10 ideas for cheap summer holidays in Europe and family-friendly resorts around the world
1. Paris, France
While penned by many a writer as one of the most romantic cities on earth, Paris is also an ideal family-friendly holiday destination. From ascending the Eiffel Tower or the Arc De Triomphe to getting portraits done by a quirky-looking artist on the Champs-Élysées, or stuffing your face with Nutella Crepes at every opportunity, Paris is an eye-opening experience for children of all ages – and you can find great deals on flights from Ireland.
If the weather is cooperating you can have a lovely family picnic in the Champ-de-Mars park (great way of saving money!). Follow with a ride on the antique carousel next to the Eiffel Tower – a much more fun experience at night-time, when the tower is illuminated. You can also bring the little rascals to Disneyland Paris. A day or two will be enough for them to meet Disney’s most famous characters and try out a variety of rides! Book early for winter 2019 you will get up to 25% off your holiday package (including tickets and accommodation).
If your children are a little older and are keen for a little culture, Paris is full of incredible free museums and art galleries. And the creepy catacombs are sure to impress any cranky teenagers.
Get more ideas with our insider’s guide to Paris galleries.
2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are always a good idea. With year round sunshine and warm weather, cheap flights from Ireland, and endless activities to do for visitors of all ages, Lanzarote is the perfect choice for family holidays on a budget.
From water sports such as surfing, sailing and kiteboarding for the older kids to beach days and trips to the Aquapark Costa Teguise, or the Aqualave Water Park for the younger ones, Lanzarote really is an island brimming with activities. If you rent a car you can road trip around the island in search of remote beaches, unusual wineries and even an extinct volcano, which you can either drive or climb to the top of.
Be sure to visit the famous blind albino crabs in Jameos del Agua, one of the top attractions on the island! If you want a quieter beach away from the madness of Puerto Del Carmen, then Costa Teguise is your best bet. You can either rent a self-catering apartment, or book into a resort such as the Princess Yaiza Hotel and Resort.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland
Bringing your family on an outdoor adventure to Iceland will create memories that will last a lifetime. The entire country is essentially one giant outdoor playground. There are glaciers to climb, ice caves to explore, incredible waterfalls to photograph and miles and miles of spectacular beaches to swim at.
Be it driving down a vast black sand beach in search of an abandoned airplane, swimming in natural hot springs situated on a local farmer’s land, or kayaking through a glacial lagoon – a family holiday to Iceland will be unlike anything else. With direct flights out of Dublin with Icelandair, getting from Ireland to Iceland has never been easier.
While it is more expensive than many of the other destinations, there are plenty of tricks to do Iceland on a budget, such as renting a car, camping in the wild and cooking food yourself instead of going to restaurants. If you visit in summer, your children will get to experience the novelty of the midnight sun. And your chances of spotting migrating whales will be much higher than other seasons. You can also persuade them to try some new foods…such as BBQ Puffin!
Let’s explore Iceland’s weather and when it’s the best time to visit in 2019!
4. Jersey, Channel Islands
A family holiday in Jersey is a recipe to soothe the soul. Its close proximity to Ireland (the flight is just over an hour long!) means that you can fly to St Helier, get the bus to your hotel and be on the beach before lunchtime. All on the same day you left Ireland!
The island has one of the top cycling routes in the world, making it an adventure lover’s paradise. Ideal for a family looking for an active holiday, cycling around the island is also one of the cheapest ways to see all the sights. From the dominant Mont Orgueil Castle to driving through the beautiful Jersey National Park and Durrell Wildlife Park, Jersey is full of fun attractions for all the family.
A visit to the old Jersey War Tunnels is a fun half-day trip, as is spending time in St Brelades Bay, voted one of the top 10 beaches in the UK. From horse riding on the beach to sea safaris, the word boredom will be banished from even the most difficult child’s vocabulary. Best of all, you get to enjoy French food and French weather on an island that speaks English. Doesn’t get much better than that.
5. Cancun, Mexico
While definitely not in everyone’s budget, treating the family to a holiday in Mexico is one they are sure to never forget. You can get fairly cheap flight deals from Dublin to Cancun with airlines like Delta. And, once you are there, you won’t have to spend much money. You can opt for cheap package holidays at one of the resorts in the hotel zone, situated on one of the most spectacular strips of coastline in the world. Or have a DIY holiday by renting an apartment nearby, cooking all your own food and saving every euro to spend on activities and day trips.
Your kids will love exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum or Chitchen Itza, one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Spend a day swimming in cenotes, unique natural swimming spots inside of ancient sink holes. Alternatively, swim with turtles at Akumal Beach, just south of Cancun. Or spend a day riding around the island of Cozumel in a vintage green beetle or open top jeep, pretending your entire family is living out some sort of extravagant travel movie! While the flights might be pricey, Mexico is one of the cheapest holiday destinations in the world. And you will love how far a few euro will go once there.
