Ah summer holidays: the glorious time of year when people from all over Britain spread their wings to countries near and far in order to spend some quality time with the family, chill out and take in some much deserved sun.
But with so many quality destinations out there, where should you go? Too often we make the mistake of going for the tried and tested options such as Greece, Spain or Italy and end up paying over the odds for our small portion of sun, sea and sand – a recent survey by Family Traveller and Skyscanner reported that more than half of families are put off booking a summer holiday altogether because they think it's just too expensive.
But we have good news: it's easier to avoid the tourist traps than you think. With these savvy holiday ideas to guide you, there are plenty of places near and far where your whole family can have a great time (and save money too)!
Instead of Turkey go to... Macedonia
Turkey is one of the worst countries for instilling price hikes, so why not switch to multi-faceted Macedonia? Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history, Macedonia has a lot to offer. Browse ancient sites before relaxing on sandy beaches – or for the more adventurous, why not take part in some mountain climbing? We recommend starting off at the capital Skopje, where the kids will love exploring the old town’s ancient fortress.
Instead of Paris go to... Prague
Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, has a lot to offer those looking for a romantic city break. From its quaint Old Town Square to its colourful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and medieval Astronomical Clock, it's sure to captivate even the most unenthusiastic of travellers.
Top tip: For the best prices travel in the last few weeks of the school summer holidays rather than the first.
Instead of Cornwall go to... the Irish coast
Cornwall may be home to some of the most stunning beaches and surf that the UK has to offer, but it doesn't half get packed with city dwellers relocating to their holiday homes during the summer months. Instead, nip across the water to Ireland. With scores of rugged sandy and mostly uninhabited beaches, you'll have your choice of where to park your towel. Wondering where to start? Head to the ‘Sunny South-East’ for surroundings and temperatures similar to Cornwall, or if you don’t mind a bit of that Atlantic breeze, Galway and Cork have some of the best beaches in the country.
Instead of the Canaries go to... The Algarve, Portugal
The epitome of sun, sea and sand, the Canaries are rightly popular with tourists – but what's so fun about being elbow to elbow in the sweltering sun? Instead, explore one of over 100 beaches in southern Portugal's Algarve region. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get there is to fly to Faro, rent a car and beach hop everywhere from Praia de Faro to Praia da Galé. And for the kids? The Algarve is home to one of the largest water parks in Europe, Aqualand, near Alcantarilha.
Top tip: The cheapest time to book is roughly 8 weeks in advance, but to get the best deals be sure to use a comparison website.
Instead of the South of France go to... Croatia
The South of France may be pretty, but you can get all that and more on Croatia’s pearly coasts. In the issue of full disclosure, Croatia can be expensive – but not if you know where to look. Avoid staying in tourist heavy Dubrovnik, the home of Game of Thrones. Instead head to one of the lesser-known of the 1185 islands dotted along the Istrian and Dalmatian Coast such as Korkula, where legend has it Marco Polo was born. Low in resort costs and high in pine forests and secluded beaches, this walled-town island makes for one of the most magical getaways imaginable.
Instead of Rome go to... Berlin
Rome may contain some of the world’s greatest art, but it also contains scores of tourists. If it's culture you're after Berlin will be right up your street. Jam-packed full of history from the Cold War to the Holocaust, today it's known for its vibrant art scene, nightlife and modern architecture, such as Mies van der Rohe’s landmark Neue Nationalgalerie.
Bonus: If you’re taking a trip to Germany, the kids will love its version of Disneyland called Europa Park. One of Europe's biggest theme parks, it even has its own version of Mickey Mouse called Euromaus!
Top tip: Consider travelling on a weekday rather than a weekend, as flight prices are cheaper then.
Instead of Greece go to... Montenegro
Beautiful by day and night, Montenegro has everything Greece has to offer and is still relatively unknown to the tourist market. From cafés galore and yummy foodie experiences to long sandy beaches, perhaps the most unique thing about this country is that it offers one of Europe’s three remaining rainforests in hiker-friendly Biogradska Gora national park. Think icy glacial lakes, mountain ridges and more than 200 different types of plants and tress and you’re on the right track. There's plenty to explore with the kids.
Instead of London go to... Warsaw
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on the tube during a heat wave. Why not swap it for somewhere else rich in history, culture and restaurants? Historical sites, mesmerising museums and quality pubs can all be found in Warsaw for less than you'd pay in London. Its architecture even rivals Europe’s largest city and due to Warsaw’s turbulent history you’ll find everything from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to modernist blocks and modern skyscrapers side-by-side. Plus, with such a vibrant music scene, there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.
Top tip: Get all your travel money and insurance sorted with one trip to Asda Money
Instead of the South of Spain go to... Bulgaria
Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts are a total bargain compared with traditional summer sun destinations like the south of Spain. Offering a great mix of city and beach breaks to suit your needs, you can alternate between culture at the capital Sofia and relaxation at Liulin Beach to your heart’s content. Just a 20-minute subway ride from the airport and stuffed with museums and galleries to boot, Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe, while Liulin beach offers outdoor swimming pools, a footie pitch and even a canteen serving pizza, meaning the kids will love it too!
Instead of Italy go to... Hungary
With meals for under fiver, train tickets for a quid and rooms at bargain prices, Budapest is the savvy travellers dream holiday. Come for the famous thermal spas with massages starting at under a tenner and stay for the luscious cakes and local vineyards. Take our advice and try the local speciality – the chocolate chimney cake, a sugary roll with various flavour options – before heading out of the city to check out the largest lake in Europe, Lake Balaton in Transdanubia, an easy one and half hour train ride away.