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Best family holiday destinations less than a 3-hour flight from the UK

Looking for a quick getaway? Here are the best family-friendly holiday destinations that are a 3-hour flight or less from the UK. 

By Dina Mahmoud | Last updated Jul 1, 2022

Destinations less than 3 hours away from UK

Considering a getaway, but tremble at the thought of travelling on a long flight with kids? Those who have been there, done that will be quick to share how stressful those longer flights can be with young children. But don’t be put off flying with kids completely - the UK is just a few, short hours away from a number of fantastic holiday destinations waiting to be discovered. 

Plus, with a little bit of planning, some travel toys, and extra patience, a shorter flight with kids is absolutely doable. 

To help you find your next family holiday that’s just a short journey from the UK, we’ve handpicked some destinations that are less than a 3-hour flight away. While each destination has a certain charm, they all offer different types of activities and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. 

From beachy islands and white sandy shores to thrill-seeking adventures, and historical wonders, each place has memories waiting to be made together. Here’s our guide to the best family holiday destinations less than a 3-hour flight from the UK that we’re sure will be enjoyable for the entire family. We feel there’s something here for everyone, and every budget.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen

Flight time: 1 hour 49 minutes | Find a hotel

If there was ever a city that was designed to be a kid’s giant playground, it’s Copenhagen. This delightful and colourful metropolitan is filled with tons of attractions and adventures.

Copenhagen Zoo, for example, is home to more than 4,000 animals and is one of the most visited attractions in Denmark. So, if you’re a family of animal lovers, this is surely going to set a standard for your trip.

You might also appreciate a little fun and education by visiting the Children’s Museum. The interactive museum features exhibitions and displays that bring history to life. Experience the world of the Vikings, or make a snack in an ancient mediaeval kitchen, or get castle-ready for an enemy attack! 

The Children’s Museum offers a blast from the past with a number of family activities and a ‘kids can touch everything’ policy.

Want to relax after a day of fun? Then head over to the canal and join the hop-on hop-off tours and visit some of the main attractions while you take the scenic route.

Copenhagen is also home to the Baaken Amusement Park, the oldest attraction of its kind. The 425-year-old park is just 10-minutes north of the city and has a blend of rollercoaster rides, restaurants, ice cream parlours, pubs, bars and so much more. It is also located beside Dyrehaven, a wonderful woodland far from the hustle and bustle of the city. Feel free to take in the Nordic air as you walk through the open landscapes and lush green forests. Dyrehaven is home to a number of lakes and over 2000 free-range deers.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • History buffs
  • Animal lovers
  • Kid’s who love science

What Mumsnet users say:

“The best things to do with children that age are Tivoli, the amazing Blue Planet aquarium, a canal boat cruise, the zoo (which has all the big-ticket animals including a pair of giant pandas), Experimentarium and the Hans Christian Andersen experience. The National Museum also has a Children’s Museum, with a replica Viking ship you can mess about on, costumes to try and plenty of hands-on exhibits.

There’s are lots of playgrounds, restaurants with kids menus and the transport is easy to use with a pushchair”. Fivemoreminutes1

2. Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain

ibiza

Flight time: 2 hours and 20 mins | Find a hotel

While it is home to some of the best nightclubs in the world, there is a whole other side to this party island. In fact, Ibiza's north is known for its complete serenity and relaxed island atmosphere and it’s worth all the hype.

The true face of Ibiza is full of charm and tranquillity. With its white sandy beaches and sparkling blue water, Ibiza is often referred to as a dream holiday for all families and presents beautiful hiking trails, water parks, aquariums, caves, jeep safari, horseback riding, and all-inclusive resorts. So, let your hair down, soak in the warm sun as you and your family embrace this little piece of island paradise.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who enjoy the water

What Mumsnet users say:

“We stayed in Es Cana when DS was 4 and had a fantastic time! Loved Santa Eulalia too. Found everywhere to be very child friendly. We stayed in an apartment here - perfect location right on the beach.” Ladyr77

“Santa Eulaia in Ibiza is lovely. Family friendly, large beach, quieter than San Antonio or Ibiza Town.” PronounssheRa

3. Corfu, Greece

corfu

Flight time: 3 hour 10 minute | Find a hotel

Corfu has a lasting impression from the moment you arrive. Landing in Corfu is an experience of its own. Surrounded by water, the runway at Corfu International Airport is practically located in the sea and offers a spectacular take-off and landing experience with a phenomenal view.

