/ AUTHOR / POLLITTV

Abersoch holiday house with island view and big balcony is  perfect for families

Abersoch holiday house with island view and big balcony is perfect for families

We review 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in glorious Abersoch

My husband’s family have holidayed in Abersoch for generations and he was lucky enough to spend long childhood summers in this gorgeous seaside village.

I have enjoyed many happy times in Abersoch since we got together and our own children have been coming all their lives and love it too.

Nicknamed the Welsh Riviera, Abersoch is on the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales.

The former fishing village has soared in popularity over the last century and is well-known for sailing and watersports.

And with beautiful sandy beaches, a great atmosphere and a high street full of cafes, restaurants and shops, it’s easy to see why even explorer Bear Grylls has a holiday home here or rather a holiday island – he owns one of the two familiar St Tudwal’s Islands opposite the main beach.

And those islands form part of the sea view from the big balcony of this house on the road Ynys Fawr – which actually means Big Island.

Island view from 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
Island view

We have stayed several times so it’s about time I shared this gem with you:

Name:

4 Ynys Fawr

What is it:

A three-bedroom upside-down house which sleeps six. Upstairs is an open-plan kitchen-diner and lounge and a wraparound balcony. Downstairs are three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Where is it:

In a great location in Abersoch with views overlooking the sea. It is up a hill past the Spar store, within walking distance of a playground and the town centre. You can also walk to the main Abersoch beach from here although with younger children it can be easier to drive and park than to walk back up the hill with all your beach paraphernalia.

Is it family friendly?

This is a very family-friendly house with a big garden, washing machine and plenty of room for everyone to sleep.

The garden at 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
The garden

The rooms

On the ground floor are three good-sized bedrooms – two double and one twin. There are two bathrooms, one with a bath with shower over and the other with a shower, both with toilets.

The twin room at 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
The twin room

The main living area upstairs is open-plan while the big balcony off two sides of the lounge feels like an extra room on a sunny day.

4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch

Food and drink

The kitchen is equipped with everything you could need. You can eat at the dining table inside or at the large table on the balcony while enjoying the fabulous views.

We find the nearby Spar shop good for food, especially the rolls. There’s also a butchers and a Londis in the centre and an Asda in Pwllheli which can deliver.

There are also lots of restaurants and take-away options nearby, more information further down.

The kitchen at 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
The kitchen

Our highlights

The balcony

The big balcony runs around the property on two sides off the lounge, giving you different opportunities to sit in the sun as the day progresses and enjoy views over the fields and to the sea. We recommend fish and chips on the balcony as a first night treat.

The garden

The two double bedrooms and the hall all have doors on to a new modern patio. It leads on to a big shared grass garden, perfect for children to play.

The view of the garden out of a double bedroom at 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
The view of the garden out of one of the double rooms

Nearby

Beaches

You are absolutely spoilt for choice for lovely beaches nearby. The nearest is Abersoch main beach. It is really family-friendly and accessible with cafes and toilets.

Others we love include The Warren, Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl) , Whistling Sands (Porth Oer), Llanbedrog Beach, Porth Iago Beach, Porth Colmon Beach/Penllech Beach and Morfa Nefyn Beach/Nefyn Beach (Porth Nefyn).

We have written an article with all you need to know about all these beaches:  The 8 BEST beaches in and around Abersoch in north Wales.

Golf

Abersoch Golf Club is nearby. It is a friendly, challenging 18-hole course next to the beach.

Take to the sea

You’ll see loads of people enjoying the sea around Abersoch. There are masses of paddleboards around at the moment, we have splashed out on one and they’re great fun.

Another way to enjoy the water and maybe spot dolphins, is on a boat trip –  Abersoch Boat Trips.

Eating Out and Takeaways

When visiting Abersoch you have a big choice of cafes, pubs, restaurants and take-away options. We like the Mexican Manana and Crust Pizzeria.

And a favourite for children and adults alike is Two Islands Ice Cream in the heart of Abersoch, voted one of the world’s top 25 ice cream parlours.

It happens to be run by relatives but without any bias I can say it sells THE most delicious cakes and ice cream which is traditionally made on-site with a changing list of mouthwatering flavours.

4 Ynys Fawr Information

Address: 4 Ynys Fawr, Abersoch, LL53 7LB.

More information: No dogs allowed.

How to book: Abersoch Holiday Homes

The front of 4 Ynys Fawr holiday home in Abersoch
The front of the house

*We know the owner of this property but all views, as ever, are our own.

The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

All the best attractions in Munich

Munich in Germany, capital of the state of Bavaria, is a fantastic city for children.

We found loads to do when we visited as part of our Interrail adventure (it took just an hour to get here by train from Nuremberg).

It’s the country’s third biggest city and is attractive and salubrious – there is an almost film-set feel about it.

Loads get around by bicycle, but transport options are plenty, you can use trams, underground trains and electric scooters. 

Here are some of the highlights of Munich, known in Germany as München:

Surfing on the Eisbach river

One of the most memorable parts of our trip to Munich was watching surfers.

It’s 200 miles from the sea but professional surfers have been flocking here for some of the best river surfing in the world for more than 40 years.

Crowds of spectators watch as they take it in turns to ride waves that surge from under a bridge.

It’s fascinating to see how long they last before plunging into the water and being whipped downstream. Then the next one gets straight on for their turn.

It happens on the edge of a park, the English Garden.

Surfing on Eisbach river in Munich, Germany

The English Garden park.

The surfing takes place on the edge of this popular park.

The Eisbach river flows through it, creating a lazy river effect which people can paddle and swim in.

We were there when temperatures were 25C temperatures and dozens were using it to cool off.

Thousands of mainly younger people were enjoying the warm weather in this huge open space and the atmosphere was amazing.

Lots of people around the city were enjoying sport socially and here there are lots of volleyball nets that people were making use of while others sunbathed or danced.

The English Garden park in Munich
The English Garden park in Munich

Bayern Munich FC Stadium

A visit to the Allianz Arena – the home of Bayern Munich – is a must for football fans. It’s especially popular now that Harry Kane, the England captain, is playing there.

The arena is quite a way out of the town centre.

It’s a 20-minute underground train ride to the stop of Fröttmaning (marked with a football sign). Then, quite a long walk from the station to the ground – at least 15 minutes.

When you reach the statue of German football legend Gerd Muller, you’re nearly there.

You can book tickets in advance for a one-hour guided tour plus museum visit.

Or you can just have an arena view and museum experience like we did.

The arena view ticket gives you access to the lower tier stand at one end of the stadium.

It’s possible to sit in any seat in the stand and see the pitch, I would advise going right down to the side of the pitch as you can stand directly behind the goal and also you get to experience the scale of the stadium, which seats 75,000 people.

We were interested in the scores of stickers which visitors from different clubs have stuck around the stand. You can see clubs from all sorts of countries represented.

In the museum, you can learn about the entire history of FC Bayern Munchen dating back more than a century. Information boards are in German and English, all videos have English subtitles.

Children will likely be most interested in the more modern successes.

There’s an area dedicated to the Treble in 2013 with videos, cardboard cutouts of key moments you can pose with and a chance to stand next to the trophies – including the European Cup.

It’s a very smart, clean and fresh museum. There are sections dedicated to legendary players like Franz Beckenbauer with information and videos about their careers.

There are also areas dedicated to the basketball team and the women’s football team.

Near the end of the museum are cardboard cutouts of the current side, including Harry Kane.

You can stand with them as part of the team line-up for a photo.

As is always the way, you have to exit via the club shop, which you can visit for free if you don’t want to experience anything else at the stadium.

We were there for about 60-90 minutes to do the arena view and the museum.

The tour would also give you access to the side of the pitch, the dugout and other areas inside the stadium.

But nobody is allowed to actually go on the pitch!

FC Bayern Museum and Arena Tour

Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, home of Bayern Munich FC Stadium
Allianz Arena

Hofbrauhaus

Munich’s most famous beer hall and restaurant is a landmark attraction.

It has been at its present site since the 1500s and is absolutely huge, spread over three floors.

If the weather’s good, like it was when we visited, you can sit in the beer garden or on a terrace overlooking it.

The garden is lovely with old chestnut trees, planted centuries ago to shade the space and keep the beer – not the people – cool.

It attracts plenty of tourists with bands playing traditional German music most afternoons and evenings.

But it’s also a regular pub for locals, with the most reliable visitors getting their own mug to drink out of, which they keep inside a padlocked cabinet.

Only the owner can access their mug and has only to raise its lid to have it topped up with beer by the staff.

You’ll see many Germans in traditional lederhosen enjoying social club meet-ups here.

The building has been central to all aspects of German life. Political parties, including the Nazis, met in the beer hall.

On the third floor is the room where Hitler spoke at one of the party’s first meetings in the 1920s.

The food is traditional German, so plenty of meat and potatoes.

There isn’t a children’s menu and the portions are large but there’s roast chicken, baked potatoes and, of course, plenty of sausages.

Although it’s a big beer drinking location, there were plenty of families there when we visited at around 7pm.

You can reserve a table in advance or turn up and grab a bench on the ground floor.

Hofbräuhaus Munich

Hofbrauhaus beer tavern in Munich
Hofbrauhaus beer tavern

Marienplatz

A good starting point on a visit to Munich is the large public square Marienplatz (English: Mary’s Square).

It is the social centre of city life here and has been throughout history since 1158.

Here you will find the New City Hall, the Old City Hall and the Fiscgbrunnen (fish fountain).

Events take place here including the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market), a summer festival and the FC Bayern cultural festival on May 1.

New City Hall overlooking Marienplatz
New City Hall overlooking Marienplatz

New City Hall

Looking over the square is New City Hall.

For a birds eye view of the Marienplatz, you can book a tour of the City Hall and check out the balcony, famous for celebrations of FC Bayern Munich.

You can also see the reading room of the law library, which reminds people of Hogwarts.

Below the viewing platform is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel – a large mechanical clock with life-size characters which re-enact scenes from Munich’s history.

The Glockenspiel is the largest in Europe with 43 bells.

Crowds gather below to watch and film as the figures dance daily at 11 am and 12 pm. Between March and October it also happens at 5pm.

Rathaus-Glockenspiel
Rathaus-Glockenspiel

Alter Peter

Nearby is the Church of St Peter.

The tower here gives great views over the Old Town.

Unlike the New City Hall, there is no lift and there are over 300 steps to climb!

Once you finally reach the top, the ledge to stand on feels very narrow if heights aren’t your thing. Although it is fenced and perfectly safe.

Tip: you access the tower from a door on the outside of the church, next to a ticket booth. We wandered around the church for a while without knowing how to get up.

The view from the church tower of St Peter in Munich
The view from the church tower

Viktualienmarkt

Not far away is this famous food market, which has run daily since 1807 except for Sundays and holidays.

It is ideal for a snack in between sightseeing or enjoy a drink in the popular beer garden.

There are also souvenirs to buy here.

Viktualienmarkt – the famous food market in Munich

TimeRide

This VR attraction offers tours around Munich. Participants wearing headsets can experience how places looked hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

There’s also a VR experience you can do at the TimeRide building, which we tried out.

A friendly host takes you into an old library and so begins the story of King Ludwig II. You watch an animated video coming out of a book telling the history of Bavaria before trying to find a secret door into the next room.

Once you’ve found the door, you get your VR headset and experience a journey through 7,000 years of Bavarian history.

The experience sees you fly through time to great moments in the area’s past, finishing with a visit to King Ludwig at Neuchwanstein Castle.

TimeRide Munich

Neuchwanstein Castle

It’s a day trip from Munich to this famous castle, designed by Ludwig II and supposedly the inspiration for Disneyland’s castles.

There are plenty of tours available or it’s a two to three hour train journey and then a walk.

Munich Cards

One option to make transport easy is to get a Munich card.

It offers free public transport on trams, buses, Ubahn (underground) and Sbahn trains for a set period of time.

It also gives you discounted access to some museums, tours and restaurants.

You don’t save a huge amount with the discounts so it’s only a must if you are going to be travelling a lot on public transport or- visiting a number of museums.

There’s a more expensive card which does give free access to attractions. Always best to weigh up how many you’re going to visit to see if the card is worth buying.

Have you been to Munich? Let us know if we have missed out your favourite attraction?

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

Related article: Brussels with children – family-friendly activities in this beautiful Belgium city

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children – the best family activities

Related video: We travelled to Munich on an Interrail train adventure, see our video here!

Things to do in Nuremberg with children – the best family activities

Things to do in Nuremberg with children – the best family activities

Top activities for kids in Nuremberg, Germany, from castles to theme parks, museums to festivals

Many people have only heard of Nuremberg (German: Nürnberg) in connection with its history.

It was of course the setting for the Nuremberg Trials held by the Allies against Nazi German leaders.

But it’s not only popular with history buffs. This city, located in the German state of Bavaria, has a lot of appeal for families too with plenty of things for children to do.

The Imperial Castle

A great starting point for any visit to Nuremberg is the Imperial Castle. It has been standing on a hill above the city since the 13th century.

In the past, it stood firm to repel visiting armies, now, it’s a peaceful spot. There’s a lovely garden around the edge, with benches and views over the city.

You can reach the castle by going through tunnels and gates which guarded the fortress in years gone by.

Inside there are tours of the castle or you can wander freely.

The cobbled streets around it are traffic-free and are a beautiful area to explore and imagine.

If your youngsters are interested in art, below the castle is Albrecht Durer’s House, where perhaps Germany’s most famous painter lived. The house is open to visitors.

Imperial Castle
Imperial Castle

City centre

Nuremberg’s historic centre is one of Germany’s most traditional. The area from the castle down to the main market square has some wonderful buildings, restaurants and is like stepping back in time.

There’s a market on most days in the main market square with stalls selling food, drinks, local produce and gifts.

It really comes alive for the famous Christmas Market, which is the city’s busiest time of year.

Nuremberg city centre river

Tiergarten Zoo

On the edge of the city is Nuremberg Zoo. You can reach it by tram numbers 5 or 11 from the city centre.

It’s one of the best zoos we’ve ever visited as it’s set in a forest so it’s a beautiful walk even without animals around every corner.

There’s lots of space so it doesn’t feel crowded. Among the highlights for us was seeing polar bears playing together in their enclosure.

We also watched a dolphin and sea lion show in front of a packed crowd in the sunshine which we enjoyed despite not understanding a word the presenters were saying (we don’t speak much German).

Another high point, literally for our daughter, was the bungee trampoline area. This costs extra but she was thrilled to bounce above the trees and have fun.

It’s quite a hilly site and there’s a lot of walking involved but being in the forest means it’s quite shaded even though it was 25 degrees when we visited.

There’s a cafe in the far corner of the zoo or you can bring a picnic.

A gorilla statue at Nuremberg Zoo

Playmobil FunPark

On the outskirts of the city is this large theme park, designed for children aged between four and nine.

There are different themed ‘worlds’ around the park with both indoor and outdoor areas to explore.

There’s a pirate ship to play on, knights castle to enjoy and other attractions based around the popular toys.

The park is open daily between 9am and 7pm.

Nuremberg’s Historical Past

If you’ve got older children studying World War Two then Nuremberg is home to two famous sites.

The first is the huge arena and area where Adolf Hitler and the Nazis held massive rallies for up to 700,000 people in the 1930s.

The arena is still on the site and there’s also a museum about the events which was being renovated when we visited.

You can also learn more about the Nuremberg Trials, where leading Nazis were prosecuted in 1945. You can step inside the exact court room, court 600, which is still being used for criminal trials today.

