Non flying European summer hols suggestions - Black Forest??(20 Posts)
We had a lovely holiday in France this year. Loved us all packing up into our car, onto the ferry then driving in France. I don't like flying and find this type of holiday so simple and feels like more of an adventure somehow.
Before we book again I want to see what else is possible on a ferry/train/driving type holiday. I haven't been any where else in Europe and would love to. I was wondering about Germany - Black Forest or similar but have no idea how much of a trek it would be and whether it is feasible with a 5 and 7 year old. We are looking for an outdoorsy type of holiday, walking, swimming etc.
Anyone done this type of hols with any suggestions?
ferry to spain and drive back
high speed train to anywhere
hire a winnebago and explore
french canal boat
The winnebego sounds fun but have no idea how long the drive would be/where you could stop etc. Need a map of Europe!
Summer before last a friend hired one and in two seeks they went across to East Germany, down through the Alps, into a bit of Italy and then back up through france - with three kids.
There are park up places for camper vans in every town
Motorail is good, but expensive. We came back one way from Dordogne. Canoeing down the river in stunning scenery will be something I will never forget.
talkinpeace that sounds amazing - definitely the type of thing we have in mind. Might have to research Winnebago hire .
I have driven as far as Tuscany - over 3 weeks mind. On the way out we stopped in the Rhein Valley, then Bavaria for a couple of nights, then the Valpolicella region of Italy. Then 10 days at Park Albatross on the tuscan coast. On the way back we did Lake Como for 3 nights, then 3 in Switzerland near Interlaken. Final stop in Alsace. I would definitely do similar again but maybe not go so far south - Italian Riviera or Lake Garda instead of Tuscany. It was too far and too hot. Dd loved Switzerland but it is really expensive, would make try the French Alps.
I have been looking at Chilly Pepper in Morzine. Looks like there is loads to do and not horrendously priced in the summer considering all the food is included.
Though talking of outdoorsie holidays for next year I have booked with Keycamp for Here in the Ardeche.
We went to La Rochelle this year and the absolute highlights were the tree-climbing/accrobranche/canal boat hire bits. This place seemed to tick all the boxes for walking, adventure parks, canoeing etc.
We drove to Rome last summer (one child). It was very easy and the best holiday we have had. Eurotunnel to one night in a charming Belgium chateau.Drive to Germany to see Dachau.One night in a hotel there, visit camp in the morning then drive to Austria for lunch. Afternoon drive down through Italy and made it to Florence for the evening in a stunning hotel overlooking the city. Drive to Rome next morning and check into an apartment for 3 days.
Drive back to Milan for a night. See Di Vinci's Last Supper. Drive through alps in the afternoon to a hotel in Alsace. Drive to Champagne area stay the night then home.
None of the drives were more than 5 hours, all the hotels were fab and had some excellent meals out.
Black Forest is about 8 hours by train/car from the Midlands. Obviously with young DC you'd probably want to break that up - perhaps one night in France on the way there/back?
We've been down to the Black Forest by train, which is very easy and low hassle. You can just keep stopping wherever you like along the way, the Black Forest is gorgeous, food very fresh and tasty, and all the trains and buses are scheduled to connect, so getting around is very easy.
I don't fly either. If you're thinking of getting the train, the website www.seat61.com is fab - basically tells you how to get to pretty much everywhere in the world from the uk by train if it's at all possible.
I have 2 ds, now 8 & 5. A couple of years ago we took them to a centre parc in holland (het heijderbos) which they absolutely adored and even now say they want to go back. It was a long drive from calais but we broke it up by staying for a night in Ypres (aka iepers) in Belgium on the way there and back- it's just over an hour from Calais so if you've had to drive to get to the ferry you don't want to end up driving too far on the first day. It's a lovely town to stop off in - small enough and different enough to wander around with kids, lots of history but all the traditional fun of being in a small French/Belgian town too. Plus plenty of hotels so reasonably priced (assuming it's not remembrance day or any big war memorial day maybe!).
Centre parcs are significantly cheaper abroad than here, especially the Dutch and belgian ones. And especially if you can book very early or very late, and avoid their school holiday dates.
Depends how long you want to be away but even if you wanted to be away for a couple of weeks you could just spend a few days in one and do loads of cycling, swimming, walking, playing (the one we were at had a huge dome full of tropical plants and birds and was like a massive jungle themed soft play centre big enough for adults too (and it wasn't very soft! Full of rope ladders and walkways, caves, tunnels, even steams running through! Sort of like a massive jungle style Chrystal Maze set. The dc absolutely adored it and we had lots of fun too).
Amsterdam is fun with kids and in the netherlands there's some fab coast with massive sandy beaches too. Lots of it is flat which is great for cycling. Some of the little islands and towns like delft, vollendam and maarken are lovely too.
Zip zap, you would like Duinrell. Reviews on here.