Located in the Ionian Sea, this magical Greek island’s picturesque views, charming towns and gorgeous beaches are just the family-friendly atmosphere you’ve been looking for. With beautiful blue skies and low chances of rain, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to spend the entire day dipping your toes in the white sand and crystal blue waters. Aside from the stunning beaches, this majestic island also has an array of activities including water activities, boat rides, paragliding, cooking classes, fishing classes, cave adventures and so much more. Corfu is also known for its lush green vegetation and crystal clear waters. The island is immaculate and the child-friendly entertainment is endless.

There’s always something to do in Corfu and with a fun atmosphere and rich culture, the fun simply never ends.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who enjoy the water

What Mumsnet users say:

“I love Corfu, it’s a beautiful island and probably one of my favourite Greek islands. It is, though, a mosquito heaven because it’s quite a ‘wet’ island, lots of greenery, quite a bit of rain in the lead up to summer and say September/October onwards. It does make the island look beautiful and less ‘sparse’ than some of the islands but it does mean the mosquito situation can often be quite a lot.

All of the islands are family friendly I think (well maybe not Mykonos too popular with the young trendy crowd, rather than families.” MiniCooperLover

4. Algarve, Portugal

algarve

Flight time: 2 hours 53 minutes | Find a hotel

The Algarve in Portugal is truly beautiful, and this wonderful, family-friendly holiday destination is the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. While the region is home to over 125 miles of picturesque coastline, there is still a bustling nightlife within nearby areas and in the resort towns of Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, Vilamoura and of course, the famous Lagos.

Known as one of Europe’s most popular family destinations, the Algarve is considered a safe region and the climate is fairly warm. You and your family will also feel right at home as the city is very hospitable and holds strong family values.

Additionally, the Algarve offers waterparks like Zoomarine, theme parks, boat tours, go-karting, parasailing, fishing and more. There is never a dull moment in this glorious city.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Families that enjoy the outdoors
  • Kids who enjoy the water

What Mumsnet users say:

“My sister had a lovely stay at Monte da Quinta in the Algarve - very classy, good for families and good value compared to the Sheraton.” essential1

“We went to Lagos last year and loved it. There are lots of little streets to wander around and the beaches are gorgeous.” SooticaTheWitchesCat

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

amsterdam

Flight time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Find a hotel

Seeking more of a city-break? Then consider Amsterdam. The city promotes active living and is completely walkable and known for its cycle trekking.

The forward thinking city offers many wonderful events and activities for parents and children alike. From the Van Gogh museum, to the infamous Anne Frank House, to the beautiful harbour and Madame Tussauds museum, the city is a magnet for artistic treasures. But if museums aren’t your little one’s cups of tea, have no fear! The scenic canals, city zoo, beautiful architecture, and the endless strolling through the parks and gardens and beaches will surely get their attention.

And if that’s not tempting enough, then head over to the closest market, pick out some flowers and treat the kids to Pannenkoeken, Stroopwafels or Pofferjes, which are all fancy Dutch ways of saying… Pancakes and cookie waffles! 

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Artistic kids
  • Active families
  • Little explorers
  • Outdoorsy families
  • Kids who have an interest in history

What Mumsnet users say:

“Amsterdam is absolutely my favourite city to visit, and it feels very different to the UK. Pancakes, canal boats, fun museums, flower markets and just so, so beautiful around the canal belt. I bet a 3-year-old would love just going for a ride on one of the grams, or seeing the double decker trains at the station. Also, Vondelpark is close to the centre, and has lots of play areas to run off some steam.” QuantumWeatherButterfly

6. Marbella, Spain

marbella

Flight time: 2 hours 54 minutes | Find a hotel

Located in the Costa del Sol region, Marbella is known for its luxurious hotels and picturesque landscape. With all-inclusive resorts, mouth-watering food and beautiful sandy beaches, it is likely that you may choose to have all your family fun within the resort itself. But for those with kids who enjoy the adrenaline rush, there are always adventures to be had in this fun-filled town.

The fun never stops at Marbella, and Adventura Amazonia is just one of the stops to make for all thrill seekers. With rope bridges, zip-lining and swing bridges, this circuit challenge has several courses and they vary based on age. Children as young as four and up are welcome.

