OUR TOP SITES FOR CITIES AND SIGHTS

 

Whilst every Al Fresco park is a wonderful entertainment centre in its own right, each featuring magnificent pools, eateries and nearby attractions just a flip-flop stride away, they are almost all within a reasonable drive/bus/train-ride to sights and sounds of a mystical, ‘metropolitan style’. In other words, you might well find yourself an hour or so away from the joys of Paris, or half an hour away from the brilliance of Barcelona, or Verona, or Rome, or Florence... the list goes on. Now city centre bustle might not be to everybody’s taste, but these fabulous European centres have so much more to offer than high prices and noise. They feature truly remarkable architecture, art, cuisine, customs and colour of a kind that simply cannot be found elsewhere on earth. In essence, they leave an indelible mark on every traveller’s mind. Small wonder that such cities entice repeat visit after repeat visit. Thing is, you always feel you’ve missed something. And you will miss something indeed if you don’t dodge the park pool for the day and immerse your family in the magic.

VERONA AMPHITHEATRE - ALTOMINCIO FAMILY PARK

Whilst Lake Garda itself has a wealth of different attractions guaranteed to amuse and delight visitors of all ages every single day of their holiday, just 30km away is the splendid city of Verona, which has countless jaw-dropping sights of its own that are well worth investigation. If the family is into castles, then Castelvecchio on the banks of the Adige will tick all the right boxes. Built in 1354, it’s a medieval masterpiece. The cathedral too is a grand sight, as indeed are the 14 th Century Scala family arches (Arche Scaligere) with their gothic, faceless horsemen. Check out the Arco dei Gavi as well, a wonderful arch that was flattened by Napoleon but reconstructed based on wooden models. You mustn’t miss the spectacular Roman arena either – 2000 years old and today one of the world’s most scintillating opera venues. And who could visit Verona without a sneaky peek at the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house) with its celebrated, tiny balcony that supposedly inspired Shakespeare’s ‘Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ scene. Perhaps you will feel inclined to leave a Post-it note like so many million others bearing words of love and devotion...

Altomincio Family Park ›

JULIET'S BALCONY - DEL GARDA VILLAGE AND CAMPING

As glorious as Lake Garda is in itself with its lovely little villages and zooming hydrofoils, it would be a pity to miss out on a trip to Verona, just 16 miles away. Here you will find captivating sights and sounds of quite a different kind.
Take the Casa di San Zeno Maggiore, for example. You needn’t be a lover of churches to appreciate the Romanesque features inside and out, starting with the imposing, 48-panel solid bronze doors. Within, the walls are covered top-to- toe with fabulous frescoes depicting scenes from the bible. Time for a sightseer’s breather? Pop along to the Piazza Bra for a gelato. This colossal square is the largest in the city, if not the country, flanked by pretty, pastel-coloured shops and countless cafes. After refreshments, there’s another piazza to explore – Piazza delle Erbe, beating heart of the city and watched over by the lofty (84m) Torre dei Lamberti – fire/clock-tower which offers stunning views from the top. Perhaps you’ll spot the Arca di Cansignorio, a fascinating, intricately sculptured arch. Of similar renown is the Arca di Cangrande, complete with statue of the fearsome warrior himself looking down from his horse. And when it’s time to sit back and ‘chill’, the Santuario Madonna di Lourdes offers welcome sanctuary, far away from the metropolitan buzz and bustle.
Del Garda Village and Camping ›

TREVI FOUNTAINE - CAMPING VILLAGE FABULOUS

When you’re as close as the Village Fabulous is to central Rome, one of the world’s most appealing, enigmatic capitals, it would be rude not to spend a rewarding few hours visiting the city’s many famous, awe-inspiring sights that have bewitched travellers for literally thousands of years. Religious or not, you can’t overlook the Vatican City, home to the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, sublime sculptures, celebrated Sistine Chapel ceiling, and captivating Renaissance frescoes. Ever seen the film Gladiator? Well you really should see the mighty Colosseum, the world’s largest amphitheatre – close your eyes and imagine the roar of the crowd baying for blood...Time for something a little gentler? Head for the Trevi Fountain and make a wish. The Baths of Caracalla are a similarly soothing sight (best not to strip off though). You might want to take in St Peter’s basilica too with its truly majestic dome. And no trip is complete without a peep at the Roman Forum, remarkable ruins in rectangular style. Or there’s always Hadrian’s Villa over in Tivoli – now that’s what you call a summer house! A more sombre sight is the Catacombs of San Callisto, 500,000 tombs in 20km of tunnels...
There are simply too many places of outstanding interest in scorching-hot Roma to list here. It’s a good job you’re so near to the city – you can visit again and again.
Camping Village Fabulous ›

