Top family destinations for the next school holidays

Family holiday ideas for the school holidays, with flights from London Stansted Airport

Once upon a time the school holidays meant staying on UK soil, with windy beaches and sandy sandwiches, and a decent amount of drizzle. But times have changed, and taking the family abroad in the school holidays is no longer considered the life of luxury – in fact, with budget airlines and online offers, there are always deals to be done!

We’ve asked our travel experts which destinations trending right now for bargain family breaks – check out the top four family-friendly destinations for those wanting to jet off from London Stansted Airport to somewhere sunny in the next school holidays.

1. Catania, Italy

Catania is very much defined by its volcano, with Mount Etna smoldering in the background. It’s one of the world’s most active stratovolcanoes, and also one of the most visited. There are multiple tours on offer, so you can find something to suit intrepid teenagers or young children, with everything from a hardcore hike and trek around the volcano’s craters, landscape and lava flow cave, to a serene cable car trip to see the spectacular view.

In the Piazza del Duomo you’ll find the smiling Fontana dell’Elefante (Fountain of the Elephant) – this comical and adorable elephant is known locally as Liotru, and according to local folklore it possesses magical powers. Behind the Piazza del Duomo you’ll find La Pescheria, an iconic fish market that pulls in the masses for its raucous atmosphere and theatrics. Surrounding the market, you’ll find plenty of great seafood restaurants to introduce the children to the local cuisine. Fish is an essential element in Sicilian dishes so you’ll be sure to be eating some of the freshest seafood around.

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2. Dalaman, Turkey

Turkey is a firm favourite for family holidays, thanks to its sun-drenched climate, golden beaches, excellent food, and countless affordable child-friendly package resorts and hotels. There’s also a lively and friendly feel to the cities, where noise and chaos is embraced - shopkeepers and restaurant owners will coo over your children, and you’re never going to be told to keep it down.

In Dalaman kids will love exploring ancient ruins, visiting water parks or taking a boat trip along the Dalyan River. Older children might like the adventure sports on offer, like waterskiing or paragliding, and there are endless blue-fag beaches for the little ones to splash about in.

In Izmir you can lose yourself in bustling city life, with ancient history, buzzing bazaars, beautiful beaches and plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s also home to a very unique and notable attraction, but don’t be put off by the name - Nesin Mathematics Village. Initially set up by an academics professor as a place to share ideas, it now serves as a peaceful resort, but offers a number of creative summer workshops for kids.

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3. Mytilene, Greece

The capital city of the Greek island of Lesbos, Mytilene, has a rich history and plenty of cultural places to visit, including the stunning Mytilene Castle, the Monastery of Saint Raphael, the archeological museum, multiple art galleries and an ancient theatre.

Of course, an island in the Mediterranean is also rich in its abundance of watersports and boat trips, and there are countless companies offering snorkelling, kayaking, jet skiing, or sailing trips around the island. There’s the highly unusual Petrified Forest (don’t be put off by the name!). It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that constitutes a fossilised ecosystem over 200 million years old, and can make for a fascinating day trip for curious children!

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4. Nice, France

For many years, Nice has enjoyed a reputation as a luxury destination for the rich, famous and fabulous. But today it’s thriving as a family resort, owing to its sunny Mediterranean climate, stunning beaches, and endless activities for children.

There are colourful and creative playgrounds around every corner, including the Promenade du Paillon, with a giant climbing whale, octopus swings, trampolines and a fishing treehouse. Not too far away you’ve also got the Parc des Deux Rois, with ping pong tables and shooting spouts of water for the kids to run around in. You’ve also got Parc Phoenix - a huge nature park of seven acres that houses stunning wildlife and over 2,000 animals, with everything from porcupines to Rainbow Boa snakes.

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