The time to prepare for your summer break has arrived, but which destination should you choose? If you're dreaming of spending time together as a family in a beautiful place - but without blowing your budget - you're in luck! Take a look at ten of our favourite destinations for an affordable family vacation.
If you're already in Europe and you want to explore France, there are countless destinations that are easy to reach by car or train. This beautiful country is full of places that are off the beaten track, meaning you can avoid the crowds without blowing your budget! For the purposes of this article, we have therefore compared prices in other suggested destinations to France (simply as a reference point for money-savvy readers!), focusing on the cost of living in each of these places, the price of the journey to get there, and spending money for activities once you're there.
And don't forget that if you're opting for a house exchange vacation, you'll find that each destination boasts a varied range of accommodation offered by HomeExchange members. It's up to you to find the home that best suits your family - all at a very low price, of course!How does HomeExchange work?
1 - The Vendée in France offers amazing family vacations
If you want to go on a family vacation in France by the sea, the Vendée region is more affordable than other coastal areas such as the Côte d'Azur or Brittany. Here, it is possible to enjoy a vacation in Vendée within a reasonable budget, depending on your activities of course.
The Vendée offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. You can enjoy its fine sandy beaches for swimming and water sports, cycling along the coast and salt marshes, or go and visit the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier by boat. The Vendée also has a rich historical heritage with plenty of castles to visit, and amazing local gastronomy that is primarily based on seafood.
And if you want to find an activity that will appeal to young and old alike, head to the imaginative amusement parks of Vendée, such as the unmissable Puy du Fou and the Indian Forest adventure park!See homes in the Vendée
2 - Andalusia in Spain is great for a low-budget break
On average, the cost of living for a trip to Andalusia in 2023 was around 30% lower than in France, and the restaurants and food are particularly pocket-friendly – making this one of the best affordable family vacations in Europe.
The Andalusian region of southern Spain is an ideal holiday destination for many reasons. You can enjoy the magnificent beaches of the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz, or you can spend many happy days exploring the natural parks and the typical white villages perched on the hills, many of which offer spectacular views. The historic monuments of the splendid cities of Andalusia are spectacular, so consider visiting the cathedral and the Royal Alcazar Palace in Seville, The Alhambra in Granada, or the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
Discovering Andalusia also means getting to know its culture: don't hesitate to attend a flamenco show, as this traditional dance is absolutely engaging. You can also go to Malaga to visit Picasso's birthplace, as well as the museum which houses an important collection – while local culinary specialties include gazpacho, ham, fried seafood and paella. As for tapas, this can be enjoyed in bars and restaurants, throughout the day!See homes in Andalusia
3 - Explore Puglia in Italy for low-cost dining
Going on vacation to Italy is very affordable. Restaurants and food are around 25% cheaper than in France. Leisure activities, on the other hand, are a little more expensive, but if you choose to exchange homes for your accommodation, you will be able to treat yourself to all the leisure activities you want with the significant savings you have made!
Puglia is located in the south of Italy, in the heel of the boot. This sun-drenched region on the edge of the Adriatic is a perfect destination for families, as you can enjoy magnificent beaches, take boat trips to discover spectacular sea caves, and go diving.
You can also explore the famous trullo at Alberobello, (which are pretty white houses with cone-shaped roofs), or visit the impressive caves of Castellana. Lecce (the baroque city nicknamed "the Florence of the south") and Bari are both very pleasant cities to stroll around, and you’ll want to build in plenty of time to relax in the local restaurants where you can taste delicious specialties such as pizzas, orecchiette, seafood and gelati!See homes in Puglia
4 - Find one of the best affordable family vacations in Bulgaria
The cost of living isn't high in Bulgaria, so the budget for a trip to the Balkans is 40% less than in France. Besides the fact that this country is very affordable, its landscapes are breathtaking, and there are very few tourists.
There’s a lot to discover in Bulgaria for every type of traveler. If you're looking to stay by the sea, choose Nessebar in the east of the country, where you can enjoy Black Sea beaches, such as Sunny Beach. You can also discover Bulgaria's many natural hot springs located in Velingrad and Sandanski, which are perfect for relaxing with the family. And if you want to go hiking, take some time to explore the mountains or go to the Pirin National Park.