The north of Germany or Netherlands has fantastic beaches and sand dunes and can easily be reached in 3-6 hours from Calais depending on where you go
I recommend the Eifel National Park in NW Germany. Lots of campsites and small hotels. Great for walking, woods, rivers, lakes, boating, horse-riding, hills. An hours drive from Aachen. and would take around 4 hours to drive from Calais. We love travelling in Germany with our DSs - food is good and not expensive (they love all pork products and we love beer ), everything is clean and orderly, and there's no motorway tolls! Also children are welcome pretty much everywhere, although they don't fawn over them like in Spain/Greece/Italy.
Yes, Pinky - Germany is generally all so nice and clean and orderly. It's a holiday in itself!
dingit yes, it's on my list of places to go! I got a brochure for it this year but we ended up going to <whispers> disneyland paris as we got such a ridiculously good deal we figured that would be a good one to cross off the list, particularly as ds2 is a huge mickey mouse fan and I can't see it lasting much longer
especially with his big brother taking control of the tv remote and switching Mickey Mouse off. I also quite fancy trying the playmobil land in germany and de efterling (sp?). There's also Plopsyland in Belgium which sounds so bad it's tempting to drag the dc there just so we can laugh about it later.
If you look at the michelin site, you can type in destinations across Europe and it will give you directions as well as estimates for the amount of fuel (and thus cost!) needed, which is a fun way of
wasting time doing valuable research before deciding on a destination.
Before we had the dc we did a fair bit of cruising. Took me years to persuade dh to try, eventually he gave in and then he loved it. We loved the not flying, exploring lots of different places without the need to pack and unpack all the time, the opportunity to just chill out and relax, and the general ease of the holiday. I think the dc are just about getting to an age where they would like it too but I think that you have to book quite early to get a decent family cabin which can be much more expensive - we were in a position to book late and grab great deals. There's something very nice sitting on a comfortable lounger reading a great trashy novel, watching the coast of north africa peel past you, the bar lady coming out every 20 minutes to see if you want any more drinks or nibbles, beautifully warm but out of the direct sun, another couple of people sitting on loungers on the other side of the door that by the end of the fortnight you know well enough to nod to, the odd person doing a round the deck walk going past but otherwise being undisturbed... bliss! But probably not going to happen with young dc, I know
Places we've stopped off en route on a cruise or on general travels that would be great to go back to with kids include the north german coast - warnemunde and rostock, travemunde and Lubeck, Tallin in Estonia, Copenhagen, Helsinki (ok some of these are getting quite a way away!), southern french coast around nice and eze, perpignan, avignon and Bilbao/Sans Sebastian.
We did a north african cruise for our honeymoon and trained down overnight to Cadiz via madrid, caught the ship, did the cruise and ended up in Athens. Then spent a few days there, got a ferry over to Italy, train up to Bologna for a few days, then another train to paris and on to home - the journey became a fab part of the holiday and was very easy, especially when you break it all up.
Bizarrely a cruise can be a very outdoorsy holiday - when you get to a destination you are out exploring it, depending on where you go there are often beach days or adventure walks as well as just exploring the big tourist destination you are near to do. And then when you have a sea day, there's the swimming pools - but many of the big ships now have things like climbing walls, ice skating, surf pools, crazy golf and more. ANd then lots of them offer babysitting in the evening - there are usually kids clubs on board that at night you can drop them off and they have it all quiet and snoozy, maybe a gentle dvd playing in the background, and lots of mats and blankets for them to snuggle up and go to sleep. Then you pick them up at 11 or midnight or whatever you've agreed. Means that you don't have to worry about them being alone in the cabin while you are eating or dancing or watching the shows or just enjoying a quiet moment for two, nor do you have to go to bed when they need to either! Not something you'd want to do every night, but nice to have the option. And obviously the whole place is fully staffed with the child care staff that - for boats sailing from the uk at least - tend to be crb checked and all organised very professionally. Some cruises have themes - first one we went on had a footie theme, a couple of big name
but probably slightly past it players and coaches that ran sessions for the kids during sea days and some 'tell it as it is' talks for the grown ups. Before my time of having kids, plus I hate footie so didn't bother with it, but the kids seemed to love it and I can imagine ds1 loving it now, although not ds2.
oops sorry - just realised this turned into a bit of a mega epic post
got a bit carried away on the memories!
OK it's not the Black Forest, but if you are interested in forest holidays in Germany we stayed in this place last year Bavarian Forest Holidays
It is right on the Czech Border and we found loads to do there. The apartments are lovely and well equipped and the people who run it very friendly and helpful. And English speaking! Lots of outdoors-y stuff available for sure - walking, cycling etc.
They are also very in to eco-holidays too so there are lots of ideas for using public transport and if you are arriving by train they will pick you up from the station. We actually had a hire car and had only travelled part of the way there by train (We found the German train system great - very reliable and easy to work) At least two of the other UK families we met there had driven all the way from England though with a stopover in France on the way.
Many years ago we had a two centre holiday. North sea ferry to Zeebrugge, one week in the black forest and a second week in Lindau which is on lake Constance. Beautiful locations and there are lots of outdoors activities and open air pools.
Have just caught up with all the posts of this thread - thanks so much for posting. You have given me loads of inspiration to go off and google further
Am feeling quite excited about Germany - just need to work out a destination and a route with a stop off or 2 along the way.
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