There’s a small exhibition about the trials on the floor above the court room. You’re given an audioguide to take round as the display boards are only in German.

Nuremberg Trials court room
Nuremberg Trials court room

Museums

Nuremberg is home to a host of museums – there’s a few which may suit children.

The Railway Museum is the oldest in the country.

Nuremberg has quite a history with rail travel as this was where the first steam train in Germany ran.

 You can see that train – the Nordgau – in the museum.

The Museum of the Future looks at how the world could be in 2050 with interactive exhibits for children.

Another museum instead looks back in time. Nuremberg has a tradition of toy making dating back 600 years. The Toy Museum features some of those toys from years gone by.

City Tour

A miniature train takes visitors around the old city from the Market to the Imperial Castle. It’s a walkable distance but the train is fun for younger children or to rest tired legs.

Festivals

We were lucky to visit when one of Nuremberg’s two annual festivals were on.

The Volksfest is a giant funfair with dozens of rides, a ferris wheel, large beer garden and stalls selling food and drink. It was a great insight into German culture and we loved wandering around and trying some of the rides.

The festivals are on for two weeks around Easter and also another two weeks in late August and September. Try and coincide your visit with them if you can.

Swinging on a ride at Volkfest
Volkfest

Nuremberg Cards

We used the great Nürnberg card designed for tourists.

The card offers free public transport and free access to most attractions for a set period of time.

Ours was €33 for an adult for 48 hours, and just €11 for children aged six to 11. Younger children are free.

It really made it easy to get around without worrying about individual tickets for different types of transport.

Nuremberg has underground trains, buses, trams and overground trains to choose from.

Just a visit to the zoo would cover more than half the cost of the card so if you’re going there it definitely makes sense to get one.

We got full value from our cards and found them easy to use and accepted everywhere we visited around the city, which doesn’t always happen with cards like this.

Related content

For more ideas of things to do in Nuremberg visit Tourismus-Zentrale Nürnberg

We stayed in an apartment hotel: Living Hotel Nuremberg, Germany: Review and tips

We visited as part of an Interrail trip and so arrived by train which works well as the station is in the city centre.

See our Interrail video here:

If you are interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures

Related article: Brussels with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

*We were given Nuremberg cards to try for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Brussels with children – family-friendly activities in this beautiful Belgium city

Brussels with children – family-friendly activities in this beautiful Belgium city

Things to see and places to visit in Brussels with kids and the whole family

There are so many wonderful things to do, places to see and activities to enjoy in Brussels, here is our pick of the best.

Grand-Place

The starting point for any visit to Brussels is the Grand-Place – its main square.

It’s huge and dominated on all sides by beautiful buildings, many adorned in gold.

A wonderful spot to wow children, it can get crowded with tour groups.

You can wander the cobbled streets around the Grand-Place – it’s not a huge city so a pleasant stroll won’t tire out young legs.

We enjoyed going into the renovated Stock Exchange building nearby to have a look.

The St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral  is nearby too – Belgium’s national church, which looks similar to Notre Dame and has played host to the country’s biggest occasions for centuries.

Another good spot to sit is the Mont Des Arts, a large, open space with lovely flowers and a good view over the city.

Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand-Place

Mini-Europe

A great way for children to learn more about Europe is at this small park with 1:25 scale models of famous European monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Houses of Parliament and Acropolis.

Mini-Europe is a project built in the late 1980s and the models still look great – they are all hand made and some cost up to £300,000.

You can push buttons to make Mount Vesuvius erupt with steam or at each country to play its national music.

When we visited, there was a little treasure hunt to follow looking for miniature statues of famous figures like Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and even Boris Johnson!

Some of the interactive games as you go round are a bit old fashioned but our daughter enjoyed walking round the site and learning more about the different countries.

They have to add more nations to the park every time a new country joins the EU.

Despite Brexit, the UK’s models remain in the park.

It takes around an hour to walk around the park at a leisurely pace and there’s a cafe and restaurant.

You could combine a visit with a trip to the Atomium landmark building next door.

The park is a little way out of Brussels. The Heysel stop on the metro is the nearest public transport.

You can also book a ticket and combine it with Tootbus Hop On, Hop Off bus experience.

Looking at the Grand-Place in miniature at Mini-Europe
Looking at the Grand-Place in miniature at Mini-Europe

Tootbus

We love a hop-on, hop-off bus when sightseeing. With Tootbus you can buy a one or two-day pass or even enjoy a non-stop evening tour of Brussels.

You can use Tootbus to get to Mini-Europe using the red route. This runs from near Brussels Central Station, out to Mini-Europe and then around the city.

We find hop-on, hop-off buses a great way to see a lot of a place quickly without tiring out children – and we’ve used Tootbus in other cities including Bath and Paris.

Manneken Pis

Okay, so a small statue of a toddler urinating doesn’t sound the highlight of a visit but it was one of ours.

And it seems others agree – crowds flock to the Manneken Pis statue. The boy’s a Brussels landmark with copies in shop windows, displays and postcards. People love to have their photo taken with him and sometimes dress the statue in clothes like football kits or Elvis outfits.

It’s fun for children to laugh at and keeps them entertained as you wander the streets, as they can spot every new model of the boy.

Manneken Pis statue in Brussels
Manneken Pis statue

Brussels Park

For a bit of green space in the city, visit Brussels Park, it’s up a small hill from the Grand-Place.

There are cafes and beer gardens, space to ride bikes and walk.

There are also playgrounds and fountains in this royal park, which is near the Palais De Bruxelles.

Brussels Park
Brussels Park

Food

One of the best things to do with children is sample Belgium’s favourite foods – chocolate, waffles and frites.

You’d struggle to find three better options to keep most children happy. In the city centre it seems every second shop is selling one of these three items.

Frites – think chips somewhere between the thickness of French fries and chip shop chips in the UK – are taken very seriously in Brussels,

You can buy them in a cone to eat on the move – with mayonnaise traditionally, but ketchup’s also always available.

We went to Fritland, which has been open since 1978, for a takeaway cone, and also Patatak, where you can sit at tables on the street and enjoy.

Waffle houses are everywhere, with two main types of waffle – the Liege and the Brussels waffle.

Make sure you get yours from somewhere making the batter freshly – they taste amazing warm.

You can go for any sweet sauce and topping you can think of, and there are also savoury options.

And chocolate – well you’re spoilt for choice. You can smell the aroma coming from stores and cafes.

Waffles in Brussels

Chocolate Story

Speaking of chocolate, there’s a small museum called the Choco Story Brussels near the Manneken Pis.

You get an audioguide to listen around a small tour with exhibits telling the story of the cocoa bean.

Then you get to see one of the master chocolatiers at work creating the tasty treat.

There’s even the odd sample to try as you go around.

Choco-Story chocolate museum in Brussels

We enjoyed complimentary access to some attractions to enable us to review the area. All views are our own.

Have we missed any activities that your family enjoys in Brussels? Please let us know!

Related content from our Interrail trip

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train and watch our video here:

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

The highs and lows of a family Interrail holiday using Global Passes

I get some strange looks as I edge down the corridor in my pyjamas.

I’ve already had to stand on a suitcase to get out of the room without waking the other three occupants.

It’s the smallest bedroom we have ever slept in and it’s moving at 100mph.

We are on our first overnight train and it’s certainly an experience we won’t forget in a hurry.

After boarding at nearly midnight, we have to make up the beds as the train rattles along.

There’s no room for us all to stand let alone store our two suitcases.

But it’s all part of the adventure. We have set ourselves a challenge to travel around five countries in 10 days by train.

And it’s made possible thanks to Interrail. We are trying out its Global Pass which allows us to travel on almost all trains around Europe.

This includes Eurostar and trains in our own country while on the outbound and inward journeys.

Frankfurt to Nuremberg train, Interrailing around Europe with children

Although the less said about our outward journey the better – signal problems saw our easy trip to London mutate into a four-train nightmare which left us wondering if we would even make it to the capital, let alone our Eurostar from St Pancras.

But we did. And it has been mostly plain sailing from there. Or plain railing, if that is even a word. And if it isn’t then it should be.

First stop Brussels. We visit Mini Europe with its miniature replicas of famous landmarks and indulge in Belgium’s famous waffles and frites (not together).

Most memorable is the famous Manneken Pis sculpture of a boy urinating in a fountain – he is everywhere we look – replicas are in shop windows, on socks and even made into mini chocolates.

The local trains we catch here are double decker delights to the joy of my daughter.

(Read our full guide to Brussels for more information).

On day three we depart for Germany, changing trains in Frankfurt to get to Nuremberg.

The trains feel so clean, modern and spacious. Plus, we are lucky enough to have the first class Interrail option – the price difference is relatively small and worth the extra if you can afford it.

After settling into a big apartment hotel (review here) and armed with a Nuremberg Card (which gives free access to attractions and free local transport), we start at the city’s pretty zoo where we spot polar bears and enjoy a dolphin show.

We get a glimpse of German culture, lederhosen and bratwurst at the twice annual fair Volkfest and explore the Old Town.

(If you are planning a trip of your own to Nuremberg, read our full guide).

Nuremberg
Nuremberg

Munich is our day five destination. Although it’s nearly 200 miles from the sea, we join crowds of spectators watching surfers take turns to ride the waves of the Eisbach River where it gushes out from under a bridge.

It then meanders through a huge park, the English Garden, where thousands are gathered enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed atmosphere.

We view the city from the top of St Peter’s Church and my son enjoys a visit to the home of Harry Kane and Bayern Munich – the Allianz Arena.

Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany
Allianz Arena

And you can’t visit Munich without stopping for a traditional Bavarian meal at world famous tavern The Hofbrauhaus, by far the biggest restaurant I have ever seen.

It’s nearly midnight when we take to our (not so comfortable) beds on the aforementioned overnight train, which is taking us from Munich to Venice in eight-and-a-half hours.

And the reason I am to be found early in the morning wandering around in my pyjamas? I’m in search of a toilet and my clothes are firmly inside the one suitcase we could fit under a bed. Our night has been disturbed by noisy passengers getting on and off and I’ll do anything to avoid waking the children.

Although I nearly turn back when I realise everyone else is fully dressed!

A couple of hours later, we arrive in Venice, not exactly refreshed from the journey.

But stepping out of the station is a feast for the eyes – the turquoise waters, fabulous architecture and gliding gondolas soon wake us up.

A canal in Venice
Venice

And the room back at our hotel later feels gloriously spacious after our cramped conditions the night before.

A travelling day beckons next. We take three trains from Venice to Paris with stops at Milan and Zurich. It’s our most stunning journey to date as we pass through the spectacular scenery of Switzerland.

We have three nights in Paris and manage a whistlestop tour of all the main attractions, without the help of trains, using the Tootbus hop-on hop-off buses.

A trip up the Eiffel Tower takes me back to the last time I looked over Paris from on top of it when my boyfriend asked if we could move in together.

Up the Eiffel Tower
Up the Eiffel Tower

So it is nice to return, now, married with children.

We can’t resist a trip to Disneyland for our last day where another train leaves an impression – but it’s just one of the rides, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Then it’s back on the Eurostar home.

We have been on 28 trains this holiday – so you would think I would know how to exit one.

But at our final top, our village station, I press the wrong button, only to sound an alarm that makes everyone jump.

What a way to announce our arrival home.

Now don’t miss our Interrail Holiday Video and more content below:

Related Interrail content

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures

Related article: Brussels with children

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

*All views are, as ever, our own. To help us review the experience and areas travelled around, we were given complimentary Interrail passes, Tootbus passes, a Nürnberg Card and accommodation in Nuremberg.

Living Hotel Nuremberg, Germany: Review and tips

Living Hotel Nuremberg, Germany: Review and tips

We stay at this apartment hotel in the Gostenhof area of Nuremberg

Name

Living Hotel Nuremberg

Where is it?

It is in the district of Gostenhof, about a 20-minute walk from the historic old town.

It’s near to the Gostenhof underground stop on the U1 line which can take you directly to the main station.

What is it?

This is an apartment hotel/ aparthotel, giving you the best of both worlds as the rooms have kitchenettes.

It is popular with people who want to stay for a longer period of time.

Is it family friendly?

Our room was family friendly as there was plenty of space for us to spread out.

The open plan kitchen and living area

The rooms

We are in a two-bedroom maisonette which is spread over two floors with a small balcony. There’s an open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen and a separate toilet downstairs.

The main bedroom in our apartment

Upstairs are two bedrooms and a bathroom, plus the mezzanine-style landing has a huge desk built into it. (Great for us, could be a hazard if you have young children who like to climb).

Food and drink:

You can prepare food, make picnics and eat in your room – although there is no oven, our apartment has a microwave, hob and (rather noisy) fridge. There is also a dining table. And nearby shops include a Lidl.

There is a bar and restaurant on site although the restaurant was closed when we stayed.

But there is a separate breakfast restaurant on the first floor, serving a continental buffet.

The breakfast room

There was a good selection of fruit, yoghurts, bread, rolls, pastries meats and cheeses etc.

But my daughter was disappointed as the only cereal available was muesli and there were no pancakes which are her favourite.

Our highlights

*The size of our apartment.

*There are two bottles of water and two bottles of beer awaiting in the room for free.

The view from our balcony

Top tips

There is no gym, but you can ask them to bring fitness equipment to your room for a small charge!

Downsides

No space to put your toiletries in the bathroom.

A bit of a walk to the centre if you don’t catch the metro.

Nearby

The Old city is a 20-minute walk away.

The underground train station is nearby and there is a tram stop just a five-minute walk.

Find out everything we did in Nuremberg here with our family guide to the city: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

How to get there from the UK

We travelled by train! We stayed at this hotel as part of an Interrail trip around Europe, read about our adventures here: Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

And here is our Interrail holiday video:

More information

Address: Obere Kanalstraße 11, 90429 Nuremberg

How to book: nuernberg@living-hotels.com

The reception

Related Interrail content

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures

Related article: Brussels with children

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

*Our stay was complimentary for the purpose of this review – all views are our own.

Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

Everything you need to know before using an Interrail Pass

What is an Interrail Pass?

An Interrail Pass is a train pass that lets you travel as much as you want across most of Europe.

They are for European residents or citizens only, if you live outside Europe you need a Eurail Pass instead.

Different types of Passes

Location

Interrail Global Pass is valid in 33 European countries, perfect for if you are travelling across more than one country.

Interrail One Country Pass, is self-explanatory – it works across one country. It lets you explore all corners of one country to really get to know it.

Time

You can choose a pass which lasts for anything from four days to three months.

Class

You also have the option of first or second class passes and this depends on your budget.

Second-class is more affordable but the difference in price isn’t as much as you would think and the extra luxury when travelling can really be worth it. Also, meals are often included which you can take off the cost.

Mobile or paperless

Mobile Passes work on your phone if you have Apple devices iOS 13.0 and later and Android devices 6.0 and later. 

This means you can have access to your Interrail Pass straight away and should never leave it behind. It also doesn’t start until you travel.

Issues can occur if you are using the Interrail app and it crashes so keep your mobile pass code handy, it will be a six-digit PNR code.

Traditional paper passes can be ordered online or bought at railway stations. You have to state the start date which offers less flexibility.

What to take with you

Pack as lightly as you possibly can as you will be carrying your luggage around a lot. Backpacks are seen as a traditional option but many like us, opt for suitcases with wheels. We chose these ones from Amazon – the grey three-piece – really reasonably priced, attractive and sturdy, plus they hold a lot. We took the large one on our train trip and used packing bags inside it. We also took the small for spare items, rain coats and electronics.

