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Summer half-term is a great opportunity for a short break in Europe, and there are so many exciting destinations that are perfect for families. Keeping the kids entertained is always a top priority for a happy and stress-free holiday, so here are our top picks for half-term breaks in Europe this summer.
Picturesque North Holland
This area of the Netherlands is what most of us would picture when thinking of ‘Holland’, and is replete with windmills, canals, and clogs. There is also plenty here that kids will enjoy. Amsterdam is a good base for a trip around this region, with a direct ferry from Newcastle. There are interesting cities such as Haarlem and Alkmaar, as well as the fantasy castle of Muiderslot just outside Amsterdam. And if the weather is kind, you can have fun on the beaches and dunes at Zandvoort, Petten, and Bergen aan Zee.
The capital of European politics might not immediately spring to mind as a destination for a fun holiday with the kids, but there is plenty in this vibrant capital to delight children and adults. There’s the fanciful architecture of the Grand Place and surrounding streets, as well as all the chocolatiers full of mouth-watering creations. For something educational disguised as fun, there’s the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, where you can find dinosaurs and a famous collection of iguanodons, with plenty of hands-on exhibits aimed at children. There’s also the amazing Atomium just outside the city, a giant atom housing exhibition spaces and a restaurant.
What better to keep children captivated than knights, legends, and castles? Normandy is full of such delights, from the fortresses of William the Conqueror to the soaring pinnacle of Mont Saint-Michel. Caen is home to a walled medieval chateau as well as two abbeys, as well as some great museums. There’s also Rouen, the capital of Normandy, with its incredible gothic cathedral and a beautifully restored medieval quarter. It’s also steeped in the history of the Hundred Years War and the famous Joan of Arc, who was tried and burned at the stake here in 1431. Taking the ferry to Dieppe puts you right in the heart of the region, making it a convenient and affordable way to travel to France from the UK. Or why not browse all of your options for crossing the channels here.
The capital of Sweden is the place to head for a slightly cooler summer break, in every sense. The city is spread across 14 islands, with a huge variety of attractions for families, such as the fascinating outdoor museum Skansen, where you’ll find historic buildings populated with people authentically recreating traditional Swedish craft and culture. For more outdoor excitement, there are also beaches and some great places for water sports just a ferry ride away.
Copenhagen is famous for its fairy tales, mostly thanks to a certain Hans Christian Anderson. Probably the city’s most famous landmark is the Little Mermaid statue in the harbour area, best worth a visit first thing in the morning or later in the evening when it’s not obscured by crowds of tourists. A must-see for kids is Tivoli Gardens, a historic theme park in the middle of the city that helped to inspire Walt Disney to build his theme parks. There are rides and performances and special events throughout the year, with attractions designed for younger kids as well as more demanding older kids.
Make sure your family break is nothing but stress-free fun by taking your own vehicle on one of our ferry routes to Europe.
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