Early summer sun: Easter family holiday ideas in Europe

Easter holiday ideas for families

Easter is a great time of year to take a family holiday in southern Europe. It’s generally warm enough for playing at the beach (and even a quick dip in the sea) but cool enough to make family sightseeing and hiking attractive propositions. Accommodation prices are lower than they would be in the summer and there are fewer crowds. Easter is full of ancient traditions in many European countries so there’s an interesting cultural angle to taking a holiday at this time of year. So, I’ve put together some Easter family holiday ideas across southern Europe. Each of these destinations works well for a family holiday in April.

Wildflowers in Sicily, spring flowers in Sicily
Wildflowers in Sicily

Landscapes are particularly attractive around Easter time: hillsides have yet to lose their fresh green hues and meadows are often carpeted with wild flowers. So if you want more than just a family beach holiday next spring, read on for my top 5 destinations for Easter, tried and tested by some great family travel bloggers.

Easter family holiday in Crete

Great for: road trips, characterful family-friendly accommodation, attractive port cities, ancient history, mountain and gorge hiking, remote beaches.

Chania Easter family holiday
Chania in Crete

Since writing this post, I’ve taken my family to Crete for an Easter holiday. We enjoyed driving around the island exploring the mountains and tiny villages as well as visiting some of the more well known coastal towns including Chania and Rethymno.

There are some really lovely child-friendly places to stay in Crete. We particularly enjoyed staying in a little cottage at family-run Eleonas Country Village and we loved hiking through the spring flowers and olive groves at Milia Mountain Retreat. As a treat at the end of the trip, we had a few days of beach time relaxing at the very lovely Ammos Hotel near Chania.

Olive grove near Eleonas, Crete
Olive Grove with spring flowers in Crete

Crete offers that important blend of mountains, sea, culture and history along with good food and reasonable prices. It’s also large enough to feel like an adventure, with caves, gorges and historic sites hidden away in the interior waiting to be discovered.

If you’d prefer to base yourselves in one place, there are some great ideas on the Tin Box Traveller website, which features Crete among its best Greek Island holidays for families.

Early summer sun in Cyprus

Great for: amazing castles and archaeological sites, mountain villages, beaches and early summer sun.

St Hilarion Castle Cyprus
St Hilarion Castle in Northern Cyprus

Probably the most reliable option for families looking for some early summer sun, Cyprus is eternally popular with beach-goers and swimming pool addicts. But away from the family-friendly hotels you’ll find a wealth of history and stunning landscapes.

Child sitting on rock at Blue Lagoon in Cyprus
Taking in the views at the Blue Lagoon in Cyprus

We visited Cyprus in April 2022 – highlights included St Hilarion Castle in Northern Cyprus and exploring the remote Akamas Peninsula in the west.

salamis cyprus
Salamis, Cyprus

If you don’t want to stray too far from the coast, resorts such as Paphos and Ayia Napa rub shoulders with ancient ruins – Roman mosaics, amphitheatres and ancient burial chambers are all waiting to be explored.

The island’s capital is home to a comprehensive museum covering the vast history of this strategic Mediterranean nation and visiting Nicosia gives you the opportunity to explore the last divided capital city in the world.

Read more about our trip to Cyprus here.

Easter family holiday in Sicily

Great for: road tripping, child-friendly culture and food, volcanoes, puppet shows, farm stays, ancient history, castles, sandy beaches.

easter family holiday ideas, sicily road trip, family trip to sicily, noto
Noto Cathedral, Sicily

The ultimate family-friendly destination in my opinion, Sicily’s appeal is off the scale as we discovered on our trip to Sicily this year. The history is epic and will appeal to even the most reluctant scholar: invaded by everyone, you’ll find ancient Greek temples, Arabic arches, Norman churches and magnificent Baroque palazzos.

Piazza del Duomo Syracuse beaches of Sicily
Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse

Natural forces have come to bear on the island too with earthquakes and volcanoes leaving their mark on the cities and countryside. Geography lessons are a lot of fun in Sicily: we enjoyed a trip up Mount Etna and visited lots of cities which had been rebuilt after a massive earthquake hit the island at the end of the 17th century. Accommodation in Sicily is perfect for families: if you choose to stay in an agriturismo you can expect family-friendly apartments, delicious home cooking and plenty of space for the kids to unwind.

Sampieri beaches of Sicily
Sampieri beach on the south coast of Sicily

There are some delightful seaside towns such as Taormina, Syracuse and Cefalu and much of the coastline is lined with sandy beaches. With pizza, pasta and gelato on tap, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to take the family.

Explore the coastlines of Malta and Gozo

Great for: museums, boat trips and water sports, rich architectural history, stunning rocky coastlines and beaches, family-friendly accommodation (on Gozo).

Port Marsaxlokk, Malta.jpg
Port Marsaxlokk, Malta

These two isles easily warrant a holiday each as they’re both packed with history and culture. Gozo is often overlooked as just a day trip destination but Claire from Suitcases and Sandcastles discovered 17 must-see sights including the ancient temples at Ggantija and beautiful clifftop walks. Gozo offers a great range of family friendly converted stone farmhouses, some of them look incredible.