ST TROPEZ - DOMAINE DES NAIADES

One of the key ‘selling points’ of Domaine des Naiades is, of course, its proximity to the ‘architectural experiment’ that is the magnificent ‘marine village’ of Port Grimaud. Rising handsomely out of the sand dunes only 50 years ago in 1966, this ‘Venice of the Cote d’Azur’ has since become of the main attractions in France, a must-see for both natives and world-travellers alike. And it’s no wonder. Painted in a bewildering range of pastel shades, the homes and businesses are built upon four mini islands, linked by a network of canals and quaint pedestrian bridges. Each dwelling has its own mooring so, as you might imagine, cars and traffic are not an issue here. Originally scoffed at for its ‘faux Provencal’ architecture, today the Port has begun to age well and the terracotta rooflines seem to have been there for centuries.
There are many other places of interest to check out in the area too, all within easy reach. How about the Musee de L’Annonciade in sizzling St Tropez (6 miles)? This splendid, converted 16th Century chapel is a magnet for modern art enthusiasts from across the globe that flock to see the various, classic works of Paul Signac, Matisse, Picasso and cubist Georges Braque. Prefer to browse and shop? Well, the Place de Lices should do the trick. This magical market (Tuesday and Saturday) delivers a fantastic range of foods, crafts and clothing all at reasonable prices – so reasonable that the locals often snap up the bargains first, so get there early to avoid disappointment!
Domaine des Naiades ›

AMSTERDAM - DUINRELL

If you fancy a day (or two) without sand in your shoes, or water splashing into your face, why not leave the delights of Duinrell behind you and ‘put your clog down’ to Amsterdam (32 miles)? This truly cosmopolitan city has a rich and varied range of attractions of both an historic and artistic nature to keep the whole family well amused, interested and entertained morning, noon and night. If art is your ‘thing’, the Van Gogh Museum could quite easily fill at least half your day alone. Make sure you download a floor plan to plot your schedule. Many visitors to the Dutch capital can’t resist a peek at Anne Frank’s House, where the celebrated writer penned her WW11 diaries from a tiny annex, concealed behind a bookcase ‘door’. Dam Square is a lighter proposition – the city’s thriving centre, hub of activity 24 hours a day, and packed with lively places to eat and drink. The Palace is majestic, of course, and dominates the scene. For a change of mood, children will be fascinated by the Amsterdam Dungeon, a deep, dark adventure into a world of torture, disease and death... The Flower Strip is an enlightening experience of a more pleasant nature – rainbow-coloured field upon field of tulip blooms, stretching as far as the eye can see. As far as Haarlem, in fact - a compact city or remarkable history, variety and culture. Here you’ll discover everything from wonderful windmills to classic churches, galleries to markets to mountains of well-stacked cheese...best hire a bike to take it all in.
Duinrell ›

CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE - NORCENNI GIRASOLE CLUB

Travel broadens the mind, as they say, so seeing as you’re already in Tuscany, it would be a pity to miss out on the delights of Florence (21 miles) and Siena (60 miles)– two of the world’s most captivating and charismatic cities.
Nobody goes to Florence without taking in the Ponte Vecchio – the ‘old bridge’ spanning the Arno, which still features shops and stalls to entice souvenir-hunters. The Palazzo Vecchio is a similarly popular attraction, with its floor-to- ceiling, priceless works of art, Michelangelo pieces and soaring clock-tower. The cathedral (Il Duomo di Firenze) is simply staggering both inside and out with its fabulous architecture and works of art, featuring contributions from many masters of their craft down the ages, from Giotto to Donatello. You could spend an entire day in there alone, but then you’d miss out on the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Romanesque San Miniato al Monte, standing on one of the city’s highest points and arguably the finest church in Italy.
Siena too has plenty places of cultural merit to tempt the visitor. A refreshing sight indeed are the Ancient Fountains (including Fontebranda and Fonte Gaia) – all the more spectacular when you consider that the water feeds them from a network of ingenious underground tunnels. Look up and you will almost certainly see the Torre del Mangia – a magnificent tower in the city’s premier square, Piazza del Campo. The Porta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) is a prominent feature in the city’s superb cathedral and opera venue of world renown. And another safe bet for the Siena sightseer is the Palio (horse-racing on clay around Piazza del Campo), a full though complex ‘card’ which takes place on July 2 nd and August 16th...
Norcenni Girasole Club ›

