Favourite spots of Europe

(44 Posts)
Asheth Wed 16-Oct-13 11:58:29

For the past few years out holidays have been to fly somewhere for a week, enjoy the sun and then fly back. But next year (maybe the next few years!) we want to try something different and tour around Europe for a few weeks in the summer holidays.

At the moment we're flexible about where we cross into Europe, but we'll be looking mainly at Western/Southern Europe - so France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland etc. Not necessarily all next year!

The DCs will be aged 12, 9 and 5. And we're looking for a variety of places - e.g. places which are historically/geographically interesting, fun places and some relaxing chill-out spots! grin

so, what places do you think we should put on our list?

PoppyAmex Wed 16-Oct-13 12:02:21

I'm biased as I was born there, but Lisbon is wonderful and completely different from the touristy Algarve.

I never fail to have fun in Barcelona or anywhere in Southern Italy either.

YDdraigGoch Wed 16-Oct-13 12:05:43

Pompeii (It), Oradour (Fr), Grenada (Sp), Dachau (Ge), for culture/history.

Asheth Wed 16-Oct-13 22:06:55

Thank you for those suggestions! I'd like to go to Lisbon. My DS has already put Barcelona on the list - not for the beach, not for the beautiful Gaudi architecture but for Barcelona FC grin

I'd never heard of Oradour. I think the eldest DC would find it interesting.

BanjoPlayingTiger Wed 16-Oct-13 22:11:28

If they are in any way musical, then I would recommend Leipzig. It has so much musical heritage for such a small city. It is also the place that started the peaceful revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall. Fascinating! It is also relatively cheap as it is the old East Germany but that is less true each year we have returned.

Asheth Wed 16-Oct-13 22:27:15

Thank you - we definitly want to go to Germany so DS1 can practice his German. I've never been to Leipzig but just googled it and it looks like a nice city.

CreamyCooler Thu 17-Oct-13 14:00:10

Fave European places we've been to with DC are Kolocep island (Croatia) for relaxation and Dubrovnik, Rome, Sicily and Tuscany for sightseeing and chilling. DC enjoyed visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pompeii. We also really enjoyed Amsterdam. Would you consider going on a cruise as you get an opportunity to see so many sights and have lots of r&r time as well?

Shanghaidiva Thu 17-Oct-13 14:13:35

Germany - Munich and Regensburg (lived there for 4 years) - beautiful cities with great museums and fascinating history.
Spain - Barcelona. When I was there they had a jump on /jump off bus tour which was great.
Loads of great cities in the Nethelands - Hague, Amsterdam (Ann Frank and Van Gogh musuem), Leiden (fab museums), Delft and Rotterdam.
Salzburg is a little twee imo but great musical festivals and amazing architecture. I prefer Vienna and it has a great zoo.

PeterParkerSays Thu 17-Oct-13 14:16:40

Montpellier in southern France is gorgeous and historic and close to a beach if your children are pining for one by then. It's fab to be there on Bastille Day.

Asheth Thu 17-Oct-13 22:04:04

Dubrovnik looks fantastic, but I think it's probably a bit far for this trip. I'd love to do a cruise one day.... suspect it would be very expensive for five of us though! But places in Italy will definitly go on the list!

Regensburg looks lovely and I expect Munich would go down well with the DC thanks to Bayern Munich! I can see this trip turning into a tour of the football stadiums of Europe!

Montpellier looks fantastic - a lovely beach and in easy reach of both Provence and the Languedoc.

Thank you everyone!

suebfg Thu 17-Oct-13 22:10:22

You can't beat Paris for sightseeing IMO in central Europe - one of the world's best cities. Rome is very good too of course and has the added attraction of Roman soldiers, ice cream and pizza
Barcelona has a great mix of sights, beach, cafe culture, nice weather - it would be a very good option with kids as not too much walking around
Switzerland is very pretty and scenic but might be a bit boring

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 22:14:04

Really interesting but also got sea and warmth.

suebfg Thu 17-Oct-13 22:14:38

If you are visiting Germany, it would be hard not to put Berlin on the list, for the history lesson if nothing else. It's a truly fascinating city

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 22:15:50

The Alps.

poorbuthappy Thu 17-Oct-13 22:16:58

Loire Valley France. Beautiful.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 22:18:13

YY to the Loire Valley.

