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Best Neilson Beachclubs: activity holidays in Europe that Mumsnetters love

Looking for an action-packed escape in the sun? Neilson breaks are brilliant for active families that also appreciate a bit of beach time. We’ve rounded up the best Neilson Beachclubs that Mumsnetters love.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Jun 30, 2023

Best Neilson Beachclubs that Mumsnetters love

It’s hard to keep everyone happy on a family holiday. Mealtimes, nap times and beach time can be tricky to navigate when you’re away from home. And constantly keeping the kids entertained can make what should be a restful holiday feel pretty exhausting.

Enter a Neilson beach break, where activities are available on tap, fun-packed kids’ clubs cater to kids from two to 17 and resorts are located next to some of Europe’s top beaches.

What’s included in the price of a Neilson holiday?

One of the main attractions of a Neilson holiday is the all-inclusive nature of the resorts; with a wide range of activities included in the price of your holiday. Guests can enjoy watersports like sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, as well as activities including tennis, cycling, climbing and fitness classes. Beginners can make the most of expert activity coaching and tuition, while more experienced guests can embrace their surroundings to hone techniques or simply have fun.

Return flights, transfers and accommodation are all included and if you opt for club board, you get to devour a daily breakfast and lunch as well as four evening meals during your seven-night stay.

The majority of Neilson Beachclubs (with some exclusions) also come with a high quality kids’ club offering a jam-packed itinerary for younger guests. For parents, this provides the perfect opportunity to get some downtime at the spa, head to a fitness class or explore more challenging trails and sessions without the kids in tow.

Read next: The best Greek islands for family holidays, as recommended by Mumsnetters

What ages do Neilson kids’ clubs cater to?

Neilson’s kids’ clubs are suitable for children between the ages of two and 17 and for a small supplement, there’s also a Starfish creche for babies 14-23 months.

The kids’ clubs are run by experienced and qualified staff, with a wide range of activities and games that are changed and mixed up regularly throughout the week.

Here’s our verdict on the best Neilson Beachclubs to visit for an action-packed and stress-free holiday with your family.

Read next: The best

The best Neilson Beachclubs at a glance

  • Neilson Alana Beachclub, Croatia | Book now

  • Neilson Messini Beachclub, Greece | Book now

  • Baia dei Mori Beachclub, Sardinia | Book now

  • Neilson Vounaki Beachclub, Greece | Book now

  • Neilson Cosmos Beachclub, Greece | Book now

1. Neilson Alana Beachclub, Croatia

Neilson Alana Beachclub, Croatia

Neilson Alana Beachclub | Check availability

What Mumsnet users say

I did Croatia with just me, dd and her friend after their GCSEs. It was brilliant for them - they went out every night in town which was big enough for them to enjoy and small enough for them to be safe. Great sunset views - I did very little apart from yoga classes and reading tbh!” - rated by Mumsnet user, MrsMcGarry

“Alana in Croatia just has everything, huge numbers of sailing craft - from kayaks to catamarans and extensive inclusive spa area. I would say you absolutely can’t go wrong here with teens - from the climbing wall to SUP yoga….and it’s safe. Accommodation with sea views in the tower, or the side wing adjacent, but a larger quieter wing over the other side, above the spa area” - recommended by Mumsnetter SynchroSwimmer

Our verdict

Alana Beachclub is the largest Neilson Beachclub, with the most rooms and more activities than any other. Located less than an hour from Zadar, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour flight away from the UK so it’s also one of the easiest Neilson resorts to get to.

Set in a beautiful spot between the Adriatic Sea and the striking Paklenica National Park, you can expect crystal clear waters and panoramic sea views. What better way to end the day than sipping a Croatian wine while watching the sun set across the bay from the Alana rooftop bar.

Recommended as one of the best Neilson Beachclubs for tennis, you can take your pick from six tennis courts, or get involved with other dry land activities such as mountain biking and climbing; either via the onsite climbing wall or at the National Park where adventurous types can scale the peaks.

Off shore, you can head down to the large bay to experience sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddlingboarding, waterskiing, wakeboarding and even wake surfing if you’re up for a challenge.