While you need to limit what you take, don’t forget the essentials:

*Passports and European Health Insurance Cards.

*A steel water bottle that you can refill. This means there is no need to keep buying plastic bottles and everyone can see which is theirs.

*Travel adapters and multiple chargers. We took this European adapter for a British plug to use with my laptop and hair straighteners and this one with only USB sockets for phones and Kindles.

Make the most of sockets on trains and in stations to charge your devices.

*First aid kit – make sure you have painkillers, plasters and travel sickness tablets if needed, plus of course any medication you need and hand gel.

*Credit card/cash – We took some cash for emergencies, around 100 euros, but used specialist cards with no foreign exchange fees. Our preferred one is Halifax Clarity but there are others available. Take a spare card in case one doesn’t work. And always pay in euros never pounds, if you have the option.

*No matter how nice the scenery, nobody and especially children, will want to spend hours and hours on trains just looking out of the window, so make sure you take things to occupy you such as a Kindle or other e-reader (you don’t want to be lugging books around), tablets, card games, activity books, cards or travel games which won’t take up too much precious room. Download any books, podcasts, films or shows before you go, there is often WiFi but it can be sporadic.

*Headphones – the whole train doesn’t want to hear Peppa Pig.

*Comfortable clothes and shoes, this isn’t the time for worrying too much about what you look like and being fashionable.

*A random one, but if you like an uncommon tea, take a few bags with you, I take peppermint tea bags with me then can always ask for a hot water to put my tea bag in if they don’t have any.

Seat reservations

So the beauty of an Interrail pass is being able to hop on and off trains as much as you like. However it’s definitely worth booking seats on busy routes.

Some trains have compulsory booking including Eurostar, other high speed trains, night trains and many in France, Italy and Spain, so make sure to check first.

It also means you are guaranteed a seat, usually have access to a charging point and can sit with any friends or family you are travelling with, especially important when you are with children of course.

The price of seat reservations is sadly not included in the Interrail Pass and the cost can build up.

You can avoid paying seat reservation fees entirely by taking smaller regional trains but this will make the journey a lot slower. We preferred paying for speedier trips between locations but if you’ve got lots of time, it’s an option.

Interrail App

Download Interrail’s Rail Planner app to keep track of your journeys, book seat reservations and access your Mobile Pass.

It should also give you the latest information on train timetables although this relies on you keeping it up-to-date. Some people have also reported issues with the data being wrong in places like Poland.

Alternative sites for timetable data include DB Reiseauskunft.

There’s also a fantastic website which explains everything about European trains and tips and ideas for Interrail newbies called The Man in Seat 61 – we used it to plan a lot of our trip, especially reserving seats and looking at route options.

Accommodation

Book your accommodation in advance. If you are travelling with children you need to know you have a safe, welcoming space where you can all relax and recharge.

It also makes sense to book breakfast in the hotel if you’ve got a long journey that day so the children can fill up on food they like rather than relying on the train menu, which isn’t really designed for youngsters.

Night Trains

If you have a long journey and there is a sleeper train available, go for it! It is such a novelty for children and the cost is similar to a hotel.

However, don’t expect to want to do it again!

We took a night train from Munich to Venice. Boarding wasn’t until nearly midnight, then we had to make our own beds up in a very tiny compartment with a toilet down the corridor.

The beds were hard, the pillows very thin and the passengers getting on and off at the various stops, so noisy, it sounded like they were in a compartment with us!

Am I glad we did it though? Absolutely. It’s a night we won’t forget in a hurry.

When things go wrong

No matter how carefully you plan, something is likely to go wrong.

You can’t prepare for train delays or cancellations, except to try to allocate more time and vow to keep calm when plans change.

Our first day of travelling on our Interrail trip went very wrong before we had even left the UK – full diary here.

There were multiple train cancellations due to signal problems on the line and we struggled to even get to London in order to leave the country and get on the Eurostar. Thankfully, all went smoothly once we had boarded.

Try not to let children pick up on your stress, you don’t want to spoil the trip for them.

Let them know in advance that things might go wrong but that it is all an adventure.

Above all, make the most of this amazing opportunity to explore new places. And of course, have fun.

Here is the video of our Interrail adventure:

Related Interrail content

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our holiday review: Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe and our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures

Related article: Brussels with children

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

*This article contains affiliate links to products we genuinely bought for our trip and recommend. We may make a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of them.

*We had complimentary passes for our Interrail trip to enable us to review a holiday like this, all views, as ever, are our own.

We would love to hear any other tips you have, have we missed anything? Please comment!

Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

The highs and lows of our Interrail trip including a very memorable overnight train

We are off on a 2,000-mile train adventure around Europe, only it hasn’t started off quite as planned..

Day 1: Disaster

Route: Cheshire to Brussels. 

Our day starts on a high with a plan to catch three trains.

But fate will soon intervene. 

Carrying as little luggage as possible, we catch our local train to Crewe, a big hub for the north west and here is where our problems start. 

Our train to London Euston is cancelled with talks of a signal problem on the line. 

We find another train but it has to terminate at Birmingham due to the same issue between Milton Keynes and Watford. 

Panic around us is rising as are passenger numbers as people from multiple trains cram on to a platform at New Street awaiting another one. 

We make it on and breathe a sigh of relief. We even find seats. 

But catastrophe rears its head again. After a 20-minute wait at Rugby, the screens aboard ominously declare that the train is not stopping at stops including our destination of Euston. 

Eventually the train driver confirms this to be true and the entire train has to get off at Northampton. The issue means that the platform already resembles a cattle grid and we join the tense throng. 

We have been creeping further south train by train but it seems we may not get any further. Will we even make it to London today let alone Brussels? We start to look at buses and coaches, our journey by train apparently foiled at the first hurdle. 

Suddenly an announcement that a train to London is leaving from platform one and everyone – now waiting upstairs in the concourse – surges down the stairs and back on to the platform, staff urging caution.

To make it worse, we then get separated, three of us packed into one carriage like sardines, my husband in another one with the luggage. We get off and reunite and I’m amazed to see how much clearer this furthest away carriage is. Lesson learned. 

Might we still make it to Euston and then St Pancras in time for our Eurostar to Brussels? 

Train one!

Day 1, part 2 

After a challenging journey and four trains, we are thrilled and relieved to finally arrive at London Euston. 

A hurried walk to St Pancras and we are miraculously still on time for the Eurostar and we sail through security and two passport checks (UK and French).

We have been given Interrail Global Passes to try out for this review – train tickets that allow us to travel on almost all trains in Europe. 

This includes Eurostar and trains in our own country while travelling on the outbound and inbound journeys. 

We are lucky enough to have the first class option, which actually doesn’t cost too much more and is well worth it. 

Our Eurostar carriage feels plush and quiet and we have a meal included. 

It only stops once, in Lille and we arrive in Brussels, Belgium in just two hours. 

Our sixth and final train of the day delights us all. It’s a sleek double decker and we make sure to sit upstairs despite the short journey from one part of Brussels to another.

We walk to our hotel near the main square. 

The city is bustling, it’s fabulous and there are more frites and waffles than you can shake a stick at. 

Waffles in Brussels

Day 2: Brussels

We wake in Brussels. It’s a bustling, thriving, fabulous city whose most famous resident is a boy urinating in a fountain. 

If you’re on a European rail trip then this, the capital of Europe and home of the EU, is a great place to start.

And Mini-Europe is the place to learn more about the continent.

Travelling there is our only train ride of the day. 

It’s got miniature 1/25 scale replicas, made by hand, of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Mount Vesuvius and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We also visit a chocolate factory – Choco Story Brussels and a fun, famous sculpture. 

Manneken Pis, a bronze statue of a little boy and a fountain, was designed by Jerome Duquesnoy in 1619, and has become a familiar symbol of the city.

You can’t miss him, there are replicas all over the place!

And yes we tried the waffles, they’re delicious. And more frites. 

Only one train today. But three tomorrow, we are off to Germany. Next stop Nuremberg. 

Manneken Pis in Brussels

Day 3: Back on the rails 

Route: Brussels to Nuremberg 

After breakfast, we pack up and catch a train back to the main station in Brussels.

Comfortably settled on our next train to Germany, we are happy everything is going to plan.

‘Please get off the train. There is a technical problem. Please get off the train’.

We are good at this now and obligingly gather up all our stuff and exit, hoping this isn’t a repeat of day one in England. It’s not. 

Twenty minutes later, we are back on and moving. The train is so, so nice. So much nicer than any I’ve used back home in the UK. The glass doors between carriages automatically slide open as you approach. 

The seats are fabulously comfortable – recliners with foot stands. 

There are tempting, private little booths for four behind glass screens available to book. 

These trains just feel so clean, fresh and spacious. And yes we are lucky enough to have complimentary first class passes with Interrail but all the spaces feel more luxurious.

The children are engrossed in their tablets and I read a book (via the Kindle app on my phone in honour of the first Interrailing rule to travel light) and properly relax for the first time in a long while. 

The gentle swaying, the views – trains are my favourite way to travel when things go to plan. And with me they often don’t.*

A car is never an altogether relaxing experience, even when you’re not the driver, planes feel so cramped and your ears pop. 

The station at Frankfurt is a further revelation, it’s bright, airy and welcoming.

We board our final train of the day for Nuremberg. 

Boarding at Frankfurt for Nuremberg

*Just ask my friends about the time last month when I was meant to be meeting them for a long-awaited catch-up in Birmingham and accidentally ended up on a non-stop train to London Euston.

Day 4: Nuremberg

I wasn’t expecting to see polar bears in Germany. Or a dolphin show.

But both are highlights of our trip to Nuremberg Zoo, a pretty site and an unexpected workout (it’s very hilly). 

Travelling around this city is easy as it has both a tram service and underground trains.

And the tram drops you directly outside the zoo.

Paying for attractions and transport is a doddle* too as it is all free if you buy a Nürnberg Card.**

Worth it for the convenience as well as the cost – zoo entry alone would be over half the price of the card.

We are lucky enough to be here for the twice yearly fair Volksfest.

There are lederhosen, bratwurst, a great family atmosphere and lots of funfair rides. A real glimpse of German culture – and the weather helps as it’s an unseasonably warm and sunny 25 degrees. Shame I forgot to pack our sunglasses while ‘travelling light’. 

We are staying at The Living Hotel in the suburb of Gostenhof on the outskirts of the city.

It’s nice to be able to spread out as our roomy apartment has two floors, plus the bonus of a small kitchen and two bedrooms.

The Old Town is just a 20-minute walk away.

We have more exploring to do here tomorrow before we leave for Munich.

And I must buy some sunglasses. 

Nuremberg Zoo

*I pledge to drop this expression into conversations more regularly, it’s not used enough! 

Day 5: Munich 

Surfing and flirting 

Munich may be nearly 200 miles from the sea but it doesn’t stop professional surfers from flocking here.

They come to enjoy some of the best river surfing in the world and it’s a spectacle to behold as they take it in turns to ride waves that surge from under a bridge.

Crowds of spectators watch to see how long they last before plunging into the water and being whipped downstream. 

It happens on the edge of a park, the English Garden. The Eisbach river continues to flow through the park, creating a lazy river effect.

Today in 25C temperatures, dozens are using it to cool off.

There are thousands of mainly younger people enjoying the warm weather in this huge open space. There’s an amazing vibe and it’s fascinating to walk among them as they dance, play volleyball, sunbathe and flirt. It takes me back a few years. Or possibly decades. 

Games continue in another beautiful nearby park – Hofgarten – with groups of people playing boules.

There’s an almost film set feel about the place that I can’t quite put my finger on not least because of the appearance of some of the buildings. 

Loads get around by bicycle, but transport options are plenty, you can use trams, underground trains and electric scooters. 

It feels like a salubrious university city, which it is. This the country’s third biggest city is also one of its wealthiest. 

It took just an hour to get here from Nuremberg where we started the day wandering the historic streets around the Imperial Castle.

We’ve got another full day to enjoy here tomorrow before our very exciting overnight train to Venice. 

Surfing on Eisbach river in Munich

Day 6: Munich 

Workouts and lederhosen

I have an unexpected workout today. Three hundred and six steps to climb St Peter’s Tower in order to tremble on a narrow ledge with great views over Munich. 

We also look around the Viktualinen market which has opened every day (other than Sundays and public holidays) since 1807. And then wait with a crowd, phones all around pointed in the air, to watch the 11am Marienplatz clock tower show. It’s a mechanical clock which re-enacts scenes from Munich’s history on the grand New City Hall. 

Meanwhile my son is keen to see the home of Harry Kane – and Bayern Munich – the Allianz Arena. 

Inside you can do a tour of the stadium and visit the Bayern Munich museum and club shop. The museum’s very well done, with displays in German and English.

Next we take a flight through 7,000 years of Bavarian history (Munich is the capital of Bavaria) with VR technology at TimeRide Munich. 

There’s plenty of history in our dinner choice.

The Hofbräuhaus has been serving beer, sausages and more since the 1500s.

It’s absolutely huge, full of atmosphere, music and filling German food. 

Sat at tables around us are some of the regulars, often in lederhosen, drinking out of their own beer jugs – kept under lock and key for them. 

No time for trying too much beer though for any of us – we’ve got a night train to Venice to catch.

Next stop Italy.

At the top of St Peter’s Tower in Munich

Day 7: The reality of an overnight train and tears for Venice 

So I don’t get much sleep. 

As it turns out, overnight trains are rather noisy and the beds do not feel like fluffy clouds.

I’m a two-pillow kind of girl but I may as well be lying horizontal, they are so thin. 

Our compartment is obviously tiny. With four of us and two suitcases plus a ladder to get to the top two bunks taking up valuable floor space, attempting to make up the beds when we get inside at nearly midnight on a moving train, is a bit of a challenge. 

The passengers laughing, shouting and  chatting as they get on and off at the various stops, sound like they are in the room with us as we try to sleep. 

Plus a loud ‘Get off the train, get off the train,’ by a guard at one point to a man who presumably has wandered on when he shouldn’t have, is slightly alarming. 

I’m also not sure of the sleep train/pyjama etiquette. There is no en-suite to our cabin and I have to pop to the loo early in the morning while the other three are sleeping.

My clothes are shut in our smaller case which eventually had fitted under a bed (no such luck with the bigger one which I have to clamber over to get out of the room). So I am forced to shuffle self-consciously along the corridor in my PJs. 

EVERYBODY else I see is fully clothed. Is this an embarrassing faux pas? Should I have slept in my clothes? 

I also miss the nearest toilet and have to get into the next compartment along a wobbly connector. Then do the walk of shame all the way back!

Hoping for a final hour of sleep, the guard then brings around four breakfast trays which I balance on the bed around me, until they wake up. Then he is back again to collect all the bed sheets and pillows that they are still sleeping in.

It’s not all bad though. Although I won’t be hurrying to try out an overnight train again, I’m very glad we did it. 

What an experience to travel in a bed and wake up (if I’d slept) in another country for the cost of a hotel room. 

And what a country it is. We love Italy and the children have never been to Venice before. 

We’ve only had one weekend here pre-children and I feel emotional as we leave the station and our eyes feast upon the turquoise waters backed by picturesque architecture. 

My favourite part is standing on the little bridges watching and photographing as the gondolas pass underneath.

We make the most of our day in Italy to dine on divine pasta and pizza.

And I have never appreciated a hotel room as much as the one we are in now, its spaciousness is heaven-sent.

The view from the famous Rialto Bridge 

Day 8

Location: All over the place

We are having a travelling day, working our way across Europe from Venice to Paris with stops in Milan and Zurich. 