Saluting Battery, Valletta, Malta
Saluting Battery, Valletta, Malta

On Malta, I know my sons would love the daily canon fire of the Saluting Battery in Valletta and the Malta at War Museum sounds fascinating. Older kids would no doubt enjoy exploring the underground burial chambers of the neolithic Hypogeum (aged 5+). I haven’t mentioned to my kids that Malta, the place we are not going on holiday to, also boasts a Playmobil Fun Park: one of Playmobil’s main factories is located on the island.

Ideal for boat trips: the coastline of Gozo
Ideal for boat trips: the coastline of Gozo

While much of Malta’s coastline is rocky, the north of the island has some great sandy beaches and diminutive Gozo has an even better selection. With the islands being so small, it’s easy to combine a bit of sightseeing and culture in the morning with time at the beach in the afternoon, not forgetting a long lunch to fully appreciate the blend of Italian and Arabic cuisines which the islands are famed for.

Easter family holiday in Madeira

Easter family holiday ideas
Walking trails in Madeira

Great for: outdoor pursuits, tropical gardens, cable cars and toboggans as modes of transport, child-friendly museums, boat trips.

When I was a travel agent, Madeira only appealed to my more mature clients but after reading Nichola’s report on Global Mouse Travels, I now realise there is plenty of interest for younger visitors too. I like the idea of Madeira’s remote and tropical feel with lush foliage and steamy mountains. This is definitely one for families who enjoy the great outdoors, and the island is now starting to feature some seriously good accommodation so after a day hiking the island’s trails, you can return to a cottage or contemporary hotel to enjoy a hearty meal and a good bottle of wine.

Santa Maria de Colombo, Madeira
Santa Maria de Colombo, Madeira

Funchal’s cable cars and toboggan route look like great fun and I know my children would enjoy pretending to be pirates aboard the Santa Maria de Colombo, a replica of Christopher Coloumbus’s ship. Pirates were once a real threat to natives and the stunning but remote Curral das Freiras valley is named after a group of nuns who took shelter there.

levada trail, madeira holiday
Levada hiking trail, Madeira

Madeira’s levadas, water channels which crisscross the island, provide excellent walking routes through the mountainous landscapes. Back in civilisation, the Whale Museum looks incredibly interesting (if a little harrowing) and the CR7 Museum, all about Cristiano Ronaldo, should hold a certain appeal… I might skip that one though.

So, do you have any family travel plans for Easter? Do you have any good recommendations for family holidays in springtime? Let me know in the comments below.

Some of the images in this post are courtesy of Pixabay.

Looking for other beach holiday ideas? I’ve written a detailed article about the best beach towns in Europe.



  1. 17th November 2017 / 9:27 pm

    This is a great list of destinations for an Easter holiday break. Unfortunately I never get to go on holiday then because I normally have special classes for students during that time of year 🙁 But usually try to go before or after which is probably better anyways than getting stuck in holiday traffic. Would like to make it to all of these though! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • 17th November 2017 / 9:46 pm

      Ah to be able to avoid holiday traffic, I remember those days!

  2. Anisa
    17th November 2017 / 10:06 pm

    I haven’t been to any of these and they all look great. It’s nice that people here get a 4 day weekend for Easter, so I definitely want to take advantage of it. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • 17th November 2017 / 10:59 pm

      Yes, the 4 day weekend is very handy!

  3. 18th November 2017 / 10:30 am

    We are going to Madeira for half term break in February but still undecided on spring break! All the places you mentioned are on my bucket list but we might head somewhere a bit further flung if I can get my planning act together! 😉

    • 18th November 2017 / 10:47 am

      Well, if you see half the stuff that Nichola recommends you’ll have a great time! Madeira sounds amazing.

    • 19th November 2017 / 10:33 am

      Great, I look forward to hearing your plans!

  4. Clare Thomson
    20th November 2017 / 11:29 am

    You’ve chosen some fantastic destinations here, Annabel – I’m tempted by all of them. It’s been a long time since we were in Sicily and I’d love to revisit with the boys. I’d thoroughly recommend Crete as we were there only this year and thank you so much for including my Gozo post – it’s a beautiful island with so much to see and explore with kids in tow.

    • 20th November 2017 / 12:11 pm

      Thanks. I’m sorely tempted by Gozo and Malta but might wait until my youngest is 5 so he can do the tour of the Playmobil factory!

  5. Jules ( shadesofcourage.com)
    20th November 2017 / 1:13 pm

    Some fantastic destinations. It is hard to choose one to visit. Madeira is high up on my travel wishlist. #MondayEscapes

    • 20th November 2017 / 5:55 pm

      I’m definitely going to try visiting them all over the next few years, great “shoulder season” destinations!