Neilson’s Croatian partners Bluesun run the hospitality side of this Beachclub, offering a range of stylish and contemporary cabins. Club board guests can enjoy their meals  among the pine trees at the alfresco terrace and on non-inclusive evenings, there’s a small selection of bars and restaurants just a 10-15 minute walk away, so you can easily head out to enjoy some local cuisine and explore the local village of Starigrad.

If you fancy making use of the onsite spa, the 50-metre swimming pool or beach bar, the Neilson kids’ clubs are suitable for children aged 2-17 and include a play area and mini golf as well as an extensive activity programme.

Nearest airport: Zadar (27 miles)

Read next: The best beach tents for a sun-safe summer holiday

2. Neilson Messini Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Messini Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Messini Beachclub | Check availability

What Mumsnet users say

“We go with Neilson every year and our girls, 8 and 10, love it. The kids’ clubs are flexible and there are usually some kids not in the club most days but most will be in the club. Ours generally prefer to go as there are usually activities they don't want to miss. (Each night the staff put up a board with the next day’s activities so you can see what's coming up). Each resort has its own characteristics, our favourite is Messini” - recommended by Mumsnetter, June2008

“I LOVE Neilson holidays. We have done two - Sivota and Messini. Kids’ clubs are amazing and I particularly loved the tennis in Messini. I managed to play twice a day most days. The kids’ clubs at Neilson make all other kids’ clubs look naff. My boys were 10 and 12 on our first visit and they got to do some really cool stuff” - recommended by Mumsnet user, Emma123456

Our verdict

Messini is a great choice for families and as it’s located in the Southern Peloponnese in rural Greece, you can expect a huge expanse of sandy beach with hidden coves and a beautiful backdrop of the Taygetus mountains. With a short transfer time of around 20 minutes, you can start enjoying your holiday almost as soon as you touch down on Greek shores.

Offering a greater variety of cycling rides and bike guides than any other Neilson Beachclub, cyclists can follow leisurely trails or take on technical climbs with steep inclines and rolling descents. You can even hire Frog bikes for children aged 3-6 years.

Water sports are popular at Messini too, especially sailing; but guests can also embrace windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and paddleboarding, or watch from afar while swimming lengths in the impressive onsite pool.

Back on land, there are plenty of tennis courts to choose from; regular fitness sessions and a climbing wall to navigate.

The kids’ clubs at Messini are for children aged 2-17 years and benefit from a poolside play area and a giant chess board. While the kids are enjoying action-packed days, you can head to the recently refurbished wellness area for a bit of much needed R&R, relaxing on the shady terrace or treating yourself to a massage, facial or pedicure.

Rooms have a modern and minimalist design and come with either a terrace or a balcony. There’s also the option of interconnecting rooms, which may be appealing for larger families or groups.

Nearest airport: Kalamata (12 miles)

Read next: The best paddling pools for summer 2023

3. Baia dei Mori Beachclub, Sardinia

Neilson Baia dei Mori Beachclub

Baia dei Mori Beachclub | Check availability

What Mumsnet users say

"We've done both Neilson and Mark Warner and Neilson are better. Going to Neilson Sardinia again this summer. The kids clubs are the shit, the activities are great. The food and accommodation are good" - AquaticSewingMachine

Our verdict

On Sardinia's sun-splashed northeast coast, the Baia dei Mori Beachclub is a relaxed retreat close to the ever-popular Costa Smeralda.

The wind conditions here are perfect for water-based activities like dinghy sailing and windsurfing and the area is a popular spot for kitesurfers - there's nearby beach where you can have a go (charged separately).

On-shore, families can enjoy road cycling and mountain biking, and there are tennis and volleyball courts, as well as daily fitness classes.

The restaurant's pizza oven dishes up crowd-pleasing family meals and there's a pool bar for relaxed evening drinks. Nearby Budoni offers a selection of bars and restaurants and the charming hilltop village of Posada is a 15-minute drive away.

The beach is good for kids as it offers plenty of shade under pine trees and the on-site kids' clubs caters to children between 2 and 17.

