Best Holiday Campsites in Europe: Carry on Holiday Camps
There's camping and then there's holidaying at a campsite. The first involves pitching a tent somewhere out there in the thick of the great outdoors, sleeping with only the bare minimum between your body and the ground, eating food cooked over an open fire and generally getting back to basics in amongst the serenity of scenery. The second is more like staying in a hotel where instead of the rooms being stacked on top of each other they're spread out, and instead of keeping out of the way of the other guests, site visitors are expected to have fun, using the impressive range of facilities, not just with their own family but with other families as well. It's like a legoland instant community in the sun, but with a pool and mini golf.
What makes kids happy? Having other kids to play with and lots of activities they know are tailored just for them. And Disneyland. But the newspapers won't let Disneyland get a look in for most family holidays this year so a holiday camp option is rearing into the future for families who may not in the past have considered themselves 'happy campers'. But while there's more than one type of camping, there's also more than one kind of holiday camping, and not all campsites brandish euro-tech discos, militant corporate rules and surly bar staff selling overpriced drinks and pretending not to speak any English. These are the Best Holiday Campsites in Europe:
French chic meets 'Carry on Camping'? It may not be logical marriage, but some of France's best holiday campsites have been honing their appeal for 30 years or more on the grounds of pretty farmhouses or chateaux and in lush, green view valleys. Le Val de Cantobre, set up in a terrace arrangement on the grounds of a medieval farmhouse, is one example, the terracing allowing for the best views of the rocky mountains of the surrounding Dourbie Valley, and Le Chateau des Marais is on the grounds of a 17th Century manor house surrounded by woods leading down to the Loire. Both offer pools and leisure activities, but also the opportunity go on day trips walking or cycling around the pretty local villages, vineyards and chateaux.
The German stereotype is a more likely partner to the holiday camp stereotype and the Wulfener Hals Campsite is one of their best.
Without a coastline, Switzerland's best campsites are in mountain valleys. Camping Jungfrau has location, location, perfect location, below the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains. The views are of dramatic snow capped peaks in winter and green mountain valleys and streaming waterfalls in summer. If you need more than a postcard perfect view there's the usual campsite facilities and Camping Jungfrau is close to the mountain railway.
Austria's alpine scenes are equally chocolate-box-esque, and at Ferienparadies Natterer See, surrounded by the Tyrol Mountains, you could easily bliss out to the views while your kids ski, hike, bike, go tobogganing, try curling etc. in and on the camp's award winning facilities.
The sunny coast is one of the main appeals of holiday campsites in Spain. One of the best is the Playa Montroig Camping Resort near Tarragona , which has its own private and clean, sandy beach and tropical gardens as well as the noise and excitement of pedalos, mini gold, tennis, clowns, puppets and magic shows. The Cambrils Park Camping, along the coast in Cambrils on the Costa Dorada, is another Spanish camp of note, boasting a jungle themed lagoon pool and easy access to its own beach. One of the entertainment highlights here are the Spanish vs. English football matches.
Venice is one of the lest holiday campsite-like places on earth, but one of Europe's largest sites, the Union Lido Vacanze Camping, is only four miles from Venice by boat on the Cavallinoan Coast. As well as having its own private stretch of this coast, Union Lido also has nine bars, seven restaurants, a 'woodland fitness trail' and a 'wellness club'. But did you get the bit about how close it is to Venice?
If all else fails and your kids are loving their lives but the cheerful reps and communal singing of Agadoo – with all the verses – are wearing out your legoland smile at the cost in comparison to Disneyland, just pretend you're a character in 'The Truman Show'.
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