The route through Switzerland is slow through the mountains but scenic and I wish we had time to stop for a night here to take in the views some more. 

I also wish for the first time that I’d taken a travel sickness tablet as it is rather winding! 

The children have done well with journeys of two, four and four hours. 

Our last train is a double decker and we sit upstairs although much of the journey is through darkness as night falls. 

I sleep on and off despite the interior automatic doors sounding like the drum sequence used after a joke’s punchline on opening and firmly shutting on everyone on closing, even trapping my handbag in its clutches at one point. 

Other sounds come from our fellow passengers. We aren’t in first class for this leg. Despite our first class Interrail Global Passes (kindly gifted for our review) some trains require seat reservation costs and the charge for the better seats was much higher for this particular train. 

The family next to us make their presence known and break many unofficial train travelling rules throughout the hours. Starting with a loud FaceTime call to a toddler, continuing while watching music videos without headphones and ending with a series of loud, unapologetic burps from the dad! 

The seats are still lovely and comfortable with plenty of leg room. 

We set off at 8.30am and are due to arrive in Paris at 10.30pm. 

Day 9: Paris

I love the Eiffel Tower. Standing on it looking over Paris many years ago, my then boyfriend asked if we could move in together. 

So to return today, not only living together but married with two children, feels special. 

Although this time he says he wants to ask me to move out instead. He jokes. I think. 

Not only do I go back up it, I also photograph and film it from all different angles. 

Including from the top of a hop-on hop-off Tootbus. 

It’s a fabulous vantage point for lots of key Paris landmarks including the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées.

There’s an audio guide on board and place to charge your phones. 

And it stops at all the best tourist spots so we can explore around the Louvre and enjoy a crêpe in the Tuileries Garden.

Notre-Dame is still impressive despite being under reconstruction following the fire nearly five years ago while a violinist gets even more attention than the cathedral itself as she shimmies about while playing beneath it. 

We finally alight back outside the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889 and now surrounded by men trying to sell miniature sparkly models. 

My daughter, having started off the day excitedly spotting the Eiffel Tower, ends the day clutching a rose pink replica to take home. 

And I have another crêpe. 

Day 10: Paris

We hurtle along at an alarming rate, thrown from side to side while people scream all around us. 

This train is not the relaxing, comfortable experience we have come to expect over our mammoth railway journey. 

Thankfully it’s not part of our Interrail experience. 

It’s a coal train – the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride to be exact. 

We have decided to spend our last day before we travel home at Disneyland Paris. 

And it’s another sunny, warm day to end our Easter Holidays European adventure. 

We enjoy lots of rides and a fabulous Disney show under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. 

Meanwhile we are getting our beauty sleep in a hotel for the last time. Tomorrow we are homeward bound.  

Disneyland Paris

Day 11: The journey back

After nearly 30 trains in 11 days you would think I would know how to exit one. 

But typically, it seems I don’t and have to bring attention to our arrival home. 

I confidently press the green button to open the door at our village station and a loud alarm sounds. 

I have inadvertently pushed the SOS button, scaring passengers and driver alike. 

It’s the end of another travelling day and the end of our Interrail adventure. 

Arriving in England on Eurostar I’m pleasantly surprised at how grand and welcoming St Pancras station is after being impressed with its European counterparts like Frankfurt. 

And impressed with the speed of the journey – six hours from Paris to our home in Cheshire. 

We have travelled over 2,000 miles on this trip.

If you include every journey, long and short, we have been on 28 trains, six trams, five hop-on hop-off buses and one water taxi. 

Plus of course, there’s been a lot of walking.

What an experience but now I’m glad to be at our final stop. 

We are home. 

Catching Eurostar home from Paris

Related Interrail content

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our Interrailing guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

Here is our holiday review: Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

Related article: Brussels with children

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children

Related article: The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

*All views are, as ever, our own. To help us review the experience and areas travelled around, we were given complimentary Interrail passes, Tootbus passes, a Nürnberg Card and accommodation in Nuremberg.

Biddulph Grange Gardens – review, guide and top tips for this National Trust site

Biddulph Grange Gardens – review, guide and top tips for this National Trust site

Everything you need to know about Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire

Name

Biddulph Grange Gardens

What is it?

Biddulph Grange is a series of beautiful landscaped Victorian gardens with surprises around every corner.

A walk here is a feast for the senses through pockets of China, Italy and even ancient Egypt, through tunnels, rockeries, an adventure playground, tree-lined avenues and around a lake.

Part of its magic lies in the way the areas are cleverly hidden from each other through landscaping.

It is a National Trust site – don’t confuse it with Biddulph Grange Country Park next door, run by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, whose 78 acres of woodland did used to form part of the Grange estate.

Tree-lined avenue at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Tree-lined avenue

Where is it?

Biddulph Grange is in Biddulph, in a valley on the edge of North Staffordshire near to Congleton in Cheshire and north of Stoke.

The history of Biddulph Grange

The house and garden were the creation of James and Maria Bateman, who lived there from 1842 for 27 years and their friend, marine artist Edward Cooke. It had previously been a farm.

James employed specialists to collect plants for him from all over the world. They were placed with trees and eclectic garden buildings.

James moved to London in 1868, his son John remained at Biddulph Grange until he sold it in 1872 to Robert Heath who lived with his family there for 50 years. During this time a fire destroyed the middle section of the original house, an Italianate-style villa and it was rebuilt in 1897.

From 1922 until 1991 it was used as a hospital then it was bought by the National Trust and opened to the public.

The National Trust undertook a huge garden restoration project which continues today.

What did we think?

We have been many times as this is one of our favourite National Trust sites, it possibly even scoops the top spot.

It’s simply stunning and the different sections keep any walk interesting. 

It is especially fabulous for children when they have trails and activities to do.

Highlights

*The view at the start

At the start of your journey, you stand with your back to the house on a terrace above the garden and can take in the view of  the Italian garden. You won’t be able to resist taking a photograph here but you may as well keep your camera or phone out as there are so many picture-worthy spots.

Looking down from the start at the Italian section at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Looking down from the start over the Italian section

*The Chinese Garden

It is easy to miss the Chinese Garden, yet it is arguably the most memorable part, bright with colour and complete with Chinese plants and architecture including a bridge and temple.

*The woodland play area

If you walk up the stunning tree-lined Wellington Avenue (worth a highlight section of its own), there is a path off it which takes you through woodland which is now home to a series of wooden frames and stepping stones for children to negotiate their way along, plus a see-saw. This is a fantastic, more recent addition to the gardens.

Playing in the wooden play area at Biddulph Grange National Trust

The Stumpery 

A stumpery is a garden feature similar to a rockery but made from parts of dead trees. The stumpery here, designed in 1856, was the first to be built anywhere and went on to be widely copied in many Victorian gardens and, even in the woods of Highgrove, Prince Charles’s home in Gloucestershire.

Egyptian Garden

This includes stone Sphynx, topiary obelisks, a topiary pyramid and a temple-style building containing the Ape of Thoth sculpture by Benjamin Waterhouse-Hawkins.

The tennis lawn

There are often activities laid out to do in this section. And in the spring there is a cute little daffodil maze to walk through.

More highlights

There are highlights around every corner including tunnels through rock, a lake, a geological gallery and of course the stunning plants, trees and flowers like monkey puzzle trees, azaleas and dahlias – the gardens are famous for their Dahlia Walk.

Dahlia Walk (taken in March) at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Dahlia Walk (taken in March)

Top tips

Can you see inside the house at Biddulph Grange?

No you can’t. The house itself became derelict until a developer bought it and converted it into nine apartments.

You can still access some of the buildings though, used as a cafe, shop and toilets.

Fish food

You can buy fish food for £1 a bag to feed the big fish in the lake.

Biddulph Grange House

Plant sale

You can buy flowers and plants in an area just past the car park on your way in or out.

Trails

Biddulph Grange really comes into its own for families around special occasions, we particularly love visiting at Easter.

National Trust used to team up with Cadbury but these days organise their own with more emphasis on enjoying nature and the surroundings and carrying out activities rather than solving clues. Children still get a chocolate egg at the end.

The trails are fabulous at taking you around all corners of the garden and Biddulph Grange pulls out all the stops.

See footage of our last Easter trail at the end of this article.

Arrival time

If it’s a Bank Holiday or special occasion, I really advise getting their early to get a parking space and avoid any queuing.

What is the best time of year to visit?

If you have children, it’s lovely to visit when they have an event on like the Easter trails.

The gardens change with the seasons. The dahlias start to bloom in July and reach their peak in early-September.

Biddulph Grange information

Parking: There is a free car park – free for National Trust members and included in the ticket price for non-members. There is also an overflow car park. 

Food: There is a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, lovely in the sunshine. There is also a picnic spot next to the car park.

Opening hours: Vary depending on the day, but 10am to 5.30pm for much of the year, check out the times for specific dates here.

Cost: Free for National Trust members, £12 adults, £6 children, less for family and group tickets latest ticket prices here.

Are dogs allowed at Biddulph Grange?

No, only assistance dogs.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: I would say you need at least two hours here, but on a sunny day with friends you could spend much longer.

Access and restrictions: It is not an accessible site, although a lot of the site has pathways, it is on a hill, there are more than 400 steps and uneven surfaces.

Address: Biddulph Grange Garden, Grange Road, Biddulph, Staffordshire, ST8 7SD.

Website: Biddulph Grange Gardens

Related content:

National Trust membership – everything you need to know

The 20 best National Trust gardens in the UK revealed

A new ride is opening in a few days at Cadbury World chocolate factory in Birmingham

A new ride is opening in a few days at Cadbury World chocolate factory in Birmingham

Cadbury Chocolate Quest gets ready to launch

A new ride is opening soon at Cadbury World in Birmingham.

Cadbury Chocolate Quest opens on Friday (March 29, 2024) for the Easter weekend.

And The Family Holiday Guide has some photos of the ride for fans of the chocolate experience to see.

The new indoor trackless ride has 3D themed sets and virtual screens and will be brought to life with sounds, lights, smells and heat making it an interactive and sensory experience. 

Riders will be set a mission by Freddo then travel in nine Cadbury cars to complete an immersive quest to collect all the ingredients needed to make a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk using lasers to lap them up.

The ride features 23 cocoa pods, cheeky Buttons monkeys and most excitingly, the end of the ride features litres of liquid chocolate.

Putting the finishing touches to the new ride Chocolate Quest at Cadbury World, Birmingham

After disembarking, guests will collect a Cadbury treat made with all the ingredients they have ‘collected’.

Putting the finishing touches to the new ride Chocolate Quest at Cadbury World, Birmingham

Cadbury Chocolate Quest is part of a wider £8m investment for Cadbury World, with further ambitions for the long-standing attraction after its operation was taken over by Merlin Entertainments in January 2023.

Tim Waters, Regional Director of the Birmingham cluster at Merlin Entertainments, said: “The whole team is so excited to see all the hard work that has gone into this massive project come to life.

“From polishing the cars and testing the flowing liquid chocolate, the team have been working round the clock to prepare the ride in time to welcome guests when it launches on Friday, 29th March.

“We can’t wait to see Cadbury Chocolate Quest in action as we really feel it is a ride that will be enjoyed by everyone.” 

Read our review of Cadbury World, which is a popular family attraction based in the historic village of Bournville, just outside Birmingham city centre, where visitors can learn all about the history, magic and making of Cadbury chocolate. 

Putting the finishing touches to the new ride Chocolate Quest at Cadbury World, Birmingham

With an assortment of interactive zones, a team of in-house chocolatiers, the on-site Cadbury World Café and African Adventure play area, plus the unmissable 4D Chocolate Adventure, there’s so much for visitors of all ages to see and do at Cadbury World. 

Cambridge reaches new heights with the arrival of 93 giraffes

Cambridge reaches new heights with the arrival of 93 giraffes

All you need to know about the new sculpture trail Cambridge Standing Tall

A new sculpture trail is putting Cambridge head and shoulders above other cities thanks to 93 giraffes.

The beautifully-decorated giraffe sculptures are in the city from March 21 to June 2 (2024).

It’s for the Cambridge Standing Tall sculpture trail, which brings together communities from all over the city.

A mini giraffe peeps out of a telephone box in Cambridge

The new trail is delivered by Break, a charity which supports young people from care across Cambridge and Cambridgeshire.

Each sculpture is sponsored by a local business and has been decorated by artists, including a number of local artists.

There are 31 eight-foot-tall giraffes and 62 mini giraffes. The mini ones have been decorated by local schools.

At the end of the exhibition, the giraffes will be sold at auction, with all proceeds going to the charity.

The title Cambridge Standing Tall represents the city standing up for young people.

It is hoped that the trail will bring visitors and locals together, to raise awareness for young people in care as well as vital funds for the charity.

Visitors can download the Cambridge Standing Tall app (going live on March 18).

A giraffe in front of the church in Cambridge
A giraffe in front of the church in Cambridge

Organisers have put together ideas of places to visit while doing the trail through Cambridge, a city steeped in history, incredible architecture and academic excellence.

Along the trail visitors can:

Wander through the cherry blossoms in the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

Punt down the River Cam with Rutherfords and Scudamores.

Explore the boutique local shops including Cambridge Cheese Company and Hill St Chocolate.

Explore some wonderful artwork at Cambridge Contemporary Art or some great gift ideas at Podarok and Ark.

Pick up the latest Spring fashions at Iris & Violet (Women’s) or Dogfish (Men’s).

Visit the free-to-enter University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

Join a gin cocktail class or tasting at the Cambridge Distillery .

 Then dine at one of the city’s delightful restaurants and eateries:

Stop at Fitzbillies for a Chelsea bun and warming cup of coffee.

Grab a bite to eat at AromiBread & Meat or Steak & Honour, leaving plenty of room for an ice-cream from Jack’s Gelato.

Taste authentic East Asia flavours at the newly opened  Market House Asia.

Sample seasonal produce and Spanish flavours at Mercado Central.

Enjoy Indian market food, Indian craft beers and refreshing cocktails at The Tiffin Truck.

Sip botanical cocktails on Novi’s vibrant roof terrace.

Dine riverside at Millworks, a modern brassiere, serving charcoal oven grilled steaks.

Ideas of where to stay in Cambridge include:

Gonville Hotel, Cambridge

The Graduate Hotel Cambridge

Novotel Cambridge North

Hilton City Centre

Turing Locke, Eddington

As UK airport drop-off fees soar – read our full guide and top tips including how to avoid them

As UK airport drop-off fees soar – read our full guide and top tips including how to avoid them

A new guide compares the ‘kiss and fly’ charges at airports across the UK

Finding a kind friend or family member to take you to the airport is not as cheap an option as it used to be.

Now, when weighing up the best way to get to and from the airport before setting off on a family holiday, you need to take into consideration more than just the fuel costs and time it will take your driver.

As your airport taxi service also faces increasing charges for using the designated drop-off areas at most UK airports.

Airport specialist Airport Parking and Hotels, is now helping designated drivers to plan ahead by revealing the range of so-called ‘kiss and fly’ charges at the 20 top UK airports.

It found that most airports charge a drop-off fee with the cost varying widely, for a set time, often just five or ten minutes, with extra charges for going over the limit.

The guide reveals costs and allocated times for dropping-off – as well as pick-up and parking – at UK airports including Manchester, London Gatwick, and Newcastle Airport.

Most expensive and cheapest airport drop-offs

​Of the airports investigated, London Stansted was among the most expensive, charging £7 for 15 minutes with Bristol, Leeds and London Gatwick charging drivers £6 for 10 minutes.

