowe Landscapes UK/Alamy

The Wye valley, three generations of family (21 of us) and a ramshackle, old eight-bedroom period house, last decorated in the 70s; classic cars rusting away in the large garden. Perfect! The shabbiness of the house and mix-and-match saggy furniture helped foster a relaxed easygoing vibe. We sprawled on sofas, played Bananagrams round the huge dining room table and ate outside, surrounded by green fields, woodland and the odd sheep. Walking from the garden, we explored the Forest of Dean, and along the Wye and hiked to beautiful viewpoints. A perfect weekend of chat, countryside, laughing and love.
Ruth E Green

Four generations in Vienna

Vienna cityscape from Prater park.
Vienna cityscape from across Prater park. Photograph: Dalibor Brlek/Alamy

Our large family is spread over Europe and the UK, so every couple of years we take turns to host a big family reunion in May. We visit local sights, reconnect, remember those who’ve passed on and welcome new family members. We’ve gathered in Bonn, Hamburg, Berlin, Brighton and Frankfurt, but my favourite was Vienna. We arrived a day early to see Schönbrunn Palace. Together we strolled through the Prater, rode a tram through the old city, enjoyed a relaxing garden party and took over a restaurant for dinner. Four generations and more than 60 people grew closer that weekend.
Susanna C

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Tenby’s beautiful beaches

Louise Preston
‘We watched the sun rise from Tenby’s North Beach’. Photograph: Louise Preston

In August 2020, as Covid restrictions eased, our family of five travelled to Tenby, in Pembrokeshire. We stayed at the comfortably cosy and clean Seasalt Cottage, a short walk from quaint shops and beautiful beaches, costing £600 for four nights. One morning, we got up at four and watched the sun rise at North Beach; an unforgettable experience for us and our three young children. We also walked a section of the Pembrokeshire coastal path to Barafundle Bay, another favourite memory from our trip.
Louise Preston

A trans-European odyssey

Cycling in Bruges.
Cycling in Bruges. Photograph: Alamy

A family of five embarks on six-country European adventure! What an incredible three-week experience we had and all for less than £3,000. We used Eurotunnel and drove to Belgium, where we stayed and cycled round Bruges for two nights. Then through Luxembourg and Germany before staying in Strasbourg. Again, food and cycling was on the menu as we cycled into Germany. Once back in the car we were on our way to Lake Garda, Italy, but first saw some of Switzerland’s best sights.
Ben Topliss

All-action Danish adventure

Lalandia waterpark Billund
Lalandia waterpark, Billund.

Lalandia in Billund, Denmark is like Center Parcs but much better value (even adding in travel costs!). Accommodation is in lush Scandi cabins, which are brilliant and often really close to play parks. There is the amazing indoor pool with masses of slides and the obligatory soft play. The real winner is that if you want to do the additional activities you can buy your gold wristband in advance for about £20. These give you unlimited access to all the other activities including high ropes, climbing, trampolines, bowling, mini golf, the gym (for adults), roller-skating and indoor skiing. It’s across the road from the Legoland and a 15-minute walk from Lego House, if you need extra activities!
Darren Atkinson

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Spanish lessons, near Barcelona

Beach at Calafell
‘The beach at Calafell is well cared for.’ Photograph: Ian Dagnall/Alamy

We had a wonderful two weeks in Calafell, 40 miles south of Barcelona. It’s easy to get to as it is on the train line between Barcelona and Tarragona, both of which make fun day trips. The little town was packed full of cafes, bars and restaurants. Hardly anyone spoke English which meant the children (and adults) got a chance to practice their limited Spanish. The long sandy beach is well cared for and clean with plenty of showers and changing rooms. The sea was beautifully warm in August and deepens very gradually making it reassuringly safe for children.
Catherine

Northern Ireland’s coastal beauty

Arcadia, Portrush, Antrim Coast
‘The walk from Portrush to White Rocks is fabulous.’ Photograph: Peter Holloway/Alamy

The walk along the East Strand from Portrush to the White Rocks is fabulous. It also hosts a park run every Saturday; possibly the most beautiful in the UK. You look out to a rock formation called the Skerries. Beyond that to the left you can see County Donegal and to the right, on a clear day, Islay and Jura. If the sea is calm you can see porpoises and dolphins. There is a huge sand bank that the kids can climb up and slide down. At the White Rocks you can swim, body board or just have a picnic. Back in Portrush there are some nice cafes. There is a small beach just below the old Arcadia ballroom, which is perfect for swimming. It is truly wonderful.
Fiona Stewart

A British youth hostel getaway

Hikers on the flagged footpath along the Great Ridge near Castleton Losehill Hall.
Hikers on the flagged footpath along the Great Ridge near Castleton Losehill Hall. Photograph: Chris Craggs/Alamy

I find UK breaks make for fantastic family holidays, and one that’s both budget-friendly and full of adventure is a Youth Hostels Association getaway in one of our national parks. I’d particularly recommend YHA Castleton Losehill Hall – a glorious Gothic mansion surrounded by stunning Peak District hills that are chock full of wild walks, towering rock formations, ancient caves and secret swimming spots. If you book early, you can bag an en suite family room, a landpod for glamping, or a traditional camping pitch, ranging in price from £9 to £55 a night.
Erin

Winning tip: A place to heal, Herefordshire

A view from the Hergest Ridge near Kington.
A view from the Hergest Ridge near Kington. Photograph: Paul Weston/Alamy

For a feeling of splendid isolation with just the right amount of mod cons (pub, fish and chip shop, another pub), few things beat our stay in Kington, Herefordshire. My daughter and I were recovering from serious illness and in among the rolling hills, majestic ruins and endless green fields that make up this glorious county, we found a place custom made for healing and our own private slice of heaven. And to all the healthy people out there, it’s also very nice if you’re not ill! We stayed at the Old School and booked via Sykes Cottages.
Nathan

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