Top 10 European Activity Holidays: Hand-picked Ideas for Your Next Adventure as a Family
Things are getting exciting for our family as we surge ahead with our Sprinter van conversion with Jack Richens.
While we’re quite certain about our first outdoor family adventure destination, I thought today will be a good day to share 10 of my favourite European activity holidays.
I dug deep into the dusty recesses of my memory and had a tough time picking my favourites but in no particular order of preference… here they are!
The Top 10 European Activity Holidays Your Family Must Experience
1. Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany
If I close my eyes, I can vividly hear the delighted shrieks of my mum and yes, myself as we floated high above the Bavarian Alps in a hot air balloon! It was a 60th birthday present for my mum and a huge bucket list item for her too!
Yes, the Tegernsee area is perfect for enjoying your first hot air balloon ride. The picturesque Alps leave you awe-struck as you glide gently over them taking in the mountains and lakes, one breathless moment at a time.
In case, you’re wondering if you can take the kids… yes, you can. Luisa was only 10 months old when we took her on our first family holiday after her birth. She didn’t yet join us to ride the hot air balloon but enjoyed the other activities, including hiking, swimming and enjoying to dress up Bavarian style with her mum. 😉
2. Dubrovnik Area, Croatia
If camping excites you, let me introduce you to camping by the Adriatic Sea. THIS is an experience that will stay with you for life.
How do I know?
Because I’ve been there with MY parents when I was… well, let’s just say, MUCH younger 😉
The small holiday town Slano is a family-friendly destination. Though stunning in its beauty, it is not jam-packed with tourists.
The main tourist magnet in the surrounding area is the Unesco World Heritage site of Dubrovnik which is 30 minutes away from the Autokamp Banja site that’s on my bucket list for one of our next family adventures.
3. West Midlands, England
Want to fall in love with hiking? You need to visit The Malverns. It was in the West Midlands that I embarked on a lifelong love affair with hiking, way back in 2011.
As the fine folks at Visit The Malverns write,
The Malvern Hills, which divide the beautiful English countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, are a great destination for walkers of all ages and abilities, whether you are interested in a gentle stroll along a tree-lined path or an energetic trek along the ridge of the Malvern Hills.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
If your idea of a fun family activity involves time spent at the beach, swimming in the sea AND visiting a gorgeous city, then may I suggest Lisbon.
My husband, Franz, and I enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Lisbon in 2014 with our friends who live there.
We explored the city, soaking in culture and heritage, enjoying the Lisboa Market while digging into the most divine pastries and food, including Pasteis de Nata with cinnamon… finger-licking good!
Speaking of food, it was in Lisbon that I discovered what a Cataplana is and how to use it to make Portugal’s traditional meat and seafood stew!
5. Camino de Santiago, Spain
Back in 2012 I walked this 800km trail / pilgrimage as a solo backpacking traveler.
It was one of the most liberating and amazing outdoor experiences for me. Also called, “The Way of Saint James”, this trail took me a good month to finish. It was a time of reflection and introspection for me.
Yes, I’d definitely love to do it again as a family this time with my husband and daughter.
We may not walk it but we can definitely bike our way like the Pedalling Pilgrims.
6. Tuscany, Italy – Via Francigena, Lake Bolsena, Rome
In 2013, I did a walk from Siena, Tuscany to Rome along the Via Francigena. This was yet another unforgettable experience and it led to some incredible breakthroughs as well, including spurring me on to hand in my resignation at my soul-sucking job.
Yes, Italy will always have a special spot in my adventure-loving heart.
While you’re in Tuscany, you must take time out to mingle with the locals and take in the views at the Lake Bolsena, the largest volcanic lake in Europe.
7. Tenerife, Canary Islands
This is another beautiful island that’s perfect for hiking for families with children.
I’ve traveled to Tenerife multiple times with my parents and can’t wait to take Luisa and Franz there too.
Would it surprise you to know that as outdoorsy as I am, my parents aren’t! That’s right so my experience of Tenerife has been very “hotel-and-beach” kinds. I hope to change that and enjoy the hiking trails that Tenerife has to offer when we visit as a family.
8. Lubeck, Germany
My mum and I did a mother-daughter trip to this gorgeous destination in 2013. It’s perfect if you want to fall in love with the Baltic Sea. There’s plenty of opportunity to explore this side of the country on foot or by train and enjoy northern German specialty foods such as seafood in uncountable varieties, Fischbrötchen (fish in a bun as a snack) and of course the famous Lübeck marzipan!
9. Italian Alps & Lake Garda, Italy
This European holiday destination has it all: mountains, a beautiful gigantic lake, amazing food and lovely people. Franz and I headed to Lake Garda for our honeymoon and we can’t wait to bring Luisa back with us as well!
Lake Garda is perfect for families. You can explore water sports, enjoy the nearby cities Milan and Verona or just relax by the lake.
10. Cote D’Azur, France
As I’d shared in my earlier post about convincing your significant other about family outdoor adventure travel, we’ve narrowed down on France for our first trip.
The French Riviera offers a LOT for all of us to do and enjoy.
From the razzle-dazzle of Cannes and Monaco to the pebble beaches of Cagnes-sur-Mer to the history and culture seeping from Nice and St. Tropez, there is something for everyone here. Since I’m planning our trip, I just ordered the book Cool Camping France. But if you’ve got any personal recommendations for our family outdoor adventure in France, feel free to share them in the comments or email me.
So, this is on the cards for our 2018 adventure as we work to finish our Sprinter van conversion so we can head to France for our first adventure as a family of three!
There you go!
10 hand-picked European activity holidays for families who enjoy exploring the outdoors rather than the insides of a resort or spa!
Do you have a destination you’d love for me to check out and add to an updated version of the list? Share with me!