PortoFiendo Fri 18-Oct-13 09:48:08

Ooh hard one. In no particular order:

Montpellier - lovely architecture, pretty squares
The Cinque Terre - a serious of precariously perched villages on the Italian Riviera
Krakow - beautiful city plus visits to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. Wroclaw in Poland is lovely too - little gnomes everywhere - you can do a tour to spot them.
Prague - stunning place with lots to visit
Ziller valley in Austria - Mayrhofen, Achesee, Krimml Waterfalls, Innsbruck
Dordogne - Sarlat, Les Eyzies, Domme etc
Interlaken area of Switzerland - Reichenbach Falls, Arschlucht gorge, Grindelwald etc
Lake Como
Neuschwanstein in Bavaria
Il de Re
Someone mentioned Leiden above - highly recommended - like Amsterdam without the sleaze.
Pompeii and Vesuvius. the island of Ischia
Portofino (obviously)

I could probably go on all day.....I did a suggested itinerary for someone once - I will see if i can find it.....

eurochick Fri 18-Oct-13 09:59:31

Canal du midi in langedoc for cycling around lovely countryside


Venice is stunning

PortoFiendo Fri 18-Oct-13 10:03:30

Coming from Calais, I would suggest:

Reims, Colmar/Riquewihr, Lake Lucerne or Interlaken/Wengen, San Gottardo pass, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Dolomites (Bolzano), Innsbruck, Garmisch Partenkirchen, Heidelberg and the Rhein Valley, Monschau/Aachen, Breda/Delft, Antwerp, Bruges, back to Calais.

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Portofino Wed 27-Mar-13 10:33:57

Or as an alternative: Deauville, Honfleur, Saint Malo/Dinard/Mont st michel
La Rochelle, St Emilion, Sarlat/Lez Eyzies (Dordogne) Lyon, Chambery/Lake Annecy, Lake Lucerne, Colmar, Trier/Berkastel (Moselle valley) Belgian Ardennes (Durbuy/La Roche), Brussels/Bruges, Belgian Coast (De Haan)

And yes Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi are lovely. We have done 2 canal boat trips - one through the Camargue to Beziers and one coming from the other direction back to Beziers.

JustBecauseICan Fri 18-Oct-13 10:08:44

Salamanca. Can be done along with Madrid and north-western Portugal.

T'is where I shall have my ashes scattered. (In a very long time I hasten to add) grin

BurberryQ Fri 18-Oct-13 10:12:07


If you're doing Spain/Portugal stay in paradors/pousadas which are state owned converted castles/monasteries. DCs would love them.

The Dordogne as above - amazing castles, caves (Padirac being one of the best) and cave paintings, markets...the river is great for canoeing.

The Loire for the castles too. Can sneak in a bit of history too with both places - hundred years way, Richard the Lionheart and the Crusades etc.

Italy would be fab for sightseeing - Rome, Venice, Pompeii. But NB scorchio in the summer.

Asheth Fri 18-Oct-13 14:00:30

Thank you - so many places to google! I love the fact that I'm getting suggestions of places I've never heard off and then when I see the pictures I just think wow and wonder why I've never heard of them!

Iaintdunnuffink Sun 27-Oct-13 19:30:30

We've done variations of Porto's first outlined trip a few times and would recommend it.

Some have mentioned Barcelona but don't ignore the northern coast and mountains, it's stunning.

Lizzylou Sun 27-Oct-13 19:48:43

This year we took a ferry to Bilbao/back from Santander and did Sw France and N spain. The Gascony region of France is lovely, Biarritz is amazing. N Spain is wonderful and we loved San Sebastian (a must see place I think) and also some fab basque villages, so different to the rest of spain.
Sounds like you have some fabulous planning ahead, how exciting smile

Asheth Mon 28-Oct-13 09:00:52

Thank you - planning is definitly part of the fun! I think it's likely we'll do one of the crossings into/out of Santander so we wont miss Northern Spain. San Sebastian looks stunning - maybe a possible start or end place as it's not far from Santander.

Our map is filling up nicely. It's been great finding out about places I've never heard of like the Padirac caves.

Thank you to everyone for all their great suggestions!

KateCroydon Mon 28-Oct-13 09:04:21

Naples. Hardly any tourists, amazing food, great art, creepy catacomby things, and just the best atmosphere. The area around the station is dodgy, but once you're clear of that you're fine.

Iaintdunnuffink Mon 28-Oct-13 14:39:44

Santillana del mar, near Santander. Great medieval town for a stroll, glass of cidre and lunch.
Cable car at Fuenta De in the Picos De Europe. You pass through Potes and you should stop off there.
The road from Potes to the lake at Riano is beautiful.
Spend some time at the beach in Noja and Isla. Just to the east of Santander.
Basque region beautiful, and it's interesting to see the difference between the French and Spanish parts. Pampalona?
We're going west along the coast next time, stopping off in various towns, then ending up here for a couple of nights
Then back for a weeks beach holiday near Santander.

One thing to watch when touring that part of Spain, especially with young kids, is the meal times. The do eat very late and even places that look like simple pizza, burger places don't open until 8.30 and you're not likely to be served until 9.30. We were often the only people in a restaurant at 9.30. But then they're all having lunch at 3 in the afternoon.

We dint find it a problem when we were at a holiday park, getting up late and on the beach mot of the day. When we were touring, up early and doing lots of sight seeing, we got caught out several times. We'd make sandwiches for lunch and be ravenous by the later afternoon, expecting to find something open at 7.30 Next year when we're touring I think we'll do things the opposite way pound and eat out at Spanish lunchtime, then have picnic stuff for the hotel. Then tapas, drinks if we go out in the evening.

