When planning family holidays there are lots of factors to consider to make your trip the very best. Looking at temperatures, short flight times, family activities available and value for money, we find the most family friendly destinations in Europe are:
Although Turkey enjoys the highest average temperature, with Gumbet, Belek and Bodrum all enjoying averages of 25 degrees C during the summer.
The Costa Blanca on the Spanish mainland comes a close second, averaging temperatures of 24.5o between May and October.
Average sea temperatures
For comfortable swimming temperatures, especially for younger children, resorts across Turkey also fit the bill with Antalya, Alanya, Belek and Side all enjoying averages of 25o. Cyprus also has lovely warm sea, with an average temperature of 24.5o.
Water parks and amusement parks
Amusement parks and water parks are great for family fun. Crete, Greece's largest and most southerly island, has the most parks with a massive 10, including WaterCity in Anapolis near Heraklion.
Next is the beautiful island of Cyprus with 9 attractions, including award-winning Fasouri Watermania Water Park in Limassol.
Spain also offers a variety of park options for families. The Costa Blanca, Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada all boast 7 water or amusement parks, as do Sardinia, Italy’s largest island, the Algarve region of Portugal and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
A short flight is a big consideration for those planning a family holiday. If you are looking for a beach break with a limited travel time you should consider the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada regions of Spain. These destinations both have average flight times of just over 2 hours from the UK.
Majorca, the sun-kissed Balearic Island is also a great choice for a close to home destination, with an average flight time of just short of 2 and a half hours. Alternatively the Costa de la Luz region of Spain is also perfect for families looking to minimise their travel time, as are Ibiza and Sardinia.
Best value for money
A big factor for British families is to minimise cost. Based on a family of 4, the lowest cost holiday destinations are the Costa Calida and the Costa Brava on the Spanish mainland and the Canary Island of La Palma.
Travel to Kefalonia in Greece or the Algarve in Portugal to get more bang for your buck.
For great family deals just search our latest offers here.
Named 16th best hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in its 25 Top Hotels of 2019 awards is the Ikos Oceania in Nea Moudania, Greece. Voted for by millions of people this accolade is no mean feat. It goes to highlight the quality of hotels to be found in Greece, a country that has long been thought of as the home of the basic and dated accommodation.
Halkidiki has long been a holiday destination for Greek tourists and many people from the nearby city of Thessaloniki have their holiday homes there. Travellers from outside Greece are increasingly discovering the three green "fingers" of land that make up Halkidiki. With outstanding beaches, a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of activities and excursions, it is a great destination for all. But Halkidiki is particularly wonderful for the luxury traveller. Having predominantly Greek customers keeps hoteliers and restaurateurs on their toes. Quality is the watchword here. Halkidiki delivers luxurious comfort and a gastronomic experience that will keep you coming back for more.
The Ikos Oceania, like its sister hotel the Ikos Olivia in nearby Gerakini, has contemporary design in a soft pallet of colours. Choose from a range of elegant rooms and suites then enjoy sophisticated dining and opulent leisure facilities.
At the Oceania, the landscaped gardens cascade downhill to the private beach on the azure Aegean. The setting is lovely for a relaxing holiday and dining is especially recommended here. Choose from four à la carte restaurants, most with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Added to this the hotel offers a "Dine Out" experience taking guests to some of the best local restaurants for the perfect modern Greek food experience.
As well as the excellent beach, there are plenty of pools at the Ikos Oceania to suit all ages and styles, toddlers, children and adults, together with a heated indoor pool and a private pool for the exclusive use of Deluxe Collection guests. Enjoy all-day waiter service at your chosen pool for that extra touch of comfort. Or relax and rejuvinate in the tranquil spa.
Prefer a more active holiday? The Ikos Oceania has a huge range of included activities to keep everyone happy, including tennis, mountain biking, canoeing, aerobics, yoga and much, much more. With evening entertainment, bars and children's shows, there is always something happening at the Oceania. No wonder it is the people's choice!
Why not book your next holiday at this fabulous luxury resort? Sign up here for the latest deals.
