Looking for a unique trip on the Continent? Check out our editors’ list of all-time favorite European vacations.
By Christine Watridge
The EU is open! Looking for a last-minute summer adventure? ROAM editors compiled this list of our most unique and interesting European vacations—from Italian volcanoes to Portuguese beaches. Check out the unbelievable adventures below and add them to your family’s bucket list.
1. SPAIN: Walking the Camino with Kids
Two weeks of traveling with Christian pilgrims in northern Spain reveals cows, pinecones, flowers, castles, and newfound friends. What’s better than taking a long walk with your kids in the countryside of northern Spain? Taking 14 days of long walks together! The Camino de Santiago has been traveled for centuries by pilgrims following the Way of St. James. In April, Lilia deCos and her family walked from León to Santiago de Compostela. Though few children make the journey and there were several bumps along the road, it was an unforgettable experience that challenged both body and mind.
2. FRANCE: France with Kids: Vancluse by Van
Why should European campervanning be limited to the summer, when it’s a great way to get away in autumn too? Rachel Ifans tested the theory by hiring a van in the South of France at the end of October and showed her kids the best of the region’s wines, foods, villages, and historical sites.
3. SWITZERLAND: Hut-to-Hut Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc
A bucket-list backpacking trip for the brave. With jaw-dropping views, remote cabin restaurants, and tough trails, the famed trek through the Alps of Switzerland, Italy, and France is a rewarding mental and physical challenge. Known as one of the most famous and most visited trails in Europe, the TMB, as the Tour du Mont Blanc is known, makes a 110-mile circle around the mountain range and winds its way through the towns and hostels of the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps. The snaking lines of dirt, cement, and cobblestone paths see thousands of visitors every year, from locals seeking a few hours respite in nature to trekkers hiking the entire 10-day hike.
4. GREECE: Jumping for Milos
The Greek island of Milos offers families a place to settle in and soak up the natural beauty of the Cyclades and Greek island life. With just the right amount of things to see and do, you can explore, relax or jump to your family’s hearts’ content.
5. ROAD TRIP: The Road from Rome to Berlin
A summer south-north route pleases parents and teens with historical and shopping stops in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany. Whether it was shopping in Venice, singing the Sound of Music in Salzburg, castle-ing in Prague, or even visiting memorials to the sadly emotional horrors of the Holocaust, the whole family was all-in.
6. SWITZERLAND: Adventure Faceoff: The Alps vs. The Rockies
The Rockies are impressive, but the Swiss mountain range is legendary for a reason, not the least of which is its pristine beauty. But it’s also because of what you can do there—all the uniquely Swiss pastimes—that make these mountains special. From taking the train to the top of a mountain to paragliding down one, this family trip is worth the effort.
7. SPAIN: Another Taste of San Sebastián
Savor time in Spain’s go-BACK-to-the-beach town in the Basque country. It’s the magnetic Basque lifestyle, food, and culture that attracts visitors to the northern Spanish town on the Bay of Biscay. Dina Harrison and her family spent long, lazy days at the beach and loved to stroll the New Paseo along the curve of Playa de la Concha with its hallmark white railing—and you can too!
8. SPAIN: The Magical Waters of Anna, Spain
Dive into fabled pools and family history during two weeks near Valencia. Water is everywhere in Anna. It pools in the gorges, hides underground, falls from the cliffs, and flows through the town. Anna is a remarkably unique and unexpected Spanish countryside getaway that is becoming more popular, especially with French and Spanish water adventurers and canyoners.
9. PORTUGAL: Loving Lisbon, Lagos & Beyond
Ten perfect days of historic streets, epic meals, and coastal bliss make Portugal the hottest family destination in Europe. Imagine waking up to see a fort—outside your window!?! Dina Harrison and her husband rouse the kids and head out, following their noses and iPhones in search of coffee and pastries. This is Lisbon. And these steps were just the beginning of neighborhood-after-neighborhood, town-after-town delights during their summer stay in Portugal.
10. FRANCE: Roaming Paris with Twins
Just walking the streets of Paris there were numerous moments, from a magical toy store window with baby dolls on a small carousel to dancing along with hip-hop kids in public spaces. Paris is chock full of memorable spots and fabulous world-class venues, but sometimes just walking the streets offers up the best treasures. Give Darya Mead and her twins a petite park, a baguette, a hunk of cheese, and maybe a robust red (for her)—or maybe just a couple of toddlers thrilled to run around—and she’d call it a good day.
11. ITALY: A Return to Italy – con Bambinis
Ten years ago Sarah and Jud exchanged wedding vows and celebrated their nuptials with a dreamlike honeymoon in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. They were so enchanted with this amazing town that they made another vow: to return in 10 years to celebrate their anniversary. A decade later they did in fact make it back; this time with two bambinis and more family to help mark the occasion. They even extended the trip to include Positano, Tuscany, and beautiful Lake Como. This stunning coastline could be your next family trip too!
12. ITALY: 1 Day, 2 Volcanoes, 3 Islands
Between Sicily and the toe of Italy’s boot, the Tyrrhenian Sea is dotted with the idyllic Aeolian Islands. These Italian holiday destinations are actually volcanic peaks of varying dormancy. And their proximity to each other makes climbing two in one day easy.
13. ITALY: Finding the Italy of Our Dreams
There is an ancient seaside city that encapsulates everything Italy has to offer and will renew your faith in everything Italian: Ortigia. Ortigia is the old part of the city of Syracusa, a 2,700-year-old ancient Greek civilization that was the birthplace of Archimedes. It encapsulates everything you want in an Italian city: ancient ruins, Baroque cathedrals and fountains, quaint alleys, Mediterranean swims, and gorgeous Italian people, style, and food. Every person, balcony, windowsill, potted plant, street sign, door, boutique, and crumbling stucco wall is photogenic.
14. SPAIN: Barcelona – Again & Again & Again
Spain’s superstar never disappoints. Everything is over-the-top amazing. After many summers exploring Europe pre- and post-kids, Barcelona is Dina Harrison’s very favorite city. She visits again and again, and never gets enough. Explore Gaudi masterpieces like the Sagrada Familia, as well as old neighborhoods, diverse markets, beautiful beaches, and more!
15. FRANCE: Taking It Slow in Bordeaux
The entire city of Bordeaux proper is a Unesco Heritage Site, and a few minutes of strolling along its quaint, earthtone streets, myriad fountains, and picturesque cafes, and you can see why. On this trip, the whole town—the whole countryside, really—felt clean, open, inviting, and happy to see Karen Sulkis and her extended family. And the feeling was mutual.
To learn about more ROAM-approved European adventures, click here!
Christine Watridge – June 2021
ROAM Assistant Editor
Christine is a college student from the Bay Area who dreams of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail and visiting all 63 National Parks (15 down!). If she’s not outside, you can find her illustrating, writing, reading a good book or baking focaccia bread.
© ROAM Family Travel 2021 – All rights reserved
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