Nearest airport: Olbia (25 miles)

Read next: The best Eurocamp sites for families, as rated by parents

4. Neilson Vounaki Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Vounaki Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Vounaki Beachclub | Check availability

What Mumsnet users say

“We have been to Vounaki and loved it” - recommended by Mumsnetter, longshot 

“Also been to Vounaki. The holidays work for us because my DH is very outdoorsy and likes to be active on holiday whereas I'm not and I like to relax. The Neilson holiday offers both!” recommended by Mumsnet user, TheApprentice 

Our verdict

The small Beachclub resort of Vounaki is best suited to families who love their water sports and thanks to its wide open bay with calm waters and gentle winds, it’s suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to pros.

Set on a hillside not far from the Acarnanian mountains, with breathtaking views of Lefkas island, it’s a popular location for dinghies and sailing, as well as wakeboarding, water skiing, stand up paddleboarding, wakeboarding and kayaking.

Back on land, guests can opt for mountain biking, road cycling, one of two tennis courts and fitness classes, including popular zumba sessions that will certainly get your pulse racing. If relaxation is more your thing, you can also book yourself in for a treatment or two at the onsite Temple Spa.

Vounaki has traditional light and airy Greek-style rooms, with options for interconnecting and mezzanine rooms for larger families. Club board guests will love tucking into evening meals while watching sensational sunsets over the bay.

It’s worth noting that if you venture outside the resort, there are a few steps to navigate due to Vounaki’s elevated location. The quaint town of Paleros is 10 minutes away. You can also visit nearby Lefkas and Preveza for some more lively evening entertainment.

Nearest airport: Preveza (22 miles)

Read next: The best resorts with kids' clubs for your next family holiday

5. Neilson Cosmos Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Cosmos Beachclub, Greece

Neilson Cosmos Beachclub | Check availability

What Mumsnet users say

“We've been to Vassiliki in Greece and loved it. The focus is on watersports but there’s also mountain biking, yoga and a kids’ club. The kids (and adults) can sign up for windsurfing or sailing lessons, there's also canoeing and stand up paddleboarding. Would totally recommend as a way to have an active holiday in the sun!” - recommended by Mumsnet user, butterwithtoast

Our verdict

If you fancy a more intimate Beachclub, Neilson Cosmos has just 32 rooms and offers a warm and friendly resort for young families. Due to its smaller size, its set up is slightly different, with the kids’ clubs having a maximum age of 13 (not 17) and there are fewer dining options than at other Neilson Beachclubs.

Instead, guests can enjoy a cold buffet breakfast, and visit the family-run restaurant to buy lunch and dinner. Alternatively, you can venture out to Lefkas town, where you can  try traditional Greek gyros or mezes while surrounded by colourful fishing boats on the harbour.

Despite its small size, Cosmos doesn’t disappoint on the activities front. Thanks to its end-of-bay location, Vassiliki can’t be beaten for windsurfing, with calm and flat waters and ‘Eric’ the famous thermal wind that hits shores in the afternoon. Exclusive to Cosmos, you can even experience the levitating thrill of wing foiling.

If you’re a keen cyclist, you can choose from on- and off-road trails as well as guided rides.

All rooms are basic yet homely - try and get a sea view if possible, so you can see the impact of Eric from the comfort of your balcony!

Nearest airport: Preveza, 45 miles

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What’s the best Neilson Beachclub for families?

All Neilson Beachclubs are well set up to accommodate families, although it's worth remembering that Cosmos has a lower age limit for its kids’ clubs.

For a great all rounder, Neilson Alana Beachclub in Croatia is the obvious choice. It’s a larger site with a significant range of activities and with a short flight time, it’s the closest Beachclub to the UK.

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How we chose our recommendations

We spent several hours sifting through Mumsnet's forums for recommendations from users who have visited Neilson Beachclubs, including the ones they visit regularly or rate most highly.

We consulted recommendations from experts and made sure we included Neilson locations that regularly appeared in ‘best’ lists or were the most highly rated by guests on TripAdvisor and review sites, ensuring that previous visitors were satisfied with their stay.

By doing this, we whittled our longlist down and chose a selection of Neilson Beachclubs across Europe that we think offer something for everybody.

Read next: We've rounded up THE best cabin bags for your next family escape

Why you should 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.