In Greece, well-being has a long history. What is not widely known is that Greece has many therapeutic thermal springs, mostly on the mainland but not exclusively. From antiquity to today, these numerous thermal springs and spas have alleviated ailments, revitalised the body and the mind, stimulated and relaxed the body and soul. The waters from the springs have a blend of natural minerals that can have a positive effect to humans in a number of ways. Thermal water is known to help improve the condition of various skin decease like eczema among others; it also helps in medical conditions like rheumatism, arthritis and gynaecological problems.
According to the Special Committee for the Protection of Natural Mineral Springs, there are 20 recognised thermal springs in Greece. Here is our pick of the best.
The oldest and best known natural spa in Greece. Edipsos is mentioned in the works of Aristotle, Plutarch and Strabon. The town even minted its own coins. In Roman times the area flourished and its healing waters were visited by the emperors Hadrian, Septimus Severus and Marcus Aurilius and remains of the Roman Baths still exist.
It is possible to bathe in the rock pools where steaming hot water pours through, leaving multicolored sediment in strange formations. It gets very busy and there can be jellyfish so most people nowadays prefer to enjoy the healing benefits at one of the many spa hotels in the area. Perhaps the most historic is the Thermae Sylla Spa, which is built on two ancient thermal springs.
The healing properties of the thermae is due to the sodium chlorides, strongly carbonated and moderately sulphurated waters. The baths are recommended to be taken at temperatures of 28 to 34o C for a range of conditions, from rheumatism and arthritis to skin and respiratory diseases. It is certainly a relaxing way to feel better.
Vouliagmeni Lake, Attica
Located in the Attica region just outside Athens, Lake Vouliagmeni is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Formed as a covered lagoon about 2,000 years ago, the roof collapsed. This gave the lake it's name, from the Greek word “vouliazo” that means to submerge. It is now a national monument and part of the Natura 2000.
The lake’s waters are fed both by the sea and the underground thermal springs and so offer an excellent thermal spa experience. Swimming in the lake promotes wellness from the water temperature of between 22-29 degrees and the minerals in the brakish water. The healing properties of the lake come from its potent mix of salts and minerals (sodium, potassium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, iron, chlorine, iodine and a small amount of radiation). The lake also contains Garra Rufa fish (known as spa fish) which aid exfoliation as well as giving you a massage!
Around the lake there are grassy areas equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas for relaxation. A range of amenities are available, including WiFi, changing rooms, lifeguards and medical facilities, playground, parking, etc. All in all, Lake Vouliagmeni provides an outstanding natural spa experience.
Loutra Pozar, Aridea
Located in the Pella region of Greece, Loutra Pozar thermal baths are at the bottom of the Vouras mountain, fed by waterfalls. Pozar hot springs are created by rain water, which penetrates deep into the ground, where is heated and then gradually rises and is enriched with minerals and other elements. The water has a constant temperature of 37 °C and can be enjoyed in the natural swimming pools or in a bath at one of the spas. The water has healing properties against arthritis, kidney diseases, skin diseases, gynecological problems and circulatory problems.
Pozar's hot springs are a short distance from Loutraki and Edessa, located amongst huge trees. For those wanting to combine nature, relaxation and healing waters, Loutra Pozar is the perfect choice.
Take some respite from the vibrant and bustling city of Thessaloniki at Lagkada. The first balneotherapy (bathing in the thermal waters) facilities in the region of Lagadas dated back to 900 AD. It is thought that the baths were created by Ioustinianos, a byzantine military doctor. Today, two baths from the years 900 and 1400 are still used. Modern day development of the baths began in 1925 and today Lagadas is a large and thermal city. In addition to the ancient baths are two modern group tubs, 21 individual jacuzzis and 20 personal tubs. Face and body treatments, beauty and rehabilitation care are available.
The hot springs curative water is 39oC and contains sodium, potassium and calcium amongst other minerals. The waters are recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, gyneacological ailments, skin and kidney problems.
The springs at Kallithea have been famous since Hellenic times for their beneficial properties. The waters flowing into the sea from the surrounding rocks attracted visitors from all over the known world. Kallithea Thermal Spa that we can see today was built by the occupying Italians in December 1928. The buildings were damaged during World War II and allowed to fall into disrepair until Kallithea town council and its mayor, Yannis Iatridis, renovated the site. The springs were restored to their former glory with great attention to detail and were successfully reopened to the public.
The waters of Kallithea are thought suitable for the treatment of arthritis, skin conditions, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, diarrhoea and intestinal conditions.
