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Mark Frary


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    Family holidays at May half term

    Family holidays TurkeyFamily holidays in May half term

    By Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays

    The best family deals in May half term 2019

    Looking for family holidays in May half term? I have compiled some exciting ideas for you and your family both at home and abroad, whatever your budget. You’ll find personal recommendations for families with children of all ages through to teenagers. Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

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    May half term holidays in Europe

    May is a fantastic time to travel to Europe, especially the Mediterranean. It’s near the start of the season so resorts are uncrowded, temperatures are manageable for children and you can be confident of enjoying long days of sunshine, even if the sea may still feel a bit cool.

    France has some great budget options. Siblu has a selection of villages in France with large swimming pools and free children’s clubs. Further south in Spain and Greece, Jet2Holidays has a collection of hotels with water parks. For a more upmarket all-inclusive experience, check out Club Med.

    For bargain all-inclusive beach hotels head to Bulgaria where the resort of Sunny Beach has a 9km Blue Flag sandy beach and lovely clear water.

    If you fancy a combination of cycling, walking and canoeing – but don’t want to travel in a group with strangers – try one of these independent family activity holidays. You can choose between staying at one (small charming) hotel, or travelling between hotels with your luggage transported each day.

    If you’re travelling with a large family or group of friends, you could rent a chateau in France – for example, Chateau Gombardy in the Loire Valley sleeps up to 16 and has a swimming pool and tennis court. It’s a lot less expensive than you might think.

    These villas in the Dordogne are firm favourites with families, and would be an ideal base to explore this picturesque region of forests, gorges, historic towns and vineyards. See the latest special offers.

    For a perfect small family hotel in France, I recommend Hotel l’Arena in Fréjus midway between Cannes and St Tropez. If you’re looking for a more contemporary, cool vibe, try the stylish new Nobu Ibiza Bay Hotel on a lovely sandy beach near Ibiza Town.

    If you want an action-packed holiday, check out Activities Abroad which has options include surfing in Portugal, white-water rafting in Slovenia and canyoning in The Ardeche in France.

    You can see a lot of the Med on a family cruise. The latest ships are constantly improving their family friendliness. Royal Caribbean Cruises, for example, offers a Flowrider surf simulator, rock climbing wall, zip line and water slides. See the latest family cruise offers.

    For a different type of adventure on the ocean waves, join a flotilla sailing holiday in the Mediterranean. Check out the latest special offers.

    Or explore one of Europe’s great cities, staying in a stylish family apartment. You’ll have all the freedom, space and privacy that you rarely get in a hotel. How about a Parisian loft, a canal boat in Amsterdam, an apartment in Lisbon or an architect-designed home in Barcelona.

    Take an independent family cycling holiday in one of Europe’s most beautiful regions. You get bikes, maps and an itinerary, and your luggage is each day transported to a new hotel where dinner awaits. My top recommended destinations are Mallorca and Catalonia.

    Many people ignore Northern Spain which is crazy, because this is a beautiful part of Europe with lots to do, beautiful places to stay and miles of unspoilt beaches. You can fly or take an overnight ferry to Santander. Check out this collection of family villas with private pool.

    You can expect hot sunny weather in the Balearics. Head to Menorca for a great selection of villas. For a bit more opulence, Sir Richard Branson’s Son Bunyola estate in Mallorca has just three stunning villas set in 680 acres of protected countryside. On the Spanish mainland you could head to the chic town of Sitges near Barcelona where you’ll find these stylish villas for families.

    Croatia is becoming increasingly popular with families, with many people opting to stay in villas. There’s a good selection both on the coast and within walking distance of local villages. See the latest special offers. Or why not explore Croatia’s beautiful coastline and some of its 1,000 islands? Sail Dalmatia has 90 crewed boats to suit all budgets from catamarans to super yachts.

    Inntravel has some interesting activity holidays in Spain including walking in Catalonia and cycling in Mallorca.

    Portugal is a firm favourite with many families. I love this selection of boutique hotels, B&Bs and stylish villas from i-escape. On the Algarve, luxury Villa Monchique is packed with toys and games for all the family.

    Love Italy? So do we. Two of the best family hotels we’ve found are the Borgo Scopeta Relais in Siena, and the award-winning Borgo Egnazia in the sun-baked south.

    Another luxury hotel that works really well for families is the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily. It’s part of the exclusive Rocco Forte collection with interiors designed by Olga Polizzi. Facilities a two-tier swimming pool, tennis academy, Juventus Camp football academy, bike hire and 18-hole golf course.

    There are some great options in Greece. I recommend Sani Resort, a large resort set amid pine forests on beautiful Blue Flag beaches. It’s enclosed, safe and friendly with lots of facilities for children of all ages. The Sani Beach Club is the best hotel within the complex for families.

