Those of you who know me well will know there is nothing I love better than dreaming about and researching holidays! The second May bank holiday and half term are nearly upon us and whilst those yet undecided on their plans face higher prices than normal, there are still some good deals to be had. Whilst we at Baby Routes are big advocates of exploring the UK and are dusting off our camping kit (more on this later), it is always nice to have a complete change of scene from time to time. If you don’t have any plans yet but fancy a last minute getaway somewhere completely new then don’t despair – there are still options out there if you look hard enough.
Here are some of the best deals I’ve found for the bank holiday weekend, leaving on the Friday and returning on the Monday, along with some ideas to get you started on what to do when you get there. These trips are exclusive of accommodation given the wide range of options and budgets available (other than Frankfurt, which is a combined hotel/flight deal). The trips are based on on two adults and two chidren (age 3+) which meant trips further afield were more expensive due to the extra seats on a plane. If you are travelling with an infant though do look at places like Spain and Italy as for two adults the prices are really not bad. Of course prices change all the time – these prices were checked this morning so you’ll need to act fast to make sure you get the best deal.
I’d love to know where you are off to for the May bank holiday and do let me know if you’ve found a great bargain!
1) Sandefjord, Norway
Cost: Flights from Liverpool to Torp £68 (prices from London available from £69) ; £270 for a family of 2 adults & 2 children.
Extras: The flight is with Ryan Air so hold luggage will be extra. In my experience though Ryan Air’s allowance for kids and baby equipment is pretty generous. Norway is an expensive country to visit so despite the cheap flights expect to pay above the odds for accommodation, travel and food. If you camp, you can cut costs with a camping cabin for four at Ula Camping on a lovely beach 13km from Sandefjord costing £45 a night. Price includes use of rowing boat but you’ll need your own sleeping bag or bedding.
Good to know: Don’t be fooled by the fact Ryan Air describe Torp airport as being in Oslo. It is 110km south and takes 1hr 45 on the train. Not impossible but a bit of a long extra journey with kids for a long weekend away.
What to do when you get there: Sandefjord is the closest town, just over 10km away and offers . From there you can explore ancient viking sites, visit local museums or best of all, hire bikes and cycle down to the many sandy beaches and along miles of coastal path. There are coastal walking routes also and if you want to keep accommodation costs down then take a tent and camp out at one of the campsites behind the beaches. Some also have caravans and even apartments. You can find more information about Sandefjord here . The Visit Norway map search page is also helpful as you can filter by things to do, places to eat and accommodation types.
2) Frankfurt, Germany
Cost: Flights and hotel from London Heathrow to Frankfurt £150pp; £556 for family of 2 adults & 2 children
Extras: Price based on staying at the Novotel Frankfurt City, room only basis. Allow transport and food costs but as a large city, Frankfurt has plenty of options for all budgets.
Good to know: Flights & hotel both through British Airways and include 23kg luggage allowance pp.
What to do when you get there: Climb the Kaierdom, Frankfurt’s red sandstone cathedral, for views of the city or for higher views and a more modern setting, visit the Main Tower observation deck 200m above the ground. Stroll amongst the traditional architecture of the Romerberg central old square and should it rain, visit one of many child friendly museums across the city. For a change of scene, take a boat trip up into the beautiful Rhine Valley, including wine-tasting tours if the kids will let you get away with it! Visit Frankfurt Tourist Board for more info.
3) Shannon, Ireland
Cost: Flights from Manchester to Shannon £86pp; £342 for family of 2 adults, 2 children
Extras: Flights with Ryan Air & don’t include hold luggage (except baby kit), you will most likely want to explore beyond Shannon itself and car is the best way to do that, so factor in car hire also. Accommodation required.
Good to know: Flights to Shannon from Manchester take just over an hour, giving you plenty of time for onward journeys.
What to do when you get there: Shannon itself is in a fairly industrial part of County Clare. An hour’s drive though and you are at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher or 40 minutes north with take you to the cracked limestone pavements of The Burren hills. For dolphin watching, dramatic coastal walking and a taste of the Wild Atlantic Way head west to the Loop Head peninsula. Closer to Shannon there are castles aplenty to visit and the chance to take in some traditional folk music. The Irish Tourist Board website is a good starting place for more information or try this one.
4) Castletown, Isle of Man
Cost: Flights from Bristol to Castletown £45pp, £180 total
Extras: Flights with Easy Jet so expect to pay extra for hold luggage. Allow for accommodation and food expenses.
Good to know: Flights take an hour so you get plenty of time to explore. Public transport is extensive on the Isle of Man with most places accessible by regular bus services. Buy a Go Explore card to give you unlimited travel on buses and railways. Keep costs down by camping. Pitches start from around £20 a night or book a furnished tent (up to 6 people, bring sleeping bags) for £165 at Glen Wyllin Campsite.
What to do when you get there: The Isle of Man is a self-governing island nestling next to the UK in the Irish Sea. With varied landscapes and coastline this is a great place for mountain biking and hikers can climb the Isle of Man’s only true mountain, Snaefell. Train enthusiasts will love the miles of heritage railway on offer. Those keen on nature can spot seals, dolphins and even sometimes basking sharks and whales in the sea whilst inland Curraghs Wildlife Park offer closer encounters. See the Isle of Man Tourist Board for more inspiration.
5) Dieppe, France
Cost: Ferry from New Haven to Dieppe, £195 return for family of four including car. Cut costs further and go on foot.
Extras: The ferry journey takes 4 hours with DFDS Seaways & if you want a cabin on board it will cost extra. Factor in extra for accommodation and food costs. Faster ferry crossings are possible but obviously at greater expense.
Good to know: Dieppe is one of France’s ferry ports that is an attraction in its own right, so you don’t need to travel once you get there. Shave costs further and book a foot passenger seat or take the bikes to give you cheap transport and adventure options at the other end. Don’t get excited about sandy beaches – Dieppe has a good beach but it is pebbly, as are most along the coastline here.
What to do when you get there: Visit the Saturday market in Dieppe and sample local cheese and the famous regional tarte de pomme. Stroll by the old, traditional harbour and watch the fishermen unloading their catches. Out of town, take a wander in the extensive gardens of pretty country house Bois de Moutiers or get lost with the kids at Artmazia, one of the largest permanent mazes in the world covering nearly 5 acres of land. Visit Dieppe Tourist Board for more information.