Outside of Marbella, you will also find exciting attractions for the whole family to enjoy. From waterparks, zoos, wolf tours, go-karts, cave swimming and horse riding, Marbella is every child’s paradise.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who enjoy the water
  • Active kids
  • Thrill seekers
  • Animal lovers

What Mumsnet users say:

“I’ve went to old Marbella last year as a single parent with ds2 when he was 10. He loved it (I’d been before). We spent the majority of the time on the family beach snorkelling, did a boat trip to the posh part of Marbella so ds could look at the Ferrari’s etc, we also did a coach trip to Gibraltar to see the monkeys. Old Marbs is children friendly, play park in the beach, friendly restaurants. We were going to go again this year but I couldn’t co-ordinate the cheap flights (£27 return!) and the hotel we always stay in!” Poppiesway1

7. Berlin, Germany

berlin

Flight time: 1 hour 51 minutes | Find a hotel

With a number of cultural attractions, interactive museums, and zoos, Berlin has something for the whole family to enjoy. 

At the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum), for example, you can discover the prehistoric era of the glorious dinosaurs. Discover the colossal sized bones of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and many other monster lizards. Your kids will also get a kick out of the Computerspielemuseum (Computer Games Museum), where they will experience the virtual world first-hand through the latest innovations and 3-d simulators.

And if you’ve got a child that’s keen on being a top-secret spy, then the German Spy Museum is the right place. Immerse yourself with interactive scriptures, sophisticated spy techniques and discover secret operations in their over 1,000 exhibits.

Aside from these extraordinary museums, Berlin is also known for its famous Berlin zoo, the Tierpark Zoo, which is home to over 9,000 exotic and native animals. Booking a hop-on, hop-off bus is worth booking to see the city entirely, 

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who love science
  • Kids who love history
  • Kids who love computer games

What Mumsnet users say:

“I've raised two kids in Berlin, it's a very child-friendly city.

In summer there are lots of lidos- the best for you would be the Monbijou park one, which is specifically aimed at younger kids and families. It's very central. Yes, there are loads of parks and green spaces, and the play area in the main zoo is brill. There are also lots of lakes out in the suburbs which are lovely for evening picnics. The Tiergarten Park is also very Central, you can rent boats there too.

The downside: the weather in summer CAN be tricky - hot (by British Standards), sticky, thundery. We're at the same latitude as New York, but don't go along with all that namby-pamby air-conditioning.” Archfarchnad

8. Sardinia, Italy

sardinia

Flight time: 2 hours 24 minutes | Find a hotel

If beach hats, cool sunglasses and clear blue waters sound tempting, then the beautiful beaches of Sardinia are just what you need. This island is full of wonder that the whole family will marvel at. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Su Nuraxi di Barumini and the Aquarium at Cala Gonone, are just some attractions that will leave you in awe of this captivating piece of Italy.

This charming island has a lot of natural wonder to explore, starting with its many beaches. Discover the Sardinian caves, or perhaps take a kayak, catamaran or a sailboat into the wide, open waters. Speaking of the open waters, you can also get a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel far into the sea, where you could encounter wild bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat.  And, if that’s not enough, let’s not forget about the fantastic food that your family will truly enjoy here.

Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who enjoy the water
  • Active kids

What Mumsnet users say:

“Sardinia is absolutely gorgeous but definitely not cheap. We were supposed to be going this summer but have cancelled it and are going to Greece instead as the costs were just getting ridiculous.” 2catsand2kids

9. Paris, France

paris

Flight time: 1 hour 33 minutes | Find a hotel

The city of lights has more to offer than you may think. Although it is often known to be a couple’s destination, Paris has a lot to offer for their young visitors as well.

With an over-the-water suspension bridge, a waterfall, hiking hills, and an enchanting 25-acres gorgeous green foliage, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is an oasis of beauty and tranquillity. The city also offers a zoo, aquarium, and a Natural History Museum to explore. Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower.

Don't forget the famous Disneyland Paris - it’s a short train ride away but well worth it as your children’s eyes light up, you will truly feel magic in this fairytale theme park.

 Great for:

  • Children of all ages
  • Young adventurers and explorers
  • Kids who enjoy quiet
  • Animal lovers
  • Disney buffs

What Mumsnet users say:

“We're in Paris now with DS 10 and 13. They absolutely loved the Eiffel Tower and particularly the stair climb. Also loved the Batobus hop on/off boat trip. We took the bus once only as very slow going in Paris traffic so definitely recommended boat over bus. Metro much nicer than London. Also enjoyed the Pompidou centre.” Nateismine

10. Rome, Italy

rome

Flight time: 2 hours 30 minutes | Find a hotel

The enchanting city of Rome is rich in history, architecture, attractions and much more. Rome is a city of endless possibilities and has attractions for all ages. 

