Memories are made in family villas. Ready and waiting for the whole crew, these stays come with multiple bedrooms, outdoor terraces and large lounges – everything you need to be comfy abroad. What's more, they sit in some downright enticing locations, putting you and the kids by the lapping waters of the Spanish coast, amid the rolling hills of Tuscany or somewhere else entirely. Use this guide for hints on booking and some tempting villa destinations to boot.
Popular family villa holiday destinations in Europe
Europe has been drawing families over the English Channel for decades. With more and more low-cost flights now linking UK airports to the continent, the popularity of 2 weeks in the sun is only set to increase. Here are just some of the tried-and-tested villa hotspots to consider this year.
Discover family villas in Spain
Ah Spain – arguably the family villa holiday mecca of the world. The Mediterranean coast of the country is surely where the action's at. The Costa Blanca usually comes up trumps, with energetic towns like Benidorm laced with Blue-Flag beaches and rollicking karaoke bars alike. Move away from that to Andalusia and the Costa del Sol takes over. Skip the jet-setter walks of Marbella in favour of quiet Estepona, or even the pueblos of the sierras.
Italian family villa holidays
A self-catering family villa in Italy is a ticket to devouring mozzarella-topped pizzas and sipping the reds of Chianti. The duo of Umbria and Tuscany can be hard to resist. In those, you'll find countless pool-ready farmhouse conversions. What's more, they make it possible to attend bustling Saturday markets in hilltop towns like Cortona, or case out the priceless art works of the Uffizi in Florence.
Consider family villa holidays in Portugal
Laid-back Portugal has pads with pools and citrus-scented gardens. The Algarve virtually guarantees the sun – it often comes in as the hottest corner of Europe as a whole. However, you could also look north, to Porto, where the kids can be kept busy with rolling surf waves while the adults taste sweet wines in historic cellars.
How to get cheap family-friendly villas
Tight travel budget? That shouldn't be a problem. The sheer proliferation of family villas in Europe and beyond means it's usually possible to nail a bargain. There are also other ways you can keep the pennies for car rentals and museum visits.
Book your family villa holidays as early as you can
In the world of booking family-friendly villas, the early bird really does catch the worm. That's not so much because prices increase in the last minute, but because the top deals on these coveted stays will always sell out fast. The only way to ensure you get the pick of the bunch is to start thinking about that getaway with the crew when the Christmas tree is still up, or even before.
Plan villa holidays when they're cheaper
We know it can be tricky to organise a getaway with the family outside of the summer holidays, but there are some options. Half-term breaks to southerly countries like Greece and Croatia can still bring plenty of sun, while spots like the Canary Islands might just have you lazing on the sands while the folks at home shiver. The great news is that off-season hops like this could save you a whole lot of Euros.
Get good deals on flights
Family villas aren't the only thing you can save on when it comes to putting together a holiday. You can also reduce the cost of transportation to bolster the budget. Flights are usually the main expense, which is why it's super-important to bag your seats at least 90 days before take-off. Focusing your search on only budget carriers can reveal even more reductions.
Some more off-radar family villa holiday possibilities
Some folk love sticking to the old favourites for family villas, others like to push the boundaries a little and see somewhere new. Thankfully, Europe is laced with all sorts of enticing islands, mountain ranges and shores, where villas by the sea mingle with stylish pads in the peaks. Some other places that could stoke your wanderlust are listed below.
Have a family villa holiday in Cyprus
The south-west coast of Cyprus is an iconic family holidaying spot. It fuses fun-loving vibes with history, pitting the bars of Paphos against the UNESCO-tagged Tombs of the Kings. Beach lovers won't be disappointed, either. They can look for stays up by the pine-scented Akamas Peninsula, where turtles often crawl over the coves.
Bag villas by the sea in Crete
Although it's a part of Greece, Crete can often seem like a whole other country. Being so far south, it's a great choice for early- or late-season family trips, as temperatures begin to creep up in May and don't tail off again until around October. The western side of the island is tailor-made for those with kids in tow. The cobbled lanes of Chania are a great introduction, before the sparkling beaches of Agia Marina beckon.
Family villas abound in Croatia
Made up of over 1000 islands and a long, stretched-out mainland that's shrouded by the Dinaric Alps, Croatia is a rising star on the family villa scene. More and more houses are becoming available here each year. The northern headland of Istria is proving a real favourite. It's got a taste of Italian style to it, made up of marble-clad towns like Rovinj and the enthralling Roman ruins of Pula.