  6. 20th November 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Cyprus and Crete seem to make it onto my list of possible destinations every year – maybe 2018 will be the year we finally go to one of them! #MondayEscapes

  7. pigeonpairandme
    20th November 2017 / 8:59 pm

    I really want to visit Madeira! I like the sound of its more gentle pace of life, and I wouldn’t bebothered about being at the younger end of the spectrum there. Gozo’s pretty special, too. Some great ideas. #MondayEscapes

    • 20th November 2017 / 9:08 pm

      I was a bit indifferent about Madeira until I discovered some great properties through I Escape and read about all the cool stuff Nichola got up to! Now it’s definitely on my list too!

  8. 21st November 2017 / 8:17 am

    Wow, you’re planning really far ahead! I’m still trying to firm up a trip to Honduras early next year, so I doubt I’ll be able to travel during Easter – but all of these options look like great choices! Putting them on my list for future reference 🙂

    • 21st November 2017 / 9:01 am

      Honduras sounds really interesting. I’ll look out for your post on that next year!

  9. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    23rd November 2017 / 1:07 pm

    I loved Cyprus at Easter some years ago, plus a June holiday we had in Sicily. I really fancy Madeira and am tempted by the walking routes you’ve suggested.

    • 23rd November 2017 / 2:03 pm

      Yes, the walking in Madeira sounds great. I might save it for when my boys are a bit older.

  10. 23rd November 2017 / 9:59 pm

    Oh I think Crete needs to be on my list for 2018 too, that looks fab. Thanks for linking up.

  11. vdaltonbanks
    24th November 2017 / 10:56 am

    These all look like great destinations for an Easter break! I love the Mediterranean islands, each offer so much to do! #farawayfiles

    • 24th November 2017 / 10:59 am

      Yes, Med islands are hard to beat!

  12. Clare Thomson
    24th November 2017 / 3:23 pm

    Great to re-read this for #FarawayFiles. Lots of inspiration here!

  13. 24th November 2017 / 8:28 pm

    We havent been to any of those places, they sound great. For Easter we have booked a week in the Scottish Highlands. Its been on our to do list for ages…and we live in Scotland! It will be good to explore our own “backyard” #MondayEscapes

    • 24th November 2017 / 10:24 pm

      That’s always the way isn’t it?! It’s great to holiday close to home sometimes.

  14. 25th November 2017 / 4:06 am

    I haven’t been to any of these but would particularly love to visit Crete and Malta. After our trip to Mallorca this summer, I’ve been asking myself why we don’t go to islands more often! All of these look special in their own way. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    • 25th November 2017 / 9:11 am

      I could happily return to Sicily every year but yes, there are so many amazing islands to explore.

  15. 26th November 2017 / 9:27 am

    We were in Sicily at Easter last year and loved it. Our relatives in Messina took us to one of the special Easter parades and explained all the local traditions. It was a very special trip. Thanks for reminding me of it. If we were still in Europe I would be chasing the sun too but I think Japan is topping our list for an Easter trip this year. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

  16. 3rd December 2017 / 2:46 pm

    Great choices but for me it would be Sicily every time

    • 3rd December 2017 / 3:08 pm

      I had to be persuaded not to go there next year!

  17. 7th February 2018 / 1:33 pm

    Fab list of sunny Easter destinations. We lucked out with amazing sunny, warm weather in the Dordogne last Easter. This year we’re taking our chances (and our raincoats) to North Yorkshire. I don’t think we’ll be dipping our toes in the sea!

    • 7th February 2018 / 1:51 pm

      You never know! The sun might decide to shine in Whitby…

  18. 21st February 2018 / 2:29 pm

    What a great list of destinations to travel with kids we really fancy Sicily as it just ticks all our boxes thanks for all the great tips. Mandyxxx #explorerkids

    • 21st February 2018 / 2:42 pm

      Glad you found it useful! Sicily is one of my favourite destinations!

  19. 22nd February 2018 / 3:40 pm

    I would love to visit any of these places! I’ve never actually been to Europe, besides a plane stop over for a few hours in Madrid! #ExplorerKids

  20. rawsonjl
    22nd February 2018 / 11:28 pm

    Oh my! So many wonderful and exotic looking locations. I think I would be pretty happy at any of those places. #ExplorerKids

  21. 23rd February 2018 / 12:25 am

    Beautiful… I’ve got some fond memories of Crete, from many years ago 🙂x

  22. 26th February 2018 / 11:23 am

    Malta and Gozo are beautiful and I love the Greek islands too. We haven’t been abroad in almost 10 years now. Would love anywhere on this list. Sarah #ExplorerKids

  23. 26th February 2018 / 10:25 pm

    What a great list! I haven’t been to any of the above place! I feel rather ashamed of myself as these countries are virtually next door! I really like the sound of Sicily. You have sparks my interests! P.S. We are off to Rome this Easter. Finally! Since we were let down last October by Monarch Air! x

    Thank you very much for linking up with us on #ExplorerKids

  24. 29th September 2018 / 5:44 pm

    I absolutely agree with you that Easter is a great time to get away – even in the UK we had some great Sun in 2018. We’ve had a great time to the Dorgogne at Easter – as you say, warm enough for outdoor play but cool enough for sightseeing – and fewer crowds! Great ideas here – tempting me for 2019 now

    • smudgedpostcard
      29th September 2018 / 8:11 pm

      Bows the time to start planning!

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