    Other Greek options include the IKOS Olivia, an upmarket all-inclusive that is also great value, and the Westin Resort Costa Navarino, which has fantastic facilities for kids including water slides, bowling alley, adventure playground, two golf courses, racket ball, mountain biking, open air cinema and plenty of water sports from paddle boarding to scuba-diving. If you prefer simple self-catering, try the villas with pools on the charming island of Kefalonia which has direct flights from across the UK (see the latest offers).

    It’s an exciting time to visit Scandinavia where you can witness the midnight sun and get stuck into some outdoors adventures. Exsus has put together some amazing family trips in Sweden and Norway. Try this Summer Nights & Seafood trip to West Sweden with crayfish hunting, kayaking and sailing, or Campfires & Kayaks with Viking history in Stockholm, foraging for berries and a safari to see beavers, moose and wolves.

    Turkey’s Aegean coast sparkles in May. See this hand-picked collection of boutique hotels and luxury villas from Simpson Travel. We particularly recommend the charming resort of Kalkan. You could join a luxury gulet cruise to explore secret coves, swim off the boat and gaze at stars after dark. Details here.

    Scott Dunn, has its own Explorers kids clubs at selected luxury hotels including Pine Cliffs in the Algarve and Daios Cove in Crete – both great destinations in May. The clubs are for children from 4 months to 13 years and offer everything from cookery to sports and outdoor adventures.

    May half term holidays in the UK

    May half term is only a few weeks away from Midsummer so you are guaranteed long days – hopefully filled with warm sunshine. In recent years, the end of May has brought good weather to the UK, better than August.

    A great way to enjoy the British countryside is to stay on a working farm with Holiday Cottages (see the latest special offers).

    In Cornwall, Gwel an Mor has comfortable Scandinavian-style wooden lodges and its own wildlife centre (see the special offers). On Cornwall’s stunning north coast, the Sands Resort Hotel offers surfing, bodyboarding, rock-climbing and coasteering along with four Ofsted-registered children’s clubs (see the latest offers).

    If you prefer self-catering, Classic Cottages has 350 family-friendly cottages in Cornwall, while Helpful Holidays has more than 400 rental properties in Devon. If you want to bring along your treasured pet, select from more than 200 dog-friendly cottages around the UK.

    The Isle of Wight has some great cottages to rent, along with some classic family attractions. Check out these places to stay. Also consider the New Forest which has a great collection of cycle paths, walking trails and other attractions and places to eat out. Rent one of these houses and cottages.

    On the east coast, Northumberland and Norfolk are both superb regions for family holidays with great selections of rental cottages. Head to the Northumberland coast or the Norfolk Broads.

    PGL runs family adventure holidays across England, Wales and Scotland from just £145 (adults) and £125 (children) including all meals and activities including raft-building, circus skills, zip-lining, quad-biking and abseiling. The company also offers half-term camps for children aged 7 – 17.

    Book a family room at the Youth Hostel Association which has hostels in many stunning locations across Britain.

    Kids will love the Merton Hotel in Jersey which has an Aquadome complete with swimming pools, slides, fountains, sauna and steam room, PLUS a huge outdoor pool complex that boasts a Flowrider where children and adults can learn to surf.

    Malaria-free safari in South AfricaKwandwe Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

    Adventure holidays at May half term

    May is not a great time of year for a long haul beach holiday, partly because Europe is just so good at this time of year, but it is a good time for an adventure tour or safari.

    Head to South Africa where you and the kids can see the Big Five in malaria-free game reserves such as Madikwe and Pilanesberg, both of which have great programmes for children. This seven-night Cape Town and Eastern Cape holiday has been specifically designed for half-term week.

    It’s a great time of year to visit California where you can binge on beaches, national parks, thrilling cities and theme parks. I particularly like this eight-night California Classic road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and the Anaheim theme parks. If your outdoors types, go for this San Francisco, Yosemite & Lake Taho self-drive tour.

    Madagascar is one of Africa’s most exciting family destinations. You can track lemurs on a night walking safari, watch whales and relaxing on dreamy white-sand beaches. This lemur tracking safari works well in May, as this does exciting 9-day Lemurs, Boababs and Tsingy Safari.

    Fleewinter is a specialist tour operator to Morocco: its family itineraries include this holiday to Marrakech, the Essaouira coast and the Atlas Mountains. For added adventure Moroccan Circle also includes a trip into the Sahara Desert.

    When are the May bank holidays in 2019?

    The May Bank Holidays in 2019 are: Monday 6 May and Monday 27 May (Spring Bank Holiday).

    Last updated: 15 February 2019

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