The cheapest airports, Norwich International and Southampton Airports, charge £5 for up to 30 minutes.

Free airport drop-offs

Only two were found to allow drivers the option of dropping-off outside the terminal for free – Cardiff International Airport and Birmingham International Airport – if drivers spend no longer than five minutes or 10 minutes respectively in the drop-off area.

Airports offering free drop-off may charge after a certain amount of time – Cardiff Airport charges £5 for every 10 minutes parked after the initial 10 minutes.

Free drop-off areas

Most airports do offer free drop-off areas however these come with a time limit and are usually located in long-stay car parks away from the airport forecourt, requiring a long walk or bus transfer to the terminal.

Our 8 airport drop-off top tips and how to avoid charges

  • 1. Research your chosen airport’s drop-off facilities before you travel so that you are aware of the charges, how to pay and stay times.
  • 2. Don’t park illegally on approach roads to drop off passengers, it can be dangerous and security cameras are likely to catch you.
  • 3. Many airports have a free area for drop-offs, you will have a walk though of up to 15 minutes or a shuttle ride to the terminal so this will not work for everyone or if you are short of time. For example, Heathrow Airport offers free parking for 30 minutes in its long-stay car parks and a free shuttle bus to terminals.
  • 4. It sounds obvious but make sure you park at the right terminal to avoid a long walk with heavy luggage – at Manchester for example, terminals 1 and 3 are only a short distance from one another, but Terminal 2 is further away – up to a 20-minute walk.
  • 5. Have any long goodbyes before you get to the airport, if you have an extended farewell when you get there, the costs could escalate – if you are at a Manchester drop-off area for over 10 minutes, you will receive a £25 fine.
  • 6. Make sure the driver has their payment ready, whatever the method including cash or card. Some airports only accept charges to be paid online, over the phone or by setting up an AutoPay account.
  • 7. If you are travelling by taxi, check whether the fare includes the drop-off fee.
  • 8. Don’t forget to consider other options before deciding how you will travel including public transport, off-site parking and shuttle services offered by nearby hotels. If you are parking at the airport it is normally much cheaper to pre-book.

Collection

When collecting loved ones, 14 airports permit collection of passengers from the terminal forecourt. Drivers at nine airports, including Bristol, must collect travellers from the short-stay car parks nearby, with the cost varying from free to £20 for up to one hour.

APH

APH conducted its research in February (2024).

Nick Caunter, APH managing director said: “Asking friends and family for a kiss and fly’ lift may seem like a good option, however once they’ve taken into account the cost of fuel, vehicle wear and tear and airport fees it may cost them a lot more than you think.

“Also, there is an environmental cost to consider from the extra return journey. 

“We advise travellers to do their research before asking friends or family as other options such as pre-booking airport parking can not only be cheaper, but also a more environmentally friendly way to travel.”

Related content

Flying with a baby or infant under two – our comprehensive guide will help you from the airport to the plane

Flying with children – 10 tips for keeping toddlers and young children happy on a plane

The 9 top tips to finding cheap flights for you and your family

English Heritage membership – is it worth it and what attractions does it include

English Heritage membership – is it worth it and what attractions does it include

We investigate English Heritage annual passes and where you can use them

Whether you love English Heritage and the sites it runs or know nothing about it (and them), we’ve got all you need to know when deciding whether to splash out on an annual membership.

What is English Heritage?

English Heritage manages and preserves over 400 historic monuments and places such as castles, stately homes, palaces, houses, abbeys, Roman forts and archaeological sites.

It also runs the Blue Plaque Scheme in London which commemorates the residencies of famous people of the past with over 900 plaques across the capital.

English Heritage was established in 1983 as a government body and became a charitable organization in 2015, allowing it to raise funds and operate more independently in its work to promote England’s history and heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Now, several million people visit its sites across England each year.

What is English Heritage annual membership?

A pass allowing access to its hundreds of historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

It helps raise money for the charity while making access to its sites more affordable and accessible.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to more than 400 sites

Free car parking

Free entry for up to six children

A handbook

Children’s activity pack

Members’ magazine four times per year

Free or reduced entry to English Heritage events

How much is it?

A family membership for one adult and up to six children is £69 a year or £5.75 a month.

Family membership for two adults and up to 12 children costs £120 per year, £10 a month.

Individual memberships are £69 a year for an adult aged 26 and over, £63 for a senior aged 65 and over and £57 a year for a young adult (aged 18 to 25) or student.

Joint memberships start from £96 and lifetime memberships start from £1,350.

All up-to-date membership prices are here.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit two to five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

Top Tips

English Heritage have sites in:

The North West including Hadrian’s Wall, Beeston Castle and Carlisle Castle.

The South West including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle and Old Sarum.

The South East including Dover Castle, 1066 Battle Abbey and Osborne – Queen Victoria’s family home.

The West Midlands including Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Stokesay Castle.

The North East including Belsay Hall and Gardens, Lindisfarne Priory and Warkworth Castle.

Yorkshire including Brodsworth Hall, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower in York.

The East of England including Audley End House and Gardens, Wrest Park and Framlingham Castle.

London including Eltham Palace and Gardens, Ranger’s House and Jewel Tower.

For more ideas visit this page on their website.

Verdict

If there are English Heritage sites near to your or near to any holiday destinations you will be staying at and you think you will visit several in a year, then a membership is definitely worth it.

Having the pass will also encourage you to get out and about more to make use of it.

There are lots of English Heritage properties but if you have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

You could perhaps try National Trust for a year and English Heritage another year.

Related content

Our articles include reviews of Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

We investigate English Heritage and other popular family membership schemes including National Trust, Merlin, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

The latest on plans to open a Universal theme park in Bedford, England

Theme park giant Universal has revealed ‘very early’ plans for a potential park and resort experience in Bedford, England.

There are no Universal theme parks in Europe yet, so this would be huge news for UK families.

Universal Orlando Resort was the highlight of our trip to Florida, so here at the Family Holiday Guide, we are VERY excited at the idea of some of that magic being brought so much closer to home.

So here we look at everything that is known so far.

Where might Universal be opening a theme park in the UK?

Universal are looking at a former brickworks site in Bedfordshire, England.

The 480-acre (195 hectares) plot is in Stewartby, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It lies between London and Birmingham. It’s around 60 miles (97km) from London and 78 miles (126km) from Birmingham.

Proposed site of a Universal theme park in Bedford, England, UK. A map showing the site in Stewartby.

Why has Universal chosen this site?

Universal say they have chosen the site:

  • Due to its ‘transportation connectivity to London and Europe’.
  • Because ‘more than half of the UK population live within two hours’.
  • Its proximity to Luton Airport.

Has Universal actually bought land?

Yes, Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation has purchased the parcel of land.

What stage are the plans at?

Universal says the plans are in the ‘very early stages’.

It is conducting a feasibility study and it could be months before they decide whether the potential project will proceed.

What has Universal said?

“We are always looking at new locations around the world, including in Europe, and the UK is an attractive place for a potential project.

“While we do own the land, we are only at the beginning of our feasibility study as part of our evaluation of potential sites.”

Where are Universal’s other parks?

Universal Destinations & Experiences has some of the world’s best and most innovative theme parks with advanced film and television-based attractions, hotels, resorts and live entertainment.

It has five entertainment and resort complexes:

  • Universal Orlando Resort
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
  • Universal Beijing Resort
  • Universal Studios Singapore.

Is the project being supported locally?

The idea has been welcomed by Bedford Borough Council.

Its mayor Tom Wootton, said the theme park could be ‘transformative for the borough’.

Universal is keen to consult with the local community and has already created a website to inform people living in the area and has also written to residents.

The letter includes details of the thousands of jobs that its parks create and states that the company is committed to enhancing the natural beauty and protecting the ecology of the areas in which it operates.

It added: “While we have been encouraged by the positive nature of conversations we’ve had so far with various national and local stakeholders — including Bedford Borough Council and the Mayor of Bedford Borough — we plan to work closely with our local communities should we progress. “

What about the Government?

The plans have also been discussed by the Government and appear to have the backing of Bedford Labour MP Mohammad Yasin.

He said a park would bring ‘enormous prosperity and jobs’ to the area.

The MP spoke in the Commons to ask the government to support road improvements to help deliver the proposed theme park.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have also been briefed on the bid.

What do you think?

We will keep you updated with the plans. What do you think of the idea? Let us know in the comments.

Related stories

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National Trust Membership – everything you need to know

National Trust Membership – everything you need to know

Is it worth getting a National Trust membership, what does it cost and is it worth it?

What is the National Trust?

The National Trust is Britain’s biggest charity and also the largest conservation charity in Europe.

It was founded in 1895 to protect heritage and natural landscapes for future generations,

It owns hundreds of large estates, historic houses and masses of countryside and open spaces.

What is National Trust membership?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

It is staggering that over six million people are members of the National Trust.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

New members also receive a £15 National Trust giftcard.

How much is it?

A family pass for two adults living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (aged under 18) costs £146.40 per year, £12.20 a month.

A family pass for one adult and their children or grandchildren is £91.20 a year, £7.60 a month

Children under five go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

Joint membership for two adults living at the same address is £139.20 a year, £11.60 a month.

Individual memberships are £10 a year for juniors under 18, £42 a year for a young person aged 18 to 25 and £84 a year for adults aged 26 and over.

You can also buy lifetime memberships from £2,020 and from £1,510 for seniors.

All the up-to-date membership prices can be found here.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places. We have just been to the Lake District where we used three car parks in one day, it all adds up.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

Having the membership really gets us out and about, we especially like the ones where dogs are welcome.

Top Tips

*You can buy National Trust Membership as a gift which the recipient can use again and again.

*We always keep our cards in the car as you never know when you will need them, for anything from an unplanned visit to a castle to a National Trust car park.

*National Trust venues are fantastic in the holidays – we particularly enjoy the Easter trails.

*If you apply to the National Trust for an Essential Companion card then members with additional needs can take one or two carers with them for free. Full details here. So a child with additional needs who is a National Trust member for £10 a year, can be accompanied for free by two parents, for example.

*You can take dogs to certain National Trust sites.

*The cakes are usually delicious!

Related stories

We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset.

We investigate National Trust and other popular family membership schemes including Merlin, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham – everything you need to know before visiting the chocolate attraction

Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham – everything you need to know before visiting the chocolate attraction

The complete guide to Cadbury World and top tips including how not to get confused and miss half the tour like we did

Name

Cadbury World

What is it?

Cadbury World is a family attraction based around the famous British chocolate maker Cadbury.

It is not a tour of the actual chocolate factory which doesn’t open to the public due to food regulations.

Nor is it a theme park, although it does include a 4D cinema, a gentle ride and yes, some ‘free’ chocolate.

Instead, it is more of a museum or visitor centre – a trip through the history and making of chocolate and Cadbury confectionery.

Where is it?

There is only one Cadbury World and it is in Birmingham. Specifically, it is in the suburb of Bournville – the town that chocolate built – four miles south of Birmingham – in the grounds of the original Cadbury factory.

The village was founded by George Cadbury when he moved his chocolate factory there from Birmingham in 1879, with homes built to house Cadbury workers.

Some of my female ancestors worked at Cadbury including my great grandmother.

She was there for around 10 years before marrying in 1915 and one of her roles was to tie ribbons on the boxes of chocolates.

What did we think?

When you get out of the car, the sweet smell of chocolate tantalisingly fills the air and anticipation is high, particularly as this visit follows our recent viewing of the film Wonka.

But this is not a Willy Wonka-style chocolate factory. And sadly, you don’t get to see any chocolate being made or packaged.

As a reporter in the Midlands years ago, I once filmed inside the actual factory at Cadbury. Wearing a shower cap affair to cover my hair, I watched as Cadbury Creme Eggs were made and wrapped and it was a fascinating experience. I seem to recall that the main taster at the time, wasn’t too fond of Cadbury Creme Eggs, which I thought hilarious and a waste of an excellent job!

It’s a shame families don’t see any of this. What you do get is a history of cocoa beans in the Aztec Jungle, the Cadbury story and how the chocolate is made, over a series of different zones.

Exploring the Aztec Jungle at Cadbury World

Exploring the Aztec Jungle

I will run through all the highlights of our trip first but there were several downsides too, including confusion over the time to arrive, the busy outdoor area, the queue to get in and the fact a lot of visitors (nearly including us) missed a huge chunk of the experience due to bad signage (more on this in top tips).

But the children seemed to get a lot of out of it and are already keen to go back so I’m overall pleased that we made the effort to go.

Highlights

*Do you get free chocolate at Cadbury World?!

Yes. You are welcomed into the tour with a handful of chocolate bars – we were given a Cadbury Wispa, a Dairy Milk Caramel and a Twirl each.

Brandishing 12 chocolate bars at us, we were given the option to buy a small purple Cadbury bag for £1 or a Cadbury tote bag for £2 to put them in – it feels a bit grabby of Cadbury not to present them in a free bag but hey ho.

Free chocolate bars at Cadbury World

Three ‘free’ chocolate bars per person included in the ticket cost

Then, during the tour you are offered warm, liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk in little cups with up to two toppings from a choice of chocolate buttons, fudge, mini marshmallows and crushed Oreos. Delicious but choose your toppings wisely, I felt the Oreo crumbs soaked up too much of the melted chocolate.

*The 4D Cinema

This is in the outdoor area and can be visited before or after (if not closed) your tour. Visitors wear 3D glasses, sit in motion seats and feel as if they are on a chocolate journey which includes a Crunchie rollercoaster.

The 4D cinema at Cadbury World

The 4D cinema

*Demonstration

There is a section where you watch someone demonstrate how chocolates were made by hand using moulds, in years gone by, which I found interesting, given my family connection.

Chocolate demonstration at Cadbury World

Chocolate demonstration

*Drawing with chocolate

You can queue to have a few minutes drawing or writing in melted chocolate from a bottle.

Drawing a heart with melted chocolate at Cadbury World

Drawing with melted chocolate

*Rides

There is a slow ride called Cadabra, where you sit two in the front and two in the back of a moving car around a track. This is a very gentle ride suitable for all ages.

The Cadabra ride at Cadbury World

The Cadabra ride

A new ride is due to open soon called Cadbury Chocolate Quest.

Top tips and downsides

Arrival time.

You would think an ideal arrival time would be shortly before the ticket entry time that you have carefully chosen, but you may be advised to get there much earlier.

When I happened to click on an instructions email on the morning of the day we were going (sent a few days earlier), it advised us to get there an hour and a half earlier if visiting in school holidays which we were (and 45 minutes earlier otherwise).

This is to ensure that you can enjoy the ‘outside activities’ before the tour, including the 4D cinema and play areas, as they may be closed afterwards.

We changed our plans to get there earlier, but wished we hadn’t (see the next top tip).

Outdoor Section

When we arrived at 1.45pm, the outdoor area was so crowded and noisy that it made for a stressful start to the day. We joined a long queue for the 4D cinema.

However, when we returned to the outdoor section at 4pm after our trip around Cadbury World, it was much quieter and there was no queue for the cinema at all.

So if you have children who would be at all sensitive to noise and crowding, check out the later cinema times and play area closing times before you arrive and consider doing this section later. It’s worth it even if you end up being stuck in Birmingham traffic afterwards.

A Cadbury shop front

A Cadbury shop front

Don’t miss any of the route!

It is a self-led tour, which led to some confusion on the day we were there.

Work was being carried out on a new area which may have caused the problem, but we and lots of other people exited the tour into the shop, having missed all the best bits.