Having swum in the healing waters and walked through the fabulous art deco buildings and seen the wonderful local black and white pebble floors, I can highly recommend a visit to this spa.
The thermal springs of Loutraki promotes wellbeing and revitalization of the body. It is also thought to treat and prevent various diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, gynecological disorders, sciatica, musculoskeletal complaints, and skin disorders. The healing waters have been known since ancient times, indeed Xenophon refers to the use of this special water by the Spartans. These thermal spas have turned Loutraki into an important tourist attraction in Greece, due partly to its fame and partly due to its convenient position just one hour from Athens and close to the Corinth Canal.
20th century visits to benefit from the healing waters were boosted by containing the springs in a spa built in 1932. Restored in 2009 and connected to the luxurious modern building of Loutraki Thermal Spa, a host of treatments are offered here in addition to balneotherapy. A charming town has grown up at Loutraki and it makes a great base for an exploration of the region.
Agios Fokas, Kos
The therma or hot springs are situated in the southeastern corner of the island 13 kilometers away from Kos town at Agios Fokas. The area has a wild beauty of deep gulches, rocks and black pebbles, the result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.
The hot springs have been present here for centuries. The waters reputed healing properties result from water rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur and sodium, elements considered beneficial in curing skin, arthritic or rheumatic ailments. The temperature of the waters hovers between 30-50 Celsius.
A pool has been dug so that seawater enters, cooling the hot thermal waters so that it is pleasant to bathe in. The time I visited the area (some years ago!) the pool didn't exist so you either sat in very hot water or cool sea water. Even so, it was still on of the great experiences of any visit to Kos.
For those seeking to combine mountain sports with a touch of nature’s luxurious sensations, the mythical Lake Drakolimni offers a unique experience. At an altitude of 2,050 meters, on the Gamila peak, in Epirus region, Lake Drakolimni is not an easy conquest. The path up to the lake, which starts from the village Small Papigon, takes about 4 hours to walk, giving visitors the chance to enjoy diving into the bracing waters.
If you want to promote your wellbeing and health, the natural thermal springs of Greece are a great choice. It is easy to add them to a Greek holiday itinerary. Get in touch with us for more details.
When the temperature falls and we are headed for winter, roast chestnuts are the perfect cold weather snack. Whether cooked on an open fire, in the oven or bought from a street vendor, people enjoy this inexpensive treat. Chestnuts are pretty good for you too - low in fat, high in fibre, and carrying a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, potassium and iron.
Sweet chestnut trees grow everywhere in Greece, from Macedonian forests in the north and all the way to the slopes of the mountains of Crete in the south.
Guest writer, Peris Tastsidis, tells me that "One of the loveliest memories I have of my mother (who spent her childhood in a cold mountainous town on Mount Olympus), was sitting around the fireplace and eating roast chestnuts together."
In Greek towns and cities from Thessaloniki to Athens, you will find chestnuts as part of cream cakes in elegant patisseries.
The chestnut harvest is cause for celebration in many parts of Greece. Join the locals in mountainous villages, particularly in Messinia, Arcadia, the Peloponnese and in the city of Trikala in central Greece for Chestnut feast festivals. Along with the celebration of roast chestnuts is plenty of food, music and dancing. These events are great to include in gourmet tours, they make a great addition to any itinerary.
Chestnut season coincides with celebrations of wine, so any foodie really should make a visit to one of these fun events. Savour roast chestnuts with a glass of wine or the local tsiporou spirit whilst mingling with the crowd, enjoying the accordion and guitar music.
Sounds like fun? Get in touch to plan your trip to a chestnut festival in Greece.
Let's dispel the myth that Greek wine is all Domestica and Retsina. These days Greek wine offers award-winning, quality drinking. The 'Wine Roads' are routes through the wine regions of Greece, brought to you by an association of wine makers. The idea is that you can explore your chosen region by travelling in a logical way from winery to winery.
One of these routes is the Wine Road of Northern Greece. Actually it is a collection of routes with suggestions of beauty spots, historic places and museums to visit, as well as the best vineyard tours and tastings. Try the 'Wine Route of the Olympian Gods', 'Wine Route of Naousa' or, as we did, the 'Wine Route of Thessaloniki'. There are plenty to chose from and you can find full details on the association's website here.
