A small autumnal break to get away from the greyness and daily grind, the October half term and school holidays are the perfect moments to take a vacation. Do you need a nature adventure, a city trip, a homecoming or a visit to distant lands? Choose the destination that suits your desires among our top 10 and go with your entire family.
The Portuguese city with its colourful houses, lively streets, smiling simplicity and multicultural atmosphere, awaits you for a convivial stay under a marine fragrance. No wonder to see that French retirees have fallen under the unique charm of this Atlantic capital.
The seven-hill city can be explored on foot. Lisbon’s art lives in the streets, its music – fado – emanates from the bistros, its facades are covered with azulejos – ceramic tiles adorned by geometric shapes. Leave the baby buggy at home and opt for the baby carrier because, with its cobbled streets and endless stairs, Lisbon is not friendly to small wheels. Ensure to take a ride on the legendary Tram 28 for a timeless trip. The small streets of the popular districts of Baixa, Graça and Estrela of this no-rush sinuous city is a must-see attraction. For an incredible view over the city, climb the Castelo Sao Jorge, a fort surrounded by ramparts with a fascinating history. You can also gain height thanks to the Santa Justa elevator. Designed by Paul Mesnier de Ponsard, a pupil of Gustave Eiffel, the wrought-iron cage carries passengers to a height of 45 meters for a panoramic view of the tiled roofs and the yellow, blue and pink buildings of Lisbon with the Tagus Horizon. In order to enjoy the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, take the children to the charming little seaside resort of Cascais, located 20 minutes from Lisbon. Let yourself be blown away by the salty air of the Atlantic.
Martinhal Chiado, set in the vibrant heart of the old city is the ideal place for a stay in the Moroccan capital. Elegance, quality and comfort are the order of the day at this address, which is much loved by families for the special attention it offers to the little ones. The latest addition to a chain whose reputation is second to none, the 5-star hotel has 37 apartments all carefully decorated and equipped with a cooker; a casual restaurant and a kid’s club that offer multiple activities.
Savouring in Lisbon is all about enjoying its fabulous Pastéis de Nata, delicious flans on puff pastry and topped with a hint of cinnamon. The knowledgeable people of Lisbon will recommend the Manteigaria boutique in the Bairro Alto, which aids partygoers to get over the day, by offering pleasant plots wherein they can stop under tree shades. Obviously, if there is a dish that characterizes the city, it is the Bacalhau, a cod-based recipe that is accompanied by a Vinho Verde, a typical Portuguese wine essential for savouring Atlantic dishes. Have a family lunch at Time Out Market, a covered market with modern architecture where you sit at long wooden tables. A friendly atmosphere with a wide variety of food.
Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, unfolds the imperial city, which is both cosmopolitan and traditional, family and festive. Here are some discreet getaway sites, away from the crowds to the city’s best-kept secrets.
The Selman Marrakech oriental palace is a unique place. Around an 80-meter swimming pool, bordered by a palm grove with the exotic fragrance from fruit trees, the terracotta buildings with refined decoration welcome demanding families who seek after serenity in an environment worthy of the most beautiful Moroccan palaces. What makes the address unique is above all its stud farm and its splendid stables where majestic thoroughbred Arabs stay. A privileged haven that attracts the beautiful night birds Marrakchi every night; a place to culture dereliction and to savour the starry vault from another world.
The red city awakens all the senses: The ocher walls, Sunkissed skin, bougainvillaea cascades, bubbling souks, smells of spices and the orange blossoms. Tourism is also olfactory In Marrakech. Immerse yourself in the world of Moroccan fragrances during a visit to the Perfume Museum in the old town. A unique experience. Then get carried away by the Medinan atmosphere, the heartbeat of Marrakech, with its street vendors and donkeys. Dare to explore this real human-scale labyrinth, mazes of streets, dead-end streets, colours and fragrances. To end your stay, the is nothing better than a trip to the Agafay desert, a little piece of paradise.
Staying in Marrakech without stopping at the Grand Café is like visiting Brussels without going to Delirium: two must-see appointments for any self-respecting tourist. The Grand Café de la Poste is a precious address, wherein you can enjoy simple and refined French cuisine while savouring a Moroccan wine from a hand-picked wine cellar or sipping a cocktail prepared by one of the Best bartenders in the city.