PARIS - PARIS EST

For just one day at least, it’s worth swapping the swimming costume and espadrilles for shorts and loafers and heading for the irresistible charms of Paris (115km). The park’s very own luxury coach will whisk you away in fine style, right to the heart of the action. Which means that within 2 hours you can be strolling towards the Eiffel Tower, admiring Louvre masterpieces, pottering along the Champs Elysees, marvelling at the Arc de Triomphe, or sipping a coffee outside Notre Dame cathedral...
Paris has photo opportunities at every turn, so where will you turn next? Fans of military history flock to L’Hotel Nationale des Invalides, home to extensive weapons collections and, of course, Napoleon’s gilded tomb. Other French notables, writers and artists are interred in the Latin Quarter’s Pantheon, which also merits a visit. Sainte-Chapelle (royal chapel) is similarly impressive, with its Gothic features and dazzling stained glass windows.
Thrill-seekers will doubtless want to delve underground to the famous Catacombs – deep beneath the city’s busy streets, even below the metro, a chilly network of tunnels lined with the skulls of Parisians past, dating back to the 13 th Century. Or if you prefer to be shocked in a more up-to- date fashion, a fun-packed day out in Disneyland Paris (88km) will probably be more your scene. Here the countless, colourful rides soar high above the ground (Indiana Jones) and whirl you around (Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups), all under the ever-watchful eye of Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear and friends.
Paris Est ›

PORT GRIMAUD - LES PRAIRIES DE LA MER

Though it may prove difficult to drag yourselves away from the comprehensive, 5-star, luxury diversions of the park itself, we’re sure you’ll agree that a little trip out to some of Port Grimaud’s most celebrated sights will be well worth the effort. For instance, a gentle climb up to Grimaud Castle will reward you not only with splendid views across St Tropez bay, but also intrigue you with its 11 th Century fortifications, spiral steps and crumbling crenellations. It’s free to get in as well. On descending back into Grimaud ‘old village’, you might want to scour the ancient, ochre-coloured streets for a refreshing ice or beer. There are picture-perfect, ‘typical French’ sights around every corner, like arch-shaded pavements, walls festooned with pretty flowers and cobbled steps leading up to secret courtyards.
Offering soothing respite from the beating sun are churches of renown, such as the Eglise Notre Name de l’Assomption with its finely sculptured wood panelling, or the Eglise Saint Francois d’Assise, whose lofty bell tower affords terrific views across the port. A stroll into the countryside takes you to Le Pont des Fees – the wee ‘bridge of fairies’ straddling the River Garde, part of the ancient aqueduct that used to carry water into the village.
Of course, you could always forget the sightseeing altogether and embark upon one of the wine- tasting tours for which this region is famous. There are many ‘chateaux’ to choose from, each with bulging cellars to tempt the connoisseur...
And no trip to Saint Tropez would be complete without a good look at the ever-dominant citadel, a monument to the town’s pride in its naval past.
Les Prairies de La Mer ›

SALOU - SANGULI

No doubt about it – it’s great fun to slide in Sanguli and splash about the pools. But you needn’t splash out too much on a family excursion to the city of Reus (10km) - and it is sure to be a hit, especially with those who adore outrageous building design.
Fans of the weird and surreal will be captivated by the Casa Navas, a home right in the centre, designed by modernist Lluis Domenech i Montaner. Finished in 1908, it’s bursting with truly original features inside and out, from slender pillars (which it seems to teeter on) to marble halls lined with paintings, exquisite staircases and Homar furniture. (If you’re lucky, the present occupiers will let you see for yourself.) If this architect has whetted your appetite for more, then his Institute Pere Mata and Casa Rull will not disappoint. Nor will the Gaudi Centre, which offers jaw-dropping exhibits at every turn from Reus’s genius native son. Just around the corner is the Placa del Mercadel, a stunning square featuring contrasting structures both ancient and modern.
However you spend your day, when the sun goes down, don’t miss the Salou Dancing Fountains – cascading water jets, beautifully back-lit and choreographed to guarantee gasps of wonder.
Sanguli ›

BARCELONA - VILANOVA PARK

Let’s be honest, when you’re a mere 29 miles from Barcelona, one of the world’s most engaging, diverse and thriving, groovy cities, can you really resist a day trip or two (or three)? There really is something for every single family member here, from teenage fashionistas, who will find the top-label stores and La Rambla simply divine, to footy-mad lads who will find a Barca shirt on every street corner and the Camp Nou itself a rare delight, to mums who like fine dining and dads who like fine architecture...
Best thing to do is invest in an open-top bus pass and hop on and off to your heart’s desire. Or simply stay on the bus and try to take it all in. And there’s a lot of it. From Gaudi’s outlandish architecture, evidenced in the mosaic-filled park Guell, or his Gaudi House Museum, his Casa Batilo and, of course, his unfinished Sagrada Familia. You can explore the Old Town too and its popular little beaches, sample sizzling paella beside the luxury, modern marina, potter around the Student Quarter, savour the flavours in the Boqueria (glorious indoor market), or marvel at the Liceu Opera House. The wonderful Olympic Stadium is worth a look as well.
There’s even an amazing choice of attractions for wildlife fans – check out the Zoo and the awesome, shark-filled Aquarium.
Vilanova Park ›