Affordable Family Summer Holidays
The days are longer and while it’s cold outside, the temperature is, ever so slowly, rising. I can see buds on the apple trees and the blue tits who have taken up residence in our birdhouse are frantically putting the finishing touches to their new abode. Summer is coming and it’s about time too.
We spend the year racing about, barely keeping our heads above water; work, school runs and general everyday chores. That’s why a holiday, when you can bask in the sun, eat outdoors and listen to the children’s squeals of delight as they splash around in the sea, is so important to us all.
My childhood holidays were mainly spent in a caravan in Wexford, where we ran around with no shoes on, spent hours on the beach rolling down sand dunes and braving the cold Irish Sea. Dinners were on a rickety wooden table outside, the BBQ belching smoke, Mum and Dad sipping their drinks, listening to our excited chatter of that day’s adventures. These are my memories of family holidays.
If, like so many others, you’ve decided to go abroad this summer, then you may have tuned in to Ireland AM on Thursday, 11th April at 8.45am when I was chatting about some family-friendly and affordable holidays in the sunshine. Below is all the information from the slot. (For more information on camping holidays in France read here and here)
Portugal has become one of the most popular family summer destinations, especially the Algarve, a stretch of 150kms of coastline fringed with long sandy beaches, crumbling red cliffs, family-friendly resorts and plenty of activities to keep the young ones occupied. The Algarve is to Portugal, what the Costa del Sol is to Spain, a beachside holiday destination catering for all budgets; luxury resorts with swish hotels and plush villas replete with private swimming pools, golf courses and fine restaurants in Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo or more affordable resorts such as Praia da Rocha and Alvor which offer an excellent range of reasonably priced accommodation, beautiful beaches and plenty of family-focused activities.
Portugal is in the Top 10 (rates number 7) – Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer, so one of the most affordable places to holiday in the world. Most package deals take you to the resorts in central Algarve, which are geared towards families. Children won’t get bored with lots of watersports on offer – surfing, kayaking, motor-boating, windsurfing and with 4 water parks along the coast, there’s plenty to fill the long lazy days.
For the grown-ups the area has a surplus of golf courses, Faro is renowned for shopping and for the adventurous you can take quad-bikes up into the mountains along dirt tracks and countryside roads.
The beaches of the south are well protected, however once you round Cape St Vincent, the less shelter there is and the more rugged and wild the beaches become. This has resulted in most of the development happening on the southern coastline, meaning the western resorts are less crowded and developed. An excellent place near Sagres is the high-end, family-friendly Marthinal Resort, while pricey it is in a secluded Nature Park, tastefully designed and with fantastic facilities.
No matter where you’re staying, it’s worth taking a daytrip away from the coastline to experience the real Portugal. The interior is adorned with colourful orange groves, fig trees, vineyards and quaint villages.
Top things to do with the kids
- Visit to Zoo Marine Theme Park in Albufeira
- Surf lesson in Costa Vicentina
- Visit to the caves by boat in Lagos
Hotel Accommodation from €500 for 1 bed self-catering apartment per week
Pedralva Village – 2 bedroom Villa sleeping 4 people Includes: 7 nights accommodation, 5 days of surf lessons, 2 hours per day including equipment
Total for family of 4 €1,699
From €2,190 – Vitor’s Plaza Apartments, Praia da Vau, 3 Falcons. Includes flights, transfers, 7 nights, 2 adults & 2 kids sharing, taxes and fees
From €1878 staying at Albufeira in the 3* Luna Club Oceano Apartments. Includes flights, transfers, 7 nights, 2 adults & 2 kids sharing, taxes and fees
Camping can prove to be a very memorable family holiday and tends to be significantly cheaper than resort holidays. Companies like Campotel, Canvas Holidays,Keycamp and Eurocamp run reputable and well-run campsites throughout France, with very reasonable price tags. There are almost 1000 campsites to choose from in Brittany with beachside locations, forest retreats or fringing bustling, cultural towns.
Families travelling by boat arrive into Roscoff or Cherbourg in Brittany are only a short drive away from fantastic beaches, quaint villages and an interior sprinkled with castles, forests and canals.
Temperatures in Brittany during the peak summer months tend to be in the late teens to early twenties, ideal for families with young children.
The coast of Brittany stretches for an impressive 1,700 miles, the rugged northern coastline marked by towering cliffs and rocky coves, while the southern beaches are more sheltered, but just as pictureque.
- Turning left when you come out of Roscoff will lead you to the wild, but incredibly beautiful Pink Granite Coast, so called because of the unusal colour of the rocks. There are some good family friendly beaches along the coastline and towns like Dinan and St. Malo are full of character and culture. Perros-Guirec is one of the more popular areas for families as it has three sandy beaches, watersports and kid’s clubs.
- The beaches along the south-west coast of Brittany are calmer and there’s no scarcity of long stretches of sandy beaches. A particular favourite is Carnac which sits at the base of the Quiberon Peninsula, which has both a wild and rugged coast and a more sheltered area around St. Pierre-Quiberon
- L’Escale Saint-Gilles in Southern Brittany is a five-star beachside campsite with good facilities, accommodation in canvas lodges, tents and mobile homes.
- If you’re looking for an active holiday with the kids, head inland to Brittany’s Green Cycleways, the cycle lanes following the towpaths of the canals, disused railway lines and country lanes.
- Visit Brittany’s islands, of which Belle-Ile-en-Mer is the largest. Beautiful stretches of beaches, picturesque villages and tranquil countryside lure visitors in their thousands throughout the summer.
- Concarneau has a pretty walled town and some good beaches nearby. There are lots of great restaurants and cafes, beaches have watersports to keep kids occupied and there’s no shortage of fresh fish as this is France’s third largest port.
- All kids love fairytales and they’ll love visiting King Arthur’s Forest where the Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien, housed in the magical castle – Château de Comper near Concoret brings the legend of Merlin alive through exhibitions and themed walks
Getting There Fly direct to Brest from 29th June from €69 one way per person (excl. Taxes & fees) with www.airfrance.com
Fly from €70 one way per person to Nantes (excl. Taxes & fees) with http://www.ryanair.com
From €490 return car with 4 passengers (including cabin) with www.irishferries.com
From €350 for 7 nights in cabin catering for 4 people
Canvas Holidays – From €270 for 7 nights in a 2-bedroom Choice mobile home two adults and up to four children
Eurocamp – From €330 for 7 nights accommodation (Sleeps 4)