The Tuscan capital will enthrall families who seek after cultural activities, elegance, and gourmet cuisines.
A cradle of the Renaissance, thanks to esteemed pioneers such as Masaccio, Brunelleschi or Donatello, she is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities on the peninsula. This museum city, which on her own contains 25% of all Italian heritage works, offers unmissable tours. With just a single ticket, you can, for example, check out the magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and its dome that is one of its kind in the world, the Giotto’s Campanile, the Baptistery of Saint John, and the Crypt of Santa Reparata. Itinerary.
Feel free to entreat yourself to an enjoyable visit to San Frediano and Piazza Santo Spirito, which have many small bars and restaurants, or to stroll through the Mercato Centrale, an enclosed market that is set up within the walls of a 19th century building, which is mainly composed of appealing stalls of artisan caterers: cheeses, pasta, olive oils, fresh vegetables… both the young and old will be spoiled for choice here. Itinerary.
Although the city centre is often influx by tourists, you should note that Florence has numerous parks and is surrounded by beautiful green countryside. Upon crossing the Arno River towards the South, you will find Giardino Bardini, a place of tranquillity that is covered by roses, irises, wisteria and various plants on an area of 4 hectares. Your children will inevitably have a lot of fun while walking through its trails and playing around the fountains, before heading for the panoramic viewpoint, from where they can behold the city from the top of the garden. Itinerary.
To enhance your stay in the venerable city, we strongly recommend that you stop at the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze *****, located 10 minutes from the city centre. As a true embodiment of Florentine excellence and tradition, its 15th and 16th century buildings are nestled in the heart of the city’s largest private garden. With mural paintings, fountains, refined flower beds, sculptures, paintings… you will be able to feed your eyes to its fullest.
Here, children are welcomed as princes/princesses. They will not only be enthralled by the countless outdoor activities available to them, but will also have access to an incredible, fully equipped kids-club that will offer them a variety of courses.
Looking lively all year round, the old town of Geneva is full of small and big secrets nestled in the cobbled streets around Bourg-de-Four Square. Check out the architectural wonders, the numerous beautiful facades, the Palace of Nations or the fabulous floral clock. Visiting Geneva is also synonymous to entering its green oasis in the Parc des Eaux-Vives, admiring the animals of the Bois-de-la-Bâtie Park, finding large playgrounds in the Penthes area or exploring the fascinating world of the garden and botanical conservatory. Since the children need to feed their curious eyes, we have improvised a superb walk that can be done as a family. Starting from the Alfred-Bertrand Park, going down the street of Athénée, going past the Russian church and wandering through the old medieval town to get to the Saint-Pierre Protestant cathedral, before descending the straight path towards Lake Geneva for a well-deserved rest along its banks.
In Switzerland, there is no specific season for enjoying cheese fondue or raclette, savour this speciality along with Petite Arvine all year round, on the heated terrace of Les Armures restaurant, in the heart of the historic centre; an iconic address. The famous Swiss writer, Joel Dicker, author of the detective novel’s bestseller La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Québert (The truth on the Harry Québert’s case) recently shot as a movie series of the same name, with Patrick Dempsey in the credits, also recommends the Bistrot du Bœuf Rouge: « The boss is awesome and the cooking, fantastic. In salt and the paris-best likewise, the pike quenelles are to die for the lamb. »
The Geneva Hôtel & Spa Reserve is ideal for getting away from the frenzy of everyday life, for a stay in a green setting on the shores of Lake Geneva. Calm and fullness reign in this prestigious establishment. For relaxation, head for the spa that makes this Reserve famous, while the children enjoy the indoor or outdoor swimming pool supervised by the facilitators of the kids-club. For large families, we recommend the Villa du Lac, which has been decorated by the French designer, Rémi Tessier, and has a garden and a beautiful terrace with a breathtaking view to the blue waters of the lake. The villa has three bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, such that everyone can find their happiness in utmost privacy.
Autumn is the ideal season for trips under the tropical sun at more attractive prices than during summer. While the prices have gone down, the mercury still rises to 28°C, the hordes of tourists have deserted the hotels while the sun continues to illuminate the beaches. All these allow you to enjoy this peaceful and convenient location that nourishes the imagination and symbolizes getaway.
