It's that time of year again where we are all asking ourselves where to take the kids this summer. There are so many factors to consider: familiar or new destination? Hotter or milder temperatures for kids' sensitive skin? How to get there? How safe is the new destination? What standard of accommodation to choose? Things to do for all ages? Our single parents keep telling us that their foremost concern is for their kids to have a great time, and if they get to relax a little on holiday, too, then all the better! But none ever considered family-friendly Austria before travelling with us, missing out on stunning scenery, glorious weather, equisite cuisine, family fun and a standard of accommodation second to none!
Rarely mentioned as a top summer travel destination in the UK, I have found no country offering such good value for money and such an abundance of child friendly hotels with facilities going far beyond the usual kids clubs as Austria. Almost 9% of its income is from tourism so councils ensure that tourists have a good reason to come back year after year: Every spring, as soon as the ski season has finished and the snow has melted, counties such as Salzburg and Styria, or the well-known Zillertal in Tyrol transform into picture-postcard scenes of rolling meadows and crystal clear swimming lakes against the stunning backdrop of imposing mountain peaks.
Well-known for its top ski resorts, Austria makes a huge effort to attract families outside the busy winter months. Tourism boards and hotels collaborate to offer free cable car rides and summer cards which entitle visitors to a wide range of free and discounted activities: These range from family rafting, pony riding and summer-tobogganing to float building, farm visits and treasure hunts – great activities that can be enjoyed by parents and children together. Not to forget some of the wonderful local sights such as the Skywalk and the Ice Palace at the top of the Dachstein Glacier – a thrilling adventure for both parents and kids.
Finding accommodation is easy: Depending on your budget, you can choose between self-catering guesthouses and star rated hotels - the standard will never disappoint! For families, there is a great choice of 3- and 4-star hotels which offer an exceptionally high standard compared to most other European countries with a wide range of kids and teenage facilities and lots of invaluable advice on what the immediate region has to offer. A special mention should go to the highly rated Kinderhotels which offer up to 12 hours free childcare a day from the age of two allowing tired mums and dads, busy single parents and worn out grandparents a well-deserved rest in the superior spa, a dip in the hotel’s own lake or a round of tennis. That is if you can drag the kids away from the superb facilities these hotels have to offer: From huge adventure playgrounds, trampolines and leisure halls for teens to parent laundry rooms, children’s restaurants or a giant slide in the staircase – these hotel owners have really gone the extra mile to make their hotels a family paradise.
One thing is certain: Your kids won’t get bored in Austria and you and your children will come home with unforgettable memories!