Whether you’re looking for a bargain sun break, or an action-packed trip on home turf, there are plenty of options for a family holiday. Sarah Marshall rounds up some of the best.
Natural marvels in Montenegro
Best for: All the family
(By Bess Manson)
The term jaw-dropping isn’t one to be used lightly, but when describing Montenegro’s idyllic landscapes it feels perfectly appropriate.
Dramatic mountains, glassy waters and even rainforest (one of the last in Europe) characterise this often overlooked destination.
But with new direct scheduled flights from Gatwick having launched this year, Montenegro won’t stay a secret for long.
Most tourists head to the Bay of Kotor, where calm waters take a winding path into the Adriatic Sea. The ninth-century town is peppered with beautiful squares (where kids gather to play football in the late afternoon sun), lively cafes and great options for self-catering accommodation.
The locals are extremely family-friendly and children are well catered for; there are plenty of play parks, supermarkets are reasonably priced, and the ice creams are dirt cheap!
To make the most of the destination you’ll need to hire a car - although be prepared for some narrow coastal roads.
One of Montenegro’s best child-friendly beaches is Blue Horizons on the Lustica peninsula. Olive and cypress trees border the sandy beach where you can paddle out for 50ft before it gets deep.
In terms of infrastructure, Montenegro is still a little rough around the edges but that only lends to its appeal. With its majestic beauty and warm soul, it’s an undeniably charming place.
If you want to give your kids the kind of family holiday you recall with fond, rose-tinted nostalgia, this could be it.
:: Explore Montenegro (www.montenegroholidays.com/020 7118 1002) offers seven nights’ accommodation at Kotor Vista in Kotor from £1,469 (based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing), including flights and car hire. Flights depart London Gatwick to Tivat every Sunday and Wednesday.
On a high in Basilicata
Best for: Older teenagers
(By Sarah Marshall)
While young children are relatively easy to please on holiday (give them sun, sea and sandcastles), taciturn teens are slightly trickier to tackle. One thing guaranteed to get them talking, however, is a trip with a sense of adventure.
Located in the arch of Italy’s boot, Basilicata has always been popular with domestic tourists who come in search of mountain villages, unspoilt beaches and good, home-cooked food. But for British visitors, it’s still relatively off the beaten track.
Film director Francis Ford Coppola, an honorary citizen of the region, spent many childhood holidays here with his Italian family, and still speaks nostalgically about his love of local delicacy lampascioni (wild, bitter-tasting onions).
The recent opening of his luxury hotel, Palazzo Margherita, a converted 19th century villa in sleepy hill-top village Bernalda, has even attracted the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel to the region.
A much more affordable accommodation option can be found just down the road at the family-run Giamperduto Hotel, where apartment-style rooms surround a fragrant, citrus tree-filled garden.
A sandy beach with sun loungers is a five-minute drive from the hotel but older teens will probably prefer a visit to Castelmezzano, home to one of the tallest (888 metres) and longest (1,550 metres) zip-wires in the world.
Suspended between two villages in the Lucanian Dolomites, the aptly-named Flight Of The Angel sends passengers hurtling at speeds of up to 70mph across a steep, forest-covered valley.
And while the minimum age restriction is 16, there’s no maximum, making this a multi-generational activity (so far, the oldest passenger to make the flight was aged 85).
More than anything, it’s the ideal way to end your trip on a high.
:: Family apartments (two rooms) at Giamperduto Hotel start from 160 euros per night. Visit www.giamperduto.com
:: easyJet flights to Bari from £84 return in July. Visit www.easyjet.com
:: The Flight of the Angel costs 38 euros per person. Visit www.volodellangelo.com
Highland adventure in Lochaber
Best for: Active families
(By Abi Jackson)
Outdoorsy types will truly be in their element in Scotland’s Lochaber, known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’.
Just a few hours north west of Glasgow, you’ll find rolling hills, thick forests, roaring rivers and the cloud-skimming peaks of Ben Nevis. All can be explored by foot, boat, bike or even kayak.
Rockhopper Scotland offer trips in stable and easy-to-use kayaks, exploring Lochaber’s stunning coastline (starting from £40 per person). Teenagers can travel alone, while younger kids can share with adults. Whatever route or challenge rating you go for, breathtaking scenery and wildlife are guaranteed (look out for cheeky otters and seals).
But no trip would be complete without a visit to the Ben Nevis range. Take the gondola to the top and enjoy afternoon tea at Snowgoose Restaurant - a perfect reward for anybody brave enough to complete the High Wire Adventure course at the mountain’s foot (family tickets from £64).
The course will see you shimmy, swing, clamber and leap between platforms up in the trees. Though you’re safety-harnessed throughout, it’s definitely hair-raising!
There are lots of accommodation options, but Glenuig Inn - nestled in a sheltered bay at the centre of the picturesque Sound of Arisaig - is a real treat.
Owner Steve Macfarlane is passionate about the environment and the award-winning inn runs entirely on renewable energy - he’ll be happy to explain how it all works, too.
Look out for the Glenfinnan viaduct on the drive. The kids will recognise it from Harry Potter and co’s train journeys to Hogwarts!
And don’t miss the delicious home-made food. After all that activity and fresh air, you’ll have built up an appetite!
:: Travel direct from London Euston to Fort William on the ScotRail Caledonian Sleeper train. Advance tickets start from £63.60 (50% discount for children 5-15; under-fives travel free). Visit www.scotrail.co.uk or call 0845 755 0033.
:: Family rooms at Glenuig Inn cost £125 per night with breakfast included. Visit www.glenuig.com or call 0168 747 0219
:: For more information about activities and facilities in the area, visit www.outdoorcapital.co.uk
A quiet side of Tenerife
Best for: Younger kids
(By Polly Weeks)
Tenerife has always been popular with sun-seekers. Just a four-hour flight from London, the Spanish island is a safe option for a family beach holiday.
But if you want to escape crowded beaches covered in a carpet of Union Jack-emblazoned towels, head to the more peaceful Costa Adeja in the south of the island.
The seaside Dream Hotel Gran Tacande exudes enough calm to temper even the most boisterous children. A five-star resort, it offers generously-sized rooms and modern comforts, along with warm Canarian hospitality.
There are also lots of activities to keep kids entertained.
While grown-ups can book into the spa, kids will love making new friends at the hotel’s free daytime childcare centre. The resort also has two large outdoor pools and a smaller baby pool.
If you prefer sea water, however, the idyllic Playa del Duque beach is directly next door. While the sand is softer than elsewhere on the island (it’s imported), the beach rarely feels overcrowded.
Although there are lots of good restaurants in the area, Hotel Dream Tacande offers a very tempting menu of dishes - both in taste and cost, with half-board packages available.
Whether you spend the entire week poolside, or treat the kids to excursions, you can be assured you’ll return from your holiday feeling thoroughly relaxed.
:: easyJet Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Dream Gran Tacande from £488 per person, departing on July 25 from Gatwick for £533 per person (total price £2,132) based on a family of four sharing. Regional departures available throughout the year - different prices apply. Visit easyJet.com/holidays or call 0843 104 1000