The history of Bulgaria is definitely worth discovering, as you can visit numerous Roman archaeological sites, such as the ruins of the city of Plovdiv. And don’t forget that Sofia, the country’s capital, offers many attractions for families such as the National Museum of Natural History, the zoo and Borisova Gradina Park. With a rich culture and unique traditions that you can experience by visiting its traditional villages, Bulgaria is perfectly-suited to those who want to discover stunning local crafts, enchanting music and the most delicious food.See homes in Bulgaria
5 - The Algarve in Portugal offers pocket-friendly vacations
Portugal is one of the cheapest European destinations for a family vacation. Restaurants are very affordable, and many activities are free or inexpensive.
Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve is the ideal destination for a sunny vacation on a budget. Its golden sandy beaches on the Atlantic offer the most beautiful landscapes for a lazy stroll, while if you’re feeling active, you’ll love the wide variety of water sports on offer including windsurfing, surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding. As a family, you can explore the Algarve by visiting the old town of Faro, as well as the beautiful, typical white-washed villages of Albufeira and Portimao. The Ria Formosa Natural Park is the perfect place to discover the rich fauna and flora of the region, and the sea caves can be explored by boat. As for the local cuisine… it’s particularly delicious! Make sure you try the incredible “Cataplana” seafood dishes, plus local sardines, tasty grills and pastéis de nata pastries (which are lovely egg custard tarts).
For children, the Algarve has several water parks with slides, swimming pools and lots of attractions – Aqualand, Aquashow Park, and Slide & Splash are particularly popular! You can also go on a boat trip to watch dolphins, or visit Lagos Zoo.See homes in the Algarve
6 - Discover Croatia for a great value break
Croatia is a fantastic budget holiday destination. On average, the cost of living in Croatia in 2023 was 25% lower than in France, so you can do more while you’re there.
Croatia offers many activities for a memorable family vacation, and with breathtaking landscapes, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. You can either enjoy one of the mainland’s many superb beaches, or head to the country's 698 islands to go hiking in the mountains, or rent bikes to explore the magnificent landscapes of the Croatian countryside. You can also explore the national parks – Plitvice and Krka are particularly popular for their waterfalls and lakes.
Croatia has a rich history. Zagreb, the capital, is a lively city with many museums, galleries and historical monuments to discover, and you can also explore other beautiful towns and villages such as Split, Pula, Zadar, Trogir and Dubrovnik. As for Croatian cuisine, it is delicious and varied, with a strong Mediterranean influence: don't miss out on tasting the local culinary specialties such as cevapi (a kebab made out of grilled mince meat), grilled squid and... the unmissable truffle pasta!See homes in Croatia
7 - The Canary Islands offer affordable family vacations
The Canary Islands are a fairly economical destination for a family vacation, at around 20% less than in France. Provided you avoid the big seaside resorts, you’ll find that the prices for eating out and so forth are quite affordable.
With its 7 islands, the Canary Islands archipelago is an ideal destination for family holidays. It offers a delightful array of vastly different landscapes, ranging from volcanoes and deserts to pine forests and white sand beaches. With more than 500km of coastline, the islands offer a multitude of beaches with crystal clear waters to relax and soak up the sun, and you can enjoy many water sports such as surfing, paddleboarding or diving.
To discover the islands, there’s nothing better than going on a day trip by boat and taking the opportunity to swim in small coves. The Canaries are also a great destination for hiking enthusiasts, with trails offering stunning views of the ocean. There’s also a rich history and culture to enjoy, with a large number of sites to visit, such as the Pyramids of Guimar in Tenerife, the caves of Cueva Pintada in Gran Canaria, or the ruins of the ancient city of Ciudadela in Fuerteventura. As for its cuisine, you’ll find Spanish, African and South American influences, so there’s something for everyone.See homes in the Canary Islands
8 - Morocco is perfect for a low-cost vacation
On average, the cost of living for a trip to Morocco last year was 44% lower than in France, as catering and food are particularly cheap – making this an ideal destination for a cheap family vacation.
Morocco offers many opportunities for unforgettable family experiences. If you love the sea, Morocco has a magnificent coastline on the Atlantic, with beautiful beaches where you can practice surfing, windsurfing, or kitesurfing. Feeling active? Then take a hike in the Atlas Mountains, or experience a camel ride in the desert. There’s also lots to see and do, so consider exploring the fascinating medinas of Marrakech, Fez, Meknes or Rabat, either on foot or by horse-drawn carriage.