I asked someone working there whether they no longer offered the melted chocolate in a cup (my best memory) and found out that we had taken a wrong turning, missing all the upstairs including the ride, demonstration and drawing with chocolate.

We were escorted back in and shown the right way but we had been following dozens of others who I am sure had done the same. I spoke to one woman later who had found the upstairs but still somehow missed the ride.

Tickets and queues

You must book tickets ahead of your visit, don’t just turn up. Even with booked time slots, we were queuing to get in for 10-15 minutes past our designated 2.30pm slot.

Buying chocolate

As well as the free chocolate, you can buy chocolate from the shop at the end or the factory shop if buying in bulk. Prices didn’t seem to be any different to supermarket prices.

You can also pre-order personalised chocolate items.

Cadbury chocolate bars over the years

Cadbury chocolate bars over the years

Cadbury World information

Merlin: Cadbury World is one of the attractions you can visit if you have a Merlin Annual Pass.

Parking: There is a free car park with lots of spaces.

Food: There is a cafe that you can visit on your way in or out, next to reception.

Character afternoon tea is available to pre-book on certain days (normally Monday to Friday, not in school holidays).

There are seats outside for anyone who takes a picnic.

Opening hours: Vary depending on the day, can be 9.30am-5.30pm or 10am-4.30pm, here are the up to date times.

Cost: Latest ticket prices here.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: It took us an hour and a half to get around the main section, including queueing at the start, allow extra time for the outside section including 4D cinema and outdoor play area.

Access and restrictions: Cadbury World only allows one guest who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter per timeslot. A wheelchair slot and a standard ticket have to both be booked.

There are some wheelchairs at reception that can be borrowed on a first come, first served basis.

Carer tickets are available if certain criteria are met.

Babies: Children two and under are free but still need a pre-booked ticket.

There are baby changing facilities in all the toilets. There is a baby feeding room in reception and pushchair access throughout.

Address: Cadbury World,  69 Linden Rd, Birmingham B30 1JR.

To book: Cadbury World

Now you can watch our Cadbury World video on Instagram, below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe, thank you!

Related content:

Chocolate factory fun – we review York’s Chocolate Story

Chocolate, Harry Potter, trains and Vikings – all the ingredients for a family trip to York

Harry Styles Holmes Chapel Walking Tour – full guide and video of the village where he grew up

Harry Styles Holmes Chapel Walking Tour – full guide and video of the village where he grew up

Follow Harry Styles’ footsteps in One Direction around his home town of Holmes Chapel on an official walking tour

Harry Styles fans can now enjoy a fun and completely free day out by touring Holmes Chapel – the village he grew up in.
Harry mentions his pretty Cheshire village frequently and pops home from time to time to see friends and family, so you may even get a glimpse of the star himself.

In fact, fans visit so often that the village has put together a free tour with a safe route around key places like the bakery where he worked, the bridge where he had his first kiss which featured in a One Direction video and even his favourite Chinese restaurant, where he once took Taylor Swift on a date.

Also in Holmes Chapel are his primary and secondary schools and the house he still lived in when he appeared on the X-Factor.

Read on for the full tour and map and our special video tour but first some Harry and Holmes Chapel trivia.

Where is Holmes Chapel?

Holmes Chapel is between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester in the north-west of England.

It’s an affluent, expanding village in the county of Cheshire next to junction 18 of the M6 motorway.

The village has a lovely, friendly community, churches, independent shops, cafes, thriving pubs and other food outlets and lots of hair salons, perfect for a world famous superstar known for his luscious locks!

Harry himself describes Holmes Chapel as ‘picturesque’ during his X-Factor audition video.

Was Harry Styles born in Holmes Chapel?

Harry Edward Styles was born on February 1, 1994, in Redditch, Worcestershire, but moved to Holmes Chapel as a young child with his mum Anne Twist, dad Desmond (Des) Styles and older sister, Gemma.

A fan poses outside Harry Styles's house

Outside Harry’s former home

Which schools did Harry Styles go to?

Harry’s parents would have been spoilt for choice for great primary schools – there are two in the village – Holmes Chapel Primary School and the smaller Hermitage Primary School – and several others nearby. Harry attended Hermitage Primary School and has been back to visit since he became famous, even welcoming some of his old teachers backstage at concerts in Manchester – the nearest city to Holmes Chapel.

Hermitage Primary School, Holmes Chapel

Hermitage Primary School, Holmes Chapel

He then attended the village’s only secondary school – Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School – known locally as The Comp. He was still at this school, having just taken his GCSEs, when he began filming the X-Factor.

The high school in Selkirk Drive, not included on the official tour, is also where Harry played football with his local team the Holmes Chapel Hurricanes.

Holmes Chapel High School

Holmes Chapel High School

Although a former coach once said he was better at chatting up the girls than playing football!

The Harry Styles Walking Tour

The tour (directions at end) was put together by Holmes Chapel Partnership in a bid to keep fans safe – some had been ‘risking life and limb’ by using a busy road with no pavements to access the famous Harry’s Wall.

Landmark 1: Holmes Chapel Railway Station.

The tour starts at the village railway station as lots of fans arrive by train.  It’s on the Crewe to Manchester Line, with services to Crewe (around 14 minutes) and Manchester Piccadilly (around 40 minutes). Some trains even stop at Manchester Airport, perfect for fans flying in from abroad.

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Harry has used the station a lot, especially while filming in the X-Factor in 2010 when he would regularly leave for London on a Thursday and return to Holmes Chapel on Tuesdays.

Railway ticket officer Graham Blake had known Harry since the Watermelon Sugar star was 10 but got to know the then 16-year-old better during this time.

As he became more and more famous, there would be swarms of fans waiting for him at the station and Graham sometimes had to help him to hide.

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Landmark 2: Harry’s Wall/Twemlow Viaduct

The route takes fans on a scenic route through the village, passing near to Hermitage Primary School, which Harry attended, over the historic Hermitage Bridge where the impressive Twemlow Viaduct comes into view.

Built in 1841 to carry the railway line over the River Dane, many arriving fans will have already travelled over it in trains from Manchester and Manchester Airport.

Fans walk then through two fields to get to Harry’s Wall.

Harry is famously said to have had his first kiss at this spot.

It’s also well-known to fans as the wall Harry wrote his name on in the One Direction biopic film This is Us.

Harry's Wall where Harry Styles had his first kiss

Harry’s Wall

As he walks up to the viaduct in the video, Harry says: “When I come home, if I walk and like don’t see anyone around, I can feel like I’m six again. Which is pretty crazy. I mean I’m a bit tall for a six-year-old!”

Fans now flock here to take photos and sign messages to the singer on the wall.

Landmark 3: Mandeville’s Bakery

Next on the tour is the bakery where Harry Styles worked on a Saturday, before finding fame on the X-Factor.

Mandevilles Bakery in Holmes Chapel where Harry Styles worked

W Mandeville Bakery

He tells Simon Cowell about his job while on stage during his X-Factor audition and he visits W. Mandeville Bakery during the This is Us video, to reminisce and meet his former boss and colleagues.

Harry says: “I remember when they said that they wanted me to work on Saturdays, I felt like I’d won the lottery. I was like, weekend job, I’m gonna be rich!”

Inside the bakery is a cardboard cut-out of Harry Styles, perfect for having your photo taken with, plus you can grab some lunch at the same time.

Harry Styles cardboard cutout in the bakery where he worked in Holmes Chapel

Have your picture taken with Harry Styles

The bakery opened 94 years before Harry was born, in 1900 and sells an array of delicious cakes, bread and pastries.

Landmark 4: Fortune City Chinese restaurant

Next you get to walk through the centre of Holmes Chapel, passing St Luke’s Church, the jewel in its crown.

Here you are spoilt for choice for food options including cafes, pubs and takeaways.

After passing the precinct, which includes the library and post office, you’ll cross at traffic lights to head to the Chinese restaurant where Harry took his then-girlfriend, Taylor Swift.

The family home where he lived is just before the restaurant on the right.

Harry Styles former home in Holmes Chapel exact location

Harry’s former home

His mum eventually had to move out of this house due to her son’s fame when he was in One Direction and Harry bought her a new home nearby.

Harry said Fortune City was his favourite Chinese restaurant and it was certainly handy for the family, being just a stone’s throw from their front door.

Fortune City Chinese Restaurant Holmes Chapel where Harry Styles took Taylor Swift

Fortune City

Our comprehensive video tour of Harry Styles’ most important places in Homes Chapel

Here is the Harry’s Home Village Tour map and directions, produced by Holmes Chapel Partnership:

Holmes Chapel Partnership Harry Styles Trail

Credit: Holmes Chapel Partnership

Merlin Pass attractions, benefits, top tips and is it worth the money?

Merlin Pass attractions, benefits, top tips and is it worth the money?

We investigate the popular annual membership for Merlin Entertainment and its big list of popular attractions

There are a lot of perks to annual memberships for families. They can encourage us to get out and about more in a bid to make use of them and there are potential cost savings. Here we explore one of the most popular – the Merlin Pass. 

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more with prices starting at £99.

What do you get?

Entry to 33 attractions including:

The different types of Merlin passes offer other savings depending on which you choose including free parking, discounted fastrack and cheaper food and drink.

Children on LEGO Ninjago the Ride

Ninjago the Ride at LEGOLAND Windsor

Different Merlin Passes

There are four standards of Merlin passes – Merlin Discovery Pass, Merlin Silver Pass, Merlin Gold Pass and Merlin Platinum Pass.

The cheapest option is the Merlin Discovery Pass. It gives off-peak entry only (so excludes entry during school holidays, some weekends and special events) and access to Merlin attractions for over 200 days.  Excludes entry during school holidays, some weekend dates and special events.

Next cheapest is Merlin Silver Pass which also includes some weekends and school holidays, giving over 300 days of entry and 10 per cent off shops, food and drinks. It also includes discounted friends and family tickets.

The Merlin Gold Pass has even less exclusion dates, giving access over 340 days. It also includes free parking, fastrack vouchers and benefits like 20 per cent off shops, food and drinks.

The most expensive option is the Merlin Platinum Pass which gives 364 days entry, with no excluded dates other than paid events. It also includes free parking, £5 off fastrack and Share the Fun vouchers and £19 tickets for friends and family.

How much are the Merlin passes?

Merlin Discovery Pass is from £99 per person.

Merlin Silver Pass is from £169 per person (renewals from £119 per person).

Merlin Gold Pass is from £239 per person (renewals from £169)

Merlin Platinum Pass from £299 per person (renewals from £229).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can spread the cost with a monthly membership, on all but the cheapest Merlin Discovery Pass option.

You need to pay a joining fee and then a set monthly rate.

Silver Pass – joining fee £39.99, £10.99 a month, total cost £171.87.

Gold Pass – joining fee, £49.99, £15.99 a month, total cost £241.87.

Platinum Pass, joining fee, £59.99, £20.99 a month, total cost £311.8.

What about the small print?

The passes are delivered digitally to your email inbox ready to use.

You still need to pre-book tickets to attractions online.

How much could you save?

This depends on which pass you go for and how often you visit Merlin attractions.

Merlin have an online calculator tool to show you how much you can save.

For a family of two adults and two children with Merlin Discovery Passes, visiting just Alton Towers once a month, could save £2,868, so a huge saving.

In fact just going to Alton Towers twice would save you £148. But you would have to go to a Legoland Discovery Centre five times to make your money back.

Nobody should be paying the full price for tickets though with offers available on cereal packets and in newspapers – although always check as often booking online in advance can work out cheaper.

Verdict

If you are a fan of Merlin attractions, know you will be going anyway and can afford it, these passes would seem like a fantastic investment which will encourage you to get out and make the most of them for a fun-filled year.

Carer passes

Carers of Merlin Annual Passholders with additional needs who require assistance, can receive a free Merlin Annual Pass.

The passes are transferable between carers. They just include the name, date of birth and a photo of the guest with additional needs.

You need to submit your request here.

Top Tip

Look out for Merlin Pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June.

Related stories

We investigate Merlin and other popular family membership schemes including National Trust, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Our Merlin content on the site includes reviews and guides to Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

Another popular article tells you How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System.

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

We investigate some of the popular annual passes for 2024 including Merlin, National Trust, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo

There are so many amazing places to take children across the UK but the cost can really add up, especially over the holidays.

So is it worth splurging on an annual pass so you can visit your favourite places as often as you want? We investigate the most popular options for 2024.

Merlin Pass

The Octonauts ride at Alton Towers

Alton Towers

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more.

What do you get?

Entry to 33 attractions including:

The different types of Merlin passes offer other savings depending on which you choose including free parking, discounted fastrack and cheaper food and drink.

Different Merlin Passes

There are four standards of Merlin passes – Merlin Discovery Pass, Merlin Silver Pass, Merlin Gold Pass and Merlin Platinum Pass.

The cheapest option is the Merlin Discovery Pass. It gives off-peak entry only (so excludes entry during school holidays, some weekends and special events) and access to Merlin attractions for over 200 days.  Excludes entry during school holidays, some weekend dates and special events.

Next cheapest is Merlin Silver Pass which also includes some weekends and school holidays, giving over 300 days of entry and 10 per cent off shops, food and drinks. It also includes discounted friends and family tickets.

The Merlin Gold Pass has even less exclusion dates, giving access over 340 days. It also includes free parking, fastrack vouchers and benefits like 20 per cent off shops, food and drinks.

The most expensive option is the Merlin Platinum Pass which gives 364 days entry, with no excluded dates other than paid events. It also includes free parking, £5 off fastrack and Share the Fun vouchers and £19 tickets for friends and family.

How much are the Merlin passes?

Merlin Discovery Pass is from £99 per person.

Merlin Silver Pass is from £169 per person (renewals from £119 per person).

Merlin Gold Pass is from £239 per person (renewals from £169)

Merlin Platinum Pass from £299 per person (renewals from £229).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can spread the cost with a monthly membership, on all but the cheapest Merlin Discovery Pass option.

You need to pay a joining fee and then a set monthly rate.

Silver Pass – joining fee £39.99, £10.99 a month, total cost £171.87.

Gold Pass – joining fee, £49.99, £15.99 a month, total cost £241.87.

Platinum Pass, joining fee, £59.99, £20.99 a month, total cost £311.8.

What about the small print?

The passes are delivered digitally to your email inbox ready to use.

You need to pre-book tickets online.

How much could you save?

This depends on which pass you go for and how often you visit Merlin attractions.

Merlin have an online calculator tool to show you how much you can save.

For a family of two adults and two children with Merlin Discovery Passes, visiting just Alton Towers once a month, could save £2,868, so a huge saving.

In fact just going to Alton Towers twice would save you £148. But you would have to go to a Legoland Discovery Centre five times to make your money back.

Nobody should be paying the full price for tickets though with offers available on cereal packets and in newspapers – although always check as often booking online in advance can work out cheaper.

Verdict

If you are a fan of Merlin attractions, know you will be going anyway and can afford it, these passes would seem like a fantastic investment which will encourage you to get out and make the most of them for a fun-filled year.

Carer passes

Carers of Merlin Annual Passholders with additional needs who require assistance, can receive a free Merlin Annual Pass.

The passes are transferable between carers. They just include the name, date of birth and a photo of the guest with additional needs.

You need to submit your request here.

Top Tip

Look out for Merlin pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June.

Related stories

Our Merlin content on the site includes reviews and guides to Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

Another popular article tells you How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System.

National Trust membership

deer outside Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

What is it?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

New members also receive a £15 National Trust giftcard.

How much is it?

A family pass for two adults living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (aged under 18) costs £146.40 per year, £12.20 a month.