Iaintdunnuffink Mon 28-Oct-13 15:01:51

If you're doing a Channel crossing and heading up to spain.
Normandy. D day museum. The town of Honfleur is nice for a coffee on the harbour, an expensive coffee!
Loire, drink wine.
Theme parks, you pass Puy du Fou and Futurescope.
Bordeaux. Just south of Bordeaux isn't my favourite place for beaches but the Dune du Pyla is impressive and provides a very good work out for your legs.
The Basque towns just before you get to Spain are lovely. Bayonne and Biarritz are nice for a visit and a shop.
St Jean and Hendaye. There's a train up a mountain La Rhune, that's nice but get there early in August.

HelloClouds Tue 29-Oct-13 10:21:35

We spent one holiday with our kids (about the same age!) travelling round Spain staying in Parador hotels - absolutely fantastic - the kids loved staying in huge castles! They're all around Spain from the coast to inland and the really famous cities like Santiago, Cordoba, Granada etc. Also very child-friendly as the Spanish love kids!

frenchfancy Tue 29-Oct-13 16:52:07

What about Granada? We went to the Alhambra last week - stunning. And the nearby Alpujurras (sp?) mountains are beautiful.

nannyafrica Tue 29-Oct-13 17:48:23

we just did; 2 nights Porto , 10 nights Azores, 2 nights Lisbon.
Flights Gatwick to Porto, Porto to Ponta Delgada, Ponta Delgara to Lisbon, Lisbon to Gatwick total cost £299 each. flights are no longer then 2 hours each.
We loved Porto and could have stayed there longer.
Azores are beautiful we hired a car 10 days £210 really easy to drive around the island. We went Whale watching and swam in natural hot springs which are all over the island,some in forests. Lisbon we liked but would have loved it more if the weather was better (we had rain both days)
we stayed here for 3 nights http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g189123-d554492-Reviews-Terra_Nostra_Gardens-Azores.html
Kids would love it, hotel guest can swim in the natural hot swimming pool in the gardens before and after tourists come and go. You can even have a chef cook breakfast at the pool for you.

nannyafrica Tue 29-Oct-13 17:55:25

sorry this is the hotel

flipchart Fri 15-Nov-13 11:44:12

I love Europe
I often head to Poland, try Masuria, the land of the thousand lakes or Zakapane with the beautiful Tatra mountains.

Iceland is amazing, especially if you go north.

Chamonix is bloody fantastic as well, mountain biking, walking, ice climbing, rock climbing, white water rafting, paragliding and sunbathing were all done on the same week..

fussychica Tue 26-Nov-13 18:40:56

Lake Bled - prettiest place I've ever seen.
Cordoba - patio festival in May - stunning and free.
Son currently living in the beautiful French Basque region and would recommend Bayonne, Biarritz, Bordeaux, and the Spanish Basque region just over the border.

WildThong Wed 04-Dec-13 22:05:59

That area around Santillana del Mar sound amazing? Can I ask you what the hotels are like please? And could I drive to the cable car, caves, etc using that as a base?

Asheth Fri 06-Dec-13 10:24:41

Sorry - just come back to this thread and seen all these amazing places and have been googling them all! They look stunning. Got to work out how to fit them in and find some cheapish places to stay - school holidays so probably nowhere will be really cheap.

flipchart Fri 06-Dec-13 14:45:48

Asheth , there are loads of places and ways of going abroad in school holidays to Europe and doing it very cheaply.
We have had dozens of exciting trips over the years. Be creative and have some fab adventures.
My 14 year old DS still talks about stuff he did when he was 6!

ProfondoRosso Fri 06-Dec-13 14:50:48

I love Barcelona and Rome.

But I'd really love to go here. Facteur Cheval's amazing Palais Ideal in Hauterives in SE France. He built it himself with stones, day by day, while working his whole life as a postman.

Matsikula Tue 10-Dec-13 21:41:38

Bled in Slovenia is nice but Bohinj is even nicer - less developed. You can play tennis in the hotel Agatha Christie used to stay in, and go on a mountain walk to an Alpine Cheese museum where they will feed you cheese and you will feel like Heidi. Ljubljana is also fantastic. The Slovenian coast is less fab, (except Piran) but you could combine with a bit of Istria in Croatia or even Venice.

These suggestions are all making me drool!

Lovewhereilive Tue 24-Dec-13 19:21:10

peschiera del Garda,

Innsbruck (ski jump there is great if there is training going on and there is a fab outdoor pool in the centre. There is also a knight show every Thursday near the golden roof.),

Bavaria (great for castles),

Have fun! We did Italy and Austria last summer, was a great adventure.

SantanaLopez Tue 24-Dec-13 19:28:56

Rome, a million times over.

Also love Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Nice, Krakow, Berlin, Paris.

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 24-Dec-13 19:37:03

Other places to visit:

- Roman ruins (Orange, Glanum, Arles, Nimes)
- Historic villages (Les Baux de Provence)

Skogkat Tue 24-Dec-13 19:44:56

This isn't in the right area, but Tromsø in Northern Norway, Stockholm, Copenhagen and San Sebastián is where I recommend.

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