To really discover the culture of Morocco, there’s nothing better than strolling through the narrow and lively streets of the colorful souks, where you can buy beautiful local crafts, fabrics, spices and food at low prices. Morocco is also renowned for its mouth-watering, spicy cuisine. Don’t leave without sampling many traditional dishes such as tagines, couscous, meatballs and barbecued meats. Mint tea is also a real institution here, and is best accompanied by sweet pastries like the famous gazelle horns. Delicious!See homes in Morocco
9 - Spend less and enjoy more in the Greek islands
The cost of living for a trip to the Greek islands is reasonable, as catering is inexpensive. If you avoid the better-known islands such as Santorini or Mykonos, eating out is particularly affordable (though if you’re on a HomeExchange, you can spend the money you’ve saved on accommodation by enjoying some fine dining!) Generally speaking though, the lesser-known islands are just as pretty, and well-suited for inexpensive family holidays.
Located in the Aegean Sea in Greece, The Cyclades are a collection of lovely islands, and they’re famous for their magnificent beaches with crystal clear waters. You can swim, snorkel, or simply relax and enjoy the sun. The Cyclades also offer plenty of opportunities for hiking the trails, and discovering breathtaking views of the archipelago, the pretty white houses and the deep blue sea.
History-buffs will also adore The Cyclades. You can explore a large number of ancient archaeological sites in Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos, while foodies are in for a treat – Greek cuisine is delicious, light and varied. Make sure you taste typical dishes such as Greek salad, gyros, souvlakis, grilled sardines, fish and seafood dishes, and fresh cheeses.See homes in Greece
10 - Make your money go further in Thailand
On average, the cost of living for a trip to Thailand last year was 47% lower than in France, particularly as restaurants and experiences are very inexpensive. Even if you have to allocate a significant portion of your budget for your family's flights, living there will not cost you much, so we’d suggest planning at least a two week vacation to make the most of your stay.
Thailand is a popular vacation destination for families due to its balmy climate, amazing food and many child-friendly activities. Nicknamed "the land of smiles", this fantastic country is renowned for its warm welcome, which makes it an ideal destination for children. Top of your ‘to-do’ list should be spending some time on the magnificent beaches, which are often considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world. You’ll find lots of water sports to enjoy, with a particular focus on diving. If you like hiking, you can explore the national parks to discover lush flora and fauna, watch birds, and enjoy the breathtaking views.
To discover Thai culture at its finest, make sure you explore the many serene Buddhist temples – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, or the White Temple in Chiang Rai are hugely popular for a very good reason. The culture of the country can also be discovered through peaceful boat trips on the canals, where you can enjoy the floating markets and buy souvenirs, food and delicious local dishes at very low prices. Finally, make the most of Thailand’s cuisine, which is deliciously spicy. You can enjoy this at a low cost in the restaurants, but it’s even cheaper if you’re buying from the street vendors!See homes in Thailand
Home exchanging: the ideal solution for your family vacation at a very low price
Exchanging homes is the ideal solution for going on a family vacation at a very low price.
On HomeExchange, you will find houses available for exchange in every corner of Europe and much further afield. Whether in the countryside or in the mountains, by the sea or in a big city, the practice of exchanging your home will allow you to enjoy a wonderful family vacation, in a property that’s far superior to traditional accommodation.
Exchanging houses is economical: in fact, with your membership, you will be able to benefit from unlimited exchanges all year round, whether for weekends or longer holidays. Your accommodation budget will therefore be minimal, and with the money you have saved, you will be able to enjoy more excursions and day-trips, plus you’ll have extra in the bank to spend on eating out (though one of the many advantages of staying in a HomeExchange property, is that you can cook up a storm in a properly-equipped kitchen!)
Better yet, you will be able to live exactly like a local, far from the crowds, in a house where everyone can have the space to really enjoy their vacation! Who you choose to swap with is entirely up to you. You can even exchange your home with other families who are at a similar life stage – so your hosts may be able to provide you with baby equipment, games, toys, and books for children or games consoles for teenagers. Outside, you can enjoy family-friendly gardens, many of which will offer a trampoline, a cabin or a swimming pool. You might even be able to take advantage of borrowing the family’s bikes!Find a home for my family vacation