A family pass for one adult and their children or grandchildren is £91.20 a year, £7.60 a month

Children under five go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

Joint membership for two adults living at the same address is £139.20 a year, £11.60 a month.

Individual memberships are £10 a year for juniors under 18, £42 a year for a young person aged 18 to 25 and £84 a year for adults aged 26 and over.

You can also buy lifetime memberships from £2,020 and from £1,510 for seniors.

All the up-to-date membership prices can be found here.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places. We have just been to the Lake District where we used three car parks in one day, it all adds up.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

Top Tips

*You can buy National Trust Membership as a gift which the recipient can use again and again.

*We always keep our cards in the car as you never know when you will need them, for anything from an unplanned visit to a castle to a National Trust car park.

*National Trust venues are fantastic in the holidays – we particularly enjoy the Easter trails.

*If you apply to the National Trust for an Essential Companion card then members with additional needs can take one or two carers with them for free. Full details here. So a child with additional needs who is a National Trust member for £10 a year, can be accompanied for free by two parents, for example.

*You can take dogs to certain National Trust sites.

*The cakes are usually delicious!

Related content

We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset.

English Heritage membership

A visitor does a handstand in front of the stones at Stonehenge

Stonehenge

What is it?

A pass allowing access to over 400 historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to more than 400 sites, free car parking, free entry for up to 6 children, a handbook, children’s activity pack and members’ magazine four times per year. Plus free or reduced entry to English Heritage events.

How much is it?

A family membership for one adult and up to six children is £69 a year or £5.75 a month.

Family membership for two adults and up to 12 children costs £120 per year, £10 a month.

Individual memberships are £69 a year for an adult aged 26 and over, £63 for a senior aged 65 and over and £57 a year for a young adult (aged 18 to 25) or student.

Joint memberships start from £96 and lifetime memberships start from £1,350.

All up-to-date membership prices are here.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder  letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit four or five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

Top Tips

English Heritage have sites in:

The North West including Hadrian’s Wall, Beeston Castle and Carlisle Castle.

The South West including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle and Old Sarum.

The South East including Dover Castle, 1066 Battle Abbey and Osborne – Queen Victoria’s family home.

The West Midlands including Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Stokesay Castle.

The North East including Belsay Hall and Gardens, Lindisfarne Priory and Warkworth Castle.

Yorkshire including Brodsworth Hall, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower in York.

The East of England including Audley End House and Gardens, Wrest Park and Framlingham Castle.

London including Eltham Palace and Gardens, Ranger’s House and Jewel Tower.

For more ideas visit this page on their website.

Verdict

There are lots of English Heritage properties but if you have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

It will depend on how many English Heritage sites there are near to you and around any holiday destinations you are visiting in the next year.

You could perhaps try National Trust for a year and English Heritage another year.

Related content

Our articles include reviews of Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) membership

What is it?

An annual pass perfect for people who love gardens and gardening.

What do you get?

Unlimited entry to the five RHS Gardens for the member and a guest or two children (four children for joint memberships), free entry to over 200 partner gardens at selected times, access to events, reduced rate tickets to RHS flower shows and a monthly magazine The Garden (worth £59). You also get unlimited, personalised RHS advice over the phone or online.

How much does RHS membership cost?

Individual membership starts from £74 (49.33 if pay by direct debit), joint membership from £110 (£73.33 by direct debit).

Student membership is £10 and life membership starts from £935.

Full details here.

Where are the RHS Gardens?

The five main gardens, all included in the membership, are Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Wisley in Surrey and Bridgewater in Manchester.

Where are the RHS Partner Gardens?

There are over 200 Partner Gardens across the UK and beyond in Barbados, France, Japan, Singapore and South Africa.

They include privately-owned gems and some of the world’s most popular gardens.

All the Partner Gardens can be found here.

The small print

The free entry to 200 Partner Gardens is only for the main member in a joint membership and only at selected times.

Top tips

*At the time of writing RHS, keen to share the joy of gardening with as many people as possible, is allowing those who receive any of the following benefits, to visit RHS Garden Harlow Carr for just £1: Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

You can book £1 tickets for yourself and up to five people accompanying you which can be a mixture of children and adults. Only one member of the party needs to be receiving benefits. You will need to present proof of your benefits on arrival at the garden.

*Able to visit the gardens for free at the time of writing are:

Up to two carers with a disabled visitor

Under-fives

Schoolchildren on school visits

Affiliated horticultural societies

Community groups supported by the RHS Community Outreach programme 

Carers

There is free entry for essential carers accompanying visitors with a disability at the main RHS Gardens – Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. If your membership has a guest entitlement you can still use this in addition to your carer.

Carer arrangements vary at the 200 RHS Partner Gardens.

How much could you save?

A visit to Harlow Carr, one of the five RHS Gardens, costs £47.50 for two adults and two children (aged 5-16 – children under five are free).

A joint membership, allowing four children to visit with you, would cost £82.50 a year, so you would only need to attend twice in a year to gain. If you visited once a month you would save over £488.

Verdict

If you love beautiful gardens and live near one of the main five listed, then membership would be worthwhile.

Chester Zoo membership

An orangutan and a baby orangutan in a hammock at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

What is it?

Annual membership to the most popular tourist attraction outside London.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to Chester Zoo, 10 per cent discount in the zoo’s shops and cafes, experience discounts, , access to junior members’ events, free entry once a year at several other UK zoos (Bristol Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Newquay Zoo, Marwell Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Twycross Zoo). It also includes Member Days where you can bring friends and family at a discounted rate and access to Our Zoo where members are emailed exclusive content.

How much is it?

There are two available prices for all memberships – a standard price and a 10 per cent cheaper price if you pay by direct debit.

For example, the price for a family of two adults and two children is £320 or £288 if you sign up by direct debit.

One adult and two children is £215 or £193.50.

Children aged 0 to two are free.

Additional children aged three to 17 are £81 or £72.90 each.

For all the up-to-date prices visit the website.

What about the small print?

Fairly straightforward, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You can go anytime. If you are using your free visit to another zoo you must take your membership card and membership letter.

You still have to pay the same price for the Christmas light show The Lanterns and other special events outside of opening hours.

How much could you save?

A day visit to Chester Zoo is up to £116 for a family of four booked in advance. There are rarely offers and discounts available.

You must all visit the zoo three times per year to start saving money.

Verdict

If you live close enough to visit regularly and have children who enjoy it, a Chester Zoo pass is a great family treat. Plus if you are members, you don’t feel you have to see every single animal and area each time and spend a whole day there for every visit, which is far more relaxed.

Top tips

If you have visited the zoo in the last month, Chester Zoo will take your ticket prices off the membership cost.

If you are planning to visit, don’t miss our popular article Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money.

Land of Lights Festival Warrington at Gulliver’s World Resort 2023: Guide and review

Land of Lights Festival Warrington at Gulliver’s World Resort 2023: Guide and review

All you need to know about the new Christmas trail Land of Lights Festival North 2023

A new festive lights trail has joined the list of popular illuminations events in the north-west of England.

The theme park Gulliver’s World Resort in Cheshire has launched its Land of Lights Festival 2023.

Read everything you need to know about it after our video tour.

 

Name:

Land of Lights Festival North (there is another one in Milton Keynes).

A girl at the entrance to Land of Lights Warrington, Gullivers World Resort

What is it?

A lantern trail through 12 themed areas.

Visitors walk through illuminations including giant animal and monument lanterns, enjoying festive food and drink.

Where is it?

It is at Gulliver’s World Resort in Warrington, Cheshire.

What did we think?

This was a lovely, long route, longer than most festive trails, past a lake, through play areas which younger children made the most of and felt really magical in places with lots and lots of illuminations.

Highlights

*Our favourite bit was a mesmerising walk through an insect and bug section with blue lights cascading down from above.

The insect-themed area at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

The insect-themed area

*It was great seeing all the different themed areas, ranging from dinosaurs in a Jurassic section through to skeletons in a Halloween part. Illuminations included Dennis the Menace, animals and Santa.

A T-Rex dinosaur at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

*A naughty highlight was a ride on the log flume – naughty as we found out afterwards, this wasn’t included in our lights package (see top tips).

Top tips

*Offers – there is a Land of Lights Festival voucher code if you book for a date in January or February – LIGHTS20 gives you a 20 per cent discount.

*Will you get to go on any rides at Gulliver’s World? Not with just a ticket to the lights, this is a separate event. It can be a bit confusing as some of the rides might still be open for other guests – we had two goes on the log flume, without realising that we shouldn’t! Also not included is a Christmas show that visitors were queuing for and a train ride to Santa’s grotto. It is useful to know this before you go else it can get confusing particularly towards the exit and you don’t want your children spotting other things going on and being disappointed. There are different Christmas packages that include the various options if you want to do more than just the lights. One of the festive packages this year called Twinkle includes the Christmas activities (rides, North Pole Express, Elf Workshop and Santa’s Grotto) and also allows access to Land of Lights.

Dennis the Menace at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

Dennis the Menace

*Gulliver’s Annual Passport holders must still by tickets and don’t receive any perks as this is a stand alone event, say organisers.

*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.

*There are some dog-friendly nights (they must be kept on a lead) on November 16 and 30, December 14 and 28, January 7 and 21 and February 4 and 18.

*Can you buy tickets at the event – yes, at the higher price if they have not sold out.

*There is no strobe lighting but some lantern features do include flashing, twinkling and colour changing lights.

Land of Lights Festival Warrington information

Dates: It runs until February 25, 2024.

Food: There is festive food and drink to enjoy at The Food Hub at Safari Kingdom where you can buy churros, Yorkshire pudding wraps, German sausages and drinks.

There are other drinks stalls around the trail. And Lagado’s Restaurant and Grill (next to the entrance and exit plazas) is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings if you prefer to sit down in the warm.

Opening hours: Depending on the night, it runs from about 4.45pm until 8pm or 9pm

Cost: Depending on the date – there are peak and off-peak dates), tickets bought in advance online are £15 or £19 for adults and children. Concessions £9 and £11.

Tickets not bought in advance are £18 or £22 for adults and children and £9 and £11 concessions.

Under-twos are free.

There is no senior rate, the concessionary rate is for those with a Blue Badge, DLA or PIP letter and their carer.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: The trail takes around 90 minutes, depending on walking speed and how much you stop to eat, drink and look at the lights.

Access and restrictions: The route is mainly flat and firm, with some slight inclines.

There is a boardwalk which will not suit all mobility requirements but marshals will assist people on an alternative route if required.

Accessible toilets are available along the route.

Address: Gulliver’s World Resort, Old Hall, Warrington, Cheshire, WA5 9YZ.

To bookLand of Lights Festival Warrington

Parking: Parking is free

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light 2023 – all you need to know about this Christmas lights trail

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light 2023 – all you need to know about this Christmas lights trail

Full guide and review of Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

The UK’s most popular zoo has launched its Christmas lights event for 2023.

Visitors will be flocking to the festive trail in Cheshire – Lanterns and Light – which is one of the most talked about in the North West of England.

And we were lucky enough to visit on opening night for this review and guide – here is everything you need to know plus our exclusive video.

 

Name:

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

What is it?

This animal-themed festive lights trail takes place after opening hours at Chester Zoo.

Visitors walk through new illuminations, lanterns and light installations meeting characters along the way and festive food to buy and enjoy as you go.

An illuminated rhino at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

An illuminated rhino

Where is it?

Chester Zoo is on the northern outskirts of Chester in North West England.

What did we think?

The lovely lights and music of this trail are a great way to get into the Christmas mood.

It’s quite a relaxing trail, with cute touches and some stunning moments.

Highlights

*The flickering fire gardens – it was quite breathtaking to see real fire used as opposed to more modern illuminations – in hundreds of little lanterns.

*Person-controlled animal puppets dance and interact with visitors including elephants, an octopus, wild dogs and a rather enthusiastic zebra.

A person-controlled puppet wild dog at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

A person-controlled puppet

*A woolly mammoth makes a grand entrance on a large 3D projection screen.

a 3D woolly mammoth at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Woolly mammoth

*Marshmallow toasting with different flavoured chunky marshmallows including salted caramel, vanilla and chocolate orange.

Marshmallow toatsing at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Marshmallow toasting

*A lane filled with larger than life pea-lit animals such as a stag, penguins and a giraffe.

Illuminated penguins at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Illuminated penguins

*The children enjoyed a virtual reality experience at the end of the trail.

*Knowing that every ticket helps the zoo in its conservation work supporting projects in more than 20 countries, helping animals to survive and thrive.

Top tips

*Will you see any animals? You will sadly not get to see any of Chester Zoo’s 27,000 animals – the trail follows a specific route and the animal habitats are all closed. The zoo, a world-leading conservation charity, is home to nearly 600 species, many endangered in the wild and is well worth a visit during normal opening hours – Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money on a family day at this hugely popular attraction for families

An octopus puppet at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

An octopus puppet

*Is Lanterns and Light free for Chester Zoo members? Chester Zoo members pay the same price for tickets as everyone else. Organisers say this is because it is a special event outside usual opening hours which raises funds for the zoo and its mission.

*What to do if you are visiting the zoo in the day – you need to go back to the main entrance at 3.30pm when it closes and wait for your ticket time so book as early as you can.

*What happens if the weather is bad? The event will only be cancelled in extreme weather and you will be contacted in advance.

*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.

*There are three little rides for younger children including a carousel, which cost £3 each. The virtual reality experience at the end costs £6 each or £10 for two and there are three different options. Ours enjoyed a Christmas experience where they became an elf – the other two are animal-based.

The map of Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

Lanterns and Light map

*You might catch a glimpse of Santa.

Father Christmas at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light information

Dates: It runs on various dates from November 17 to December 31.

Food: There is festive food and drink around the trail to enjoy, mostly within a Christmas Market Foodhall. Stands include pizza, burgers, hot chocolate, popcorn, crumble and giant, stuffed Yorkshire puddings.

Yorkshire pudding menu at Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

Yorkshire pudding menu

You are also allowed to take your own food, just no alcohol.

Opening hours: There are timed tickets every 15 minutes with sessions from 4.15pm to 8pm. The event closes at 9.15pm.

Cost: Prices for Lanterns and Light range from £18 to £22 for adults and £12 to £17 for children, depending on the day. Children under two and carers are free but still need a booked ticket.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: The trail takes 60 to 90 minutes.

Access and restrictions: The trail is flat but a bit uneven in places, plus it can be hard to see in the dark.

You can hire a mobility scooter or wheelchair by emailing guest.services@chesterzoo.org or a buggy at rentals when you get there.

For guests who need a quieter environment there are quiet times at 4pm on November 18, 23, 24, 25, 29 and December 6, call 01244 380280.

Address: Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH. How to get to the zoo.

To book:   Lanterns and Light

Parking: Parking is free

Website: Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

We review The Bay Filey – a dog-friendly Yorkshire holiday park on a beach

We review The Bay Filey – a dog-friendly Yorkshire holiday park on a beach

We take a family holiday to a holiday park on the beach in Filey, Yorkshire

Name

The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Where is it?

On the North Yorkshire coast near to Filey, south of Scarborough.

What is it?

A dog-friendly holiday park where you can stay in a house or a lodge, with access to a sandy beach.

Facilities include a swimming pool, gym, restaurants, pharmacy, playground, shop and arcade.

A lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there’s lots for children to do – there’s an indoor heated swimming pool (and separate baby pool), arcade and small adventure playground. They can play tennis, basketball or football and you can book activities (for an extra charge) such as pottery painting, archery and teddy-bear making.

