It’s amazing how many bargain flights to Europe you can find nowadays. So why not leave the car at home and jump onto a low-cost flight for your next holiday? Follow my guide to the top 6 car-free holidays in France, Spain and Italy and find out just how easy it is to transfer from the nearest airport and pack in all the local sights, totally car-free, in some of the best family holiday destinations in Europe.
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1) Le Ruisseau, Gascony, France
Biarritz Airport to parc = 15 minutes
This transfer is a breeze! Biarritz airport is just 15 minutes away and there’s a bus service that takes you directly to the parc. Or if you’d prefer, a taxi only costs about €20.
Activities for everyone
Got your checklist ready? There’s something for everyone here – the pool complex includes a designated spa area (bliss), plus loads of different sports to let your competitive streak loose! And for the monkeys in the family, there’s a treetop adventure course, suitable for kids of all ages (3 and up). After working up a serious appetite pretending to be Tarzan, you’ve got a choice of eateries on the parc where even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy their meals.
Out and about
Going off parc, you can take the bus towards the surf and sand at the beach in Bidart, or take a taxi into Biarritz for a day of culture, shopping and food! Or there are always the parc-run excursions for a bit of white-knuckle fun, like rafting and quad-biking…
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2) Le Soleil, Roussillon, France
Perpignan Airport to parc = half an hour
Hop in a taxi at Perpignan Airport or see the sights using the local buses! You can get a bus into town then another bus to the parc.
Show off your silky skills (or if you’re anything like me, serious lack-of), on the football pitch then race down the waterslides in the pool complex. But if you fancy something a bit slower in pace you’ve got direct access to a perfect sandy beach from this parc – don’t forget your bucket and spade and beach towels! Then round your day off at the on-site restaurant, because who wants to cook after such a hard day?
Out and about
If you want to go off parc for something a bit different, there’s always Argelès Aventure – a tree-top adventure parc just 10 minutes’ walk away. Also nearby is a go-karting track and canyoning park. When you’re all activitied-out, cool off with an ice cream at Argelès Plage (go on, you deserve it), maybe do a bit of shopping, or maybe even stick around for some fresh seafood at one of the restaurants…
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3) Cala Gogo, Costa Brava, Spain
Girona Airport to parc = half an hour
From Girona Airport, take ‘Sarfa Bus’ direct to the campsite. In low season, take this bus into Playa D’Aro then a short taxi ride to the parc. Easy!
Top-class views, top class facilities
What a setting! Cala Gogo is a terraced parc so there are gorgeous views of the Med and the private beach! Serve up a treat on the tennis court, show everyone what you’re made of on the ping pong tables or just kick back and relax with a drink by the pool while the kids splash around with their new mates. It all sounds doable to me! When you’re hungry there’s a snack bar, take away and restaurant on parc too…you can’t eat ice cream all the time, can you?
Out and about
Ooh, spoilt for choice…what first? There’s the parc’s own mini train that can take you down to the beach (because why walk when you can get the train?), sample the cosmo-cultural delights on an excursion to Barcelona, or just walk into Playa d’Aro for a bit of shopping, eating and drinking in the sunshine!
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4) Cambrils Park, Costa Dorada, Spain
Reus Airport to parc = 15 minutes
The quickest way is simply take a taxi from outside the ‘Arrivals’ at Reus airport straight to parc: 15 minutes and you’re there!
Look out for the elephants…and the pirate ship…and the dragons!
Everything here is just so nice: sports pitches, play area, and even the crazy golf course is beautiful! Then there’s the centrepiece of this gorgeous parc; the pool complex, complete with fitness centre (if, unlike me, you like to still work out on holiday), slides, plus elephants with squirting trunks, crocodiles, sea turtles, dragons and a pirate ship*!
The shop on parc sells everything you need to enjoy a slap-up barbecue every day if you so wish…but why would you do that every day when you can enjoy the on-site restaurant and take-away?
*Those last 5 pool features are all fakes, btw.
Out and about
Adrenaline junkies: strap in! PortAventura Theme Park is a short taxi/bus ride from Cambrils Park, and just next door to that is the Costa Caribe Water Park. Visits to both parks are an absolute must! Barcelona can be reached by train or you could go on a parc-organised excursion. Not forgetting the popular marina and promenade of Cambrils Port is just a short distance away, as is the town of Salou; both of which you can reach on foot (which is lucky, given the number of superb bars and restaurants available!).
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5) Camping Village Fabulous, Rome, Italy
Ciampino or Fiumicino Airport to parc = 20 minutes
Book a bargain flight in to either Ciampino or Fiumicino Airport and you can get from either airport to parc in just 20 minutes! Either hop into a taxi or you could organise a transfer through the parc before you go.
Fabulous activities indeed
There’s so much going on for everyone at this parc. The animation team provide great entertainment for the kids, allowing you a bit of peace to soak up the sun uninterrupted! The pool area will while away hours of fun, then when you’ve dried off, dine-in or take away some of the parc’s delicious food (most definitely a highlight)!
Out and about
Well, you can’t come all this way and not visit Rome for the day, can you? And given how easy it is (public transport is so near to parc or the parc organises regular excursions), there really isn’t any excuse! And the day trips don’t need to stop there: Ostia Antica, Naples and even Pompeii can be ticked off your sightseeing list thanks to the parc’s excellent choice of excursions. A little closer to home (or rather, parc) is the town of Acilia. Just 3km away, you could take a short taxi ride and enjoy an afternoon and evening of shopping, bars and restaurants. A little further still and you’re at the beach!
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6) Marina di Venezia, Italian Adriatic
Marco Polo Airport to parc = 1h20
After landing at Marco Polo airport you’ve got a couple of options: you can take the bus or the waterbus to parc. The easiest option is the Alilaguna Waterbus service. Take this to Venice Lido then change lines for Punta Sabbioni. Alternatively there’s a ‘land’ bus into Jesolo where you can then change for Punta Sabbioni. This is often the busier of the 2 options – and is the longer journey at just over 1h40.
First-class facilities, first-class fun
This parc is huge; it’s like its own self-contained village! It’s also beautifully kept, with loads going on. You can find your way round on bikes, stopping off for a game of tennis or trying your hand at archery, before heading to the back of the parc for direct access to the beach, which is ideal for water sports, sunbathing and sand castle building. Or you could spend hours at the incredible pool complex, flying down the waterslides, splashing in the kids’ pool, learning to scuba dive…or simply enjoy a swim! As for food on parc, even the fussiest of palates will be satisfied with the choices available. In theory, you don’t actually have to leave the parc for anything since it’s all here.
Out and about
But you do have to leave the parc, don’t you…to go to Venice! You can hop on the ferry at the nearby port and spend the day at the city on the water, exploring the winding streets, sampling the cafés in the squares and riding the canals on a gondola…gorgeous! If you fancied a bit of island-hopping, nearby Murano is worth a visit for your very own unique glass souvenir, and the lace-making town of Burano to look at the colourful houses.
You’re spoilt for choice on the mainland too. Jesolo is buzzing with theme parks, a huge water park and aquariums, not forgetting brilliant shops, nightlife and places to eat.
So there you have it: how to enjoy a family holiday in France, Italy or Spain without missing out on some of Europe’s most impressive sights or the most fun and action-packed attractions, despite not having the car with you.
Have you got any car-free tips you’d like to share? >