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5 European spots perfect for an affordable family vacation

Europe fits the bill for an unforgettable (and affordable) family vacation. History, culture, nature and adventure pop up at every turn. And regardless of age, there’s something for everyone here. From climbing Scottish castles and snorkelling in warm waters to sipping Italian wine, admiring architecture and roaming vibrant street markets.

So whether you want to travel with extended family, just the children, or on a romantic trip for two – it’s time to get packing because a time in Europe’s playground is too precious to pass up.

Where should I go for an affordable family vacation?

We promise you… you’ll never visit these destinations just once.

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Barcelona

Talk about a new family routine! Barcelona is an affordable family vacation that invites you to stroll along sun-kissed beaches, gaze at Antoni Gaudí’s architecture and tuck into tapas. We recommend a family trip to Parc Güell – the green lung of Barcelona – located in Gràcia district. This 17-hectare park was designed by Gaudí to bring peace to visitors and it achieves its goal: with spotless greenery, winding paths, pretty buildings, sculptures and mosaics all on show. On the same note, a wander into the unfinished Sagrada Familia will leave you speechless (and is best discussed over a glass of sangria afterwards).

Elsewhere, soak in the serene atmosphere on Las Ramblas street in the heart of the city or slap on sun-cream and lie down on one of Barcelona’s nine beaches, before a refreshing dip in the sea.

GET INSPIRED BY: Spanish Wonder End Barcelona tour

Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s charms will hook you in minutes. It’s a city with a non-city-like feel – notable for its wide streets, colossal castles and beautiful beach (a short hop from the city centre). There’s a huge range to do here. We recommend lacing up your trainers and hiking up Arthur’s Seat for a family endorphin rush and the panoramic views at the top. Breathtaking.

Elsewhere, history buffs must visit Edinburgh Castle – famed for surviving countless sieges and its hidden passageways. You’ll also want to find narrow alleyways and medieval buildings in the city’s Old Town; plus savour the Royal Mile walk as you pop in souvenir and charity shops, charming pubs, eateries and more.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Scotland tour

RELATED CONTENT: 7 essential life lessons your children will learn when they travel

Rome

‘The Eternal City’ leaves an eternal mark on all visitors. Families included. Why? For starters, you can stand in the mighty Colosseum where heroic gladiators fought to the death and hold a one of their swords (easier said than done). Art lovers can admire Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and his Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica.

A family photo by the idyllic Trevi fountain is a must. As is a leisurely walk (or bike ride) around Rome’s piazzas and winding side streets. And you must not leave without an evening spent in a local trattoria sampling delicious pasta, pizza and wine. Or an afternoon gelato in the sunshine for the kids. “Belissimo!”

GET INSPIRED BY: Italian Holiday tour (7 days)

Istanbul

Istanbul makes for a super affordable family vacation. And slips criminally under the European radar. Here gorgeous architecture, finger-licking foods, soaring sun and wonderful history engulfs you; and delicious Turkish coffee for only 10 liras (50p or $0.60) fuels your sightseeing. Speaking of which, your trip would be incomplete without a tour of Hagia Sophia. Today a mosque, it was first a Byzantine Christian and then a Latin Catholic cathedral in its 1,485+ year history.

Likewise, weaving your way in between the 61-street large Grand Bazaar market bartering –  for ornate gifts – is a special cultural experience. As is a trip to the Blue Mosque and Toppaki Palace. Plus taste of Turkish kebap, köfte and mercimek corbasi (lentil soup). Yum.

RELATED CONTENT: A delicious and soul stirring food guide to Istanbul

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Turkey tour

Greek Islands (Santorini and Mykonos)

Your heart rate immediately halves on entry to Greek islands Santorini and Mykonos. Glowing white beaches, spectacular sunsets and inviting warm waters flood your vision. Outdoor lovers can snorkel and surf to their heart’s content, float for hours, or take a blissful boat tour. And to watch the sinking sun, we suggest you take a seat on a water-facing alfresco taverna, where you’ll forget about home chores as you devour creamy tzatziki, moussaka and fresh seafood.

For a slice of history, discover about the 1646 BC explosion that shaped the island of Santorini or visit Ano Mera village whose 16th-century monastery is dedicated to the protectress of Mykonos. A personal favourite, you’ll also want to soak in local life by walking through winding streets dotted with whitewashed facades and smiley, never-aging locals. Pure bliss. And perfect for an affordable family vacation.

GET INSPIRED BY: Greek Island Hopper tour

RELATED CONTENT: 14 fun facts about Greece you never knew

Which affordable family vacation destination has spiked your interest? Tell us in the comments below.

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