The arcade at The Bay Filey holiday park

The arcade

Plus, of course, the beach – Hunmanby Gap Beach – is a short walk away for long, sunny days or even rainy day walks.

The beach at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

The beach

Is it dog friendly?

Yes, it really is and a lot of the people staying here had a dog with them. There was a box of goodies waiting in the lodge for our dog Charlie, containing a ball, travel bowl, blanket, poo bags and bag holder.

A dog present at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Charlie’s box of dog goodies

They are even allowed in the pub and pizza restaurant – which is good as holidaymakers are encouraged not to leave their pooches alone in the accommodation.

Although they need to be kept on a lead around the site, the beach is a perfect place for well-behaved dogs to stretch their legs and enjoy the ball from their goody bag.

A dog on the beach at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Charlie on the beach

The accommodation

When you first drive into this park, it feels like you are entering a modern housing estate. There are lots of pretty houses to stay at, but further into the park, you find sections with roomy lodges.

Houses at The Bay Filey

Houses at The Bay Filey

We stayed in a four-person lodge near to the lake – larger six-berths are also available.

It had an open plan lounge/kitchen-diner with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Inside our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Inside our lodge

One bedroom had a double bed, the other had two singles and both rooms had tvs, plus there’s one in the lounge.

A bedroom at our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

A bedroom at our lodge

A sliding glass door at the front opened out on to a small outside terrace with a table and chairs and a partial view of the lake.

The lodge outdoor terrace at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The outdoor terrace

The kitchen was well-equipped with an oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher and even a washing machine.

Wi-fi was available in our lodge. But it is not available in every holiday home here, so check before you arrive.

Food and drink

The kitchen in our lodge was big enough to make self-catering a breeze.

There are also two restaurants on site – a pizza restaurant and takeaway called The Four Cats and a pub called John Paul Jones – both with great menus.

The Four Cats pizza restaurant/takeaway

The woman making delicious pizzas at The Four Cats was lovely and worked so hard, with takeaway orders coming in as well as for those dining in. Two pizzas was plenty for the four of us. There is even a dessert pizza, topped with chocolate and marshmallows.

Our highlights

*Access to the beach – being able to walk to a lovely beach has to be a big tick on anyone’s holiday wishlist – see our top tips for more details of how to access it.

*Arrivals – unlike many parks, here you can arrive any day at any time of the year, even during peak times. The only requirement is that stays are a minimum of two nights.

*Dog walking – outside our lodge was a lovely meadow with paths to walk dogs and explore, plus the footpath to the beach via the cliffs and other walk along footpaths in the area.

Top tips

Activities

Activities need to be booked in advance – download the Away Resorts App to book.  The tennis court also needs to be booked this way. You can start booking 21 days before your stay so make sure you download the App in advance especially during busy periods to reserve the activities you want.

Making a glitter globe activity at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Making a glitter globe activity

How to get to the beach

There are two paths to the beach from the site – the main route off Silversands Way is steep in places, not suitable for anyone with mobility issues.

The path to the beach from Th Bay Filey holiday park

The main path to the beach.

The second way, from a gate on Sunrise Way, is a longer and narrow walk with clifftop views towards the end (and steep drops). It takes you through the beach car park and past a lovely beach café at the end.

Alternative path to the beach from Th Bay Filey holiday park

Alternative way to the beach

If you don’t want to walk too far or have a lot of beach paraphernalia to transport, you can drive a mile to the beach car park, which costs £5 for the day. There’s a steepish slope down to the beach but it’s not too far this way.

You can pay to use Portaloo-type toilets here at 20p a go.

Beach cafe

There is a beach cafe in a glorious spot overlooking the beach and sea. It serves food like toasted sandwiches, all-day breakfast, cakes and quiche and is great value. We had a lovely lunch, enjoying the view.

The beach cafe overlooking Hunmanby Beach

The beach cafe

If you are driving, turn left out of The Bay Filey and go left at the first roundabout and the car park is about 1 mile down the road.

But you will walk directly past it if you travel to the beach from the beach car park or if you take the clifftop walk from the site.

Swimming pool

You don’t need to book the pool but this can mean it is full when you arrive and you will have to return at another time, so check with staff when the best time would be. It’s a nice big pool but can get very busy and the changing rooms are a bit tight and could do with a revamp.

The swimming pool at The Bay Filey Holiday Park

The swimming pool

The gym at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The gym

Nearby

Hunmanby Gap Beach

The nearest attraction is obviously the beach. Hunmanby Gap Beach is a big sandy beach with a lovely café overlooking it. Great for swimming in the sea and perfect for dogs.

The beach when the tide is in at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The beach when the tide is in

When the tide if out, you can walk from here to Filey Beach.

Filey

The traditional seaside town and former fishing village of Filey is a couple of miles away. There is a promenade and an award-winning beach. Filey Beach is dog friendly but they are only allowed on certain parts of it from the start of May to the end of September.

Aerial clifftop view of Filey Beach

Filey Beach

Parking can be tricky, we parked at Filey Country Park and walked down steep steps and a steep slope to get to the beach. Attractions on the seafront include crazy golf, a bouncy castle and arcade.

Mini-golf at Filey Beach

Crazy golf at Filey Beach

Scarborough

Scarborough is around 25 minutes away and has beaches, a busy town centre, harbour and attractions like Sealife, Escape Rooms, Burton Riggs Nature Reserve and Alpamare Waterpark.

The wave pool at Almpare Waterpark

Alpamare Waterpark

The waterpark has an indoor wave pool and an indoor splash area with two toddler slides. There are four big water slides, one that you slide down on a mat and two on inflatables. There are also two gorgeously warm outdoor pools – which we surprisingly loved and spent a lot of time in on a cold, rainy day, while feeling sorry for the lifeguards on duty under umbrellas.

Away Resorts exclusive discount code

Away Resorts is a UK holiday park operator with 20 parks across the country in locations including Scotland, Lincolnshire, Isle of Wight, North Wales, Hampshire and Dorset, Cornwall, Hayling Island and Essex.

The company says its sites are all different but make the most of their individual surroundings.

We have an exclusive discount code for you when booking a holiday with Away Resorts until September 3 for 2023 holidays.

Use the code FAMHOLGUIDE10 for your excusive discount.

This offer excludes Away Resorts Boston West, Clumber, Gara Rock, Kenwick, Piperdam and Woodland Lakes.

The football pitch at The Bay Filey holiday park

The football pitch

More information

Address: The Bay Filey, 1 Moor Rd, Primrose Valley, Filey YO14 9GA

Telephone: 0330 0537000.

How to book: The Bay Filey Holiday Park

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

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*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all reviews and tips are our own.

 

Things to do in Bath for families

Things to do in Bath for families

What to do in beautiful Bath

England’s popular spa town is named after and famous because of its Roman-built baths.

Often voted among the best places in the country to live, work or visit, the city boasts stunning architecture, Roman remains, was once home to the author Jane Austen and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bath is on the banks of the River Avon, in the west of England.

More specifically, it’s in the north-east of the county of Somerset, 97 miles west of London and 11 miles south-east of Bristol.

The city is brimming with things to do, here are some of the best attractions and ideas:

Roman Baths

With more than one million visitors a year, the Roman Baths are a huge tourist pull.

The Romans built this grand temple, bathing and socialising complex in around 70AD.

Constructed around Britain’s only hot spring, it is now one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world.

Sadly, it’s not possible to swim in the Roman Baths today but you can taste the water which has been freshly pumped.

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Spoiler: The drinking water is warm and rather unpleasant but a good experience!

Tip: Make sure everyone takes an audio guide. You wear them around your neck and hold them to your ear like a phone. In each area is a number to type in and there are different guides for children – theirs are the numbers on orange backgrounds.

There are separate audio guides for children at the Roman Baths

There are separate audio guides for children

For more information visit the website: Roman Baths

Bus Tour

The city is not huge but if it’s your first visit, you struggle to get around, need a rest or just fancy a fun way to see the city, take a hop-on, hop-off bus.

On a sunny day, it’s a treat for children (and grown-ups) to sit on top of an open-air bus.

We went with TOOT BUS and tried both their tours – the City Tour and the longer Skyline Tour, take a look at the route maps.

They stop near all the major attractions and have audio in 10 languages – you collect headphones when you get on and plug them in next to your seats under the window.

TOOT open-top bus tour in Bath

TOOT BUS Tour

Why is travelling by open-topped bus so much more fun and relaxing than going anywhere by car?

Tip: The app works well for showing where all the buses are so you aren’t waiting around. Your e-ticket is swapped for a paper ticket when you first board and you will need it every time you hop on and hop off so don’t lose it!

The Royal Crescent

As we said at the start, the architecture in Bath is a sight to behold.

And The Royal Crescent is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK – this iconic landmark was built between 1767 and 1775.

Formed, as you would expect, in the shape of a crescent, it’s a 538-foot wide, curved row of 30 terraced houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park.

Many important people have lived or stayed here and it has been the location for films and dramas including Bridgerton, Persuasion, Inspector Morse and The Duchess.

Curious visitors can even get a look inside one – a museum resides at Number 1 Royal Crescent. This restored town-house shows what fashionable life would have been like in the 18th century. Children are enthusiastically welcomed and can turn detectives on a trail around the house.

Inside Number 1 Royal Crescent, Bath

Inside Number 1 Royal Crescent

There is also a hotel located in two of the town houses – The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.

Tip: Make the most of the staff’s expertise and don’t miss the chance to dress up in Georgian clothing. Also, there is a lovely small park opposite the Crescent, which makes an excellent picnic spot.

Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House

This cafe/restaurant – hailed a world-famous tea and eating house – is set in one of the oldest houses in Bath.

It is known for its regional speciality – Sally Lunn Bath Bunns – a type of bun baked to a secret recipe.

The Bunns are similar to brioche and can be eaten with sweet or savoury toppings.

Sally Lunn’s is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Sally Lunn's cafe and restaurant window, Bath

Sally Lunn’s

Tip: The restaurant gets really busy, if you don’t want to queue (you can only book if eating after 5pm), you can bypass the queue to visit a tiny museum and shop downstairs which sells Bunns to take home to toast and eat at your leisure.

Address: Sally Lunn’s House, 4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX.

Tip: Confusingly, there’s another regional speciality you can find in this city, called the Bath Bun, sprinkled with fruit and crushed sugar.

Try both to decide which wins the battle of the buns.

American Museum and Gardens

This Georgian estate on the outskirts of Bath, includes an American museum, beautiful gardens with valley views and a lovely children’s outdoor play area.

It was founded in 1961 to bring American culture and history to Europe.

Its cafe, The Deli, sells America favourites such as macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, filled bagels, hot sandwiches, cakes, scones and American cheesecake.

American Museum and Gardens, Bath

American Museum and Gardens

The museum recreates American houses through different decades and the enthusiastic staff will let you play games in a replica saloon bar.

Tips: If it’s a nice day and you buy food from the café, take it outside and enjoy it on the terrace with fantastic views over the garden.

Website: www.americanmuseum.org

Pulteney Bridge

As well as being a much-photographed example of Georgian architecture, this is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops all across it on both sides.

Walk across it or view it from the crescent weir or Parade Gardens (you have to pay to enter these gardens).

Pulteney Bridge, Bath

Pulteney Bridge

Interesting fact: It featured in the 2012 film version of Les Miserables.

Park and Ride

If you have a car, there are three excellent park and ride options around the edge of the city.

We used the one at Odd Down. The buses run every 10 to 15 minutes and this is a much less stressful option than trying to drive and park in Bath.

Parking is free all day if you buy a return bus fare (£2.70 per adult with children free).

For more ideas of what to do in Bath, visit the city’s official tourist information site Visit Bath.

*Have we missed any of your favourite attractions? Let us know of any attractions you would like us to add.

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*We received free or reduced rates for the purpose of this story, all views are our own.

Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

England’s largest gorge is a great family adventure but follow our advice to stay safe and enjoy it for free

Name

Cheddar Gorge

What is it?

A popular tourist attraction, Cheddar Gorge is a stunning limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills with show caves.

Visitors can complete a three-mile circular walk around the naturally-formed gorge – up one side, along the cliffs 900 feet above sea-level and back down the other side and through the village of Cheddar.

You can also visit the caves where the so-called Cheddar Man was discovered – a 9,000-year-old skeleton. There are two – the largest is Gough’s Cave which is over 500,000 years old with cathedral-like caverns, a large underground river system, stalagmites and stalactites.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

Where is it?

It’s near the village of Cheddar in Somerset in the west of England.

What did we think?

This stunning landscape is well worth a look.

The walk would be quite tough for younger children and less fit adults – there are lots of steep parts and the pebbly way means you have to watch your feet a lot of the time.

But the views at the top, and the satisfaction of completing the route, make it worthwhile.

We can see why it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

How to enjoy Cheddar Gorge for free.

If you do the circular walk clockwise, like we did, you will descend Jacob’s Ladder – not a ladder but a challenging 274 steps – down from the cliff tops into the village, for FREE.

If you want to walk UP the steps instead (there are four resting stops on the way up) – you will need to buy a Cheddar Gorge Caves and Day Ticket. If you’ve got any leg power left, another 48 steps takes you to the the top of the Lookout Tower and some fabulous views.

The ticket includes entrance to the steps and the Lookout Tower, both caves, the Museum of Prehistory and a cinematic experience called Beyond the View.

But it’s a fantastic experience without the extras and you can even park for free too if you park on the road instead of in one of the car parks.

There are more spaces further up the road away from the village – a good place to park is near to the Black Rock entrance to the trail.

Top tips

*There are some incredibly steep, sheer drops, keep an eye and a hand on children and keep dogs on a lead. I wouldn’t risk this with a child who could run off or anyone who wouldn’t appreciate the dangers.

*Wear walking boots or other suitable footwear, it’s a rocky walk.

*In need of some Christmas decorations? There is an all-year round Christmas shop in Cheddar!

Cheddar

Cheddar

*There is rock climbing and adventure caving for adults and children aged eight and above. Thrillseekers can also try out the Black Cat Freefall – where participants (minimum age 11), climb a 30-foot ladder and take on a big cave jump, attached to a safety line.

*If you want to find out more about the area, visit the Cheddar Man Museum of Prehistory.

Cheddar Gorge information

Food: The route around the gorge takes you through the village of Cheddar where you can buy ice-cream and other food or try cheese tasting at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company. Alternatively, take a picnic like we did, to enjoy at the top (it can get very blustery but the views are fabulous).

Cost: The cliff-top walk is free if you do the circular route and descend Jacob’s Ladder. Fees apply to ascend the ladder, visit the caves or museum or to take part in the activities like caving and rock climbing.

Best for: Older children and relatively fit adults.

Time needed: Around 2.5 hours for the walk, longer if you include the caves, museum, activities or a look around the town.

Access and restrictions: The walk, the caves and the Jacob’s Ladder steps are not suitable for wheelchairs or anyone with limited disability. You can get a sense of the place via car – the drive through the gorge is one of the most scenic in Britain.

Address: Cheddar Gorge and Caves, The Cliffs, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QF.

Parking: We parked by the side of the road – there seemed to be more spaces further up the road away from the village. A good place to park is near to the Black Rock entrance. Car parks include Cheddar Gorge Car Park and Cliff Street Car Park.

To book: The walk is free but to book paid-for parts of the experience go to the website Cheddar Gorge

Where to stay: We stayed at Wookey Hole Hotel, just eight miles from Cheddar Gorge and on the site of Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions, if you are inspired to explore more cavern, don’t miss our hotel review here.

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