The schools close for the Easter holidays, which makes Easter a great time to get away on a family break, and we’ve got five egg-citing options for a fun-filled spring Easter holiday, whether your children are five or 15.
Are you looking forward to the end of term and the next school holiday? The two-week Easter break is a great time to bid farewell to winter and embrace the spring, swapping the cold dark days for warmer, sunnier ones.
Easter Day falls as late as 21 April this year, meaning the days will be longer and the weather will, hopefully, be better than ever. It really is the perfect time for a family holiday, whether you want activity and excitement, or the chance to simply relax and recharge.
So where is it going to be? Here are five great destinations where families can enjoy a Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday…
Spain has been a favourite holiday destination for British families since the 1960s, and with good reason. Initially it was for the obvious combination of sun and sand - the aptly-named Costa del Sol still has more Blue Flag beaches than anywhere else in Europe - but its ongoing popularity is also down to the brilliant way the area caters for all the family.
You can still enjoy fun in the sun at one of those many fantastic beaches, and springtime is a great time to do that, away from the full-on heat and crowds of the summer. However, there’s also an array of entertainment for children off all ages on Málaga's sunny shores and, yes, that means you too, Dad!
For starters, the area is home to a great selection of amusement parks, theme parks, aquariums and zoos, including the region’s largest water park, Aqualand. The park reopens for the new season on 20 May so be sure to pay it a visit if you plan to head out that way after that date. This area is rich in year-round attractions to enjoy, including the iconic Tivoli World in Benalmádena, which has more than 40 rides and activity features. Don't miss the rootin’ tootin’ Wild West Show, which is just one of the highlights on this venue's live entertainment agenda.
For a less noisy but no less exciting adventure in Benalmádena, take the cable car up Mount Calamorro where, on a clear day, you can see as far as the African coast and the Rock of Gibraltar. There are hiking routes from the top, and you can even enjoy a falconry demonstration while on these slopes.
If yours is a family of animal and nature lovers, then other great places to put on your visit schedule are the Selwo Marina dolphinarium, the Sea Life interactive aquarium, and the spellbinding Bioparc Fuengirola, a contemporary zoo based on respect for nature and the preservation of natural species. Here you can experience the diverse habitats of Africa, Madagascar, Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific, as well as to give the youngsters in your group a chance to burn off some of the excitement in the children's play area.
The Spanish sunshine island of Tenerife is an ideal year-round family holiday destination and the Easter holidays are a great time to visit.
It's not just the island's great weather, wonderful beaches and coastline that make Tenerife a perfect family holiday destination, there really is something for all the family to enjoy. If the children are looking for more than just sun and sand, the island has a growing range of attractions, from theme parks and water parks to zoos and other nature-based pursuits.
One of the undoubted highlights is Siam Park, an incredible Thailand-themed water playground that caters to thrill, as well as chill, the seekers of holiday fun. Thrill seekers will love the white-knuckle roller-coaster and water rides, while those looking to relax can float down the Mai Thai Lazy River or kick back on the white sands of Playa Siam.
One of the island’s other popular visitor attractions is Loro Parque, a zoo that started out as a parrot park but is now home to gorillas, tigers, jaguars, penguins in their impressive enclosure where it actually snows, and an aquarium featuring sea lions, orcas and dolphins.
If you’d rather see the latter in their natural habitat, there are lots of whale- and dolphin-watching trips which sail out from Los Gigantes, Los Cristianos and Puerto Colón. With more than 21 species of dolphin visiting the stretch of water between Tenerife and La Gomera, you’re pretty much bound to see them. The whales tend to move quite slowly and will come up, gently, right by your boat; it is a surprisingly moving moment to have them come so close that you can hear the air being expelled from their blowholes.
Finally, a surprisingly family-friendly treat is the Museum of Science and the Cosmos in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, which is as much theme park as museum, and makes astronomy, technology and science fun as well as fascinating. The venue has more than 70 ‘experiments' that demonstrate all manner of scientific phenomena, and the children will love the chance to see their face as a skull or to pick up a car with one finger.
Lake Balaton, Hungary
Hungary might not seem an obvious choice for a family holiday, but while man-made theme park attractions are few and far between, Lake Balaton is effectively a giant water park with some great beaches to boot. The latter are far quieter at Easter, even though April temperatures in the area hold up well at around 19-20 degrees centigrade, with bright blue skies overhead.
The lake itself is shallow with gently sloping beaches which are ideal for families to splash around in. There is also a range of activities to be enjoyed on sand or on water, from the gentle pleasures of the pedalo boats and fishing, to the sportier pursuits such as windsurfing, wakeboarding and volleyball.