Thessaloniki is one of the world's eternal cities. With its roots in Classical Greece, it thrived during the Byzantine era and lived through the Turkish occupation, as can be seen by the historic monuments, castles and churches scattered throughout the city. Excellent museums, particularly the Archaeological Museum which houses relics from Alexander the Great and the Byzantine Museum with its fascinating insight into more than a thousand years of history. Don't forget to swing by the White Tower, the symbol of the city which dominates the coastal landscape.
But Thessaloniki is not just a city living in the past. It has a beating heart of markets, bars and restaurants, as well as exciting night life. It also has access to nearby seaside and mountain resorts making it the ideal hub for a holiday or tour.
One of the highlights of this wine route for us is a visit to the Geravassiliou winery and museum. Take a tour around the vineyard and taste the award-winning wines in the cellar, set amongst ancient amphora and Venetian chandeliers. Your wine expert is informative about the grape varieties or blends in each wine. As part of your tour your guide will take you around the museum, mainly consisting of Vassili Geravassiliou's (the owner) collection of wine bottle openers. This gives a fascinating insight into the history of this humble tool, from ancient to elaborate. Other exhibits explain the wine maker's art.
A visit to Geravassiliou is a complete celebration of wine. And you might even meet Mr Geravassiliou!
If you want to experience a traditional bakery in Rhodes, then a visit to the Apolloniatisses is essential. Set in a village on the slopes of Profitis Ilias mountain, the road is winding but oh so worth travelling, with stunning views en route.
Why should you visit?
Set in a village on the slopes of Profitis Ilias mountain, the Appollonia Bakery is well worth a visit.
A women's co-operative, the nine ladies are dedicated to using local produce in their bread, jams and liqueurs. The road is winding but oh so worth travelling, with stunning views en route. In the bakery they also make a selection of the traditional biscuits 'koulouraki' of all shapes.
Their members keep bees, make jam and liqueurs, grow herbs and olives, and ensure that the Appollonia Bakery is stocked with lots of delicious products for their customers.
They will let you try before you buy, so make a trip to this artisan bakery as part of your holiday to Rhodes. Let Tasteful Travel arrange your discovery of Greek cuisine for you.
The world's wine market is dominated by traditional wine producing giants, France and Italy, and the new world countries of Australia and the South American continent.
However, the origin of winemaking in Europe was in Greece, long before France and Italy started producing wine and eons before the young pretenders of other continents.
Greece is a country with two types of climate, continental in the upper half with hot summers, mild spring and autumn but cold between December and March, and Mediterranean climate in the southern half and on the islands. Greek vineyards are blessed with stable climatic conditions, except during the winter snows in the North The country enjoys considerable variations of “microclimate” from vineyard to vineyard, depending on the region, that favour the development of different grape varieties and their characteristics.
Although France and Italy are the frontmen of world wine culture, it was from Greece that the Roman empire borrowed viticulture and then spread it throughout Europe.The idea of Appellation Controllee, today’s regulation of wines, first started in Greece when the name of the region was given to its wines. Wine production in Greece amounts to about 6 million hectolitres, of which most are red. Naoussa reds and world acclaimed sweet muskato such as Samos Muscat are widely exported but not produced in sufficient numbers to compete with Greece's larger neighbours.
Due to the large ex-pat population of Greeks in Germany, their wine market has known more of Greek wine over the last 20 years. Today Germany is the biggest importer of Greek wine estates like Boutari, Tsantali, Gerovasiliou, Achaia Clauss, and Kourtaki as well as some boutique producers. Aside from Germany, most of Europe have little knowledge of Greek wines outside of the trade and holidays to Greece where they may try retsina and have bad memories of the dreaded Demestika!
Nowadays Greek wine is well worth seeking out. Try travelling down the green peninsulas of Halkidiki with Tasteful Travel, through huge vineyards. Sample the luscious reds and crisp whites at Porto Carras at their state of the art winery and museum, or stop for a tour of the 120-year old E. Tsantali winery. Alternatively travel with us to Naoussa near the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Sample the red wines made from the Xinomavro grape and tour the historic Boutaris winery. Or choose from a selection of viticulture destinations where you can sample the very best of the Greek wine makers art. With so much history, Greek wines never disappoint.