Good family-friendly resorts make everything easy. It’s sometimes tempting to stay put for the whole holiday. But if you’re up for a bit of an adventure in the wilds, a good compromise is to find a resort near a beautiful natural park. Here are some of our favourites, which we’ve either stayed at ourselves, or heard about from friends.
Saalfelden Leogang, in the Salzburg Alps, Austria
Saalfelden Leogang lies in the Austrian Alps, just over an hour from Salzburg. In Winter, Saalfelden Leogang’s a ski resort and part of the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, which has 270 km of pistes and is one of the largest ski areas in the country. In the Summer, family-friendly mountain chair-lifts take holidaymakers high up over forests and lakes. The mountain tips are a craggy challenge for seasoned climbers, but at their feet there are gently rolling hills and valleys, so people of any age can find a hiking trail to suit them.
If the cablecar ride whets your appetite for sailing over the hills, one way to come back down is via the Flying Fox XXL. At 1,600 metres it’s one of the fastest and longest steel zip lines in the world. You can fly down at speeds of up to 130 km/hr, with the treetops 140 meters below. A less terrifying descent is via the Summer toboggan ride. The Salzburg Alps are popular with cyclists, and Saalfelden Leogang has its own bikepark, which hosted this year’s UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. Free bikes are available for children at the valley station for the Biberg lift in Saafelden, to use in the Kiddy park, including a wide variety of obstacles like wooden bridges and sharp bends
Mojacar, in Almeira, southeast Spain
Mojacar is a spanish resort split into two sections: Mojacar Playa (by the beach) and Mojacar Pueblo, set on a hilltop with stunning views of the Sierra Cabrera Mountains. James Villas offer properties for rent at Mojacar, which has restaurants serving delicious Spanish cuisine, including fish fresh from the harbour.
Another big draw is the Cabo de Gata natural park in Andalucia, about an hour away from the resort. At 550 square kilometres, Cabo de Gata is the largest coastal protected area, and the only true desert in Europe. It’s a UNESCO Biosphere because of its unique marine and plant life. Visitors can snorkel around colourful marine life and coral reefs, and spot flamingos, herons and oystercatchers on the broad mudflats. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Cabo de Gata, like taking some quiet time on the secluded beaches, horse-riding, or exploring the traditional villages in the park.
Bluestone, in Pembrokeshire, Wales
We stayed at Bluestone two years ago. You can read about it here. The resort is set on 500 acres of Pembrokeshire countryside, at the south-western tip of the Welsh coastline. The 5-star resort itself is made up of reconstructions of traditional Welsh houses, and cosy wooden cabins with furniture typical of the area. There’s a ‘Blue Lagoon’ indoor pool complex, a large indoor centre with a climbing wall, and plenty of outdoor activities, like treetop climbing, to keep families happy on-site.
People that do want to venture further afield can visit the Pembrokeshire coast national park. The park was named the second best coastal destination in the world in 2011 by National Geographic magazine. It has a varied landscape of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches and even forests and marshland. The puffins of Skomer Island are only a boat ride away. Also neaby is the best-preserved neolithic dolmen in Wales, Pentre Ifan, and sandy beaches which are perfect for rock-pooling.
Myrkdalen resort, Voss, western Norway
Myrkdalen is a ski resort in the winter months, with a modern mountain hotel, and chalets for hire. In the summer it offers a variety of activities for family visitors, including hiking trails, high ropes, rafting, horseback riding, paragliding and fly fishing with one of the best female fly fishers in the world.
Myrkdalen’s big selling point is its closeness to the stunning fjord region of western Norway, which I’ve written about here. The Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, is within easy reach for a day trip. Its famous arm, the Nærøyfjord, has World Heritage status. You can visit the fjords by board boat, cruise ferry, or from a distance of height by driving up to the 650m Stegastein viewpoint. The Flåm Railway twists its way around the fjord’s mountains and is named as one of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world. I’ve posted about it here. On your way back to Myrkdalen, you can stop at traditional villages to taste and buy sweet goat’s cheese, or even a sheep’s head farm, if you’re particularly adventurous with your dining habits.
Have you stayed at any resorts close to beautiful natural parks? Do tell us about them, in the comments below.
Pin for later:
This is a collaborative post. All views are my own.