With white-sand beaches, coconut palms and crustaceans, Mauritius is a dream destination. Explore where to stay on the island that sheltered the loves of Paul and Virginia in the “Destin tragique” written by Jacques-Henri Bernardin of Saint-Pierre, in his 1787 novel. In Belle Mare, the Lux Belle Mare Hotel welcomes families with children in a highly sought after setting. Here everything is set in order to allow children to spend the most beautiful holidays of their life. Well-being is always highlighted in this luxury hotel that is bordered by the Indian Ocean. Everything is soberly decorated with unique pieces, in a traditional and contemporary style. Both parents and children will love the home-like atmosphere of this nature-found gem. The private villas are separated from each other by lush gardens giving the feeling of being alone against the ocean. Enjoy the sites’ exoticism in the alleys lined with palm trees; while the food is made of fish delicacies and cocktails with a fragrance made from rum and sugar cane.
Mauritius is a safe destination where French is spoken, and this tends to facilitate communication. The hospitality and the legendary smile of Mauritians are also particularly appreciated by travelers. Meet the people in the authentic markets of Port Louis’ capital. Also known as « Bazaars », they give you an avant-goût of the island’s treasures: little pineapples, fresh pistachios, large coconuts. In order to enjoy the entertainment and immerse yourself in the locals’ daily life in a friendly family atmosphere, it is preferable you go there in the morning.
For hiking families, there are beautiful walks in the valley of 7 waterfalls. The full course without swims and breaks will take about 4 hours, though, there are shorter distances accessible to all. Numerous operators also offer activities such as rappelling. A visit to the Jardin de Pamplemousse (Grapefruit Garden), a botanical garden with many palm trees varieties, giant water lilies and large white lotus is ideal for exploring the island’s lush vegetation. At about 5 euros per person, the excursion will undisguisedly reveal the mesmerizing essences of Mauritius. Remember to bring your hiking shoes along, as well as a mosquito repellant. You should always have a towel with you whenever you visit Mauritius: As soon as you arrive at its white sand beaches that get unflinchingly covered in the ocean, you will be unable to resist the urge to dive into the calm waters. Eroded by intense blues, turquoise notes and pristine white foam, diving enthusiasts will not be disappointed by the coral reef. You can also go on an escapade to Deer Island to observe the turtles.
Say goodbye to the greyness and its intermittent drizzles, and hello to the sunny Canary Islands. Head for Tenerife, the archipelago’s largest island with grandiose mountain landscapes and coves of white and black sand.
With its rugged terrain, its lunar expanses and its forests, the volcanic island of Tenerife is a delight for hikers. Various routes lead to a huge crater that showcases a unique landscape straight out of a movie set. Set off for the Teide Massif, which rises to an altitude of over 3,000 meters and whose rocks glow with the golden sun. Then descend to La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The municipality of San Cristobal de La Laguna displays all its beauty in its architecture marked by the Spanish colonial period. Visit the Santa Cruz building designed by the architect, Herzog & de Meuron, wherein are exposed the works of surrealist artists, including Oscar Dominguez, the « Canaries dragon tree », a pupil of Picasso and André Breton.
Under its sunny air, Tenerife is home to gastronomic treasures. Influenced by different waves of immigration, the dishes are filled with local aromas, creole recipes and Spanish know-how. Fish lovers will feel like being in paradise in Tenerife thanks to the abundance of lobsters, crabs, sea breams, mussels and oysters. You will be able to savour salted fish cooked with spicy sauces as in the caldereta de Pescado or the sancocho Canario, accompanied by papas arrugadas, which are small « wrinkled potatoes » that constitutes the traditional dish of reference in the Canary Islands. For dessert, you can take a barraquito, a coffee to which milk is added; sweetened condensed milk, orange peel and coffee liqueur.
Around large swimming pools that border the ocean, the spacious rooms with ultra-modern décor of the Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, which is located not far from the city of Adeje, welcome families for an unforgettable stay in the footsteps of the greatest rock musicians: Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton or Bruce Springsteen. Everything here, from the ornate swimming pool, through the baby-club, the kids-club and teens-club, to the over 1700 sqm Rock Spa, the 3 bars and 6 restaurants is under the theme of music. In order to experience the energy of a legendary evening, attend a rock concert on the large terrace facing the lagoon with the sunset as a backdrop.
Audrey, 25 years old, journalist and travel lover, from Brussels