Moving away from the lake's shores, you will find even more entertainment, from the traditional parks and promenades of Balatonfüred on its northern shores, to a quirky selection of museums in the pretty town of Keszthely at the lake’s western end. And there really is something for everyone, with museums dedicated to dolls, cadillacs, radios, model railways, marzipan (yes, really) or torture (yes, REALLY!).
The whole area around Lake Balaton is great for cycling and horse riding, while other family-friendly attractions include a huge water park at Zalaegerszeg that boasts wave machines, a winding artificial river, and boat rides to explore the subterranean cave lake at Tapolca. On shore, don’t miss the stunning castle ruins at Nagyvázsony and Szigliget, which both offer amazing views. Climbing the spiral staircase at Kinizsi Castle in Nagyvázsony is a fun way to earn the rewarding panoramas, and where you might even catch a costumed display of jousting or archery during your visit.
Arguably the family holiday capital of the world, and certainly its theme park HQ, Orlando is a mind-blowing place to behold, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned pro.
And yes, people do return on a regular basis, not just because those theme parks are reliably entertaining, but every year they expand and improve, adding new attractions, experiences and restaurants to the exhilarating mix. All the parks open all-year-round, but Easter signals the start of the season, when many of the year’s new attractions are unveiled for the first time.
The main attraction has to be Walt Disney World of course, which caters for the kids, and big kids too (yes, that’s you again Dad). This colourful world offers the visitor everything, from high-adrenaline rides and the sophisticated eateries of Epcot, to the life-size cartoon characters and toddler-friendly attractions of The Magic Kingdom. You’ll need a few days to see it all, and while there are crowds and queues, the thrills, live shows, fireworks and the ridiculous magnitude of the whole experience will more than compensate.
Not that Orlando is all about Disney. The likes of Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland Florida all offer fabulous family entertainment too. Each one of these holiday wonderlands offers something you can’t get elsewhere - Universal has the ever-expanding Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SeaWorld is adding Sesame Street-themed land to its traditional water-borne attractions this spring, while Lego Movie World, also opening in spring, will add another building block to Legoland’s growing landscape of family-friendly experiences.
If you’re looking for the perfect long-haul destination for a family holiday, at Easter or any other time of year, then Mexico has pretty much got everything you need, not least the chance to be pampered and spoilt at of one of its many fabulous all-inclusive resorts.
Going ‘all-in’ really is great for all the family, giving the children the chance to try a multitude of activities, as well as enjoy their independence in a safe environment while allowing Mum and Dad to relax and make the most of having a little time on their own. The all-inclusive holiday comes with an additional price tag, but many holidaymakers think it is more than worth it for the experience of total relaxation. There’s no need to run around wondering what to do, as the on-resort activity, dining and evening entertainment options are endless. No more worrying about the holiday spending budget when planning each day how, when and where you are all going to eat, because you can eat and drink as much as you like, whenever the fancy takes you on an all-inclusive resort holiday, because all meals, snacks and drinks are taken care of in the cost of the holiday, paid upfront.
All things taken into consideration, I'm sure you'll agree, the all-inclusive resorts offer great value for family groups, as the varied interests and needs of all your family members, from the chill- to the thrill-seekers, are taken care of. The incredible array of activities and entertainment can range from exciting water parks, high ropes courses and climbing walls to cookery classes and craft-making, teen clubs to crèches.
Off resort there are yet more fascinating things to do. You can simply flop and drop on one of Mexico's beautiful beaches and enjoy your own personal paradise. If it is exploration you want, to really get under the skin of the place, then there are many organised tours to places such as the ancient Mayan ruins, or Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park where you can see wildlife at close quarters, snorkel with fish, explore underground caves and rivers and learn about Mayan culture. Mexico has its share of modern adventure parks too, such as the spectacular Xel-Há Eco Park with its natural aquarium, which are ideal for nature lovers.
The family can, of course, all get back together each evening to enjoy dining at the usually large choice of restaurants on resort, the live shows and entertainment. Going back to what I said at the start of this blog, Mexico has pretty much got it all…
If you would like to visit any of these fantastic destinations, or see where else in the world you could be heading with RCI membership, click on the Resort Directory below and start searching for your next perfect escape. Look out for the all-inclusive resorts in the Directory, which are also available for RCI members to exchange into.
If you own timeshare, but are not a member of RCI, click the Join RCI button below and sign up in a few simple steps. There is a world of holidays out there with more than you can ever imagine to see, wonder at, and make memories that will last you a lifetime. So what are you doing going back to the same place year in and year out? Join RCI and let your timeshare take you round the world.