While sightseeing is the number one thing to do in Rome, it can sometimes be a dud for the little ones. However, Rome has a number of parks and playgrounds for their younger visitors to enjoy. 

In addition to the San Carlino puppet theatre, the Pantheon, Bioparco Zoological Garden and the Time Elevator Rome, it also boasts one of the 7 wonders of the world. The famous Colosseum is also a fan favourite and is one of the most iconic features of Rome. Home of the daring gladiators, the Colosseum holds wonders for your little ones to explore. Speaking of gladiators, your kids will get a real kick at the Gladiator School of Rome Museum, where they can train and learn all there is to know about how to become a real-life gladiator. 

Rome is like a giant outdoor museum, you can experience history at every step that you take and with each historical landmark that you visit, your little ones will surely enjoy the interactive lessons that come with it. At the end of your busy day of fun, treat the whole family to a slice of pizza and some gelato for dessert. And hey, while you’re at it, you’ve earned yourself some of that delicious Italian vino.

Great for:

  • Children 4 years of age and older
  • Kids who have an interest in history
  • Artistic kids
  • Active families
  • Outdoorsy families

What Mumsnetters had to say:

“I did Rome with my then 8-year-old, it's beautiful. This year took my 10 & 9-year-old to Krakow, they both keep asking to go back.” Oreodough 

“My kids have visited both Barca and Rome and enjoyed both. But I’d say they enjoyed Rome more - coliseum, Vatican, gelato, pasta and the Spanish Steps. Would also recommend Copenhagen.” Pamplemoussed

Tips for short-haul flights with babies and kids

The joy of a short-haul flight is the fact there's just three hours or less of travel time separating you and your family from your holiday. But no matter the length of time of your flight, travelling with babies and young children can be challenging.

Of course, you can't predict how your child will be on a flight, but there are things you can do to plan ahead to help reduce the stress of flying and ensure everyone is comfortable. 

Here's a few things you can do ahead of your short-haul flight from the UK:

  • Book your seats ahead of time: by paying that little bit extra to secure your seats, you can ensure you and your family are sat together - the last thing you want is to be sat separately throughout the flight when you're with kids. 
  • Triple check your luggage allowance: some airlines offer baggage allowance for your children, some don't - it's always best to double check, or triple check! 
  • Check if your pram, car seat, and/or travel cot are included: most airlines will accept these necessary items for free, but double check there isn't a weight limit or a limit on the number of items you can check-in for free per child. 
  • Can you book a bassinet on a short-haul flight? It's unlikely, however, your chosen airline may offer these airline bassinets for short-haul flights and if they do, it's best to reserve it well in advance.
  • Pack something your child hasn't seen before: this can range from a cheap sensory book, to a new tablet and headphones depending on your budget. Whatever you choose, packing a travel toy for your kids is always recommended when flying, no matter the length of time you're in the air. 
  • Pack familiar toys and comforters: a much-loved teddy or blanket is always a good idea - just don't forget it on the plane!

What is the closest tropical island to the UK?

Forget the Caribbean, the UK has a tropical island that's just 28 miles away from Lands End, but feels like a world away from the rest of the country. Offering a magical escape from real life, The Isles of Scilly are a collection of 140 islands, can be accessed via ferry or flight and is definitely worth a visit if you want tropical vibes without the travel fuss. 

Where can you fly to from the UK in 2 hours?

As the UK is relatively close to several countries, it isn’t difficult to find a holiday destination less than a 2-hour flight from the UK. Here are some of the countries that you can fly to from London in under 2 hours: 

How we choose our recommendations

When it comes to holidays, convenience is key, especially if you have toddlers and young children. Therefore, finding the best family holidays just a 3- hour flight from the UK was critical.

First, we consulted our Mumsnet forums to find out what real parents were recommending to others seeking advice on where to go. Taking these suggestions, we then compared flight time, family-friendly activities available, entertainment, facilities and room options to hone down this list of recommendations. 

We also examined reviews on sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor, which helped us to determine which holiday destinations to include in this list. 

Why should you trust us?

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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