Your family loves adventure? We bring you ten super fun family holiday ideas for 2019 – from a cycling holiday in Italy to a family safari in South Africa.
6. Florida, USA
Nothing beats a family holiday to Florida. While most famous as being home to the original Disney World, Orlando is also home to many other huge water parks and theme parks. Nearby Clearwater Beach is one of the nicest stretches of sand you or your children will ever set foot on.
While flights to Florida are obviously more expensive than most destinations in Europe, it is definitely possible to do a family holiday on a budget. Try renting a self-catering apartment for the week instead of staying in one of the big resorts next to Disney. And buy a multi-day pass to save money on entry to the parks.
If after a few days the whole family has had enough theme parks to last them a lifetime, there are plenty more exciting things to do in Orlando. A trip to the Kennedy Space Centre, for example, is a great adventure for any wannabe astronauts, or if your children are passionate about space and our solar system.
If you are all feeling brave, you can do a unique swamp tour in search of aligators and other lurking masters that will scare the life out of you! A day trip to the happening Daytona Beach is also a must. Even if it’s just to gawk at the would-be models rollerblading up and down the board walk!
Here’s a few tips on how to travel to or around the United States without breaking the bank.
7. Brittany, France
Holidaying in France has been a firm favourite with the Irish for decades, whether you decide to take the ferry from Cork or Rosslare, or fly from Dublin to Rennes. With a large choice of campsites, children’s activity centres, and water parks in the region, Brittany is a little corner of France that will make the whole family feel at home!
While warmer than Ireland, the temperature never gets unbearably hot here. That’s another reason it is loved by the Irish in search of a holiday destination with a milder climate. There are many child-friendly resorts up and down Brittany’s coast, with sandy beaches big enough for a city of sand castles. Driving to the spectacular Mont-Saint-Michel, a magical island linked to the mainland by a very narrow causeway, is an experience in itself. Spend a few hours taking in this world-famous UNESCO Heritage site, sampling some local ciders and treating the family to some sweet, sweet crepes!
8. Crete, Greece
If you’re looking for the perfect beach holiday with the family this summer, you can’t go wrong with the Greek island of Crete. Think unbelievably clear waters, deserted stretches of coastline, pink sand beaches and enough water-based activities to keep boredom at bay.
For families who simply love to spend time together on the beach, swimming, building sand castles, kayaking and having picnics, Crete is the perfect budget holiday destination. For those looking to get out and explore, Crete also has a lot to offer. Renting a car is a must to discover the more hidden gems on the island – from castles and forts, to old lighthouses and secret beaches, some of the best in Europe!
A day trip to the Palace of Knossos, home to the infamous Minotaur of Greek mythology, can make a welcome break from days on the beach, as can a day exploring the ancient city of Heraklion. Crete is also one of the best foodie destinations in Greece. So if your children have an appreciation for cheese or olives, they will love you forever for taking them here on holiday this summer.
9. Alton Towers, England
Think of it as you would a trip to Orlando or a trip to Disneyland, but on a much tighter budget and way closer to home! Distance and cost aside, Alton Towers is in fact a brilliant family-friendly holiday destination just across the pond.
Located near the Peak District in England, Alton Towers has established itself as one of Europe’s top theme parks, jam-packed with rides and attractions to suit all ages. There’s also a fairly new water park (should you be blessed by the weather Gods). Thanks to its location in Staffordshire, staying here is a great base for exploring nearby attractions. You can hike in the Peak District or visit Chatsworth House, the residence of Mr Darcy in the movie Pride and Prejudice.
Then again, as the theme park is home to one of the best rollercoasters in the world and enough rides to fill up an entire week, you may decide to never leave.
10. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Is your family a fan of Game of Thrones? if so, then look no further than the city of Dubrovnik for a cheap family holiday this summer. Many scenes from the hit series were filmed in Dubrovnik, including the old city’s famous walls, which are those of King’s Landing in the series. There’s even a 3-hour Game of Thrones walking tour, where you can learn about all the best filming spots and even have some fun with replica swords! Hop on a ferry to nearby Lokrum Island (about 10 euros return) and you can have a chance to sit on the Iron Throne and look over your unworthy subjects (your family perhaps?!).
If you’re not the biggest Game of Thrones fan, fear not. Dubrovnik has lots on offer for you too. From dune buggying on top of a nearby mountain overlooking the Old Town to sunset kayaking trips, or a boat trip to the Elaphiti Islands, Dubrovnik is a city break with a twist. Enjoy all the benefits of staying in a popular tourist destination, with the added bonus of being near the ocean and having easy access to beautiful beaches and nearby islands.
The 10 best family holidays on a budget 2019
|1. Paris, France|
|2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands|
|3. Reykjavik, Iceland|
|4. Jersey, Channel Islands|
|5. Cancun, Mexico|
|6. Florida, USA|
|7. Brittany, France|
|8. Crete, Greece|
|9. Alton Towers, England|
|10. Dubrovnik, Croatia|
*Updated May 2019. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.