While the days of lounging on a beach with a cocktail and book in hand may be a little way away yet, travelling with toddlers and young children doesn’t always have to be stressful. From the family-friendly island of Lanzarote to beach huts in the UK, here are our top ten breaks for under-fives.
1) Ile de Re, France
Families looking for laid-back options should look no further than the Ile de Re. On the beach, there are pools at low tide for kids to play in, while the local market in Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré is ideal for foodies seeking a local gourmet bargain.
2) Princes’ Islands, Turkey
Burgazada, one of the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul, is a weekend retreat that’s also ideal for family self-catering breaks. Enjoy lazy breakfasts of pastries, juices and Turkish coffee by the harbour, before hopping on a ferry to the capital. If your toddler loves anything that moves, then they’ll also love visiting Hagia Sophia, which is just a tram ride away, or touring the island by horse and buggy.
If wild scenery and the freshest of air appeals, then the Isle of Mull is one of the Inner Hebrides’ best-kept secrets and makes for a wonderful family escape. Toddlers will love getting here on the beautiful ferry ride from Oban, while nearby Calgary Bay is arguably Scotland’s best sandy beach. Youngsters will also love a visit to Tobermoray – the setting for the television series Balamoray – which has a great fish and chip van on the harbour wall.
Quintessential timeshare favourite Lanzarote has a host of self-catering apartments, many in the resort of Playa Blanca on the island’s south-eastern side. Here, there are plenty of beaches and pools to keep you entertained and cool from the summer sun. However, there are plenty of wide, buggy-friendly promenades where you can enjoy the crashing waves, peaceful restaurants, or one of the many play parks dotted around.
5) Cabo Cope, Murcia, Spain
With its unspoiled Mediterranean coastlines, this region has appealed to families with little ones for years. Expect plenty of sweeping mountains, dirt tracks leading to private stretches of beach, excellent snorkelling and family-friendly hotels.
6) Isola d’Elba, Tuscany
Make the most of being able to holiday away from peak season by enjoying this breathtaking island. Here, you can admire the wild flowers as they bloom, or take a dip in the glittering seas. Meanwhile, Sant’Andrea on the north coast is a rock-pooler’s dream and mini adventurers will love the chance to hop on a cable car up the summit of Monte Capanne, where you can see as far as as Corsica and right up the Tuscan coast.
7) Wind in the Willows Caravan, Wales
This pretty little caravan isn’t a timeshare resort but it was made for a film adaptation of the Wind in the Willows and is tucked away on top of a hay meadow in the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside. Toddlers will love the magic of camping and cooking over open fires, then falling asleep to the hoot of the owls.
8) Brittany, France
Close to the UK yet a world away, Brittany may be windy but it’s beaches are exhilarating! Tuck into leisurely breakfasts of local breads, pancakes and jam before running wild along the coastline with the kids, before settling into a cosy cafe for (more crepes?) a hearty lunch.
9) Osea Island, Essex
Right on your doorstep if you live anywhere in Essex, the unspoiled island of Osea is the perfect low-key holiday destination with sleepy self-catering cottages, beach houses and a huge Edwardian manor house. Organise a sailing or fishing trip before beachcombing and going on a nature walk.
10) Whitstable, Kent
Kids will never tire of Fishermen’s Huts in Whitstable, Kent, which are like giant sheds that open up directly onto the beach. The paved beach promenade is ideal for cycling or scootering, or you can feel free to let the kids roam the beach as you sample some of the local delicacies – we recommend the oysters. The beach huts are among the most photographed huts in the UK and have become something of a timeless British tourist icon.